Kuwait redistricting

This happened a few days ago, but I missed it then. After the recent elections in Kuwait, won by the Islamist opposition, parliament was on track to carry out the electoral reforms that irked the regime and caused it to disband parliament in the first place.


A vote on Sunday approved redistricting to reduce the number of electoral districts from 25 to just five. The vote passed 60 to two. The interesting thing about this is that this is a change that the regime opposed -- so much, in fact, that it called for new elections. So it's a victory for the public against the state, which the latter can only oppose at much greater risk now (what are they going to do, disband parliament again?)

On another note, the Kuwaiti government has backed the Saudi position denouncing Hizbullah's "adventurism" -- to be expected I suppose. Regime hacks are now doing mental pirouettes to provide the intellectual fodder for this position. I'd never thought I'd read this in an Arab newspaper:

This attitude of Saudi Arabia, which has been doing all it can to protect the Arab world from Israeli aggression, is enough to unmask the adventurers, who have violated the rights of their own countries and tried put their people under the guardianship of foreign countries like Iran and Syria. A battle between supporters and opponents of these adventurers has begun, starting from Palestine to Tehran passing through Syria and Lebanon. This war was inevitable as the Lebanese government couldn’t bring Hezbollah within its authority and make it work for the interests of Lebanon. Similarly leader of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas has been unable to rein in the Hamas Movement.

Unfortunately we must admit that in such a war the only way to get rid of “these irregular phenomena” is what Israel is doing. The operations of Israel in Gaza and Lebanon are in the interest of people of Arab countries and the international community.
Ahem. I knew the Kuwaitis held a grudge against Palestinians, but now it seems they're jumping on the anti-Shia bandwagon too.

Anyway, the interesting thing is that the Kuwaiti public seems divided. A few days ago, there was the first demonstration held outside the US embassy in years. Kuwaitis (well, certainly the Al Sabah family) are meant to be very grateful to the US for rescuing them from Saddam's adventure in 1990. MPs also criticized the Foreign Minister for making statements in support of the Saudi position.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.