Calls for banning Kuwaitis from travelling to Iran

Calls for banning Kuwaitis from travelling to Iran
The uncovering of an alleged terrorist cell linked to Iran and Hizballah has stirred a political controversy in the Gulf nation, with calls by Kuwaiti politicians for a tougher response
3 min read
10 September, 2015
Waleed Al-Tabtabaie is a controversial Islamist former MP.[AFP/Getty]

Waleed Al-Tabtabaie, a controversial Salafi Islamist former MP, has called for a ban on all travel to Iran as a response to what he called "Iranian arrogance" and meddling by the Iranian embassy in the internal affairs of Kuwait.

This comes a week after Kuwait charged 26 people suspected of links to Iran and Hizballah with forming a terrorist cell and plotting attacks against the Gulf state.

Kuwaiti lawmakers have strongly deplored Iran after the public prosecution accused 25 Kuwaitis and an Iranian of being members of the cell allegedly linked to Iran and Hizballah.

Several MPs called on Kuwait to take diplomatic actions against Iran including cutting off ties and declaring Hizballah a terrorist group.

The reactions against Iran intensified after the Iranian embassy issued a statement in which it criticised the public prosecution for involving Iran in the cell.

Former Salafi MP Tabtabaie called for pulling the Kuwaiti ambassador from Tehran

Tabtabaie, was also responding to statements by the President of Iran's Shura Council Ali Larijani criticising Kuwait, which the former Kuwait MP said were evidence of the "Iranian threat and evil intentions."

Tabtabaie said the Kuwati official reaction to Iranian statements and actions was unsatisfactory and too lenient, calling for a tough stand away from "naive containment."

The former MP said the government's political measures were not as good as the security and judicial measures, which he described as "positive."

Tabtabaie called for pulling the Kuwaiti ambassador from Tehran, and criticised what he said was the absence of official statements commensurate with the "threat."

He then recalled the "weak Kuwaiti reaction" to Iraqi threats in the 1980s, and called for expediting the approval of a Gulf confederacy as well as stronger Kuwaiti participation in the Saudi-led military operation in Yemen.

Speaker defends Kuwaiti response

In a press conference on Wednesday, Marzouq Al-Ghanim, chairperson of the Kuwaiti National Assembly said debate should avoid "emotional statements".

Ghanim said the Kuwaiti people must ignore "troublemakers and advocates of sedition," who he said want to take advantage of any event to drive a wedge among Kuwaitis.

"Perhaps some were dismayed by the cohesion shown by the Kuwaitis after the bombing of Imam al-Sadiq mosque, but I can assure everyone that we will emerge united and victorious from this crisis," he added.

I can assure everyone that we will emerge united and victorious from this crisis
- Marzouq Al-Ghanim, Kuwaiti speaker

Ghanim's press conference was held to discuss the terrorist cell known in the media as the Abadaly/Hizballah cell and the fallout it has caused in the Gulf nation.

Ghanim said the individuals and parties behind the cell must be named, stressing the need to punish those involved as individuals and not the religious communities or political orientations to which they are affiliated.

The Kuwaiti speaker said a meeting of the government and parliament would be held next Sunday, attended by the prime minister, to discuss the issue.

Ghanim stressed that the interests of Kuwait came ahead of the interests of any country, party or organisation, pointing out that the National Assembly deals seriously with all threats to the country.

Ghanim then called for prudence, unity and rallying behind the political leadership, stressing that deputies in the National Assembly represent the nation, not their personal interests, religious communities or regions.

The speaker also thanked European nations and the international community for welcoming Syrian refugees, and highlighted the Kuwaiti role in this regard, including the three donor conferences Kuwait has hosted for the refugees.