Dubai: Kuwait on Thursday asked the Iranian embassy to reduce the number of its diplomats from 19 to four, according to reports in the northern Arabian Gulf state have said.
The diplomats, declared personae non gratae, were given 45 days to leave Kuwait.
This request was made in a protest letter to the Iranian diplomatic mission in Kuwait, asking for shutting down the cultural mission and the military bureau and announcing that all joint commissions between the two countries were suspended.
It is stated that the Kuwaiti moves were made following the conviction of the members of Al Abdali terror cell who were put on trial for their intelligence contacts with Iran and the Lebanese pro-Iran militia Hezbollah, Kuwait News website reported.
Kuwait News Agency (Kuna) reported the request to reduce the embassy staff, the closing of the cultural mission and technical offices and the suspension of joint commission activities.
On August 13, 2015, Kuwait’s Interior Ministry said that it busted a terrorist cell and uncovered a large cache of arms, ammunitions and explosives hidden underground at a farm in Abdali. The cache contains 24 hand grenades, 65 guns, 56 RPGs and 144kg of bomb-making material.
On September 1, 2015, Kuwait’s public prosecution said 26 defendants, including one Iranian, would stand trial for the possession of weapons, ammunition and explosives and espionage for Iran and Hezbollah.
It said that 24 defendants faced charges of engaging in acts likely to undermine the unity and safety of Kuwait and of intelligence with Iran and Hezbollah.
However, the Iranian embassy on September 3 downplayed the significance of the terrorist cell and the charges of espionage, saying that the case was a domestic Kuwaiti issue pertaining mainly to the discovery of weapons and ammunitions.
The embassy said it regretted the move to implicate Iran in the case and called upon the Kuwaiti authorities to communicate the identity and “alleged role” of the Iranian suspect.
The embassy criticised Kuwaiti media for its “negative incitement against the Kuwaiti-Iranian relations” and for “targeting Iran based on flimsy charges, so far unproven by the judicial authorities.”
On Saturday, Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani dismissed the Kuwaiti charges as senseless.
“Accusing Hezbollah of being implicated in the Abdali cell does not indicate rationality or wisdom,” he said. “It stems from the hatred against the party,” he said n.
However, Iran’s remarks were rejected by the head of the then Kuwaiti parliament’s interior and defence committee MP Abdullah Al Maayouf.
“Iran must tend to its own domestic affairs instead of interfering in those of others,” he said, accusing Iran of killing and torturing opposition members including politicians, chancellors, doctors and university professors who objected to forgery in the Iranian presidential elections.
Al Maayouf accused Tehran of hosting terrorists and supporting terrorist organisations and working to destabilise countries in the region.
The Kuwaiti cabinet voiced “deep indignation and condemnation over the heinous acts and grave charges” revealed by the indictment of 26 people for the illegal possession of arms and contacts with Iran and Hezbollah.