More than Saudi Arabia targeted by JASTA

Sunday 09/10/2016
Many countries are eyeing Arab wealth

The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) has been perceived as legisla­tion targeting only Saudi Arabia and limited to the events of Septem­ber 11th, 2011. This perception is true to some extent but what is certain is that it is not just Saudi Arabia that is being targeted.

As the saying goes, the devil is in the details and the details of this act render many Arab countries potential targets.

Investigations related to the September 11th events found no link between the attackers and the Saudi government. Consequently, all efforts to blackmail Saudi Arabia into changing some of its political choices failed . What happened with Saudi Arabia can easily be duplicated in other Arab countries.

JASTA, passed by the US Congress despite strong opposition from US President Barack Obama, comes during the administration’s stated turn from the Middle East and after its agreement with Iran that was beneficial to Tehran. That deal dismayed many in Congress and the Arab world. Whatever the goals of the Iran nuclear deal, JASTA is as much, if not more, about political expediency than seeking justice. That does not reduce the risk for Arab countries and the Americans’ intentions should be questioned even if they change the law after the election.

JASTA was no accident nor did it just target those who were involved in the 9/11 attacks. The objective was much wider than announced.

Of course, those who brainstormed, drafted and enacted JASTA are convinced that those countries targeted by the act — Saudi Arabia and others — seem, at least for now, helpless.

Even in cases in which these countries opt for the withdrawal of Arab investments from the United States or for stopping such investments, there are laws, regulations and even conventions that would prevent the carrying out of such a move. There will be no other alternatives but to submit to US demands.

It is perhaps time to use the highly suspicious JASTA as the starting point for an Arab awakening that would put an end to all these proxy conflicts and wars in the region and bring about a re-evaluation of many of the policies that have resulted in the horrible conditions in many countries, policies that have relied on involving foreign parties such as Iran, Turkey and Russia in the battles in Syria and Iraq.

The experiences of the Arab region during the past few years have made it clear that many countries are eyeing Arab wealth.

Those Arab countries that are still in one piece like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco have no choice but to reinforce cooperation and coordination efforts among themselves in the service of a political agenda capable of confronting threats emanating from JASTA. They need to steer clear of internal conflicts and even sometimes unwarranted attacks on each other, divisions that have allowed foreign powers to maintain a grip on essential issues in many Arab crises.

Perhaps JASTA will serve to revive the concept of a regional Arab power that has been forgotten as each Arab country became obsessed with its own territorial survival. In the midst of crises and civil wars, any Arab country that succeeds in preserving its unity despite the divisive plans in place would indeed escape the laid trap.

When we seriously choose cooperation and when we would have our own Arab JASTA, Washington can no longer dictate its will to us.