Kuwait has banned any more media reporting on the alleged spy cell. Kuwaiti English-language newspaper Kuwait Times reported that Public Attorney Hamed Al-Othman had issued a decision forbidding any more publication of news on the issue. The report has not been verified by officials.
Several Kuwaiti lawmakers called for the expulsion of the Iranian ambassador and pressed the government to speak out on the spy allegations.
The Iranian Embassy in Kuwait strongly denied the media report, and a high-ranking official dismissed the allegations as a "Zionist plot" to tarnish the image of the Revolutionary Guard.
The Kuwaiti government for its part has been tight-lipped on the issue, only offering limited information and not naming Iran.
May 6, 2010
Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk
The arrest of the alleged Iranian cell appears to be more serious than reported by the local media. Political Capital has predicted that the issue will escalate and possibly lead to increasing tensions between Kuwait’s Sunni and Shiite communities. Whilst this has not happened yet, the blanket media ban points in the direction that that Kuwaiti authorities have identified something more complex than what initial media reports suggested. The clear anti-Iranian calls by fundamentalist Sunni MP’s confirm this.
It now appears more likely that there is a heavier involvement of members of the local Shiite community, and hence the blanket ban in an effort by the authorities to avoid local tensions.
In the event of a military confrontation, Iran will likely use “sleeper cell” tactics to attack Western interests in GCC states. The GCC has significant local Shiite populations, who in many cases feel disgruntled by the regimes. The arrests confirm that Iran plans to use those local Shiite populations in any confrontation.
The threat to GCC states are therefore twofold:
- Use of “sleeper” cells to attack targets in the GCC if Iran is attacked;
- Increasing local tensions between Shiites and Sunnis in Kuwait and other GCC states with significant Shiite populations.
The busting of the alleged cell, subsequent arrests and media ban all point in the direction of increasing tensions and threats.
The figure below shows the size of the Shiite communities in GCC states, which Iran may have embedded sleeper cells in the event of an attack.
The figure below shows the distribution of the local GCC Shiite population in the GCC.