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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09KUWAIT604 2009-06-21 12:25:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kuwait
Cable title:  

ASSEMBLY AGAIN FOCUSES ON RULING FAMILY

Tags:   PREL PGOV KU 
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VZCZCXRO5084
PP RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHDIR
DE RUEHKU #0604/01 1721225
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 211225Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY KUWAIT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3502
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KUWAIT 000604 

SIPDIS

NEA/ARP, N

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/18/2019
TAGS: PREL PGOV KU
SUBJECT: ASSEMBLY AGAIN FOCUSES ON RULING FAMILY

Classified By: Political Counselor Pete O'Donohue for reasons 1.4 b and
d

Summary
--------

1.(C) Efforts to curtail the authority of the ruling family
continue to eclipse identifying national priorities and
setting a legislative agenda for the National Assembly. A
special session on Tuesday called to discuss the
Amiri-decreed financial stimulus bill and conclude debate
over the Amir's address to the opening sitting of the
legislature deteriorated into an acrimonious debate over the
influence of DPM Shaykh Ahmad al-Fahd Al-Sabah, who was not
even in attendance at the session. Meanwhile, Interior
Minister Shaykh Jaber al-Khalid Al-Sabah appears ready to be
grilled by MP Musallam al-Barrak on June 23 at the Assembly's
next meeting. The controversy surrounding the two shaykhs
highlights the tension between PM Shaykh Nasser al-Mohammad
Al-Sabah's need lead a "stronger" government and his need to
co-opt the fractious and competing constituencies within both
the Assembly and the ruling family. End Summary.



--------------------------


Ahmad al-Fahd, MIA, Becomes A Target


--------------------------



2.(U) Without legislation to discuss, the Assembly's Tuesday
session deteriorated into a heated debate over the inclusion
of DPM Shaykh Ahmad al-Fahd Al-Sabah in the cabinet. The
sitting was originally called to debate the financial rescue
package enacted by fiat while the Assembly was dissolved, but
the committee charged with reviewing the bill was not able to
conclude discussion and has proposed the decree be revisited
in October after the parliament's summer break. In lieu of
the bill, the Assembly attempted to complete debate on the
Amir's letter to MPs which was read at the May 31 opening
session. Instead of responding to the contents of the letter,
MP Adel Al-Sar,awi opened debate by criticizing the
appointment of DPM for Economic Affairs and Minister of State
for Development and Minister of State for Housing Affairs
Shaykh Ahmad al-Fahd. Al-Sar,awi asked rhetorically why a
man who admitted he was removed (as Minister of Energy in
2006) by the will of the people was reappointed to the
government. Pro-government MPs Khalaf Dmaither Al-Enezi,
Mubarak Al-Khrainij and Saadoun Hammad Al-Otaibi forcefully
countered the critique of the DPM, who was not in attendance
at the session to defend himself.



--------------------------



--------------------------


Jabir al-Khalid Ready and Willing to Face a Grilling


--------------------------



--------------------------



3.(U) Putting grit to the government's newly forged image of
"strength", Minister of Interior Shaykh Jaber al-Khalid
Al-Sabah announced this week that he will face the grilling
filed by MP Musallam al-Barrak. Jaber al-Khalid, according to
local press, has prepared for the spectacle by rehearsing
with advisers much like American politicians would prepare
for a debate. His planned defense was approved by the cabinet
on Sunday and on Monday he moved to moot what was considered
the strongest allegation -- misuse of public funds relating
to the procurement of campaign billboards during the Assembly
campaign -- by referring the file to the public prosecution.
Jaber al-Khalid is also accused of installing closed circuit
cameras outside the Assembly to spy on MPs and refusing to
arrest an Assembly candidate accused of attempting to buy
votes.



--------------------------


Comment


--------------------------



4.(C) Ahmad al-Fahd probably was included in the cabinet to
prevent him from working against his rival, PM Nasser
al-Mohammad Al-Sabah, and not because of his expertise in
development. While his inclusion may temporarily mend some
fences within the Al-Sabah, the DPM, by virtue of his
ambition and past involvement in questionable financial
transactions, may create more problems than he solves. Ahmad
al-Fahd continues to cultivate a popular support base,
especially among Kuwait's tribes. His control of the
Development and Housing Ministries gives him great power to
reward or punish his political supporters and opponents.
While acknowledging they perceive him as corrupt and likely
to take a ten percent cut of any projects he oversees,
businessmen PolOff has spoken to recently almost universally
are willing to accept that level of corruption in exchange
for some movement in Kuwait's stifling bureaucracy. MP
Sar'awi's attack on the DPM probably mostly functions as a
warning that Ahmad al-Fahd can expect to have his actions

KUWAIT 00000604 002 OF 002


closely scrutinized, regardless of his ability to get
projects moving.

5.(C) It is remarkable that the ruling family would accept
the risk posed by Jaber al-Khalid submitting to a grilling.
He will be the most senior Al-Sabah ever grilled and probably
is the first Minister of Interior ever in the Arab world to
be called to task by his constituents. The government
probably has enough votes to survive the grilling and a
potential vote of no confidence that may follow, but it is
unclear what doors will be opened regardless of how well the
Minister performs. Public perception is that the Amir has
ordered the Minister to face the grilling; the Amir made
public comments on Monday affirming the right of MPs to grill
ministers. MP Musallam al-Barrak has a reputation for
ensuring he has solid evidence to back up any accusations he
has made. He is also a skilled orator who specializes in
baiting his opponents. Jaber al-Khalid, a former Chief of
Staff of the Kuwaiti Army accustomed to having his orders
implemented without question, may be particularly vulnerable
to al-Barrak's antics.

6.(C) Tuesday's grilling probably will conclude the political
season as Kuwaitis are anxious to escape the heat and start
their summer holidays. If Jabir al-Khalid performs well
during his interpellation, Nasser al-Mohammad likely will
retreat to his Geneva summer home with peace of mind, knowing
that he is no longer the prime target of disgruntled MPs and
that he has fulfilled the Amir's desire that his government
lead with a stronger hand.

********************************************* *********
For more reporting from Embassy Kuwait, visit:
visit Kuwait's Classified Website at:

http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:Kuwa it
********************************************* *********
JONES