2 thoughts on “Kuwait under the spotlight”

  1. There have been two rather unfortunate outcomes of the Qatar spat over the past three months.
    The Saudis have sent strong signals that they would be happy to see Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali replace his cousin as Emir of Qatar. King Salman’s direct talks with Sheikh Abdullah, which led to Qatari nationals participating in the hajj this year, was an indication to this effect. Subsequently, a DC-based Saudi lobbyist went so far as to send a tweet suggesting that the Four should recognise Sheikh Abdullah as the rightful ruler of Qatar. These actions risk setting a new precedent of GCC countries meddling in each others’ internal affairs, directly contradicting the Four’s demand that Qatar cease doing exactly this.
    Second, Qatar has strengthened relations with Iran during the crisis, arguably out of necessity. A protracted standoff risks making Iranian influence on the south side of the Gulf a permanent feature on the map. This of course runs counter to the Four’s stated desire to weaken Qatari-Iranian relations.
    Kuwait has an important role to underscore these two points to their GCC partners and encourage all parties to resume (quiet) negotiations.

  2. A minor point, picking up on the reference from the Reuters report to the “historically good relations between Sunnis and the 15/20% Shia minority”. Relations were not always that good and particularly not during the 1980s when the Shia and Iran were allegedly implicated in terrorist activity and an assassination plot against the then Amir. The loyalty to Kuwait shown by the Shia during the Iraqi occupation did much to restore intercommunal relations. When I was with the Embassy after liberation in 1991 and calling on a senior oil industry official, I asked him about sectarianism. He opened a desk drawer and started shredding documents which, he explained, were the CVs of Kuwaiti Shia he had been banned from employing before the Iraqi invasion.

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