Al Arabiya is reporting that the government of Kuwait has banned public gatherings due to the inflammatory statements of an exiled Kuwaiti imam.
The Gulf state of Kuwait on Sunday banned public gatherings in a bid to contain rising tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims over inflammatory remarks by a Shiite activist in self-imposed exile. … Sectarian tensions in this predominantly Sunni Gulf state flared after Yasser al-Habeeb, a Shiite who has been living in London since 2004, made disparaging remarks against the Prophet Mohammed’s wife, Aisha.
Habeeb, who fled Kuwait to escape two 10-year prison terms for abusive remarks about Islam’s first two caliphs, held a ceremony to celebrate the death anniversary of Aisha at his London office more than two weeks ago at which he made the remarks, according to video on his website. The comments sparked a wave of condemnation by Sunni Islamists who urged the government to seek Habeeb’s extradition or withdraw his citizenship, while Shiite MPs also called for similar action against Sunni activists critical of Shiism. A number of Sunni Islamist MPs threatened they would grill either the prime minister or the interior minister if the government failed to take action. Shiites make up about one-third of the Kuwaiti population of 1.1 million people. They have nine members in the 50-seat parliament and two members in the emirate’s 16-member cabinet.(Edited for space.)
Please read the entire article fro more information.
Analysis. For a complete background on the Sunni-Shi’i split, please read Lezley Hazleton’s After The Prophet. The short story is that many of Mohammad’s followers believed that Ali, Mohammad’s grandson, should have followed Mohammad as the leader of Islam. Aisha fought against this as she had no children. Her power was in being Mohammad’s favorite of his eight wives. She insisted that Mohammad had not named a successor and that a Shura Council be held to select the new head of Islam. Ali eventually became the third of the “Rightly Guided” Caliphs, those who had personally known Mohammad. Shia is an abbreviation for Shiat Ali: followers of Ali. Hence Shiites.
Habeeb is stirring the pot and I don’t believe it is on his own volition. Considering the problems in Lebanon being generated by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s issue of arrest warrants for senior members of Hezbollah, I believe that this is a diversion. I also believe it is a demonstration of Iran’s ability to cause problems on the Persian Gulf more or less at will. Kuwait is the home to a large contingent of American forces and the major logistics base for American forces in Iraq. Add to this the immediately denied but almost assuredly happened kidnapping of five to seven American soldiers in Afghanistan and the picture begins to take focus.
Shorty wants to come to the General Assembly having embarrassed the United States. Iran wants the sanctions gone. This is a demonstration of what they can do if the unilateral sanctions are not removed. I suspect his speech is being reworked as I write this to announce the fait accompli in Lebanon where the UN Special Tribunal on Lebanon (STL) has just been rendered essentially moot. Who will provide the armored corps necessary to arrest General Sayyed? (See previous post on Lebanon.) Obviously the STL was getting too close to the truth for Hezbollah and Bashar Assad.
I continue to believe that Iran will pursue its current course of creeping domination over the Middle East until it pushes hard enough for war to occur. At some point, and I believe a rather close one, the Sunni rulers of the Gulf Cooperation Council states will hit their breaking point. This is orders of magnitude more important than the firing of a few, or a bunch, of rockets and mortars from Gaza into Israel. This is why the Saudis just ordered 84 brand new F-15S fighters.