Friday, November 02, 2012

Answers about Kuwait

Yesterday, Angry Arab's correspondent on Bahrain posted some questions on Kuwait.  A reader who does not wish to be identified gave some answers:

"I hope this email finds you well.
Below, I attempt to provide some answers to your wonderful correspondent in Bahrain.
If you think they are useful and you wish to use them, please do not attribute it to me.

1) Yes, it is the same Sheikh Nasser that the opposition outed last year, particularly over claims of corruption (apparently, Sheikh Nasser had bribed a number of MPs in order to sway their no-confidence votes over time...and ironically some of the suspected MPs include members of the opposition). Why is he 'helping' the opposition now, that is a very good question and perhaps the reasons arises from the internal struggles within the royal family such as the conflict between Ahmad al-Fahad who does not like Sheikh Nasser, and so on.

2) I don't think it is weird that the emir is letting Saudi Arabia play a big role in Kuwait. Since the Iraqi invasion in 1990, the Kuwait royal family has been closely tied with Saudi Arabia because of the latter's support of the Sabah. They may disagree on certain policies (ie Kuwait isn't as aggressive on Iran as Saudi Arabia, and there is a fear of Saudi hegemony) but they are slowly becoming closer in the last couple of years, particularly after the various uprisings in the region - the populace scares them more I figure. In terms of Bahrain, Kuwait was less driven about challenging Saudi hegemony in Bahrain and more concerned about not pissing off its own hefty Shia community (I think it's around 30% of the local population). They did send a navy after all (which is funny because Bahrain didn't need a Kuwaiti navy since they have the American Fifth Fleet...) and the state media here constantly presents the Bahraini regime's narrative of violent protesters and Iranian meddling.

3) On Sheikh Mishal - I refer to this WikiLeaks cable document for some background info on him: 

4) On the stance of Kuwaitis on the opposition, it is a very mixed bag. Some support them because they like their challenges and rhetoric on corruption and other problems in the country, some are driven by tribal concerns, some are driven on constitutional concerns, some do think that the opposition is being driven by external forces (saudi, qatari, and in one case i heard of in a diwaniya, masonic forces...yes...i know...) and some do not like the opposition or the government but support the protests because they were appalled by the actions of the Special Forces and the way the Emir has decided to change the voting system (again, it is the way the emir went about it, and not the new voting system per say)."