Kuwaiti Shia Lawmakers Boycott Parliament
By: Abdol Ali
KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait: Kuwait’s Shia lawmakers boycotted parliament
Wednesday, a day after a mass sentencing of members of the minority
to prison or death for belonging to an Iran-linked cell.
All nine Shia M.P.s stayed away from the national assembly, which
held a secret debate on the impact of regional conflicts on Kuwait,
following attacks on Sunni-ruled ally Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic
missions in Iran. One of them, Saleh Ashour, said: “The anger of
Kuwaiti Shias has reached its peak in recent days with followers of
a complete sect” being accused of acting as “agents for Iran and
being members of [Lebanese Shia militia] Hezbollah.” At the same
time, authorities are failing to take action against people taking
part in fighting in Iraq and Syria, Ashour said on Twitter, a
reference to members of Sunni jihadist groups.
Abdulhameed Dashti, another Shia legislator, wrote on Twitter that
he was boycotting the 50-seat parliament for the day.
Sunni M.P. Ahmad al-Azemi told reporters “Shia M.P.s boycotted the
session in protest against the verdicts.”
“They are sending a message which we reject. Court verdicts must be
respected,” said Azemi, who also called on the government to expel
the Iranian ambassador.
The unprecedented boycott comes after a lower court on Tuesday
sentenced 22 people, all but one of them Kuwaiti Shias, who were
charged with spying for Iran and plotting attacks in the Gulf
Two defendants, including an Iranian tried in absentia, were
sentenced to death while 19 were handed jail terms ranging from five
years to life. Another was fined 5,000 dinars while three were
The court said the cell members had links with Hezbollah and the
Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Shia Muslims form around 30 percent of Kuwait’s native population of
1.3 million. The oil-rich emirate has witnessed a rise in sectarian
tensions due to regional strife.
Following the debate, parliament said it rejected practices that
“undermine the security of Gulf Cooperation Council,” and expressed
“total and unlimited support for Saudi Arabia.”
Kuwait recalled its ambassador from Iran to protest the attacks on
the Saudi missions, and summoned Tehran’s ambassador to express its
disapproval. The attacks, carried out by protesters angry at Saudi
Arabia’s execution of prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, prompted
Riyadh to cut diplomatic ties with Tehran.
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