Kuwait Warns Of Spread Of Iraqi Sectarian Strife



The resurgence of Iraq’s majority Shias since the fall of Saddam Hussein, the rising sectarian strife there and the growing influence of Shia Iran has unnerved many Sunni Arab states, many of them with significant Shia minorities.



“The terrifying situation in the region now is the rising sectarian issue, we are very concerned that … its burning flames will reach everybody,” Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah told the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.



“We fear three issues in Iraq: that it would be divided… secondly we are worried that it would descend into a civil war and third we are very concerned about the sectarian fighting,” said Sheikh Ahmad, whose country was invaded by Iraq under Saddam Hussein in 1990.



Violence in Iraq stems from sources including attacks by insurgents from the minority Sunni community, by militias from the majority Shias and by criminals.



Washington accuses Tehran of arming Shia militias in Iraq and also developing nuclear weapons. Iran denies both charges.



Mainly Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab countries are concerned about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the creeping influence of the regional Shia power, particularly through its backing for groups in Iraq and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.



“We are keen that Iran … explains to it neighbours the safety measures for such a sophisticated technology because people are still suffering and terrified from the memory of (Chernobyl),” he said, referring to the 1986 disaster at the nuclear plant in what was then the Soviet Union.



“We cannot prevent them (Iran) from obtaining a nuclear programme for peaceful use — it is the right of all nations — but we are worried that this ambition will exceed the limits allowed by international law.”



Iran, located across the Gulf from Kuwait and other Gulf Arab states, is facing UN sanctions for refusing to halt uranium enrichment, a process that can make fuel for power stations or, if further enriched, material for warheads.



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