In Translation: Kuwait's political crisis

To change things up around here from the usual Egypt focus, I decided last week to look for something happening in a region we do not cover much here, the Gulf. The protests taking place in Kuwait are unprecedented for the region — they represent a revolt from inside a formal political system that in many respects was the most representative, if not wholly democratic, of the Arab Gulf — rather than a revolt stemming from outside it like the Bahraini uprising, where the Shia do represent a substantially under-represented community. I’ll let others do the explaining on the background of the current Kuwaiti political crisis, but one important aspect of this crisis is that it is being watched closely by Kuwait’s neighbors: in a sense, Kuwait may either serve as a model for controlled democratization in the Gulf or an argument against empowering the elected (or appointed) assemblies that begun to exist in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the last decade or so.

I chose an article from al-Hayat, the Saudi-owned London-based newspaper, that discussed this issue. It’s by Khalid al-Dakhil, a Saudi university professor often labeled as a “liberal” in the Saudi context — someone will no doubt correct me, but I find that label means that he was among the Saudis who were hopeful about the limited reforms of King Abdullah starting in 2003 but do not question the al-Sauds right to rule. The article is informative as much in its explanation of the Kuwaiti crisis as the implied lessons for other Gulf monarchies.

As always, our In Translation series is made possible by Industry Arabic, which provides professional translation services for corporations, NGOs, and anyone else who needs fast, accurate and specialized translation from or to Arabic. If you or your company has need of these kind of services, give them a go.

Kuwait’s crisis: The National Assembly wants to be emir-maker

Khalid al-Dakhil, al-Hayat, 4 November 2012

The political situation in Kuwait has reached the utmost crisis. There are marches, clashes between protesters and the police, and MPs from the dissolved Assembly have been arrested. The political climate is tense, and has been marred by escalating political statements that raise a tone of defiance on all sides. The crisis is not new: it is only the latest chapter, which was initiated by the recent Emiri Decree amending voting mechanisms in parliamentary elections allowing voters to select only one candidate instead of four.

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Kuwaitis Denied Justice in Guantanamo Bay

Jenifer Fenton reports from Kuwait. This month marks the third year that President Barack Obama's campaign promise to "close Guantanamo" (modified soon after his inauguration to close the detention facility by January 2010) will have gone unfulfilled. A chronology of the Obama administration's postponment of the closure can be found at the LA Times.

The worst of the worst, they were called. Twelve Kuwaitis were “captured” in Afghanistan and Pakistan and sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in the months following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Unproven accusations of associations with the Taliban and Al Qaeda robbed them of years of their lives. The 12 said they left Kuwait to do charity work or to teach Islam or to live more Islamic lives. Many were sold to the Americans for bounty and all said they were tortured by US forces.

Eventually 10 would be freed.

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Links for 07.08.09 to 07.09.09

Bint Al-Beltway | Blog by Washington-based policy wonk, good stuff on Syria, Lebanon, US MENA policy, technology and military issues. Middle East Report Online: The Day After “Victory”: Kuwait’s 2009 Election and the Contentious Present by Mary Ann Tétreault and Mohammed Al-Ghanim | On Kuwait's election. Palestinians reject Netanyahu's 'economic peace' plan - Haaretz - Israel News | As well they should, Palestinians don't need an economic boost, they need independence and the end of the occupation. A Renditions Scandal in Britain—By Scott Horton (Harper's Magazine) | On the case of Rangzieb Ahmed, an Ethipian rendited to Pakistan, which is currently being investigated by Britain. Which is more than you can say about Obama's decision not to investigate and prosecute these cases in America. Hamas: Mubarak doesn't know soldier's condition - Yahoo! News | Mubarak had said Shalit was well, but Hamas says Hosni has no idea what he's talking about. International Crisis Group - Iraq and the Kurds: Trouble Along The Trigger Line | Another ICG report on the important issue of how to settle resource-sharing, political rule among the Kurds and Arabs of Iraq, urges US to mediate resolution before withdrawal. In Morocco, an Alternative to Democracy - Morocco Board News Service | Excellent critique of a stupid WaPo article on Morocco. Q&A with Iranian Opposition Politician Ebrahim Yazdi Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English) | Essential interview with Iranian opposition figure. The Israeli ambassador is a dual national. | Isn't that a problem? Views | A veiled attack on freedom in France's niqab debate | Egyptian Muslim Brother Ibrahim al-Houdeiby on the France/niqab debate. Interesting use of Obama's Cairo speech at the end.
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Links for 06.25.09 to 06.26.09

Note: Going back to the daily link dump, unless you prefer the individual posts. Most people I asked seem to prefer this method... Tamim death sentences upheld - The National Newspaper | On HTM, case will now go to appeal, perhaps ultimately to Cassation Court. Moving Out of Kuwait’s Political Impasse - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace | Nathan Brown on Kuwait's divisions between the ruling family and parliament. Al-Ahram Weekly | Focus | Loyalty to racism | Azmi Bishara on Israel's demand that it be recognized as a Jewish state. He makes several really good points. Obama to Send U.S. Ambassador to Syria After Four-Year Gap - washingtonpost.com | Move had been planned, but coming in the middle of Iran's crisis it signals an ambition to split the Syrian-Iranian alliance. Calif. professor's Gaza e-mail cleared by panel - Yahoo! News | Bloody thought police.
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Links for January 14th

Automatically posted links for January 14th:

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Kuwait goes fundie

The Arab Times reports that Kuwait, perhaps America's most unflinching ally in the Middle East since it was liberated from Iraqi troops in 1991, is becoming increasingly fundamentalist:
In the past, men and women mingled and dated in Kuwait. The country had mixed beach clubs for nationals. No longer. Most now have separate swimming days for women and men. Like other Gulf states, Kuwait is witnessing a rising tide of fanatical Islam. More and more women wear the veil and more men grow beards to display their religious fervour. Islamist extremism indoctrinated by the Sunni Salafi and Wahhabi movements is spreading from Saudi Arabia to neighbouring Kuwait, influencing its youth and affecting all aspects of life. Many Kuwaitis, like other Arabs, denounce the United States and its allies for backing “corrupt” rulers and what they see as Washington’s war against Islam and plans to control their region’s oil wealth.
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Kuwait to build fence along Iraqi border

The Khaleej Times reports that Kuwait will build a "security barrier" along its 217km-long border with Iraq to prevent infiltrators from entering Kuwait and protect nearby oil facilities.
Following the 1991 Gulf War that liberated Kuwait from Iraqi occupation, Kuwait installed an electrified fence, constructed a sand berm and a deep trench to hinder infiltrators from crossing the border into the emirate. Meanwhile Kuwait security forces have arrested two Iraqis living in Kuwait, one of whom was caught entering the country from Iraq with printed materials inviting Moslems to fight a holy war against U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Kuwait, al-Rai al-Aam newspaper reported Monday.
Curious that they don't mention infiltrators who want to get into Iraq from Kuwait...
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