Item


 

Political tensions continued to rise in Kuwait. They were culminated by an address given by the Emir, in which he gave one of the strongest warnings yet to parliament. The Emir, commenting about the rising tensions between the parliament and government said that “these (actions taken in parliament) are very serious and harmful practices that went beyond the parameters of the constitution and the national interests - they are after mere personal political gains. Some (MPs) overshot the controls set by the constitution to protect democracy and freedom and deviated from the genuine values of the Kuwait society such respect for the law and constitution and commitment to decency.”

 

The Emir further added: “There's room neither for feud nor wrangling nor chaos that could jeopardize the nation's security, wealth and gains.”

 

The Emir announced that he has asked the interior minister, Sheikh Ahmed al-Humoud al-Jaber al-Sabah, who is a member of the ruling family to harshly crackdown on any dissent.

 

Earlier in the month, deputy prime minister and foreign minister Sheikh Ahmed Al-Fahad Al-Sabah resigned after being threatened by a parliamentary grilling and what appeared to be a rift between him and the prime-minister.

 

Meanwhile, hundreds of Kuwaitis continued their protests calling for the resignation of the prime-minister, Sheikh Nasser al-Sabah.

 

June 4-15, 2011

 

 

Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk


 

The political landscape in Kuwait is getting more complex by the day. The deputy prime-minister’s resignation may have avoided an immediate clash, but it has not addressed the two issues that are increasingly polarizing the Kuwaiti political landscape.

 

  1. The first is the rapidly growing sentiments within Kuwaiti society against having members of the ruling family serving as government ministers. Key cabinet positions have traditionally been held by members of the ruling family. The ability of the Emir to offer key cabinet positions to members of the ruling family ensured that they remained in control of key government ministries as well as the ability to maintain peace between members of the ruling family. Without this, it is likely that tensions that are already reportedly high within the ranks of the ruling family will even become more serious. As a result, the Emir will unlikely concede to this demand, without getting the consensus of other ruling family members.
  2. The second are increasingly rising tensions between the Shiites and Sunnis in the country. The spill-over from the events of Bahrain continue to have an impact on internal Kuwaiti politics with increased polarization between the two ethnic communities. Whilst there is a small risk of civil unrest arising from ethnic tensions, a deterioration of relations, that could be triggered by a dissolution of parliament and harsh measures by the security forces, as is now more likely, could substantially aggrevate sectarian tensions.

 

Although there is an increased risk of a dissolution of parliament by the Emir, without a drastic change to the government, including change of the prime-minister, the political risk remains high, leading to potential negative economic and security consequences.

 

The figures below show the make-up of the Kuwaiti parliament (left) and the make-up of the population (right)