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Kuwait:"A Sunni hit a Shiite" - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The first thing that came to mind whilst I was watching the fight that broke out in the Kuwaiti National Assembly between Sunni and Shiite MPs was a play written by prominent Kuwaiti artist Abdul Hussain Abdul Reda, “Ala Haman, ya Faroun!” [It’s on Haman, O Pharaoh!]. During this play, Abdul Reda reads a portion of a book that he claims is “Ajaib al-Zaman Li Ibn al-Zafarani” [Ibn al-Zafarani’s Wonders of the Time], to his colleague, the well-known actor Saad al-Faraj.

I imagined that Abdul Reda had returned to read from the same book, saying “…and when the Shiite MP waved his stick in the face of the Sunni MP, the latter became angry…and he lost his mind and hit him.” As in the famous play, I imagined Abdul Reda asking al-Faraj “see whether it is written [in the book] that he hit him or not?” Then Saad al-Faraj would reply “no, by God, he hit him…he hit him!” Of course this is no time for jokes, but this is laughter that is bordering on tears; for is it rational – after nearly 50 years of parliamentary work in Kuwait – for the situation to reach the extent of fights breaking out between MPs? Perhaps this could be accepted if it happened 30 years ago, but not today, and not in front of the entire world!

The major problem with the Kuwaiti National Assembly is that the majority of its crises are not over the progress of internal projects, nor do they benefit the people of Kuwait who these MPs represent. Rather, these parliamentary crises are all focused upon foreign policies, which have affected Kuwait, and its international status, and this is not to mention the effect these crises have on Kuwait internally as well. Even if some say that such controversy is the nature of parliaments, and that interpellation is a constitutional right, prudence, awareness, and moderation in utilizing constitutional rights is what distinguishes one democracy from another, and this does not mean acting temperamentally or being overly courteous, but rather showing political awareness. Let us look at the US Congress, for example, for its members do not overreact in utilizing their constitutional right sand tools when facing every crisis or problem. The best example here is the mechanism to impeach and forcibly remove a sitting president. Despite the fact that this is a constitutional right, this is one that is not excessively used in America, and indeed we find some presidents prefer to resign and save face [rather than face impeachment]. This is what happened with former US President Nixon, who was implicated in the infamous Watergate scandal; he was not impeached by Congress but rather chose to resign.

The problem that Kuwait is facing today can be seen in the fact that this is the same parliament that argued over the killing of the terrorist Imad Mughniyeh; they argued over what happened in Bahrain, the situation in Iraq, as well as over Iran. This parliament is also the same parliament that recently called on Kuwait to sever tie with Syria, and this is all extremely strange, for the Kuwait National Assembly is not giving Kuwaiti policies freedom to move according to reality and realistic possibilities. Politics is not moved by slogans, but by reality, and above all else, by interests. Yesterday, a new parliamentary and sectarian crisis broke out over the Kuwaiti detainees in Guantanamo Bay, with one Shiite MP defaming the detainees, describing them as terrorists associated with Al Qaeda, and this was in front of American lawyers [representing the Guantanamo Bay inmates] who were attending the parliamentary session! Therefore we believe that the Kuwait parliamentary controversies are either over foreign policy, or are sectarian in nature, and the most important question that must be asked here is: what about the interests of the ordinary Kuwaiti citizen who wants to improve his life?

The Kuwait National Assembly is not the Arab Parliament, or the Gulf Parliament, and Kuwait is not a superpower that can impose its vision on the world, rather it is in its interests to maintain good international relations based upon non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, and most importantly of all, serve the interests of its own citizens, rather than stumbling from one crisis to the next. This is how Abdul Hussain Abdul Reda’s reading of the book “Ajaib al-Zaman Li Ibn al-Zafarani” resulted in a fight…how unfortunate!

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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