Item


 

The Kuwaiti government resigned after ppposition and pro-regime MP’s have urged the Kuwaiti cabinet to resign amid parliamentary requests to question member of the Ruling Family who hold senior government portfolios.

 

The resignation came after lawmakers asked to question three ministers who are ruling family members, including the oil exporter's energy minister, who is also the information minister. The sources said they expected the Emir to reappoint Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah to form another cabinet.

 

Shiite MP Saleh Ashour filed a request to grill the foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammad Al-Sabah as a political crisis loomed in view of the events in Bahrain and relations with Iran.

 

A number of MPs have stepped up the pressure on the government to step down, with pro-government MP Ali Al-Rashed saying the whole cabinet should quit and many ministers changed, while Faisal Al-Duwaisan, another pro-government MP, said he will support any grilling against any minister or the premier. So far, three grillings have been submitted during the past one week, all against ministers who are senior members of the ruling family.

 

The grilling against the foreign minister is based on a television program aired by the state-run Bahrain Television on March 25 and 26 and which one MP claims contained highly offensive statements against Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and a number of prominent Kuwaiti Shiite families.

 

The grilling claimed that the foreign ministry did not perform its constitutional duty to defend the interests and integrity of the Kuwaiti people and the regime, insisting that the Bahrain incidents have revealed a major deficiency in the functioning of the foreign ministry.

 

In a separate development, Kuwait sentenced to death three accused of spying in the Iranian spy-ring case. The Kuwaitis also announced they were expelling three Iranian diplomats as a result of the spy-ring. Iran denied any involvement.

 

March 25-31, 2011

 

 

Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk


 

Kuwait appears to be the first GCC state to be affected by the Bahrain events. Kuwait is the other GCC state with a significant Shiite proportion of the population. Although Shiites in Kuwait enjoy comparable standards of living to the rest of the Sunni majority, there have been occasional political difficulties. The busting of an alleged Iranian spy-ring last year highlighted the difficult political situation in the country. Kuwait was the last of the GCC states to afford support to the Peninsula Shield, that was sent to Bahrain to suppress the Shiite protests. The government did not wish to aggravate a potentially explosive situation, with Shiite leaders warning the government not to join the Peninsula Shield forces.

 

The fall of the government is in effect an indirect result of the Bahrain uprising. Although the Kuwaiti political scene has seen much volatility in the past months, the Bahraini events, and worsening GCC relations with Iran have undoubtedly led to this resignation. The combination of events that led to the fall of the government remain in place and whilst the government’s resignation has averted an immediate parliamentary-government clash, the causes for the unrest remain. In addition, the fact that the grillings were directed against senior ruling family members points to a new direction which the opposition might take, and that is to ensure that new Kuwaiti governments do not include ruling family members.

 

With the situation with Iran worsening, the country faces potential civil unrest, both politically as well as ethnically motivated.

 

The figure below shows the make-up of the Kuwaiti population: