Why Kuwait? Reform And Development And Freedom Inalienable Rights


04 November 2012

By Mshari Al-Zaydi

The activities of the Kuwaiti opposition preceded the so-called Arab Spring.

The exhausting confrontation between the Kuwaiti government and parliament is not a new phenomenon, nor is this a product of the Arab Spring. Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammed al-Sabah was first appointed prime minister in February 2006, whilst his government resigned for the 6th time due to opposition pressure on November 2011.

What is new is the employment of the "atmosphere" of the Arab – Muslim Brotherhood "Spring" in the domestic Kuwaiti battle, which has its own particular nature based on the country's special circumstances.

In the last mobilization against the Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammed al-Sabah government in 2011, which coincided with revolutionary slogans begin raised in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia and Libya, a new slogan that had previously not been present in the Kuwait political lexicon was raised, demonstrating the impact of the Arab Spring atmosphere. This slogan was evidence of an attempt to exploit the momentum of the Arab Spring in Kuwait. The slogan that I am talking about is the "depart" slogan, which was said to Mubarak in Egypt, Ben Ali in Tunisia, and others. Take notice, dear reader, that the confrontation between parliament and the opposition – backed by the street – is a precedent in every case of the Arab – Muslim Brotherhood Spring. However this Arab Spring phenomenon has been added in Kuwait [to previous demonstration], in an attempt to affix the Kuwaiti case to the Arab Spring phenomenon as a whole, in one way or another.

This is something that is permissible in politics and propaganda, for this is the nature of things. However the issue that raises questions amongst observers today is: why has the Kuwaiti situation been activated now? Why are we seeing this activity in Kuwait today when the Arab Spring has been exchanged for a Muslim Brotherhood Spring, particularly in Egypt and Tunisia? This is something that the revolutionaries themselves have attested to, feeling bitterness and disappointment regarding the Brotherhood's lust for power, particularly now that the Islamists real agenda has been exposed, which is something that was buried under the sands of the revolutionary march.

Some supporters of the Kuwaiti opposition argue that the role of the Muslim Brotherhood and followers of political Islam in Kuwait is being exaggerated, citing the names of numerous prominent Kuwait figures and MPs who are definitely not Brotherhood supporters in any way shape or form. This is true. However in Egypt, the novelist Alaa Al Aswany and the left-wing activist George Isaac were amongst the strongest revolutionary voices thundering against the Mubarak regime, and nobody can claim that they are Brotherhood supporters. In fact, during this time, the Brotherhood were far less vocal and visible than such figures. However the question that must be asked here is: where were Al Aswany and Isaac when it came to reap the rewards of the revolution?

But why is this happening in Kuwait now? Why has the international Muslim Brotherhood organization rushed to promote and support what is happening there, from all across the world?

This is a difficult question, but very briefly let me say that this is perhaps due to a lack of funds and the difficulty of financially administrating Arab Spring states that are dominated by the Brotherhood, particularly Egypt and Tunisia, and lately Yemen. These are countries that are experiencing difficult economic times, whilst the Gulf region would be a treasure trove for them, as previously analyzed by writer Mamoun Fandy in this newspaper.

Looking at the map [of the Gulf], Bahrain is not tempting because it is not the richest state, whilst its Brotherhood are allied with the regime against the Shiite onslaught. As for the UAE, it is ready and vigilant against any Brotherhood encroachment, and you need only listen to the rhetoric of [Dubai Police Chief] General Dahi Khalfan to be assured of this. As for Qatar, this is already hand in glove with the Brotherhood. Whilst Saudi Arabia is complex and difficult, this would require extremely precise calculations, and it is enough to note that it is the land of the Two Holy Mosques and enjoys a strong international political presence. Oman, as is its nature, is away from all such clamor. Therefore, the only country that remains is Kuwait, which is rich and democratic and currently hosting numerous political hot potatoes, whilst there is also a long-standing political and social Muslim Brotherhood presence there.

Who knows…perhaps this is part of a bigger plan. However the awakening of the Kuwaiti "state", and its latest resoluteness, may deny many of these aspirations, which are outside of the boundaries of the usual Kuwaiti demands for reform. Reform and development and freedom of speech are inalienable rights, not something that can be bestowed. However this is another issue, outside of what we are trying to understand here.

To conclude: everybody is doing what they can, whilst at the end of the day, it is the worthy issues that remain.

A Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism as well as Saudi affairs. Mshari is Asharq Al-Awsat's opinion page Editor, where he also contributes a weekly column. Has worked for the local Saudi press occupying several posts at Al -Madina newspaper amongst others. He has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.

 

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