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Saudi Arabia: JASTA Threatens International Relations | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Chairs Cabinet Session (SPA)

Riyadh – Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet said on Monday that the enactment of a U.S. law allowing citizens to sue the Kingdom over the Sept. 11 2001 attacks represented a threat to international relations.

The cabinet also urged the U.S. Congress to act to prevent any dangerous consequences from the new legislation.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, chaired the weekly session of the Cabinet at Al-Yamama Palace in Riyadh.

In a statement issued following the meeting, the Saudi cabinet said the new law, known as JASTA, represented a violation of a leading principle preventing lawsuits against governments that regulated international relations for hundreds of years.

Addressing reporters following the meeting, Information Minister Adel Al-Toraifi said: “Weakening this sovereign immunity will affect all countries, including the United States.”

“(The cabinet) expressed hope that wisdom will prevail and that the U.S. Congress would take the necessary steps to avoid the bad and dangerous consequences that may result from the JASTA legislation,” he added.

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly last Wednesday to approve legislation that will allow the families of those killed in the 2001 attacks on the United States to seek damages from the Saudi government.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) voiced deep concern over the adoption of JASTA by the U.S. Congress.

“This law is a violation of the principle of immunity of sovereign states, which is a basic and established legal principle in international relations and international law,” the OIC said in a press statement on Monday.

“Regrettably, this unilateral law is an invitation to serious chaos in international relations,” the statement said, adding that the Congress move upsets a firm and established international legal order and diminishes the integrity of the entire international legal system as it opens the door to states to pass similar laws, which is expected in reaction to protect their rights.

On a different note, the Cabinet lauded the outcome of the meeting held last week between Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Naif and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Cabinet said that the crown prince expressed during the meeting the Kingdom’s keenness to strengthen the strategic partnership with Turkey in various fields.

Turaifi said the Cabinet also underscored the Kingdom’s keenness to maintain stability of the global oil market to best serve the interests of both producers and consumers.

The Council expressed its willingness to continue its cooperation with the producing countries within and outside OPEC, the information minister said.

As for Yemen, the Cabinet strongly condemned the attack perpetrated by Houthi militias on a civilian vessel off the port of Aden, describing it as “a terror act that puts the international shipping route in the Bab Al-Mandab Strait into danger.”

It described the attack on the ship, which was carrying humanitarian aid and evacuating wounded civilians to continue their treatment in UAE, as an act that contravenes the international shipping regulations and hampers regional and global efforts to deliver relief supplies to Yemen in order to alleviate the suffering of its people.

Turaifi said the Cabinet also condemned air strikes on the Syrian city of Aleppo, killing hundreds of unarmed civilians, including women, children and elderly people.

The council also denounced the explosions that erupted at a mosque and conference center in the German city of Dresden.