Crackdowns and Coalitions in Kuwait

by Alex Boodrookas | published June 18, 2018

This article was updated on July 10, 2018.

In November of 2017, several dozen Kuwaiti opposition members, including a number of current and former MPs, were suddenly arrested on charges relating to the occupation of the Parliament building in 2011—even though they had been cleared of similar charges four years earlier. [1] The arrests swept up a number of politicians who had been the most visible anti-corruption campaigners in the country, and few doubted that the regime was trying to use the incident to discredit or imprison those who would embarrass the ruling family by airing its dirty laundry. [2] After a drawn out trial, which witnessed regular protests outside the Parliament building calling for the case to be dropped, the defendants were released on bail; the final judgment is due on July 8th. [3]

Contesting Welfare State Politics in Kuwait

by Rivka Azoulay , Madeleine Wells
published in MER272

In October 2013, Kuwait’s Prime Minister Jabir al-Mubarak introduced his government’s agenda with a bombshell -- that “the current welfare state to which Kuwaitis are accustomed is not viable.” [1] Government projections estimate that expenditures will exceed oil revenues in only a few years if spending continues at the current rate. Analysis by the International Monetary Fund confirms that this event could happen as early as 2017. [2] The following month, the government declared it would review $16 billion in annual subsidies on goods and services, a spending program that accounts for 22 percent of the budget.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Boom, Bust and Boom in Dubai

by Pete Moore | published June 9, 2014 - 9:28am

It’s easy to be critical of Dubai and its socioeconomic model.

Youth of the Gulf, Youth of Palestine

by Ted Swedenburg | published May 31, 2014 - 10:19am

I recently came across two accounts of Arab youth that fly in the face of conventional wisdom. One is Kristin Diwan’s issue brief on youth activism in the Arab Gulf states for the Atlantic Council, and the other is a documentary by filmmaker Jumana Manna on Palestinian “male thug culture” in East Jerusalem. The film is called Blessed, Blessed Oblivion.

Kuwait Living On Its Nerves

by K. Celine
published in MER130

The traveler landing at Kuwait does not have to wait long for signs that the small city-state is in some kind of crisis. While citizens of the six countries belonging to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) proceed swiftly through immigration, the rest of us stand in long, slow-moving lines before submitting to the detailed check of visas, work permits and residences introduced to maintain a tight control over new arrivals. In the city itself, the low walls of concrete blocks around the American Embassy -- just like the ones surrounding the White House in Washington -- are an ugly reminder of the truck bomb attack by partisans of Iraq’s outlawed Da‘wa Party in December 1983.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Class and State in Kuwait

by Fred H. Lawson
published in MER132

Over the past five years, Kuwait’s rulers have confronted a variety of crises. Declining oil revenues have forced the regime to engage in deficit spending, which may jeopardize both the state’s extensive system of social welfare programs and its efforts to encourage diverse industrial development projects. The war between Iran and Iraq poses a continuing threat to the country’s foreign commerce as well as to its position as one of the primary financial and service centers of the Gulf region. Attempts by groups associated with Iran to undermine the Sabah regime have led to heightened internal security. Two signs of this are the broader scope of police involvement in domestic affairs and the doubling of defense spending between 1979-1980 and 1983-1984.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Repercussions in the Middle East

published in MER152


Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Looking for Revolution in Kuwait

by Mary Ann Tétreault | published November 1, 2012

In the New York Review of Books, Hussein Agha and Robert Malley imagine the results of the Arab revolts as the possible beginning of a reconstitution of the Ottoman Empire. They see the regional unrest as media-driven, with various partisans asserting their own versions of reality to mobilize popular support. Outsiders fumble for understanding as forces push back and forth, now winning and now losing. Some see Islamists as the only ones with moral standing, yet Islamists in power seem ready and eager to “compromise” with the West to attract money and space to pursue their domestic projects. Aside from the almost obligatory -- and quick -- nod to events in Bahrain and gerontocracy-ruled Saudi Arabia, the Gulf disappears from the conversation. The “non-revolution” Agha and Malley describe is centered elsewhere.

Washington Watch

by Fred H. Lawson
published in MER168

House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Lee Hamilton (D-IN) offered the first criticism by a Washington insider of the Bush administration’s handling of the Gulf crisis when, on September 18, 1990, he blamed Assistant Secretary of State for Near East and South Asian Affairs John Kelly for not sending a firm signal to Iraq that the United States would come to the defense of Kuwait if it were attacked. Kelly had told the committee two days before the Iraqi invasion that the US had no formal commitment to protect Kuwait from outside threats.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Why War?

Background to the Crisis

by Joe Stork , Ann Lesch
published in MER167

Since August 5, 1990, we have seen the most extensive and rapid US military mobilization since the end of World War II. As of early October, more than 200,000 US troops in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf region are drawing combat pay. President Bush declares this deployment was necessary to defend Saudi Arabia, but the size and composition of the US forces clearly pose a threat of offensive military action against Iraq.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.