Tags: War on Terrorism | Saudi Arabia | Obama | 911 | Assets | Salman

Saudi Threats to Sell Assets Loom Over Obama Trip

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By    |   Saturday, 16 Apr 2016 10:21 AM

President Barack Obama will travel to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday amid turmoil over the Saudi government's threats to sell off hundreds of billions of dollars in assets the kingdom holds if Congress goes through with a bill that would allow American courts to hold the Middle Eastern nation responsible for any part in the 9/11 attacks.

The Obama administration objects to the bill, reports The New York Times, and has been lobbying to block it, with State Department and Pentagon officials warning senators that there will be both economic and diplomatic issues if the legislation passes.

Last month, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, personally delivered a message from the kingdom to Washington, saying his nation would have to sell as much as $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets it holds in the United States, before they can be frozen by the courts if the bill is passed.

There is no indication that Obama, who will meet with Saudi King Salman and other officials, will discuss the dispute over the 9/11 bill, but his objections are angering not only lawmakers, but families of the attack victims, who blame the administration for blocking information about the part they say some Saudi officials had in the attacks.

"It's stunning to think that our government would back the Saudis over its own citizens," Mindy Kleinberg, whose husband died in the World Trade Center attacks, told The Times. She and other victims' family members are pushing for the legislation.

Saudi Arabia has for years denied the kingdom was part of the plot, and the 9/11 Commission ruled years ago that there was no evidence that the "Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization."

But bipartisan criticism is growing, and as recently as last week, two senators introduced a resolution putting restrictions on arms sales to Saudi Arabia.  Some 9/11 victims' families have filed suits trying to hold the Saudi royal family and others responsible for spending money for terrorism.

There is some immunity under a 1976 law, but the overall Senate bill hopes to eliminate that immunity if there are nations found responsible for terrorist attacks killing Americans in the United States. The Obama administration, though, says pulling back the immunity provisions could backfire, risking U.S. interests and exposing the United States to lawsuits.

The Saudi threats are not being taken seriously by economists. Edwin Truman, a fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told The Times he thinks the Saudis are making an "empty threat," as it would be difficult for them to sell off American assets and it would hurt them through damaging the American dollar.

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President Barack Obama will travel to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday amid turmoil over the Saudi government's threats to sell off hundreds of billions of dollars in assets the kingdom holds if Congress goes through with a bill that would allow American courts to hold the...
Saudi Arabia, Obama, 911, Assets, Salman
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2016-21-16
Saturday, 16 Apr 2016 10:21 AM
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