The actions by the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s actions by the Emir, have shown that the country’s government is not going to give into the demands of its people. The Associated Press reports that Kuwait will “take all possible measures to quell growing opposition protests.” Is this the right decision? Absolutely not.
We’re living in a time where people have certain inherent rights. One being the right to protest peacefully against an oppressive regime. Sheik Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah is not only oppressing his people by threatening to take tougher measures but is also demeaning his people by calling their protests “chaotic rallies.”
This will hurt Kuwait in the long term. The people of Kuwait are not going to stand for such measures and opposition against the monarchy will only grow. Authorities are taking such harsh measures in an attempt to oppress the protesters and instill fear in the citizens. But as seen in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere this doesn’t necessarily work, and is in fact counterproductive. These measures to oppress people have proven to be the true catalysts for change as it pushes the political situation further towards the brink.
Ironically, Jordan has rushed to Kuwait’s side, for $6 billion. According to reports, in October an agreement was reached during a visit by former Jordanian intelligence chief Samih Battikhi under which Jordan would dispatch 16,000 soldiers to Kuwait to assist in a crackdown on demonstrations there, in return for funds to help address Jordan’s budget shortfalls. This arrangement is yet another example of collaboration between authoritarian elites in the region desperate to stay in power.
This is yet another example of regimes underestimating the power of the people. These regimes continue to assume that if they crack down hard enough, people will stop protesting and the situation will go back to the way it was in 2010 before the term Arab Awakening was ever in anyone’s vocabulary. What happens if the protests continue? Will Kuwait implement true reform or will it be like Jordan, with repeated promises of change while the government delivers simply more of the same?