As I noted in my last posting (Part 1) the Kuwaiti opposition has long avoided dealing with its
main problem: it is only a partial opposition. So far it has failed to move away from its tribal and Islamist genesis (no pun intended). It has failed to convince
large identifiable and distinct segments of society to join it. It needs to clean house to become a truly broad representative national movement. Its leaders also face several problems of their own making and not related to regime policies:
- They are heavily lead by tribal and Islamist men whose electoral success is based mainly on a couple of large tribes. That is how most of them win elections: cross-tribal voting is rare. The shift last year to “one-man-one-vote” reduced that effect.
- They are an extremely reactionary group, which is natural given the tribal, sectarian, and Islamist hue of the bloc. When they gained a majority in the Assembly in 2012 some of their members immediately joined the Saudi Mufti in calling for the destruction of all churches in the Gulf GCC states. They all prepared and voted for and passed a blasphemy law: to make “blasphemy” punishable by death. Presumably “blasphemy” according to the definition of the Wahhabi Salafis and Muslim Brotherhood who control the ‘movement’ (it was fortunately vetoed by the Emir).
- They have consistently shown a strong aversion to criticizing the (much) more repressive Saudi and Bahrain regimes. They are against those who would call for the same thing they want for Kuwait: accountability and elected governments in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. That is partly sectarian and partly related to tribal (and possibly some business) connections across the border. They strongly supported the Saudi quasi-invasion of Bahrain to crush the popular uprising.
- Many of their tribal and Islamist leaders are heavily and proactively sectarian. Their Salafi (and some Muslim Brother) members, a dominant majority of the bloc, called in 2012 when they controlled the Assembly for restrictions of worship on the country’s Shi’a Muslims. That call specifically included stationing government spies inside all Shi’a religious services (no sense of irony here).
- Their leadership seems fixated on the former prime minister, who has been out of office for two years. However, the alleged documents (partly) shown at last night’s gathering concerned transactions purportedly by the former prime minister. It comes across almost like a personal vendetta between the some of the opposition leaders and the ex-PM.