Part 1: The Kuwait Opposition in a Velvet Society: a New Life or a New Nail in the Coffin of the Old Leadership?……..


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The Kuwait opposition
 has long managed to avoid and evade its main problem: it is only a partial opposition. It has failed to convince large identifiable segments of society to join it. I will list some of its failures in the next posting (Part 2). 

The (partial) opposition had seemed to be basically fading away for a few months now, until last night. They had a big public protest, a contained gathering, with chairs provided for the VIPs while everybody else had to sit on the ground or stand up (considered by some undignified and too plebeian back home, especially for the elites, be they regime elites or opposition elites). 

The organizers initially estimated more than 20 thousand would attend, which probably means they had about 8 thousand. But that’s okay: it was a hot night in June and many of the politically-inclined on both sides had decamped for European vacations. (Some used to call these elite types of both sides members of the velvet society, based on their lifestyles and, er, financial resources and how much access they had to nepotism).

of the leaders of the opposition at the gathering, former MP Mr. Musallam Al Barrak, presented a bunch of heavily redacted documents he claimed show huge amounts of money of public funds transferred by the “elites” of the regime to their own and their children’s foreign bank accounts. Oddly, and shockingly, he claimed that some of the money was transferred into an Israeli bank in Israel with close ties to the Likud, and that these officials also donated funds to the Likud Party of Benyamin Netanyahu. He did not name names, presumably for “legal” reasons, but some names were published on another website. All this needs to be verified of course: I could not accept them at face value so I will reserve my judgment for now. He did show some slides that he claimed prove the alleged financial transactions, but these were partial and heavily redacted documents and need to be verified by experts. Their sources also need to be verified, a thorny point. A
nd there had been much redaction and photocopying: only the committed would jump at them accept them at face value.

this is not new: no doubt corruption is widespread. Corruption and petroleum go together. In the 1980s and early 1990s, even while Kuwait was under Iraqi occupation, there were cases of huge embezzlement of public money by very high officials and their minions. Some escaped abroad to spend the fruits of their treachery, a couple went to prison. The alleged big man of the scandal was not touched. Oddly a couple of the leading figures of the opposition worked for years for a media empire presumably built from the embezzled public money, all allegedly of course. Go figure……….

The Kuwaiti opposition needs to clean house to become a truly broad representative national movement. I will cover some self-inflected issues that the opposition faces in Part 2 in my next post.