Home >> World

Saudi Arabia warns of economic fallout if US lawmakers pass 9/11 bill

Saudi Arabia has threatened the US government and members of US Congress that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars worth of American assets held by the kingdom if the US Congress passes a bill that allowing the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the September 11, 2001, attacks.

The threat has forced the Obama administration to block the passage of the bill in the Congress, according to administration officials and congressional aides from both parties. It is learned that the threats issued by Riyadh have been discussed intensely in recent weeks by lawmakers and officials from the state department and the Pentagon. The senators were warned by the officials about the diplomatic and economic fallout from the legislation.

Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir delivered the kingdom's message personally when he visited Washington last month, He told lawmakers that Saudi Arabia would sell up to $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets in the US before the American courts could freeze them.

Outside economists however said that it was highly unlikely that the Saudis would follow through as such a sell-off would be difficult to execute and would end up crippling the kingdom's economy. Political experts, however, maintain that the threat shows that the relations between Washington and Riyadh are worsening.

US President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Riyadh on Wednesday for meetings with King Salman and other officials. It is unclear whether the two leaders will discuss the the 9/11 legislation during the talks. Saudi officials have long denied that the kingdom had any role in the terror plot, and the 9/11 Commission found "no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organisation".