Saudis see no change in ties during Trump presidency

US President-elect Donald Trump smiles as he arrives to speak at an election night rally, early Wednesday, in New York. (AP)
Updated 10 November 2016

Saudis see no change in ties during Trump presidency

RIYADH: A wide cross section of Saudi society on Wednesday exuded hope that US President-elect Donald Trump will be supportive of peace, security and stability in the Middle East.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman congratulated Trump on his election as the 45th president of the United States and expressed their well wishes.
Commenting on the election result, Salman Al-Ansari, founder and president of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee, a Washington-based organization, told Arab News by telephone: “I think it’s a huge change in the US political fabric, where the Republicans are the winners in the presidency and the congressional side through a majority in both Houses — the Senate and the House of Representatives, which is a complete shift on everything we have seen with the reluctant Obama’s presidency... I have huge hope that the new US administration will take crucial steps to rectify its trajectory of the deeply rooted relations with its allies, specifically Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states,” he underlined.
“So, we will see a completely different approach with regard to foreign affairs,” he said adding, “it will not be immediate but will be at some point, gradually.”
Although many Saudis were taken by surprise when they learned that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s quest to make history as the first female US president was foiled by Trump, they expressed their hope that the ongoing Saudi-US cordial relations will remain strong.
Mohamed Al-Khunaizi, a senior member of the Shoura Council, told Arab News, “We welcome the outcome of the US presidential election and are hopeful that the cordial relations between the Kingdom and the US will continue to bring security and stability to the region.” “No matter who is the president, the cordial bilateral relation will continue between the two friendly countries as the US president does not make many changes in the strategic policy for the region,” he added.
Mona Salahuddin Al-Munajjed, sociologist, author, and a keen observer of the presidential election, said: “As a woman, I am disappointed that Hillary Clinton was defeated. She was not acceptable to the majority.” She said that this indicates that America is still not ready to accept a woman as president. She, however, expressed hope that Saudis will see positive changes in the next government and Trump will take into consideration the relations with the Middle East, and will be helpful in finding solution to problems in the region.
Majed Abdullah Al-Hedayan, who heads the legal affairs department at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Arab News that the Middle East is very important for the White House, and American decision makers are aware of the importance and the vital role played by countries in the region to support security and stability.
“It is therefore expected from the president-elect to be helpful in achieving security and stability with social and economic development,” he said.
“We also expect that the US administration will be keen on further consolidating diplomatic relations, especially with the Gulf states for being an active hub in international decision making,” he added.

US court orders Iran to pay $879 million to 1996 Khobar bombing survivors

Updated 12 min 49 sec ago

US court orders Iran to pay $879 million to 1996 Khobar bombing survivors

  • The court ruled that the Iranian government directed and provided material for the attack
  • The Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia were housing US forces when it was bombed in 1996

DUBAI: A United States federal court held Iran responsible for the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia where US forces were housed, and ordered Tehran to pay $879 million to survivors. 

The Khobar Towers was a housing complex in the eastern city of Khobar, near the Abdulaziz Air Base and Saudi Aramco’s headquarters in Dhahran, that housed American servicemen working on Operation Southern Watch.

A truck bomb was detonated on June 25, 1996, near an eight-story building of the housing complex, which killed 19 US Air Force personnel and a Saudi national and wounded 498 others.

The court ruled that the Iranian government directed and provided material support to Hezbollah who detonated the 5,000-pound truck bomb, a Chicago law firm press release said. The attackers reportedly smuggled the explosives used in the attack from Lebanon. 

The lawsuit was brought under the terrorism exception of the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act by the 14 injured US airmen and 21 of their immediate family members.

The defendants in the case were listed as the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security.

“We will continue to seek to hold the Government of Iran accountable for this terrorist attack as long as is necessary,” said Adora Sauer, the lead attorney of MM LAW LLC.

US District Judge Beryl A. Howell found the defendants liable and awarded the plaintiffs $132 million for pain and suffering, as well as prejudgment interest, for a total compensatory damage award of $747 million and $132 million for punitive damages.

The court also said the plaintiffs are eligible for partial payments from the US Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, which compensates American victims of acts of international terrorism with funds obtained from fines and forfeitures levied against companies caught illegally laundering money for sanctioned countries and persons. 


READ MORE: 45 Moments that changed the Middle East - The bombing of Khobar Towers


The attorneys also intend to pursue enforcement of the judgments through litigation intended to seize Iranian assets.

“The physical and psychological toll on our families has been extremely high, but this judgment is welcome news. More than 20 years on, we want the world to remember the evil that Iran did at the Khobar Towers. Through the work of our attorneys, we intend to do just that,” said Glenn Christie, a retired Air Force staff sergeant crew chief who was severely injured in the bombing.

“The massive explosion took so much from their minds and bodies on the day of the attack in 1996 and every day and night since then. They can now live with that balance justice provides,” according to John Urquhart of the Urquhart Law Firm, who also represents the bombing victims.