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The Alarming Kuwaiti Political Scene - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Everyone can agree over certain aspects that characterize positive and efficient political action. However, a very thin line divides the positive from the chaotic – irrespective of the motivation behind tampering or whether it is in the name of democracy. This is why the political upheaval that we recently witnessed in the Kuwaiti parliament, and which has been going on for some time, is cause for sadness and regret.

Kuwait was the pioneering state to practice political freedom in the Gulf region; its parliament was the first to tackle issues and vote to resolve them until it birthed the strikingly progressive Kuwaiti constitution. It was Kuwait that generated the most crucial movement; the first freedom of press movement in the Arab Gulf, in addition to a critical movement in theatre that is both purposeful and insightful. All this was expected to progress rationally in the interests of the public political climate.

But something happened in Kuwait and the ideal political model; parliament, free press, trade unions and all civil society entities have been transformed into tools used to demonstrate tribal affiliations and conflicts, sectarian discrimination and disputes, in addition to gender disparity and discrimination between the rich and poor, native citizens and the hybrid Bidoon [people who have no documents to prove their nationality. They are chiefly of Iraqi or Iranian descent].

It is a sad state that has led to flagrant scenes in the old Kuwaiti parliament where the sheer volume of tampering has reached tragicomic heights. Differences have turned into personal disputes to settle personal scores in the public arena or to gain ‘leadership’ in the eyes of the public to serve other goals.

The Kuwaiti political scene once chalked up to become the ‘Paris’ of the Gulf has become the ‘Italy’ of the Gulf as one cabinet reshuffle followed another while various ministries were interrogated by the parliament for no apparent reason. Such practices manifested as nothing more than attempts aimed at restriction and time wasting without any benefits in sight – only the escalation of the crisis and the tension between the legislative entity and the state’s executive machinery so that new ministerial posts have become the most difficult and sensitive positions.

A parliament’s expected role is to oversee the government’s executive performance whilst monitoring corruption, tyranny and nepotism so that state bodies are not transformed into hotbeds of conflict. Although the goals and aims are important and noble, theory is one thing and practice quite another and the devil is always in the details.

The details are entailed in the manner by which these objectives are drawn up and executed; they are carried out in an astonishing Machiavellian manner where the end justifies the means whatever they may be. This, of course, has led to the disruption of Kuwait’s hopes and aspirations for development and a general sense of injustice reigns among the public – with the knowledge that Kuwaiti citizens have an elevated sense of nationalism. Thus, this concern held by citizens must not be overlooked in light of the indicators pointing towards the decline in confidence and the deterioration of the government and parliamentary performance at present.

Kuwait borders southern Iraq, which is inflamed with seditions that could sweep into Kuwait in light of its politically fragile state causing upheaval within its social fabric. The security of the Arab Gulf would be threatened if that were to take place. Therefore, political equality in Kuwait and the restoration of wise governance are vital to all parties, since the current political scene is alarming and does not herald a happy ending.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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