Two missiles fired from territory held by Houthi rebels in Yemen fell just short of a US warship patrolling the Red Sea, the Navy said Oct. 10. The attack took place just north of the Bab al-Mandab Strait, which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. The destroyer USS Mason had been "conducting routine operations in international waters," the Pentagon said in a statement. A day earlier, the Arab coalition fighting the Houthis accused the rebels of firing a ballistic missile toward the southwestern Saudi city of Taif. The missile was one of two that the Saudi-led coalition intercepted that day, the coalition said. Both attacks were apparent retaliation for an Oct. 8 air-strike by the Saudi-led coalition that killed at least 140 and wounded over 500 at a funeral in Sanaa. In the aftermath of the strike, Yemen's ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh—who has allied his loyalist forces with the Houthis—called for a mobilization along the Saudi border "to take revenge."
The US Congress on Sept. 28 overrode President Barrack Obama's veto of a bill that will allow the families of 9-11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia. Obama had vetoed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), stating that it violates international standards of sovereign immunity, and may set a dangerous precedent for the US to be held liable by foreign courts. Obama stated that the decision was necessary to uphold US national interests. Congress voted overwhelmingly to override Obama's veto, with the Senate voting 97-1 and the House 348-77. This is the first veto overridden during Obama's presidency.
US President Barack Obama on Sept. 23 vetoed a bill that would have allowed 9-11 victims and their families to sue Saudi Arabia, citing concerns that it would open US diplomats and servicemen to suit abroad. Congress overwhelmingly approved the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) earlier this year, with support from both parties for the bill that would allow federal suits against foreign nations determined to have had a hand in terror acts. In rejecting the law, Obama stated:
The US House of Representatives approved legislation (PDF) Sept. 9 that would allow US nationals to seek relief from foreign governments believed to have had involvement with a terrorist attack taking place within the US that caused physical damage to that citizen's person or property. The Act, titled the "Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act," would allow families of those killed in the 9-11 terrorist attacks to sue the government of Saudi Arabia. President Barack Obama is in opposition to the bill because of its major foreign policy implications, including the possibility that US approval of the Act would open the country up to receiving civil suits by foreign nationals in return. The Saudi government has warned that if such legislation is enacted it may begin selling off up to $750 billion in Treasury securities and other assets. The US government maintains that Saudi Arabia did not fund the 9-11 attacks. The bill was approved by the Senate in May, and Obama has threatened to veto it.
Human rights organizations on Sept. 1 claimed mounting evidence shows Russia is behind the increasing number of cluster bombings in Syria. The accusations were levied in response to the annual Cluster Munition Monitor report (PDF) which found that Syrian government forces used 13 types of cluster munitions in more than 300 attacks. The cluster munition report maintains that civilians instead of opposition forces are often killed or harmed during munition usage, as some of the bombs have delayed detonation devices, essentially making them landmines. The report claims that not only are most of the munitions manufactured by Russia but also that the spike in their usage did not occur until after the joint Russian-Syrian military partnership began in September 2015.
It requires a really special kind of cynicism to pull this one off—the kind born of complete impunity, when the world gives you a blank check to carry out any kind of atrocity. Saudi fighter jets on Aug. 21 carried out air-strikes on a peaceful rally in Yemen's capital Sanaa that had been called to protest Saudi air-strikes. Most recent accounts put the death toll at three, but it seems very likely to rise. The protesters were mostly armed, and began firing on the warplanes with their AK-47s after the air-strikes, in a useless act of defiance. The rally was called after Doctors Without Borders (MSF) withdrew its staff from six Yemen hospitals in response to a Saudi sir-strike on a hospital that left 19 people dead in the northern province of Hajja. It was the fourth health facility supported by MSF to be hit by Saudi-led coalition air-strikes over the course of the war, now in its 17th month. The US continues to have military advisors directly supporting the Saudis' air war in Yemen. This week, their number was cut from about 45 to five, although US officials said this was not due to concern over civilian casualties. (Nine News, Australia, Aug. 21; BBC News, Aug. 20; NYT, Aug. 18)
The House Intelligence Committee on July 15 released a declassified "28-pages" (PDF) detailing possible connections between Saudi Arabia and the 9-11 hijackers. Whether the "28-pages" should be released was a hotly debated matter, spanning years as victims' families and lawmakers pressed for the report to be issued. Some calling for the release of the report believed that the US had been attempting to cover up Saudi Arabia's involvement in the attacks. The document acknowledges that "some of the September 11 hijackers were in contact with, and received support or assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi Government." But other sources, including the 9-11 Commission report, have held that the Saudi government was in no way involved in the attacks. Despite containing only leads to possible Saudi ties to the hijackers, former Sen. Bob Graham applauded the release, saying it would lead to further questioning of the Saudi government's potential involvement. He stated: "I think of this almost as the 28 pages are sort of the cork in the wine bottle. And once it's out, hopefully the rest of the wine itself will start to pour out."
Suicide bombings hit three cities in Saudi Arabia within 24 hours—including Medina, striking near the Prophet's Mosque, resting place of Muhammed and Islam's second holiest site. Four security officers were killed in that attack, which came during Maghreb prayers, as Muslims break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan. A suicide blast also struck near the US consulate in the coastal city of Jidda, wounding two security officers. And a suicide bomber blew himself up at a Shi'ite mosque in the eastern city of Qatif, although only the only casualty there was the attacker. There were no immediate claims of responsibility, but the attacks are pretty obviously the work of ISIS. (CNN, BBC News, Al Arabiya, NYT)