KUWAIT: People walk along a beach in Kuwait City. —Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: Kuwait dismisses “slanderous” accusations lodged against it over terror financing, Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah said yesterday. “I am baffled how Kuwait has been included in a list of terrorism financing countries,” Jarallah told Al-Jazeera television, citing the state’s hosting of a trio of donor conferences in support of Syria as counterevidence.

His remarks came as the Syrian Embassy in Kuwait categorically denied a report by Kuwaiti daily Al-Seyassah on Sunday over listing a number of Kuwaiti personalities on the terrorism financing list. The embassy said in a statement that “it considers these allegations an attempt by some suspicious bodies which seem to be unhappy with the development of bilateral ties between the two brotherly countries”.

On the status of Kuwait’s embassy in Syria, Jarallah said, “operations will only resume with the Arab League’s consent.” He predicted a “thaw in relations” between Syria and Arab Gulf states in the coming days as more nations look to reopen their embassies in Damascus. Jarallah added the Syrian Embassy in Kuwait has the leeway needed to look after the Syrian diaspora in the country, which number around a quarter of a million people.

Arab states, including some that once backed rebels against President Bashar Al-Assad, are seeking to reconcile with him after decisive gains by his forces in the war, aiming to expand their clout in Syria at the expense of non-Arab Turkey and Iran. The United Arab Emirates re-opened its embassy in Damascus last Thursday and Bahrain said the next day that its embassy there and the Syrian diplomatic mission in Manama had been operating “without interruption”.

Arab League’s permanent representatives are due to meet in Cairo on Jan 6. US-allied Gulf Arab states were the main regional backers of armed groups opposed to Assad, providing finance or weapons or both, acting largely as part of a program of support for the armed opposition coordinated by Washington. Unlike its other neighbors, Kuwait kept Syria’s embassy in Kuwait open and opposed arming the rebels, although private donors in Kuwait sent funds to anti-Assad forces. Kuwait has led a humanitarian fundraising campaign for Syria through the United Nations.

An Arab diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters last week he believed a majority of members wanted Syria to be readmitted. Syria’s membership of the Arab League was suspended in 2011 in response to the government’s violent crackdown on “Arab Spring” protests. For Syria to be reinstated, the Arab League must reach a consensus. – Agencies