Kuwait’s ruler accepts cabinet resignation — state news agency

A handout photo provided by the Kuwaiti news agency KUNA shows Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah (L) handing over the government's resignation letter to the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah on Monday, October 30, 2017, in Kuwait City. (KUNA handout photo via AFP)
Updated 30 October 2017

Kuwait’s ruler accepts cabinet resignation — state news agency

KUWAIT: Kuwait’s ruling emir accepted the resignation of the prime minister and his cabinet on Monday, state news agency KUNA reported, asking them to continue important duties until a new cabinet is sworn in.
Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah tendered his resignation earlier on Monday to the Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who has the final say in state matters.
Local media, quoting members of parliament, said a cabinet shakeup had been expected.
The government offered no explanation for the move. However, it comes after lawmakers grilled acting Information Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al Abdullah Al Sabah, a member of Kuwait’s ruling family, over budget issues.
The National Assembly was set to consider a no-confidence vote against Sheikh Mohammad beginning Tuesday and had plans to question other ministers as well, Kuwait Times said in a report.
Kuwait, home to 4 million people, is ruled absolutely by Sheikh Sabah, though the country has the strongest parliament of any Gulf Arab country. The parliament increasingly has been focused on budgetary issues and waste as low global energy prices have been brutal to Kuwait, an OPEC-member nation with the world’s fifth-largest oil reserves.
The country called early parliamentary elections in October 2016 and opposition figures did return to the 50-seat legislature in November elections. Parliament still appears to be controlled by pro-government lawmakers.
Kuwait has faced the threat of militant attacks since the rise of the Daesh group. A Daesh-claimed suicide bombing in 2015 targeting a Shiite mosque in Kuwait City killed 27 people and wounded scores. In October 2016, an Egyptian driving a garbage truck loaded with explosives and Daesh papers rammed into a truck carrying five US soldiers in Kuwait, wounding only himself in the attack.


US considering troop boost to counter Iran

Updated 36 min 26 sec ago

US considering troop boost to counter Iran

  • A source has said Defense Secretary Mark Esper was considering plans to move between 5,000 and 7,000 troops to the Middle East
  • Tensions have risen sharply with Iran since Trump last year pulled out of a denuclearization pact and imposed sweeping sanctions

WASHINGTON: The United States said Thursday it was considering deploying fresh forces to counter Iran, with an official saying some 5,000 to 7,000 troops could head to the region.
Testifying before Congress, John Rood, the under secretary of defense for policy, said the United States was “observing Iran’s behavior with concern.”
“We’re continuing to look at that threat picture and have the ability to dynamically adjust our force posture,” Rood told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
A US official told AFP on condition of anonymity that Defense Secretary Mark Esper was considering plans to move between 5,000 and 7,000 troops to the Middle East.
The official did not confirm where the troops would be sent, or in what timeframe, but said that the deployment would be due to frustrations with Iranian-linked groups’ attacks on US assets.
Rood, under questioning, denied a report by The Wall Street Journal the United States was considering sending 14,000 more troops — equivalent to the number sent over the past six months.
Esper also denied the 14,000 figure in a phone call with Senator Jim Inhofe, the chairman of the committee, Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said.
US President Donald Trump later tweeted that: “The story today that we are sending 12,000 troops to Saudi Arabia is false or, to put it more accurately, Fake News!“
It was not immediately clear which report the president was referring to.
Tensions have risen sharply with Iran since Trump last year pulled out of a denuclearization pact and imposed sweeping sanctions, including trying to block all its oil exports.
In September, the United States said Iran was responsible for attacks on the major Abqaiq oil processing center in Saudi Arabia, a close US ally and Iran’s regional rival.
Riyadh then asked Washington for reinforcements, receiving two fighter squadrons, additional missile defense batteries, and bringing the number of US troops stationed in the Kingdom to about 3,000.
The United States has also been alarmed by an uptick in attacks on bases in Iraq, where major demonstrations triggered by economic discontent have also targeted Iran’s clerical regime and its overwhelming influence in its Shiite-majority neighbor.
“We’re lucky no one has been killed. There is a spike in rocket attacks,” another US official said.
“It’s clearly not Daesh. Everything is going in the right direction and it’s the right range,” the official said, contrasting Iranian capabilities with those of the extremist Daesh group.
Among the incidents, five rockets hit the Al-Asad Air Base on Tuesday, just four days after US Vice President Mike Pence visited US troops there.
Iran denied involvement in the September attack in Saudi Arabia, which was claimed by Tehran-backed Houthi militia.
The tensions come as Iran itself has faced major protests set off by a sharp hike in gas prices.