Tensions Exposed After Saudi Official Calls Kuwaiti Minister a ‘Mercenary’

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Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait made a rare public appearance after a Saudi official insulted a Kuwaiti minister, in a new twist to the long-running diplomatic spat between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors.

In a post Monday on his official Twitter account, Saudi royal court adviser Turki Al Asheikh attacked Kuwait’s minister of commerce and industry, Khaled Al-Roudhan, calling him a “mercenary under the umbrella of a position.” Kuwait responded by warning about potential damage to bilateral ties in a meeting with the Saudi ambassador.

The episode reflects the sensitivities Kuwait faces as it attempts to mediate the nearly eight-month dispute that’s divided the Gulf countries into entrenched camps.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of supporting terrorism and meddling in their internal affairs. Qatar denies the charges and has buckled down for a long wait.

The row is just one of a series of regional flashpoints since Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman effectively took the kingdom’s reins and adopted a more aggressive foreign policy.

Al Asheikh’s Twitter post came soon after Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim received Al-Roudhan in his office in Doha as part of a Kuwaiti delegation.

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The Kuwaitis thanked Sheikh Tamim for his help in recently ending a two-year suspension of Kuwait by global soccer authority FIFA. Al Asheikh — also head of Saudi Arabia’s sport authority — had previously claimed credit for influencing the decision after he met FIFA chief Gianni Infantino in Moscow.

“This mercenary won’t hurt the historic Saudi relationship with its brother Kuwait,” Al Asheikh said in his tweet. “What he said doesn’t represent anything but himself.”

The insult triggered an uproar in Kuwait, where it was raised in parliament, putting pressure on the government to respond.

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In subsequent tweets on Wednesday, Al Asheikh justified his choice of words, saying “we don’t flatter in defense of the nation” and asking anyone who expects “flowery speech” to stop following his account.

Source Credit: Bloomberg

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