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Cablegate: National Assembly Wrap-Up: March 29 to April 1,

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS KUWAIT 001197

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/ARP, INR/NESA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL EAID PINR IZ LY KU
SUBJECT: NATIONAL ASSEMBLY WRAP-UP: MARCH 29 TO APRIL 1,
2003

1. SUMMARY: The National Assembly voiced strong support for
Operation Iraqi Freedom, approved the GOK's supplemental
budget request of approximately $1.6 billion, and debated
punishing hostile states by withholding loans from the Kuwait
Fund for Arab Economic Development. The mood of defiance
prompted Shaykh Sabah al-Ahmed to remind MPs that Kuwait is
and will remain an Arab country. END SUMMARY.

2. The National Assembly session on March 31 opened with
formal expressions of support for the U.S. led military
action in Iraq and a storm of criticism against those Arab
nations which have not condemned ongoing Iraqi missile
strikes against Kuwait. (NOTE: The Kuwaiti argument is that
the coalition's first attacks were carried out by cruise
missiles launched from platforms outside Kuwait, and that
Iraq struck first against Kuwait; accordingly, Kuwait
considers the Iraqi surface-to-surface missile strikes to be
acts of aggression. They also argue that the attacks seem
aimed at civilian rather than military targets. END NOTE.)
Poloff and PolFSN attended the March 31 session; MPs showered
them both with expressions of support for the war and for the
US role in it.

3. Moving into closed-door session, the National Assembly
then voted 39 to 4 (with 9 abstentions) to pass the KD500
million (approx $1.6 billion) supplemental budget requested
by the government. The supplement will meet the cost of
emergency security needs resulting from the current situation
in the region. The Ministry of Defense will receive KD200
million, the Ministry of the Interior KD121 million, the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs KD30 million, the Ministry of
Information KD12 million, the National Guard KD5 million, and
various other government departments will share the remaining
KD129 million.

4. As a result of the mob attack on the Kuwaiti Embassy in
Tripoli, the GOK expelled the Libyan ambassador to Kuwait.
MP Marzouk Al-Hbaini praised the government's action as a
step in the right direction, but stated "we still look
forward to closing the embassy as this will be a message to
all that he who does not respect Kuwait and its sovereignty
will not be respected by the Kuwaiti people."

5. Deputy Speaker Meshari Al-Anjari and a number of other
MPs introduced a draft bill to suspend for two years all aid
and loans extended by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic
Development (KFAED). The MPs want to consider existing and
future aid requests in light of recent developments in both
the Arab and broader international arenas in order to most
effectively achieve the political and strategic goals of the
state. Al-Anjari expressed his belief the amendment would
enable the government to reconsider its loan policy pursuant
to Kuwait's higher interests. The intent was unmistakable:
punish those states that have benefitted from Kuwaiti aid but
now castigate Kuwait for its role in support of Operation
Iraqi Freedom.

6. The National Assembly called on the Financial and
Economic Affairs Committee to submit its report on the above
amendment by April 9 so that the bill can be debated during
the April 14 session. The National Assembly also agreed to
prioritize draft bills on the redistribution of electoral
constituencies and on amendments to the children's allowance;
both will be debated before mid-April.

7. COMMENT: As Kuwaitis realize how isolated they are in
the Arab world, they are growing more defiant. So much so
that First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Shaykh
Sabah al-Ahmed sought to calm MPs, reminding the National
Assembly that Kuwait is and will remain an Arab country.
JONES

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