Kuwait's Shia MPs in mass walk-out

Kuwait's Shia MPs in mass walk-out
Kuwait's Shia lawmakers boycotted parliament on Wednesday, a day after a mass sentencing of members of the religious minority to death or prison, accused of belonging to an Iran-linked cell.
2 min read
13 January, 2016
A session of Kuwait's National Assembly without the minority Shia representatives, January 13, 2016. [Getty]
All nine Shia representatives of Kuwait's national assembly on Wednesday boycotted a secret debate on the impact of regional conflicts following attacks Saudi Arabia's diplomatic missions in Iran.

It comes after a number of Shia Kuwaitis were sentenced to death or prison for alleged links to an Iranian "terror cell".

"The anger of Kuwaiti Shias has reached its peak in recent days with followers of a sect" being accused of acting as "agents for Iran and being members of Hizballah," MP Saleh Ashour, told AFP:

Ashour said on Twitter that despite Kuwait authorities clamping down on alleged Shia militancy, the government is failing to take action against Kuwaitis fighting for extremist Sunni groups in Iraq and Syria.

Abdulhameed Dashti, another Shia legislator, wrote on Twitter that he was boycotting the 50-seat parliament for the day.

He did not give an explicit reason for the boycott.

The New Arab was not able to contact Dashti for comment. 

Tensions have arisen between Dashti and the Sunni majority in Kuwait's National Assembly before. 

In July, Dashti came under fire for visiting the family of a senior Hizballah fighter once accused of an assasination attempt against Kuwait's late emir. 

On Tuesday, courts sentenced 22 people, all but one of them Kuwaiti Shias, who were charged with spying for Iran and plotting attacks in the Gulf country.

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 ($16,500) while three were acquitted.

The court said the accused had links with Hizballah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Shia's 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.

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.