Against Backdrop Of Obama’s Visit To Riyadh: Saudi, Gulf Press Furious At Allegations Of Saudi Involvement In September 11 Attacks A bill proposed by several U.S. Congress members, which, if approved, would hold Saudi Arabia and top Saudi officials liable in U.S. courts for involvement in the 9/11 terror attacks, has generated anger in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. According to a report published in The New York Times on April 15, 2016, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir threatened, during a March visit to the U.S., that his country would sell off 750 billion dollars in U.S. Treasury securities and other assets to avoid their being frozen by U.S. courts. Such a measure on the part of the Saudi government might bear severe consequences for the U.S. economy. In response to the bill proposal, the Saudi daily ‘Okaz published an article claiming that an Iranian lobby was operating within the U.S. Congress in an effort to implicate Saudi Arabia in the 9/11 attacks. Additional articles in the Saudi and Bahraini press criticized the bill and the efforts to link Saudi Arabia to 9/11 and to hold it responsible for the terror attacks. According to the articles, these allegations lack any factual basis and are likely intended to harm relations between Saudi Arabia and the U.S., thus serving the terrorists’ interests. The authors claimed that Saudi Arabia is the main party harmed by Al-Qaeda, in part because of the country’s relations with the U.S., and stated that Saudi Arabia leads the fight against terrorism in general and against Al-Qaeda in particular. American policy was described as “schizophrenic” because the U.S. is accusing Saudi Arabia of supporting terrorism, but at the same time, forming an alliance with it to confront terrorism. It was also claimed that the U.S. had supported the mujahideen in Afghanistan, just as Saudi Arabia had, and that the fact that these mujahideen had joined Al-Qaeda stemmed from mistakes perpetrated by the U.S. The U.S., it was claimed, is therefore more responsible than Saudi Arabia for the deeds perpetrated by Al-Qaeda. Some writers claimed that the bill reflects a change in the position of the U.S. administration toward Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states and stated that a rift in the relations between the countries was possible. The articles were written on the eve of U.S. President Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states on April 21 and reflect the anger and criticism harbored in the Gulf states toward the policy of his administration. President Obama and King Salman (Image: english.alarabiya.net) Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Editor: These Are Baseless Claims Aimed At Sabotaging U.S.-Saudi Relations Salman Al-Dosari, editor of the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, wrote: “These allegations about Saudi links to the infamous 9/11 attacks are not new. They die down for a while and then reemerge suddenly, whenever certain individuals want them to… These claims are not based on facts, proof, or legal evidence, and their actual purpose is to cause cracks in the unified ranks of the two main allies that oppose terrorism [Saudi Arabia and the U.S.] and to undermine the trust between the two sides. How indeed can you win a war when you doubt your main ally [in the struggle] against your common enemy?… “I wish to remind those [who link Saudi Arabia to 9/11] that from the 9/11 terrorist attacks to this day, it has been proven, with clear-cut evidence, that the damage done by Al-Qaeda and its attacks to Saudi Arabia – its citizens, its officials, its government, and even its royal family – surpasses the damage that it did to the U.S. Is this not enough to prove that Al-Qaeda is first and foremost an enemy of Saudi Arabia? How is it possible to think that anyone would defend those who kill him and act to destabilize him? “[Even] if 15 of the 9/11 perpetrators were Saudis, this is not grounds for Saudi Arabia bearing the blame for their crime forever. For example, the French Prime Minister said in the past that 5,000 Europeans were fighting alongside the extremists in Syria and Iraq, and that, according to French intelligence estimates, this number was expected to rise to 10,000 ISIS fighters by the end of 2015. Would it be fair to blame the [European] governments of these extremists and hold them accountable because such a startling number [of their citizens] joined this one terrorist organization?… “Saudi Arabia wants to know the facts regarding these [9/11] terrorists – who assisted and funded them – not just in order to protect the U.S. and the entire world from the danger [such terrorists] pose, but also in order to protect itself, since this terrorism primarily targets Saudi Arabia. Accusations like those being thrown around randomly are not based on facts, but are merely conjecture and baseless personal opinions that should be disregarded. Additionally, they contradict the laws and the constitution of the U.S. itself. Naturally, Saudi Arabia does not address claims that are irrelevant and without legal basis. The dangerous thing here is that, whenever officials from the two countries try to strengthen trust between them, people come along and punch holes in [this trust], which renders [their joint] efforts to combat terrorism ineffective. The ones who gain the most from this are the very terrorist that the world is trying to eliminate. Saudi Arabia is a prominent partner in this complex issue [of fighting terror, and therefore] the administration of President Barack Obama is tasked with the major role of getting the alliance between the two countries back on track and preventing [acts of] momentary opportunism from harming the strategic relations between Riyadh and Washington…” Saudi Columnist: Is The U.S., Which Accuses Us Of Supporting Al-Qaeda, Schizophrenic? Khalaf Al-Harbi, a columnist for the official Saudi daily ‘Okaz, wrote: “Fifteen years after the events of 9/11, our beloved [friends] the Americans have suddenly discovered that Saudi Arabia is responsible for this terrorist crime that changed the face of the world. This strange discovery prompts us to present several innocent questions: [If Saudi Arabia is responsible for the attacks,] why then did the U.S. destroy the impoverished Afghanistan until nothing was left standing there? Why did it invade Iraq and set it back a thousand years? Why did it choose Saudi Arabia, of all [countries], as its ally in its war on terror and rely on it heavily in its fight against Al-Qaeda?… [As a matter of fact,] the establishment of the brigades of Arab mujahideen in Afghanistan was carried out in cooperation with the U.S., and the role played by the CIA in this is public knowledge. The fact that some of those same mujahideen later strayed and joined Al-Qaeda has more to do with the U.S. than with Saudi Arabia. “More importantly, after the events of 9/11 and the U.S. becoming embroiled in Afghanistan and Iraq, Saudi Arabia entered into a fierce war against Al-Qaeda in its own territory, simply because this organization saw Saudi Arabia as a strategic and political U.S. ally. So how can Saudi Arabia be behind Al-Qaeda, which is fighting against it due to its relations with the U.S.? Moreover, the U.S. signed security cooperation agreements with Saudi Arabia in order to fight Al-Qaeda, pursue its members, bomb its strongholds, and sever its organization channels. Has mother America become schizophrenic, that it now accuses us of backing our common enemy?! I believe that our foreign diplomacy currently faces the historic task of standing against these American defamations, so that we are not forced to confront unjust allegations regarding mistakes that were not ours [in the first place], but rather mistakes made by the Americans themselves!” Bahraini Journalist: Saudi Arabia’s Threat To Sell Off Its U.S. Assets Should Be Commended; It Could End Saudi-U.S. Relations Columnist ‘Abd Al-Mun’im Ibrahim wrote in the Bahraini daily Akhbar Al-Khaleej: “These media leaks reveal the extent of the shift in American positions – [the positions of] both the administration and Congress – regarding U.S. ties with Saudi Arabia and the other GCC states. Apparently the American administration no longer sees the GCC states as strategic allies. In fact, things are at a point where the U.S. even adopts positions that harm Saudi interests in the region. A debate in Congress is all it takes for Saudi Arabia to be accused of involvement in the 9/11 attacks. [The bill] that will enable [Saudi Arabia] to face prosecution in American courts is sufficient indication of the change in the U.S. political attitude towards Saudi Arabia and the GCC states. If this bill passes in Congress, then similar ones will be passed regarding the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain, and possibly also Oman, since they are all home to citizens involved in terrorist activity. “Recent debates in Congress reveal the existence of a pro-Iran, anti-Saudi lobby in the U.S. government. This lobby does not make do with portraying Iran in a positive light, but also engages in blackmailing Saudi Arabia and the other GCC states financially and economically, and threatens to prosecute regional countries in American courts. It is important to commend the strong and courageous Saudi position in response to the proposed bill in Congress, as well as the Saudi threat [made by Foreign Minister ‘Adel Al-Jubeir] to freeze its vast financial fortune in the U.S. [This Saudi position] will spell the beginning of the end of Saudi-American ties and place the entire region on the lip of an erupting volcano.” Bahraini Writer: U.S. Worries Saudi Arabia Will Become A Strong Leading Arab Force And Therefore Harms It With 9/11 Issue Faisal Al-Sheikh wrote in the Bahraini daily Al-Watan: “It is clear that the increasing Saudi activity since the ascension of Saudi King Salman bin ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz Al-Saud, which is meant to unite Arab and Islamic ranks, is worrisome to U.S. decision makers. This is evidenced by the increase of attempts to harm the big sister [Saudi Arabia] on multiple fronts. Saudi Arabia’s decisive positions have become a crisis for the U.S., which is trying to prove its self-proclaimed status as guardian of the global abilities. Now the U.S. Congress is trying to harm Saudi Arabia through the gate of ‘terrorism,’ by attempting to tie it to the 9/11 attacks… The goal that members of Congress are attempting to attain serves the domination[-oriented] trends of the White House, even if President Obama is trying – like in some pathetically directed movie scene – to seem as though he is trying to dissuade Congress from passing this bill. “Their problem with Saudi Arabia stems from the fact that it has impressively emerged as an Arab force that cannot be discounted, and is able to unite Arab ranks and positions. A serious examination of King Salman’s moves, particularly his recent visits, reveals a significant warming in Saudi Arabia’s relations with Egypt and Turkey, and Washington cannot stand idly by and watch this happen. The U.S. often presents itself as the primary country providing annual financial aid to world countries… But recent reports show that Saudi Arabia provides the most aid to its regional neighbors and to Islamic countries. This means that the Arab and Islamic world has a strong support [pillar] that renders Western forces unnecessary… “Forceful Saudi activity on this front is a source of great concern for the White House, especially in light of [Saudi Arabia’s] clear success in uniting Arab and Islamic ranks, both in the war to liberate Yemen from Iran’s agents, the Houthis, and regarding the united Arab and Islamic forces and the strength they showed during the ‘Northern Thunder’ military exercises, which U.S. military experts studied generally and in detail, and examined their scenarios and implications. “That is why [the Americans] are attacking Saudi Arabia… But their problem is that Saudi Arabia’s determination will not falter even if they attack it, since Saudi Arabia operates according to the logic of power and discretion, which means that it and those beside it cannot be broken and their arms cannot be twisted.” SOURCE: MEMRI Endnotes:  Nytimes.com, April 15, 2016.  ‘Okaz (Saudi Arabia), April 18, 2016.  On the discourse in the Gulf press on the eve of Obama’s visit, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No.6394, Saudi Arabia, Gulf States On Eve Of Obama Visit: Obama Disappointed Us, Caused Us To Realize He Is Not A True Friend And To Start Relying Only On Ourselves, April 20, 2016.  Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 19, 2016.  ‘Okaz (Saudi Arabia), April 19, 2016.  Akhbar Al-Khaleej (Bahrain), April 18, 2016.  Al-Watan (Bahrain), April 16, 2016.
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