Kuwaiti MPs question integrity of helicopter deal with US

MP Ahmad Al-Hamad was quoted as saying, “The rise in corruption cases is driving Kuwaiti citizens to question any deal that is concluded with any party. All new deals are, in fact, met with a lot of concern and suspicion.”
Tuesday 05/01/2021
Kuwaiti MPs attend a parliament session at the national assembly in Kuwait City on January 5, 2021. (AFP)
Kuwaiti MPs attend a parliament session at the national assembly in Kuwait City on January 5, 2021. (AFP)

KUWAIT CITY – Kuwaiti MPs suggested the sale of US Apache helicopters to Kuwait could involve corruption, despite the fact that the deal is still in its early stages, requiring more time and procedural steps before the contract is officially signed.

The suggestions come as no surprise, as Kuwaiti parliamentarians often look for ways to condemn the government and pressure the ruling elite.

Such suggestions gain more significance due to a history of public funds being misused, especially during large arms deals.

The US State Department has approved the potential sale to Kuwait of Apache helicopters and spare parts for the Patriot missile system in two separate deals that could value $4.2 billion, the Pentagon said in December.

Kuwait’s government had asked to buy eight AH-64E Apache Longbow Attack Helicopters and to upgrade 16 of their AH-64D Apache Longbow Attack Helicopters to the AH-64E configuration, the Pentagon said.

If the deal comes to fruition, it could cost some $4 billion for the helicopters and $200 million for spare parts and training for the upgraded Patriot missile defense systems, the Pentagon said in a statement.

The value of the deal appears to be high at a time when Kuwait is facing a difficult financial situation due to the fall in oil prices and the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic.

The severe economic crisis has prompted the Kuwaiti government to consider borrowing to cover basic expenses, including the salaries of government employees.

Such factors apparently prompted parliamentarians to question the integrity of the US arms deal.

Local Kuwaiti media said that representatives in the National Assembly intend to question the defence minister over the deal.

Al-Rai newspaper quoted the head of the Parliamentary Finance Committee, MP Ahmad Al-Hamad, as saying, “The rise in corruption cases is driving Kuwaiti citizens to question any deal that is concluded with any party. All new deals are, in fact, met with a lot of concern and suspicion.”

Al-Rai also quoted MP Fayez Al-Jamhour as saying, “If the news circulating about the Apache helicopter deal are correct, then the exaggerated value of the deal, when compared to similar possible deals with other countries, indicates the existence of suspicious elements. In the light of this, we will adopt a clear position when meeting with the minister of defence.”