One can clearly observe several contradictions in the political scenario and attitude displayed by Kuwait. Kuwaitis can trace their roots and background either to Saudi Arabia or Iran. Some obtained citizenship after residing here for several years (like some well-known Palestinians families) or through marriage. A few may have been naturalized because of different reasons — a matter of speculation and suspicion in the National Assembly! Today, I am more interested in examining if Iran is actually a threat to us when compared to the population, beliefs and country status. This topic will be examined in two parts.
Kuwait covers an area of 17,820 square kilometers with a population of about 3.5 million including expatriates. Census statistics show that about seventy percent of Kuwaitis are Sunnis while the rest 30 percent are Shiites. A small number of Kuwaiti Christians exist too. The bedoons issue is a hot topic now. According to Human Rights Watch report, the number of bedoons in Kuwait total to 120,000. Since 2011, hundreds of bedoons from Jahra have taken to the streets demanding citizenship. They have clashed with security forces several times, but their problems remain unresolved.
In 2012, fresh protests were organized in Jahra and Sulaibiya where most bedoon reside. Many Kuwaiti political leaders believe that the bedoon are holders of foreign passports that choose to simply hide it. So, the saga of the stateless in Kuwait continues. Personally, I think that their situation could escalate if no prompt measures are taken. Kuwait’s citizens have the freedom to express their opinion through social networking platforms like Twitter, private TV channels. These are easily accessible at all times!
News about Bahrain planning to join with Saudi Arabia(proposed Gulf Union) provoked many of its Shia citizens to protest asserting that Bahrain was not for sale and that this plan would give Saudi Arabia an upper hand in Bahrain’s political affairs and future. This was clearly not welcomed by many Iranian officials and some people in other GCC countries, including Kuwait. Some feel that the so-called Gulf Union will benefit Saudi Arabia more than other countries, bearing in mind that not everyone agrees upon internal policies! I think I agree and understand that point and share concerns about the future. Will this unity have an impact on many of the historic privileges we enjoyed for a long time? What will happen to our Constitution , its articles and the many benefits that citizens enjoy in terms of individual freedom and freedom of expression.
I understand the concerns shared by Gulf countries if they were to become united under the leadership of Saudi Arabia. Does that mean that we will have to obey Saudi Arabia’s rules or Kuwait’s regulations? What about countries’ identities and the civil rights of all Shiites and Sunni, male and female? I think these are serious issues that need to be kept in mind if Kuwait decides to join this yet-to-be formed union. Think about European Union. The union was not formed because the countries were riding high on emotions and fears of being attacked by neighbors.
Forming a union is worthwhile only if each country commits to improve its economy, civil and human rights practices. So, the standards set should not be mere geographic proximity but on other interests and respect. No country should dominate the other! The problem with Gulf countries is that the existing Council did not serve as a role model of unity that benefits citizens and residents. This topic has brought in more differences between the Kuwaitis; some favored it while others like me are more skeptical. Now, if this move is motivated by perceiving Iran as a threat, then it is time to examine the Shiites say in this.
By Muna Al-Fuzai, Staff Columnist