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Tuesday, March 22, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Kuwait sends warships, not ground troops,
to Bahrain

ABU DHABI — Kuwait, with a population that is nearly 50 percent Shi'ite, has decided not to send troops to Bahrain to help quell the Shi'ite revolt. Instead, Kuwait has sent a naval force to patrol Bahrain's territorial waters.


The Kuwaiti deployment comes amid reports that Iran was smuggling weapons to the Shi'ite opposition in Bahrain. "There is a Shi'ite plot to control Bahrain," Jamaan Al Harbash, a Kuwaiti parliamentarian and a Sunni, said.

Officials did not specify the size of the Kuwait Navy force sent to Bahrain, Middle East Newsline reported. The GCC sheikdom has not provided details, and the announcement of the Kuwait force came from Manama.

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"We welcome the arrival of Kuwait Navy units," Bahraini military chief Air Marshal Khalifa Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said.

Kuwait has been divided over the Gulf Cooperation mission in Bahrain. Both Shi'ites and Sunnis have held large demonstrations, with the former against Kuwaiti deployment and the latter in support.

Officials said the Shi'ite revolt in Bahrain has divided Kuwait along religious lines. They said Emir Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah has sought to avoid a Sunni-Shi'ite war in Kuwait amid increasing Iranian intervention in the sheikdom.

The Sunni fundamentalist opposition in parliament said it would question Prime Minister Nasser Al Ahmed Al Sabah regarding the decision not to contribute ground troops to Bahrain. So far, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were said to have deployed more than 5,000 troops in Bahrain.

"The Kuwaiti people will not accept the orders of the Iranian leaders and is demanding that [Kuwaiti] troops are dispatched soon to Bahrain," Sunni parliamentarian Mohammed Hayef said.

Parliamentarian Faisal Al Mislem, a Sunni, suggested that Kuwait had already sent troops to Bahrain but recalled them to avoid a crisis at home. Al Mislem, who has questioned major defense and energy deals, asked whether the sheikdom has already secretly sent military units to Bahrain under the GCC's Peninsula Shield force.

For their part, Shi'ite parliamentarians warned that the debate could increase tensions with Sunnis. They said they opposed pressure by Saudi Arabia for Kuwait and other GCC states to deploy their militaries in Bahrain.

"If they [Sunni parliamentarians] love Saudi Arabia, they can leave the country and I'll pay for the ticket," Ali Al Rashed, a Shi'ite deputy, said.

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