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New finance minister, opposition lawmakers in Kuwait’s cabinet

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Kuwait formed a new cabinet on Tuesday with a new finance minister and including three opposition lawmakers following a standoff between previous governments and the parliament.

Oil Minister Mohammad al-Fares was reappointed.

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Abdul Wahab Al-Rasheed, head of the non-governmental Kuwait Economic Society, replaced Khalifa Hamada as finance minister.

The new health minister is Khaled Al-Saeed, whose predecessor had steered Kuwait through the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the Gulf state’s third cabinet this year after the previous governments resigned in the standoff that had hindered state efforts for fiscal reform.

The government has tried to temporarily boost finances while more structural and fiscal reforms remain deadlocked, including a debt law to tap international markets.

State media said Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, who had taken steps to defuse the standoff, approved the cabinet despite having handed over most constitutional duties in November to the crown prince, who issued the decree on the cabinet formation.

OPEC member Kuwait bans political parties but has given its legislature more influence than similar bodies in other Gulf monarchies, including the power to pass and block laws, question ministers and submit no-confidence votes against senior government officials.

The cabinet has only one woman minister. It includes three opposition MPs and one pro-government lawmaker, in a departure from past governments that normally included only one MP.

The opposition parliamentarians were given the information, social affairs and National Assembly affairs portfolios.

“The government is trying to dismantle the opposition front… by including some parliamentarians in the government formation,” Kuwaiti political analyst Mohammed Al-Dosari said.

He said several opposition members are still seeking the departure of the prime minister and the parliament speaker.

Several lawmakers had insisted on questioning Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid, premier since late 2019, on various issues including handling the pandemic and perceived corruption.

Read more: Saudi Crown Prince concludes Gulf tour after stop in Kuwait

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US considering moving troops from Western Europe to Eastern Europe: NATO diplomat

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The United States is considering transferring some troops stationed in Western Europe to Eastern Europe in the coming weeks, a NATO diplomat told Reuters, amid escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia.

“This has to do with American troops that are already in Europe,” the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirming a New York Times report that said US President Joe Biden was considering sending US troops to the Baltics and Eastern European allies.

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NATO said on Monday it was putting forces on standby and reinforcing eastern Europe with more ships and fighter jets, in what Russia denounced as an escalation of tensions over Ukraine.

The diplomat said the potential troop movements would be gradual and that any filling of NATO gaps on its eastern flank could take place in the coming weeks.

Read more: From Kyiv, top US diplomat warns Russia against Ukraine aggression

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Several wounded in shooting in German city; gunman dead

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A lone gunman wounded several people at a lecture theater in the southwestern German city of Heidelberg on Monday, police said.

Police said in a brief statement that the perpetrator was dead, but didn’t give details of how that happened. They had earlier asked people on Twitter to avoid the Neuenheimer Feld area of Heidelberg, where the city’s university campus is located.

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Police didn’t specify how many people were wounded, or how seriously, and there was no information on their identities or that of the suspected shooter. The university’s press office declined to give any details on the shooting and referred all inquiries to police.

German news agency dpa cited unidentified security sources as saying that the gunman killed himself.

Police said the weapon used in the shooting was a long-barreled firearm.

Heidelberg is located south of Frankfurt and has about 160,000 inhabitants. Its university is one of Germany’s best-known.

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Aramco CEO says oil demand nearing pre-pandemic levels: Report

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Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Al Nasser said that the demand for oil is nearing pre-pandemic levels, Asharq Business reported in a tweet on Monday.

Read more:

Saudi Aramco signs 50 agreements during IKTVA conference

Saudi Aramco to establish presence in China to focus on non-metals in construction

EIG-led investors in Aramco oil pipelines hire banks for dual-tranche bonds

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