Brussels/Kuwait City, 17 November 2017 - Kuwaiti officials recognise that tensions have risen dangerously in the Gulf region, but are hopeful that the mediation efforts led by the Emir of Kuwait will eventually succeed in calming the waters, a delegation of NATO Parliamentary Assembly heard during a visit to Kuwait on 13-15 November. Kuwait is pursuing constructive relations with all regional powers and is committed to serving as an “honest broker” and to restoring the unity of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), jeopardised by the rift between Qatar and three other GCC members.
However, while the need for dialogue to lower tensions in the region was shared by all speakers, several local and international interlocutors cautioned that it will take considerable time and effort before diplomacy can succeed. In addition to the already volatile situation in the Gulf, the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, already manifesting itself in Syria and Yemen, threatens to spill over to Lebanon, the delegation heard. There is a general concern that sectarian tensions in the MENA and Gulf regions are becoming more prominent as the military operations against Daesh in Syria and Iraq are winding down.
Kuwait is also a leading partner of the Euro-Atlantic community in the region, the fact reaffirmed by the recent establishment of NATO Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) Centre in Kuwait City. Kuwaiti officials and experts also stressed that the relationship between Kuwait and the West is underpinned by common values and that the country is the regional leader in developing democratic institutions and fostering the freedom of speech. Representatives of Kuwait’s civil society told the delegation that more needs to be done in terms of political empowerment of women and bolstering the rule of law.
The joint delegation of the NATO PA Committee on the Civil Dimension of Security and the Sub-Committee on NATO Partnerships consisted of 16 legislators from 9 NATO member states and was led by NATO PA Vice-Presidents Vitalino Canas (Portugal) and Metin Lütfi Baydar (Turkey). The delegation met with the speaker of the National Assembly, H.E. Mr Marzouq Ali Al-Ghanim, members of the National Assembly, the Assistant Foreign Minister for International Organisations, Ambassador Nasser Al Hayen, and the leadership of the National Security Bureau of Kuwait and NATO-Kuwait ICI Centre. Additional meetings included exchanges with experts of the Saud Al-Nasser Al-Sabah Diplomatic Institute and the American University of Kuwait, as well as civil society representatives.