Bin-Salman’s controversial visit to Kuwait

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SHAFAQNASaudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin-Salman’s visit to Kuwait, which was his second trip to the country in recent years was postpone for a day, from Saturday until Sunday and also shorten to a mere couple of hours.

According to Kuwait’s social media, there were arguments about contentious issues at dinner banquet in MBS’ honor hosted by the emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad on Sunday night so his visit was reduced to a brief meeting with the deputy emir.

Although the two country tried to show warm spirit of fraternal cooperation in the statements after the visit, according to published reports Saudi Crown Prince talked with Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad, Crown Prince of Kuwait, in position of power and pride at dinner banquet. But the Kuwaiti side rejected Saudi demands so that the Saudi crown prince was angered at the Kuwaiti government’s refusing to accept his dictates.

A source at Kuwait’s Emiri court told Reuters that the visit took place in a highly tense atmosphere, and that no political or economic agreements were signed by the two sides. The Kuwaiti daily ar-Rai al-Aam, for its part, quoted a high-level source as saying that the visiting Saudi prince and his delegation appeared visibly displeased and angry.

Eventually, Emir of Kuwait ordered the Saudi prince to leave Kuwait. Contrary to the current protocol among Gulf Cooperation Council countries, only Kuwait’s foreign minister accompanied him to the airport. The Saudi State News Agency declined to release Crown Prince’s photos at the airport. Activists of social media accused Saudi crown prince to attempt for stealing oil resources and territory of Kuwait.

The crisis over the oilfields began when Kuwait refused to issue visas to maintenance technicians from the Chevron Corporation who had been sent to supervise work on the fields to increase their output and oversee further exploration in the area. Their company had positioned equipment on the Kuwaiti side without consulting the Kuwaiti government.

The Saudi government responded by halting production from both fields on the pretext of undertaking maintenance. This maintenance has lasted for four years, shutting the fields down and costing Kuwait some $18 billion in lost production.

The Saudi crown prince’s visit to Kuwait came in the context of the pressure exerted by US President Donald Trump on Saudi Arabia to increase its oil output by around two million barrels per day (it currently produces around 11mb/d) in order to force down prices. Trump called the Saudi monarch twice to reiterate this demand, brazenly. The first time was two months ago. He demanded a Saudi output hike to compensate for the 2.4mb/d of Iranian oil that might be taken off the market once additional American sanctions against Iran come into effect in November.  The second time was just two days ago. The call was threatening and extortionist in tone. Trump reminded the Saudi king that his country would not survive for long without American protection, nor be able to maintain its warplanes or to defend itself from attack.

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have not been good for the past 15 months. They have been merely ‘proper’, due to Kuwait’s neutrality in the Persian Gulf Crisis and its failure to send significant numbers of troops to fight in Yemen as part of Operation Decisive Storm. Its warplanes played a merely symbolic role in that war.

Tensions increased as a result of Kuwait maintaining diplomatic relations with Iran. It also condemned the terror attack in Ahvaz that caused the deaths of 25 people, unlike Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which indirectly supported the attack. Their media outlets justified it and hosted guest commentators who backed it and deemed it to be a legitimate act of resistance and not terrorism, raialyoum reported.

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