‘Kuwait a stabilizing force in the region’
KUWAIT: When talking about helping far-flung Syrian refugees, Kuwait has been ‘singular’ in terms of its generosity, US Congressman Stephen Lynch said yesterday. “Going beyond your borders to help people in tough situations… as I have seen in refugee camps in southern Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, the people of Kuwait has been so generous with humanitarian aid that I thought it was important to come and say ‘thank you’,” Lynch, a Democrat representing the State of Massachusetts said in an exclusive interview.
He is on a visit to the country along with fellow Congressman Dennis A Ross; a Republican from the State of Florida. The second leg of the trip will be Iraq later today. Lynch; a member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, noted that the trip to Iraq comes to make sure that the country can function as a “pluralistic” democracy where all sects, as well as religious and ethnic minorities, can share in governing and be strong enough to resist any terrorist group, mainly the so-called Islamic State (IS). “We want to make sure that communities, especially in northern Iraq, are resilient to fight IS.” Pointing to Kuwait’s role in this regard as a ‘stabilizing force in the region,’ Lynch expressed hope that Iraq reaches stability.
While in Kuwait, both Congressmen had met with head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) with the effort to try to diminish the likelihood that terrorist financing that might be obtained through legitimate financial systems. “We have received great cooperation from Kuwait’s FIU. I believe that Kuwait is on the verge of joining the Egmont Group,” noted Lynch. The Egmont Group is a united body of 152 FIUs, providing a platform for the secure exchange of expertise and financial intelligence to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. Established in 2013, Kuwait’s FIU is an independent agency responsible for receiving, requesting, analyzing, and disseminating information concerning suspected proceeds of crime or funds related, linked to or to be used for money laundering or terrorism financing according to the provisions of law.
On academic cooperation between the two countries, Lynch said, “It is a great relationship and we hope it continues. US universities are actively recruiting Kuwaiti students, preparing them for the job market. Those are our future leaders going to school side by side with your (Kuwaiti) future leaders, and only good can come from that.” A fresh statistic by US embassy in Kuwait indicated that some 15,500 Kuwaiti students are presently receiving academic education in American universities. On the recent US air strikes in Syria, Lynch said that there was “great unanimity among civilized countries, including Kuwait and the US, over the wrongness of the horrific attack with chemical weapons.
“I think the recent response from US military was limited but strong and hopefully we’ll see a change in behavior on the part of the (Bashar) Assad government.” On his part, Congressman Ross said another reason for the visit was to foster the already-strong relations with Kuwait.
In this regard, he noted they visited US troops stationed in Kuwait, and “I encourage more of my colleague congressmen/women to come and see on ground how Kuwait is dynamic and such a contributor to the overall financial wellbeing of the Middle East.” Economically speaking, Ross said the volume of Kuwaiti investments in the United States and, vice versa, was discussed, especially in the oil and energy sectors. “The United State is not building new refineries, actually, it is ‘refining’ its current ones and Kuwait has been very helpful in this regard due to its investment expertise,” he noted.
On the Middle East peace process, both Congressmen agreed that such process has to be engaged in by everyone in the region. But, also the international community, especially the West, has a responsibility to lend whatever resources necessary to allow such matter to materialize, stressing that the United States has supported a two-state solution, as it is the only true road to peace. – KUNA