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07KUWAIT56 2007-01-17 13:51:00 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Kuwait
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1. (SBU) On January 17, three Members of Parliament (MPs)
formally submitted a request to question Minister of Health
Shaykh Ahmed Abdullah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah over
procedural irregularities in approving Kuwaitis for medical
treatment abroad, alleged "administrative violations" in the
ministry, and the overall deterioration of health service in
Kuwait. Shaykh Ahmed is the nephew of the Amir and Crown
Prince, and the cousin of the Prime Minister. The
questioning of ministers, commonly referred to here as a
"grilling," is a right guaranteed to Parliament by the
Constitution. Two of the MPs who submitted the request,
Jamaan Al-Hirbish and Dr. Waleed Al-Tabtabaei, are members of
Parliament's Islamic Bloc; Al-Hirbish is also a member of the
Islamic Constitutional Bloc (ICM), the political arm of the
Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood. The other MP, Ahmed Al-Shihoumi,
was until recently a member of Parliament's Popular Action
Bloc, but has reportedly withdrawn due to the bloc's
opposition to the grilling. In December, Mohammed Al-Sanousi
resigned as Minister of Information rather than face an
intrusive parliamentary grilling (reftel).

2. (C/NF) Comment: Shaykh Ahmed's close ties to the inner
circle of the Al-Sabah family suggest his grilling could
cross a red line. At the very least, it is likely to
significantly increase the already high tensions between the
Government and Parliament. With one minister already forced
out and more grillings rumored likely, some suspect the Amir
may move to contain this increasingly assertive Parliament.
In November, there were widespread rumors that he was
considering dissolving Parliament for a period of up to three
years, which, while unconstitutional, has happened twice
before. Since Parliament reconvened in October, Kuwaitis
have grown increasingly frustrated with both Parliament and
the Government for failing to pass much needed reforms. Some
have privately suggested that dissolving Parliament would be
a means of overcoming this deadlock.

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