Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Who wins 9% of world's oil?

Who wins 9% of world's oil?. 43958.jpegThe wave of instability has touched upon one of the world's richest countries - Kuwait. Mass protests swept across the country at the end of March as the local Shiites were demanding reforms from the government.

The government reacted immediately. The emir of Kuwait dismissed the government and said that reforms would follow shortly. Allowances and pensions were raised up to $700-1,200. Every citizen of Kuwait also received $3,500 and a right to receive food for free during the forthcoming 14 months. The salaries of law-enforcement officers were doubled. It is possible to refer to those changes as reforms?

The relations between Iran and Kuwait considerably worsened afterwards. The authorities of the emirate claimed that it was Teheran that masterminded riots in the country. On March 31st, Kuwait's foreign ministry recalled its ambassador from Iran. The ministry also expelled three Iranian diplomats who supposedly built a spy network in the country.

In addition, a court of Kuwait brought down a death sentence against three individuals suspected of spying for Iran. The emirate also said that it would no longer tolerate any interference in its affairs. Kuwait's Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Sabah said that any Iranian diplomat suspected of espionage would be expelled from the country.

Kuwait's Al-Seyassah wrote that Iran could change the balance of forces in the region. Teheran, the newspaper wrote, was supposedly planning to intensify the riots in Kuwait by inciting hostility among the Shiites. Afterwards, under the pretext to defend the Shiite population of Bahrain, Iran could launch the occupation of Kuwait's islands in the Persian Gulf.

On April 4, the Council of Cooperation of Arab State of the Persian Gulf gathered for a special meeting to condemn Iran's blatant interference in Kuwait's affairs. UAE's Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said Iran should study the charter of the Cooperation Council before interfering in the affairs of those countries. To put it in a nutshell, the official implied that other oil monarchs of the Persian Gulf would take action to defend Kuwait. The Cooperation Council unites Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.

The Iranian authorities strongly reject the accusations. The supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that the "Arab spring of the nations" became a consequence of the revolution in Iran in 1978-1979. According to Khamenei, the Islamic revolution and the subsequent resistance of the Iranian people inspired other nations to struggle. Iranian officials believe that Kuwait is simply trying to distract attention from massive killings of civilians in Bahrain.

The financial stability of the world depends on those who control Kuwait. According to experts' estimates, up to nine percent of global oil reserves are located in Kuwait.

Yevgeny Satanovsky, the President of the Institute for the Middle East:

"The relations between Iran and Kuwait have been extremely intense since the times of the Iraqi-Iranian war during the 1980s, when Iran was shelling Kuwaiti tankers. A lot has changed in the region since that time. As a result of the US-led operation, Iran lost its old-time enemy, Iraq. However, Kuwait became a megabase for the USA over a very short period of time. Many territorial disputes about oil-rich areas remain open as well, so it is not hard to understand Iran's interest in Kuwait.

"One should also bear in mind the fact that the position of Shiites in Kuwait is maybe just a little better than the position of their adherents in Bahrain. Kuwaiti Shiites make up to 50 percent of the entire population of the emirate. However, they do not have any rights, so one does not have to take much effort to arrange an uprising. Up to 1.3 million people of Kuwait's 2.9-million-strong population are absolutely rightless foreign workers. Several hundreds of thousands of Bedouins are just as rightless too. Many of them found themselves under Kuwait's sovereignty during the division of the so-called neutral zone.

"As for that financial generosity, which His Royal Highness Emir bestowed upon his nationals, the money was paid only to the citizens of the country. Many Shiites do not refer to this category.

"The relations between Iran and Kuwait should be analyzed in light of the situation on the Arabian Peninsula on the whole. The competition between Iran and Saudi Arabia plays the key role at this point. Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and others are Saudi Arabia's allies. As for the development of the situation in the future, it's hard to make any forecasts. Saudi Arabia has so many problems that it seems sometimes that it is going to collapse sooner or later," the expert said.

Rajab Safarov, the general director of the Center for the Research of Iran:

"As a matter of fact, the influence of Iran on current processes in the Arab world is minimal. Those processes go naturally. It is the monarchies of the countries of the Persian Gulf that are guilty of what is happening now. They could easily get away with it before, but in the era of informational technologies people become informed as to how monarchies, just a group of people, dispose national riches. If protests occur sporadically, emirs, sheikhs and kings try to put the fire of riots down with the help of one-time gratifications. However, those financial gifts can only delay the collapse of those regimes.

"That is why, the development of the situation in Kuwait must be analyzed together with what is now happening in Bahrain and other countries of the region where Shiite riots take place. Of course, the Shiite Iran can not just sit and watch the riots of the Shiites of Bahrain being suppressed and their blood being shed. The local king, being unable to suppress the protests militarily, asked Saudi Arabia and the Emirates for help. Iran did not use force to protect the Bahrain Shiites. Many still remember the time when Bahrain used to be an Iranian province - this is the reason why local Shiites are attracted to Iran.

"It goes without saying that the West, especially the USA, is very uncomfortable about the fact that its influence in the region has been decreasing speedily. For US allies in the face of Arab monarchies, it's best to pretend that they are not guilty of what is happening. They do their best to show that it was all orchestrated from the outside. That's why they shower Iran with accusations. It's a paradox, but Iran's influence in the region has been growing even though the country has not been trying to do anything to change the situation.

"Many may think that for those people, who walk in golden slippers, it's not a hardship to redistribute some national wealth in Shiites' favor. However, it is their greediness that stops them from doing so. To get rid of the suppression of Shiites, they must conduct political reforms and found democratically elected parliaments. They are not willing to do that, so they will simply be destroyed as a result of massive national riots," the expert said.

Sergei Balmasov

Read the original in Russian

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