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Arab Spring reaches Kuwait


Thac0man

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What in the last few days were described as Islamist protests against the Kuwait government, are now being referred to as:
The opposition, made up of Islamists, nationalists and liberals, won a general election in February but the constitutional court quashed the vote in June and reinstated the previous pro-government parliament.
Taken from Al Jazeera:
Kuwait opposition vows to defy ban on rally - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Along with Bahrain, this makes two GCC countries that are directly challanged by protests linked to the Arab Spring. I am not sure if protesters in Bahrain can be described as 'Arab', but the term 'Arab Spring' is perhaps more generally applied with the passage of time. What we are seeing a general uprising of democracy, so it does not matter what other label is applied.

It will be interesting to see how the Kuwaiti Royal family react to this rising challange, further than they already have. Sectarian divisions like those that exist in Bahrain, cannot be played on to justify continued repression. With Kuwaiti opposition including democrats and Islamists, the sole motivation laid bare for the Kuwaiti Royal family to retain power, is respect for monarchy. Hard to say how big these protests are, but those particupating in them enjoy enough support to have beaten pro-government parties in the February elections.

to quote:
Opposition leaders insist they have no desire to undermine the Al-Sabah ruling family and on Friday pledged their loyalty to the emir while renewing their demand for the new electoral law to be repealed.
This does not seem to be an anti-monarchist rebellion, but does put Kuwaits ruling Emir is in an awkward position. Kuwait is not a large country, and any attempt to abolish parliment entirely could backfire. Kuwait, not Bahrain, may prove the weak link the GCC's armour. There can be no settlement with the opposition that does not repeal the electoral law that overturned the last elections. So democracy, which took root as a condition of US intervention to liberate Kuwait in the 1sr Gulf War, must inevitably prevail.

And if that law is overturned, Kuwait is on the road to becoming a functioning constitutional monarhcy. Even if it is not a 'republic', democratic voices will be influencing GCC policy. How much longer can Saudi Arabia itself then hold out against progress?
 

Thac0man

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Seems to be on the boil all right, do you think anything will change?
Well it won't change quickly, but the cat is out of the bag. A parliment has to be more than a rubber stamp, and I would wager the Kuwati authorities are nervous about doing anything that might see protests esculate. Even planting a false flag on the protests would force to the surface the need for government to compromise with the legitimate opposition. No easy way for the Emir to escape accountability.
 

asset test

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Where are the ladies in all this?

Just wondered if they are at home making the dinner, while the lads have a protest

@ cimmon 9999
 

GDPR

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This really is an escalation of protests (and the motivations behind them) in Kuwait, yes. A friend of mine who's from Kuwait has said that most protests were held by Bedouin in the past. This seems to be quite different.

I do so hope that the emir will act smartly and work towards a true constitutional monarchy.
 

True Republican

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Oh great another Islamist rebellion...lol
 

bmw1

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bet the yanks wont be waiting around for this on to 'fizzle' out.


oh that oil ~ all that lovely black valuable oil :D
 

storybud1

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They are only protesting because the Emir will not give them new porches this year, it is a corrupt joke of a Country, their horrible treatment of Asian workers is well known and the kickbacks for favours are legendary.

There is no culture working for a living,forward planing and education outside the oil business and responsibility for the greater good.

Certain Irish politicians would fit right in, imagine all that free money for looking the other way, fixing deals under the counter and the bribes, OH, the bribes, why else would you go into politics, easy money, do nothing and live comfortably for the rest of your life.
 

True Republican

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Is there a liberal, well educated, middle class in Kuwait who would be capable of developing the country economically and socially?
 

Thac0man

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bet the yanks wont be waiting around for this on to 'fizzle' out.


oh that oil ~ all that lovely black valuable oil :D
The Yanks started it. A condition of US liberation of Kuwait was the implimention of democractic reform, the platform the protests are not based on. The oil was there before the Yank led alliance pushed Saddam out of Kuwait, the mechanisms of democratic expression were not.
 

Thac0man

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Is there a liberal, well educated, middle class in Kuwait who would be capable of developing the country economically and socially?
There is, and the Emir of Kuwait better start talking to them. Inthe context of Kuwait, the presense of what seem like overt Islamists must signal that the Emir needs to reform. A crack down will only embolden the most violent, in the same way as compromise should cultivate the more democratic. Kuwait is already a long way from Saudi Arabia in many cultrual aspects, including the rights of women. But that also has a long way to go.

To quote from Wiki (for the want of another source close to hand):
Women in Kuwait are considered to be among the most emancipated women in the Gulf region.[SUP][2][/SUP][SUP][3][/SUP] Women in Kuwait can travel, drive, and work without their fathers' or husbands' consent and they even hold some senior government positions.[SUP][2][/SUP] Women in Kuwait are able to work freely and can achieve positions of power and influence.[SUP][4][/SUP]
Women in Kuwait gained the right to vote and stand in parliamentary and local elections in May 2005.[SUP][5][/SUP][SUP][6][/SUP] And in October 2009 Kuwait's constitutional court ruled that women were able to gain their own passports, without the consent of their husbands.[SUP][7][/SUP]
Not entirely Western, but closer to that model that the Saudi one. The current policy also stems from commitments given in response to Western aid against Saddam. But no matter how they were gained, they will be hard to roll back.

On womens rights Kuwait has it shortcomings, but it is ranked 37th of of 145 in the Gender Equality index (run by the United Naitons Development Program). That Kuwait is ranked so high may be damning of the state of gender equality globally. But none the less it does suggest Kuwait is progressive in some respects, and that progress on either democracy or women's rights is not impossible in Gulf states.

On that issue, I am tempted to put a question mark over the accepted status quo in Saudi Arabia. That the population is conservative, while the monarchy is partialy progressive, is the accepted picture of Saudi Arabia, with general conservatism being represented by the Islamic establishment. But could this picture be untrue? If democracy seeped into Saudi Arabia, might a hithertoo repressed will towards liberalism be unleashed? The people of Saudi Arabia have never been given a choice. Given everything else that has happened in the 'Arab Spring' thus far, I am tempted to believe that scenario, or liberalisation in Saudi Arabia, is possible.
 
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