The Iranian Charge d’Affaires Mohammed Shahabi (left), with Kuwait Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Khaled Sulaiman Al-Jarallah.
Kuwait to oust 3 Iranian diplomats in spy row Iran Charge d’Affaires summoned

KUWAIT CITY, March 31: Deputy Premier and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Dr Mohammad Al-Sabah on Thursday confirmed there is a conspiracy to destabilize the security of Kuwait, referring to the three Iranian diplomats who will be expelled from the country soon for their alleged involvement in a spy network.
Speaking to reporters after his meeting with the Foreign Affairs Committee at the Parliament, Sheikh Mohammad disclosed they discussed the current situation in the region, particularly the role of the Kuwaiti judiciary, which affirmed that some groups are trying to weaken the military, political and economic sectors in the country. He said it is disheartening to find out that the conspiracy started in Iran, considering that Kuwait opened its heart to the latter.

“Despite the incessant calls of many countries to take military action against Iran, Kuwait has never allowed any nation to use its territories as a launch pad for such an attack. We were stunned after receiving information that some Iranian officials are part of the spy network,” Sheikh Mohammad lamented.

On the measures taken by the ministry, Sheikh Mohammad disclosed, “We formed a crisis committee to handle the issue, recalled the Kuwaiti ambassador to Tehran, summoned the Iranian charge d’affaires in Kuwait and submitted a protest letter. The necessary action will be taken soon against the Iranian diplomats, such as declaring them persona non grata and they will be expelled from Kuwait.”

Warning against mixing up domestic issues and Kuwait’s security amidst the endless bickering in the local political arena, Sheikh Mohammad pointed out, “We always say there are winners and losers in politics but when national security is at stake, everyone is a loser.”

Meanwhile, several lawmakers expressed support for the steps taken by the ministry and urged the government to take more precautions against Iran.

MP Mohammad Hayef affirmed he fully supports the action taken by the ministry against the spy network and called for the withdrawal of Kuwaiti Ambassador to Iran Majdi Al-Zafir.

MP Faisal Al-Muslim said the Development and Reform Bloc agrees with the government on the need to expel the three Iranian diplomats. He also asked the executive to take maximum precaution against Iran and its cells.

MP Mohammad Barak Al-Mutair praised Sheikh Mohammad for recalling the Kuwaiti ambassador to Iran, which coincided with the issuance of a court ruling on the execution of Iranian spies in Kuwait.  He also underscored the need to stop Iran from destabilizing the GCC nations and called for the expulsion of the Iranian diplomats.

MP Mubarak Al-Khurainej said the new government should convey a clear message to its Iranian counterpart after the discovery of the spy network, which seems keen on destabilizing Kuwait. He appealed for unity among Kuwaitis to confront the crisis.

MP Musallam Al-Barrak alleged that HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah said Iran has nothing to do with the spy network when the Iranian spies were arrested.  “However, the court has issued a verdict against the spies and confirmed the involvement of Iranian officials in the network,” he added.

On the other hand, Charge d Affaires at the Islamic Republic of Iran Embassy in Kuwait Mohammed Shibabi vehemently denied the allegations that his country is involved in the spy network.

In a press statement Thursday, Shibabi asserted, “This accusation is baseless because the Iranian foreign policy totally rejects such activities.” He added Tehran is ready to cooperate in finding the truth through the formation of a joint-judicial committee to study the related documents and files.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi dismissed as a “conspiracy” against Muslim countries the death sentence announced by Kuwait against spies allegedly linked to Iran, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Salehi made the remarks in a telephone conversation with his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Mohammed Al-Sabah, who had earlier announced that an unspecified number of Iranian diplomats would be expelled for alleged spying since the 2003 Iraqi invasion.

“The old issue raised by a court in Kuwait and linked to the Islamic Republic of Iran is a plan pursued by those malevolent (forces) who do not desire good relations between the two countries,” Salehi was quoted as saying by IRNA.

“This (plan) is nothing but a conspiracy aimed at creating discord between Islamic countries in the region,” he added.

The three men condemned to death — two Iranians and a Kuwaiti national — were all serving in Kuwait’s army when they were arrested in May 2010. Iran at the time also strongly denied any involvement.
The court, in closed-door sessions, heard charges that the spy ring had passed on confidential military information, taken pictures of military installations in Kuwait and spied for Iran.
“What we saw in the ruling has shocked us ... that there is a conspiracy network linked to official sides in the Islamic republic. As a result we have set up a foreign ministry crisis cell and recalled our ambassador” from Tehran.

Kuwait’s Al-Qabas newspaper on Thursday said three Iranian diplomats were involved in the spy cell but the court could not prosecute them because of their diplomatic immunity.

Iranian diplomats started to recruit members of the ring a decade ago, according to the daily which cited details of the court ruling.
It said cell members had during the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq supplied Tehran with information on Kuwaiti army and coalition movements stationed in the country, used as a springboard for the campaign.
Analyst Mustafa Alani of the Gulf Research Centre in Dubai said the expulsions were unlikely to have a long-term impact on ties between Kuwait City and Tehran.

The Kuwaiti government was “under huge pressure from Sunni MPs ... and the media to take action, not to let this go without proving their displeasure,” Alani said.
He said the espionage ring was collecting information mainly on US military installations in Kuwait, as part of a pattern of recruiting local Shiites or nationals of Iranian origin in the Gulf to spy on Arab neighbours, Alani said.

About 45,000 Iranians live and work in predominantly Sunni Kuwait, which also has a sizeable Shiite minority.
On the Gulf front, the United States has accused Iran of undermining peace and stability in the region by trying to advance Tehran’s agenda in its pro-Western Arab neighbours across the waterway.
“We share the view that Iran’s activities in the Gulf, including its efforts to advance its agenda in the neighbouring countries undermines peace and stability,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said earlier this month.

Tehran has publicly come out in support of Arab protest movements in Bahrain and Yemen. Its Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi said Manama’s rulers had committed a “strategic and political” blunder that would cost their “legitimacy.”

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