In 2001 the world reeled at the horrifying events of September 11th. Will the victims finally see justice done? Or have decades of atrocities put justice beyond our reach?
The US senate has voted to allow the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks to sue Saudi Arabia for their involvement.
While the bill has yet to be made law it has already sparked controversy within the US. Many have claimed that there is no situation in which President Obama can realistically pass the bill into law. This could be a catalyst for something bigger. Saudi Arabia has long been one of the US’ key allies in the Middle East. Does this bill represent the crumbling of an alliance between the West and the oil-rich extremist state? And does the US have any right to demand anything of the Middle East?
It has long been alleged that Saudi Arabia was involved in the attacks of September 11th 2001. As well as Saudi Arabia providing funding it is well known that of the 19 hijackers, 15 were from Saudi Arabia while the rest were from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Lebanon. It would be hard not to sympathise with the relatives of those killed. Now, almost 15 years on, it may be possible to do more than that … if the bill isn’t squashed first.
The bill itself would remove sovereign immunity for Saudi Arabia. Which is to say they will no longer be shielded from lawsuits surrounding the terror attacks in the US. Saudi Arabia would be open to legal prosecution from the victims of 9/11 and their families. In response Saudi authorities have threatened to sell up to $750 billion of US assets if the bill were passed into law.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir has said the bill would ‘turn the world for international law into the law of the jungle’. The backwardness of this statement can’t be lost on anyone, given that Saudi Arabia has proven connections with the attack and the passing of this bill could reasonably be called justice.
While Saudi Arabia is no doubt to blame for a great deal of horror throughout the Middle East, the US is far from innocent. Which begs the question: do the US have any right to demand anything of the Middle East?
Last month the US demanded $2 billion in compensation from Iran for terror attacks. Iran countered this by demanding compensation from the US for 63 years of ‘spiritual and material damage’ caused by US intervention, not just in Iran, but throughout the Middle East.
Before the US’ intervention, the Middle East was far more progressive compared to the largely theocratic region we see today. Beginning in the Cold War era, Saudi Arabia was instrumental in the spread of the doctrine of Wahhabism in the US, an ultra-conservative branch of Sunni Islam on which Saudi Arabia was founded. While no single doctrine can be blamed for extremism, it is certainly true that some teachings are easier to pervert than others. Wahhabism relies heavily on strict interpretations of Sharia, including the most brutal forms of punishment shared by ISIS. The philosophy was in steep decline in the increasingly progressive Middle East. Countries like Iran and Afghanistan were all but free of this oppressive side of religiosity.
In fact, the former President of Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser, mocked the idea of imposing the Hijab on women against their will.
But as with all best laid plans, America’s attempt to turn the Middle East against the ‘godless’ USSR could still lead to their own destruction. Perhaps not in a literal sense but certainly in a moral one.
Those In Glass Houses
While garnering compensation from Iran or Saudi Arabia may see justice done for individual Americans, there is a greater issue at hand. Regardless of who started the reign of terror sweeping areas of the Middle East, no one side can wash their hands of innocent blood. No amount of money can balance the scales of justice. Both sides have committed atrocities in pursuit of ‘freedom’ or ‘holiness’ when in truth, these words are little more than delusion at best or recruitment tools at worst.