Radical Islamic terrorism concerns have reportedly prompted Kuwait to suspend the issuance of visas for citizens of five fellow Muslim-majority countries: Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran.
Syrians, Iraqis, Iranians, Pakistanis and Afghans will not be able to obtain visit, tourism or trade Kuwaiti visas with the news coming one day after the US slapped its own restrictions on seven Muslim-majority countries.
Passport holders from the countries will no lot be allowed to enter the Gulf state while the blanket ban is in place and have been told not to apply to visas. Kuwaiti sources told local media that the restrictions were in place due to the “instability” in the five countries and that the ban would be lifted once the security situation improves.
Kuwait is concerned about the threat of extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group with both militant organisations have a presence in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Pakistan, included in the Kuwait directive, has denied the reports of a visa ban by the Middle Eastern nation on its citizens.
In an effort to strengthen national security, President Donald Trump signed an executive order last Friday restricting immigration into the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority nations: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, and Somalia.
Echoing the U.S., Kuwait also cited concerns “about the possible migration of radical Islamic terrorists,” reports the Indo-Asian News Service (IANS).
In 2011, Kuwait issued a suspension of visas for all Syrians, making it the only country to prohibit the entry of citizens from the war-ravaged country, adds IANS.
On Wednesday, Ghulam Dastagir, Pakistan’s ambassador in Kuwait, claimed that his country is not covered by Kuwait’s visa restrictions, according to Geo News.
The ambassador indicated “that news on social media about the ban baseless, further adding that same news had sprung up in 2011,” notes the Pakistani news outlet.
Although Pakistan is not included in the President Trump’s executive order, the White House has suggested the immigration limits may be extended to the South Asian countries.
“As a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), [Sunni] Kuwait has become embroiled in escalated tensions between the GCC and [Shiite] Iran,” reports Zee News. “Washington has been a guarantor of GCC security since the early 1990s, according to a Congressional Research Service brief.”
Kuwait has experienced various jihadi attacks over the past two years, including a bombing of a Shiite mosque in 2015 that killed 27 people.