Monday, March 03, 2008



By Kevin Stoda, Kuwait

Less than a week after I wrote an article on how safe Kuwait generally is, i.e. SAFETY and LIVING in KUWAIT, i.e. PROXEMICS & LIVING NEXT to the CIVIL WAR in IRAQ , there was a bomb scare in Marina Mall in Salmiya Kuwait at one of the local bank venues on March 2.

The U.S. Embassy’s warden letter states: “At approximately 1230 local time, Kuwaiti authorities ordered the mall evacuated in order to conduct a search of the premises. Post first learned of the evacuation order from Embassy dependents who were present at the mall at the time of evacuation. The order to evacuate was confirmed shortly thereafter . . .Kuwaiti authorities concluded their search with negative results.”


Let me say, I actually Knew it was coming--I mean another bomb threat. It was only a matter of days.

You see, last month while the U.S. press was all focused on the U.S. economy, the presidential race and whether the Writers’ Strike would ever end (and bring back their TV shows), there occurred in Syrai an assassination of one infamous Imad Mughniyah, i.e. one of Hezbollah’s leading militants for decades.

Now, both Israel and Kuwait took immediate notice of what the murder in Syria of Imad Mughniyah likely meant in February 2008.

For Israel it meant that Hezbollah would likely blame Israel. For Kuwait it meant bad memories of Kuwait’s 1980s simultaneously flirting with Islamic extremists and pan-Arab & Palestinian terrorists.

Surprisingly, at the public level, there was actually initially apparent ambivalence in Kuwait as to how to respond to the assignation of Hezbollah’s Imad Mughniyah on February 12, 2008—i.e. almost exact three years to the day that Rafik Hariri was assassinated in Beirut. (Interestingly, the blame is still more on Israel than on any Lebanese for the death of Mughniyah.)

There was apparent ambivalence because, despite the fact that Mughniya was once charged with terrorism on Kuwait soil, for many decades various Kuwaitis and Kuwaiti groupings have privately blindly supported factions of Hezbollah—no matter how many wars Hezbollah create or governments they undermine.

Meanwhile, within a week a few Kuwaiti MPs actually held a wake for Mughniyah.

Throughout Kuwait discussion became suddenly very excited and agitated. Eventually those same Kuwaiti MPs were expelled from office.

This is primarily because several years ago, “Mughniyah was involved in an attempt on the life of the late Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmed, Kuwait's Interior Minister, Sheikh Jaber al-Khalid al-Sabah, told Al-Watan newspaper, adding that no honorable Kuwaiti citizen could defend Mughniyah.”

Moreover, as another Kuwaiti Sunni MP noted, “Mughniyah … is also suspected of hijacking Kuwaiti planes in 1984 and 1988 among a string of anti-Western and anti-Israeli attacks.’”

The Kuwaiti MPs and other famous Kuwaitis at the infamous wake for Mughniyah have been called in the press: The Kuwaiti Hezbollah. Further, they are being sued in court for various actions against the state.

According to Al-Arabia News, “The lawsuit is against Abdulsamad and Lari, as well as former minister Abdulhadi al-Saleh, former MP Abdulmohsen Jamal and municipal council member Fadhel Safar, lawyer Dhaidan al-Mutairi told AFP.’We accused them of being founders and members of Hezbollah Kuwait, undermining national unity and declaring loyalty to Lebanon's Hezbollah,’ Mutairi said after meeting with the public prosecutor. These charges are punishable under Kuwait's penal code, he said. Lebanon Shiite militant movement Hezbollah does not have a known offshoot in Kuwait but some people in the Gulf emirate believe there is such a group operating underground and refer to it as ‘Hezbollah Kuwait.’”


Do you remember the 1980s? Bush and Cheney would like to forget those days. That was when Bush, Sr., Cheney, and Ronald Reagan had a friend in Saddam Hussein.

Most Kuwaitis would like to forget the 1980s--and 1990s when Saddam Hussein invaded and destroyed their homeland.

The 1980s helped set up years of destruction of Kuwait with government and non-governmental groups supporting both sides of the Iran-Iraq war as well as serving technically as a home front for the Palestinian struggles in Lebanon and Palestine. (The Kuwaiti economy also went south with oil prices dropping and property values & the stock market crashing. I think Americans in 2008 can empathize with the economy being a wreck.)

In any case, after the two Kuwaiti MPs of the Popular Action Bloc were expelled at the end of February 2008, it appeared that it would only a matter of days before bomb threats went up around Kuwait Embassies worldwide. This occurred at the end of last week.

Now, Kuwait itself is getting a few bomb threats called in—as was the case this week at Kuwaiti’s favorite leisure location and shopping venue, i.e. Marina Mall in Salmiya.

In short, I believe Kuwaitis were the target of such a bomb threat, but as the U.S. Embassy states, “Be aware of your surroundings!” The embassy warden also asks Americans in Kuwait to call the embassy at these numbers if they see or hear of any future incidents.

The numbers in Kuwait are (965) 259-1581, 259-1583 or 259-1240.



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