- Associated Press - Thursday, March 31, 2011

KUWAIT CITY (AP) — Kuwait’s Cabinet resigned on Thursday over regional turmoil, the country’s official news agency said, in an apparent reference to the political unrest in neighboring Bahrain.

The state-run agency said the Cabinet resigned because of “recent local developments” and the “negative aftershocks on the country’s national unity, security and stability.”

The resignation appeared to be an attempt by three Cabinet ministers, members of the ruling Al Sabah family, to avoid being questioned over why Kuwait did not contribute troops to the Saudi-led Gulf force that was sent to Bahrain.

There, the Sunni dynasty has been faced by a month of pro-democracy protests led by the island kingdom’s Shiite majority.

About 1,500 troops from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Sunni-led Gulf states entered Bahrain two weeks ago at the invitation of Bahrain’s monarch. The king also declared emergency rule and cracked down on protesters, killing at least 20.

Kuwait’s parliament is among the most politically active in the Arab world. Lawmakers often challenge the ruling family over alleged power abuses, financial irregularities and allegations of attempts to roll back freedoms.

Cabinet resignations are relatively common in Kuwait, a key OPEC member.

In recent months, opposition lawmakers have stepped up demands to bring top officials into the chamber for questioning.

Last week, opposition lawmakers made a request to question the deputy prime minister for economic affairs over alleged misuse of public funds in housing deals, sports events and other projects.

The prime minister, Sheik Nasser Al Mohammed Al Sabah — a nephew of Kuwait’s emir — survived no-confidence motions in parliament in 2009 and this January.

Kuwait is an important U.S. ally, serving as the main exit point for American forces departing neighboring Iraq.

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