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Women’s military enrolment delayed for Fatwa Authority’s views: Defense Minister

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KUWAIT: Recruitment of Kuwaiti women in the army is not mandatory and for the sake of performing non-combative tasks, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister Defense affirmed yesterday while being grilled at the National Assembly. Work of the women in the army will be restricted to technical, medical and engineering services and other non-combat tasks, said Sheikh Hamad Jaber Al-Ali Al-Sabah at Abdullah Al-Salem Hall where he took to the podium for interpellation by MP Hamad Al-Azmi who cast skepticism over regularity of the minister performance at the defense post.

Minister Sheikh Hamad Jaber said that he affirmed several times that the enrolment of the women in the Kuwaiti Army would be confined to medical and back-up services. “These are the tasks currently undertaken by the women at the ministry of defense thus we have not come up with anything new and we have not mentioned carrying arms,” he stressed after the parliament member ended his address of interpellation against the minister. However, the minister pointed out that he delayed the women enrolment issue to sound out views of the Fatwa Authority at the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs. Up to 34 Islamic states have allowed the female citizens to join the military, he argued, noting that some of these countries are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in which Kuwait is also a member state.

Rebuffing the argument that the people in Kuwait were shocked at the planned women military recruitment, he noted that the female nationals would reap financial benefits and allowances by joining the military ranks. He questioned MPs’ silence when Law 283/2018 was enacted stipulating the employment of the women in the military. Reacting to charges regarding funds’ misappropriation, the minister noted that a committee under his jurisdictions settled a number of financial issues, affirming that he had responded to queries by the Audit Bureau.

On the issue of the Eurofighters aircraft, Sheikh Hamad said he submitted the final report of the relevant probe panel to the Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha) on June 16th and sent another one on September second. MP Al-Azmi denied the minister’s remarks saying that the army had called on the women to join the ranks as combatants, accused him of neglecting the Dysyr Audit Bureau remarks on the Eurofighters deal, also questioned its high cost, amounting to a total of $8.9 billion. Moreover, he accused him of being complacent with respect of the state policy of ‘Kuwaitization’, noting that the whole number of staff at the ministry is 3,976 including 2,600 Kuwaitis.

Grilling clarification

National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Ali Al-Ghanem had said in a statement after the parliament moved to discuss the interpellation item that MP Azmi submitted the grilling motion on January 4. Ghanem explained that in accordance with the text of Article 135, the minister was informed of the interrogation as soon as it was presented, as it was included on the agenda of the session.

The defense minister submitted a request for clarification on Sunday, adding that it was answered on Monday, he indicated. He stated that according to the text of the aforementioned article, the interrogation may be discussed only after eight days from the day of its submission, except in the case of urgency and the approval of the minister, indicating that the person to whom the interrogation is directed may request an extension of this period to two weeks at most, and his request will be granted. It is permissible by the National Assembly’s decision to postpone for a similar period, and it is not permissible to postpone for more than this period except after the approval of the majority of MPs, he pointed out.

Ghanem addressed the defense minister by asking him if he wanted to discuss the interrogation in yesterday’s session, or request a delay, and he replied that he was ready. Article 135 stipulates that the speaker shall notify the interrogation to the prime minister or the competent minister immediately upon its submission, and it shall be included in the agenda of the first following session to set a date for discussion after hearing the statements of the person to whom the interrogation was directed. — KUNA

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