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RI PT IO N BS C SU THE LEADING INDEPENDENT DAILY IN THE ARABIAN GULF 40 PAGES WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2010 THULHIJA 25, 1431 AH Heavy rain and floods kill 30 in Morocco East Sudan pins hopes on Kuwait donor forum PAGE 6 NO: 14925 Ramallah looks ever more like Palestinian capital PAGE 7 PAGE 14 150 FILS WCup bid race mix football and politics PAGE 20 Government tactic aborts NA meeting Lack of quorum cited; MPs blame the govt Kuwait minister ‘wants Gitmo detainees dead’ By B Izzak KUWAIT: Kuwaiti Electricity and Water Minister Bader Al-Shraiaan attend the Gulf Cooperation Council Electricity and Water ministers meeting in Kuwait City yesterday. — Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat Kuwait relies on fuel for power; gas tight DOHA: OPEC-member Kuwait may continue burning more fuel to fire power plants due to limited gas output, the chief executive of Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) said yesterday. The Gulf Arab state does not have enough natural gas to meet power demand and burns a large volume of oil products at power stations. Like its oil-exporting neighbors, Kuwait has been slow to develop its gas reserves to meet domestic demand. “The plan is to burn less oil than gas, but if worse comes to worse we will continue to use expensive fuel,” Farouk Al-Zanki told reporters on the sidelines of an industry conference in Doha. The world’s fourthlargest oil exporter, which has a shortfall of about 1 billion cubic feet of gas per day (cfd), burns an average 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 300,000 bpd of fuel oil and gas oil per year, Zanki said. Zanki said he hoped Dorra gas field would help raise gas supplies. The Gulf Arab state pumps around 1 billion cfd of gas from oilfields, and 145 million cfd from gas fields not associated with oil. It plans to nearly quadruple its gas production to 4 billion cfd by 2030. Output from the Dorra field is included in the plans. But that field is shared with Iran and has been a bone of contention between Kuwait and Tehran since the 1960s, and the two have yet to strike a deal on how to develop it. Zanki said an announcement for the reshuffle of executives at Kuwait Oil Co (KOC) and KPC might take place in December. Kuwait is plugging the gap between supply and demand with imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Tight supply has been exacerbated by OPEC-member Kuwait’s adherence to the producer group’s oil output restrictions since late 2008. As most of Kuwait’s gas is a by-product of oil production, when it pumps less crude, it pumps less gas. To counter this constraint, Kuwait is working on a scheme to increase output of non-associated gas fields to 1 billion cfd by 2016. In February, state-run Kuwait Oil Company signed a five-year service contract with Royal Dutch Shell to develop gas fields in the country’s north. — Reuters Top cleric questions women driving ban JEDDAH: A top Saudi cleric challenged a ban on women driving yesterday, saying women should be allowed more social participation in the puritanical Islamic state. Saudi Arabia is a monarchy ruled by Al Saud family in alliance with clerics from the strict Wahhabi school of Islam. Women must be covered from head to toe and are not allowed to drive. “Clerics have studied the issue and no one has come up with a (Quran) verse that would forbid female driving...,” said Ahmad Al-Ghamdi, head of the Makkah region’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. “I do not consider it to be forbidden,” he told journalists on the sidelines of a women’s empowerment event in Jeddah. Women are subject to a male “guardianship” system which requires they show permission from their guardian-father, brother or husband-in order to travel or, sometimes, work. Religious police patrol the streets regu- larly to ensure gender segregation and that women are dressed modestly. The rulers of the top oil exporter have wrestled with the issue of moderating the country’s strict adherence to an austere version of Sunni Islam. King Abdullah, a reformist, has replaced hardline clerics and officials with more liberal ones. Ghamdi has been on the front-line of the conflict between liberals and conservatives. He published a paper last year questioning the legality of gender segregation only to be fired from his post. The decision was later reversed. In his latest remarks, he said however that fear of repercussions from hardliners was getting in the way of change. “There is a lot of trepidation in the society,” he said. “Even those who have a conviction about the importance of women’s role in society are afraid of the harm and accusations that they may face and that is why a lot of people avoid opening that door.” — Reuters KUWAIT: A crucial National Assembly session that was set to debate lif ting the immunity of opposition lawmaker MP Faisal Al-Muslim failed to take off yesterday for a lack of quorum as MPs blamed the government for deliberately plotting the scenario. Only one cabinet member, Communications Minister Mohammad AlBaseeri, attended the session and 14 others were absent. The 16th cabinet member, Social Affairs and L abor Minister Mohammad Al-Afasi is abroad on medical treatment. Although Baseeri’s presence was enough for the legitimacy of the session, but only 29 MPs attended, just three short of the required number. To add insult to the injury, four MPs entered the chambers as acting speaker Abdullah Al-Roumi adjourned the session for today. Lifting the immunity of MP Muslim has become highly controversial. The public prosecution has requested lif ting Muslim’s immunity so he can be interrogated in a lawsuit filed by Burgan Bank after the lawmaker showed a copy of a cheque issued by the prime minister during a secret session to interrogate the premier. Showing a cheque for another person is illegal in Kuwait but under the constitution, MPs are free to say anything under the assembly chamber and cannot be prosecuted for that. The National Assembly must vote on the request and it was expected to do this during yesterday’s session. The assembly must take a decision on the request within one month of receiving it from the public prosecution and if it fails to do so, the immunity is lifted automatically. For Muslim, the period expires on December 10. If the National Assembly does not meet today, Muslim’s immunity is likely to be lifted automatically since there are no other meetings for the assembly before December 10. That’s why MPs accused the government of plotting by not attending the session and expected the same scenario today. Actually, Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah is due to open an important donors conference for east Sudan exactly at the same time the assembly is due to start its session. Most of the ministers are also expected to attend the conference. Baseeri blamed MPs for aborting the session but a large number of MPs harshly criticized the government, charging that its action was deliberate so the one-month period lapses and Muslim’s immunity is lifted automatically. MP Mussallam Al-Barrak said that the government only knows how to run from facing issues. He said ministers did not attend the session because the government could not garner the needed number to lif t Muslim’s immunity. MP Muslim criticized Baseeri for his remarks, saying that it appears the government plans to boycott the session today. MP Khaled AlSultan said that if the Continued on Page 14 SCHWERIN: This illustration shows a woman watching the internet site of WikiLeaks. — AFP ‘Get rid of them; If they are rotten, they are rotten’ PARIS: Kuwait’s interior minister told a US ambassador his country did not want to see the return of Kuwaiti terror suspects held in Guantanamo Bay and suggested “the best thing to do is get rid of them.” The exchange between Sheikh Jaber Khaled Al-Sabah and the US envoy to Kuwait, which took place in February last year, was recorded in a US State Department cable published yesterday by the activist website WikiLeaks. Washington was urging Kuwait to accept the return of Kuwaiti nationals who had been detained at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on suspicion of belonging to Jihadist militant groups fighting in Afghanistan. “You know better than I that we cannot deal with these people,” the minister protested, arguing that Kuwait is a small and tight-knit society where family ties hold more sway than any legal measure he could take. “I can’t detain them. If I take their passports, they will sue to get them back. I can talk to you into next week about building a rehabilitation centre, but it won’t happen,” the sheikh said, according to the leaked cable. “We are not Saudi Arabia. We cannot isolate these people in desert camps or somewhere on an island. We cannot compel them to stay. If they are rotten, they are rotten and the best thing to do is get rid of them,” he said. “You picked them up in Afghanistan: You should drop them off in Afghanistan, in the middle of the war zone.” The ambassador also asked the Kuwaiti minister’s advice as to what should have been done with seven Iranian hashish smugglers that were rescued by the US navy when their boat was found sinking in the waters of the Gulf. In that case, US forces returned the seven to Iran via authorities in Oman, but the minister suggested they might not have been so lucky had they been picked up by the Kuwaiti Coast Guard. “God wished to punish them for smuggling drugs by drowning them, and then you saved them. So they’re your problem! You should have let them drown,” the minister suggested, “smiling broadly”, according to the cable. In another development, Saudi King Abdullah proposed implanting Guantanamo detainees with electronic chips to monitor their movements after their release, WikiLeaks revealed yesterday. “I’ve just thought of something,” Abdullah blurted during a March 2009 meeting with White House counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan. The two were discussing the fate of 99 Yemenis still held at the time in the controversial US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The king proposed the prisoners be implanted with electronic microchips so that after their release they can be tracked “with Bluetooth” technology, a US embassy report on the meeting said. Abdullah explained that “this was done with horses and falcons,” according to the memo. But “horses don’t have good lawyers,” Brennan replied. — Agencies Fresh ‘megaleak’ targets US bank ESSEN: This combo of photo shows a robin eating spiders in the snow-covered landscape in the western German city of Essen yesterday. Many parts of the country are experiencing cold weather with snowfall. — AFP Heavy snow wreaks havoc across Europe LONDON: Snow and freezing temperatures severely disrupted airports in Germany and Britain and caused chaos and deaths on roads across Europe yesterday. More than 200 flights were cancelled at Frankfurt airport in Germany, the continent’s third busiest, while southern German states were blanketed by snow. Large parts of Poland were covered in thick snow, causing hundreds of accidents on the roads and at least four people were killed in accidents on snowbound roads in the Czech Republic. Switzerland suffered its coldest November night for 45 years as temperatures plunged below minus 30 degrees Celsius, according to national weather service Meteosuisse. Even Spain and Portugal were shivering after snow fell in the northern half of the Iberian Peninsula. Britain has been taken by surprise by its earliest widespread snowfall since 1993, forcing hundreds of schools in Scotland and rural parts of England to close and causing treacherous conditions on roads and at smaller airports. Scotland and northeast England had fresh snowfall and the freezing weather has started moving down England’s east coast while London had its first sprinkling of snow this winter. London City Airport, a popular departure point for business travelers, was forced at one point to suspend all flights because of snow and ice before resuming with a heavily interrupted service. Edinburgh, Scotland’s busiest airport, was disrupted for a second day, but London’s Heathrow, one of the world’s busiest airports, said all its flights were operating normally. Britain’s Met Office issued severe weather warnings for most regions of the country and Continued on Page 14 WASHINGTON: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has claimed a fresh “megaleak” will target a major US bank “early next year,” according to an interview published Monday. Speaking to Forbes magazine, Assange said that he was ready to unleash tens of thousands of documents that could “take down a bank or two.” Comparing the documents to the emails that exposed Enron’s dealings amid its collapse, the controversial Australian said an existing “big US bank” was the subject of a pending data dump. Asked about any future leaks, he said: “Yes. We have one related to a bank coming up, that’s a megaleak. It’s not as big a scale as the Iraq material, but it’s either tens or hundreds of thousands of documents depending on how you define it.” The interview was conducted in early November, before Sunday’s publication of around a quarter of a million leaked United States embassy cables from WikiLeaks that have caused consternation in Washington and capitals around the world. Assange said the bank leak would “give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume. “Usually when you get leaks at this level, it’s about one particular case or one particular violation.” Amid the economic crisis a handful of “too big to fail” US banks have come under scrutiny for their dealings, particularly with mortgaged-backed securities that helped fuel the meltdown. Executives from Goldman Sachs and the now-defunct Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns have been hauled before Congress to explain their bank’s actions. Assange mentioned Goldman Sachs by name in the interview, but did not confirm the Wall Street giant will be the target of the leak. Goldman has recently agreed a 550 million dollar settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle fraud charges. Facing allegations of defrauding investors, the storied investment bank admitted it had made a “mistake” and given “incomplete” information to clients. Assange said that “about 50 percent” of the documents that the nonprofit organization holds relate to the corporate world. — AFP

1st Dec

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