Tag Archives: Kuwait Elections

The Enemy Within? the Extremist Salafi Islamist Opposition Returns to Kuwait Politics……..

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Kuwait has the most free and open elections in all the Gulf GCC states. The others don’t really have any. She will have new parliamentary (National Assembly) elections in the last week of November. Much of the ultra-reactionary Islamic-Tribal alliance that boycotted the last election has given up and decided to run for office. That should be good news, but in this case it is truly bad news for the country, its social cohesion, and sectarian tranquility.

The Kuwaiti political opposition are a mix that is dominated by Salafis, Muslim Brothers, and reactionary tribal seekers of office. These have cleverly dominated the smaller Wahhabi-Liberal and pseudo-academic types who are nominally secular.

Last time the so-called Kuwaiti political opposition mustered a majority in parliament, their first act was to vote to convert the country into a Wahhabi-Salafi theocracy by instituting the Shari’a literally. Apparently their ideal of a democratic civil society. The proposal got a majority of votes: every member of that opposition group voted for it. Only the few urban members and the Shi’a members refused to support it. Luckily, the Emir thought correctly that it was a bad idea and refused to sign it. He vetoed it and saved the country from the ritual of beheading, crucifixion, public flogging, chopping hands, and other such Wahhabi-Salafi pleasures and pastimes that exist in a neighboring country.

Most of the opposition members had claimed they would not run again until the election laws were changed away from the new one-man-one-vote system, and until one of their leaders is released from prison. They made a lot of noise about ‘principles’ and about a ‘democracy’ that most of them never believed. Apparently four years on the outside have cured them. Basically they have surrendered and, in true Salafist fashion, betrayed their imprisoned ally Musallam Al Barrak.

The years of absence of any political influence and tribal pressures have caused most of them to announce they are running for the November 27 elections. That means that they will again apply pressures to move in the Wahhabi-Salafi direction. To interfere in the private social lives of people, and to start another book-burning episode. Some of them are already announcing their intention to try again to make the Shari’a the law of the land.

And to fan the flames of sectarian tensions that they introduced to the country. They will also start hounding the Shi’as and maybe the few Christians. Last time they were in parliament this Salafi-MB-Tribal alliance asked the government to start “monitoring” the Shi’a religious services. Meaning to spy and intimidate the minorities. Some, possibly many, of these members no doubt will get elected, and they will start making the country and society even duller that it is now.

We shall see soon enough how the post-Thanksgiving turkeys turn out. Certainly no better than the same turkeys looked last time around…..

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum


Part 2: Kuwait Opposition Issues: Self-Inflicted Wounds and a Vendetta…….


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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.