Kuwait is a state of waiting following the remarks by Sheikh Salem al Sabah on Monday, one of the pillars of the regime, where he criticized the record of Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al Sabah and called for a three-member committee from the royal family to be set-up to manage the affairs of the country, in light of the deteriorating health of the Emir and the Crown Prince.
Criticism has become commonplace as the parliament and government diverge sharply and the press wages campaigns against a number of subjects. All this is acceptable but, when the critique puts into question matters of state and constitutional legitimacy, people start worrying, especially as the ruling family has no tradition for the transfer of power. Age is not a factor in the political game, as is the case in other countries around the Gulf region, and the son does not automatically inherit power from his father, such as in other countries, and rumors that the two branches of the al Sabah family take turns to assume power and agree on a single candidate are untrue.
The problem faced by Kuwaitis is that, in case of disagreements, a higher authority is called upon to solve them; parliament and the government refer to the constitutional court, the press to the courts, but how are differences of opinion amongst members of the ruling elite resolved?
For the first time in the history of the governing al Sabah family, members are forgetting that publicized conflicts with others represent a grave danger. They forget that difference can be solved behind closed doors and that no regime of ruling family in the world is free from disagreement and conflict but these are settled in a number of customary ways.
Sheikh Salem was not the first al Sabah to air his difference in public. For over a year, the country has been seeing members of the ruling family disagree in the press and satellite news channels. Most certainly, Kuwait will witness a series of unprecedented developments, which will lead to major re-alignments in the ruling family and changes to government institutions. As there is enough reason to be concerned, we ought to let reason override our emotions and show responsibility. The biggest fear is that a continuation of the current crisis will lead to dangerous and destructive state of affairs.