Category: Gulf Land of Kuwait


August 3, 2018

Kuwait has become one of the first country in the Middle East to give full political rights to women. Gulf news agencies reported that the oil rich state has granted full suffrage after decades of campaigning by women’s rights campaigners.

Praising Kuwait’s progressive move, regional media commented on the leading role women have been playing in driving the country’s overall development across all sectors, including public works, social services, economy and politics.

Opportunities for women are now said to exist in all areas of society with many high profile jobs overlooking men in favor of women.

The journey for full political rights has been a long one but the course had been set during the 90’s when women are said to have played a major role in coordinating resistance against Saddam Hussain’s invasion of the Gulf state in August 1990.

Ever since, women have overcome one hurdle after another to obtain equality; a rarity in the region dominated by powerful men. Dr. Rasha Al Sabah was one of the pioneers. She held the position of the first under-secretary of the Ministry of Higher Education in 1993. Others like Nabila Al Mulla followed in her step. She was appointed as the first Kuwaiti ambassador to Zimbabwe and South Africa in 1993. Mulla was then appointed in 2003 as the permanent representative at the United Nations to become the first Arab Muslim ambassadress to the global organisation.

In Kuwait women have bucked the trend and taken senior roles in several municipal, national and international positions that are normally the preserve of men only. They have achieved successes in many fields, proving that they represent half of the community and cannot be marginalized.

The progress has continued and more recently women have been appointed as ministers in several areas including the Minister of State for Housing Affairs which went to Dr. Jenan Bushahri in 2017. A similar rise to the top saw Hind Barak Al Subaih being appointed as minister of social and labour affairs and minister of state for planning and development.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180803-women-in-kuwait-granted-full-political-rights/.

Advertisements

July 08, 2018

KUWAIT CITY (AP) — Kuwait’s highest court on Sunday ordered an opposition leader and two lawmakers imprisoned for 3 ½ years over the 2011 storming of parliament amid that year’s Arab Spring protests, in a case involving nearly 70 politicians, activists and others.

Over a dozen people received prison time in the ruling by Kuwait’s Court of Cassation, while the others were released on bail or found not guilty. Tiny, oil-rich Kuwait, which has a history of representational government and toleration for protests, has been caught up in a wider crackdown on dissent across the Gulf Arab states, whose monarchical rulers were alarmed by the pro-democracy protests that swept the region seven years ago.

Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, the ruling emir of the U.S.-allied nation, has said Kuwait must “protect our national unity and ward off the risks of sedition.” The defendants were initially acquitted in the yearslong case, but a shock court decision in November resurrected the charges against them. That decision accused the defendants of using violence against police officers, destroying government property and inciting violence, charges they long have denied.

Among those sentenced Sunday to 3½ years was Musallam al-Barrack, an opposition leader who left prison in April 2017 after serving a two-year sentence on separate charges. Al-Barrack had left Kuwait before the sentencing. He could not be immediately reached for comment.

Two serving lawmakers, Waleed Tabtabai and Jamaan Herbish, both Islamists, received the same 3½-year sentence, along with six former legislators and five activists. Three others received two years in prison.

In a bid to insulate Kuwait from the unrest elsewhere in the region in 2011, the emir ordered 1,000 dinar ($3,559) grants and free food coupons for every Kuwaiti. That came on top of Kuwait’s cradle-to-grave entitlements for it citizens, which the OPEC member is able to afford because it holds the world’s sixth-largest known oil reserves — despite being smaller than the U.S. state of New Jersey.

Allegations swirled at the time that some lawmakers had been bribed $350 million by the government to sway their votes, along with rumors that they were involved in embezzling state funds. Kuwait’s then-Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al Sabah, Sheikh Sabah’s nephew, who also faced allegations, survived a no-confidence vote.

Amid strikes and confrontations with police, protesters briefly entered parliament on Nov. 16, 2011, waving flags and singing the country’s national anthem. The activists were initially charged after the storming of the parliament but a lower court in 2013 ruled they had no criminal intent during the incident. However, a surprise appeals court ruling last November sentenced dozens of defendants to prison terms of as much as nine years.

Since then, family members of those charged have held regular nightly protests in front of parliament. While anti-government protests are illegal across other Gulf Arab states, Kuwait has stood out among its neighbors for its representational politics dating back to the 1930s, making the court case that much more surprising.

Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.

February 2, 2018

On Wednesday, the National Union of Kuwaiti Students launched a popular campaign against normalization with the Israeli occupation under the title “Kuwaiti against normalization”.

On Thursday, the Union of Kuwaiti Students distributed huge announcements in the streets of Kuwait to combat all forms of normalization with the Israeli occupation.

The announcements included a warning against academic normalization with the occupation under the cover of research and knowledge cooperation between Arabs and Israel and pointed out that “just dealing with Israel as a state and not as occupation is normalization in itself.”

The Union, which is controlled by Islamists in Kuwait, announced the convening of a seminar against normalization next Tuesday (06/02/2018).

It is worth noting that the National Union of Kuwaiti Students is a student organisation which was established on December 24, 1964 to represent students of the State of Kuwait who are studying both inside and outside the country. The Union consists of branches that are annually managed by elected administrative bodies, the largest of which is the branch of the University of Kuwait.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180202-popular-campaign-in-kuwait-streets-to-oppose-normalisation-with-israeli-occupation/.

2017-11-01

DUBAI – Kuwait’s emir reappointed his prime minister on Wednesday and asked him to form a cabinet, the official state news agency said on Wednesday, after the government stepped down earlier this week in an expected cabinet reshuffle.

The major oil producer has the oldest legislature among the Gulf Arab states and experiences frequent cabinet resignations amid tensions between the government and lawmakers.

Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak al-Sabah had tendered his resignation on Monday.

Pan-Arab television channel Al Arabiya had earlier reported the news.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=85708.

August 2, 2017

Kuwait has started extensive contacts with the World Bank to prepare for hosting a donor conference for the reconstruction of the Iraqi areas that have been liberated from Daesh control, Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah announced yesterday.

Speaking in an event that was held at the Iraqi embassy to celebrate the liberation of Iraq’s northern city of Mosul, Al-Jarallah said that “there was no date set for the conference,” adding that “it is likely to be in the first quarter of next year [2018].”

“Kuwait has always stood by Iraq via the international coalition (fighting Daesh) and bilaterally,” the Kuwaiti minister noted.

Al-Jarallah pointed out that “there is coordination and harmony between Kuwait and Iraq to overcome any problems that may occur.” He also congratulated the Iraqi people on the recapture of Mosul from Daesh.

On 11 July, Kuwaiti Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, told the Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider Al-Abadi, in a phone call that his country was ready to host an international conference on rebuilding the liberated areas in Iraq.

The World Bank had also welcomed the initiative, stressing that it would support the long-term reconstruction of the liberated areas in Iraq.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170802-kuwait-to-hold-international-conference-on-rebuilding-iraq/.

November 27, 2016

KUWAIT CITY (AP) — Opposition members are set to return to Kuwait’s parliament after a more than three-year absence, though only one woman secured a place in the legislature, elections results released Sunday showed.

Kuwaitis voted Saturday for representatives in the oil-rich country’s 50-member parliament, the most empowered among the Gulf Arab states. The election was held against the backdrop of lingering security concerns following a deadly suicide bombing last year, as well as anxiety over the depth of cutbacks to generous state-funded perks driven by a slump in oil revenues.

The gains by the opposition are unlikely to seriously upend the tiny Western-allied country’s political order. Parliament still appears to be controlled by pro-government lawmakers, who have the authority to question government ministers. Power in the country ultimately remains with the hereditary emir.

Six prominent opposition figures who have taken part in street protests secured seats in Saturday’s vote. So did 13 political newcomers, including four backed by different Kuwaiti youth liberal groups and nine representing tribal groupings.

Political parties are illegal in Kuwait, meaning opposition blocs tend to be fluid and form alliances around particular issues. Safaa al-Hashem was the only woman to win one of the 50 seats up for grabs in Saturday’s election. The liberal candidate has served in previous parliaments, and was one of 15 women who ran for seats.

The tribal opposition along with its conservative Muslim allies boycotted the last elections in 2013 in a dispute over changes to the electoral law that they alleged reduced their clout. Members of Kuwait’s substantial Shiite Muslim minority saw their share of seats fall to six from nine previously.

A new Cabinet is now expected to be formed within a week. The 15-seat Cabinet is appointed by the prime minster, who in turn is appointed by the emir.

May 18, 2016

The Yemeni government delegation on Tuesday has walked out of talks in Kuwait saying rebels insist on power sharing in violation of UN resolutions.

A source in the government delegation told Anadolu news agency that the delegation will issue a formal statement later in the day adding that the delegation intends to stay in Kuwait.

Yemen’s Saba News Agency (state owned) reported Foreign Minister, Abdulmalek Al-Mikhlafi who heads the government delegation as saying that he had asked UN envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed to oblige the rebels to respect the negotiations references as precondition to return.

Anadolu news agency reported sources close to the talks earlier as saying that the rebels had asked to transfer President Hadi powers to a transitional council which includes them before they withdraw from cities they control.

According to sources the rebels have also asked to respect the peace and partnership agreement signed in September, 21 2014.

President Hadi has described the agreement void after moving to Aden in February 2015, saying it was signed under force of arms.

Meanwhile, the UN envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed on Monday said the two sides were still discussing the best way to reach a peaceful solution in Yemen after nearly 4 weeks of fruitless talks.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160518-yemeni-government-delegation-pulls-out-of-kuwait-consultations/.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Kuwaiti riot police have dispersed hundreds of Kuwaiti opposition activists who gathered outside parliament in the capital Kuwait City to demand the release of political prisoners and press for democratic reforms in the country.

The head of the Civil Democratic Movement, Tareq Al-Mutairi, said that: “everyone must assume his responsibilities towards reform… We are not asking the elected government for favors, only for our just rights. All we want is to run our own affairs, and we do not argue with the ruling party because we have democratic system in Kuwait.”

Activist Nawaf Alhandal said he was beaten by the Special Forces while the Ministry of Interior prevented the protesters from using chairs, carpets, microphones or banners at the protest venue.

The protest organizing committee said that the Interior Ministry attacked them and that the political forces will meet and issue a statement later.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/17669-kuwaiti-police-break-up-opposition-protest-calling-for-political-reform.

2014-03-13

DAMASCUS – Syria has decided to close its embassies in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia because they have refused to accept the accreditations of its envoys, diplomats posted in Damascus said on Wednesday.

“Syria’s embassies in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are to close because these countries have been refusing to accredit the diplomats sent by Damascus since the start of the crisis,” one of the sources said.

The Arab monarchies of the Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have supported the three-year-old armed revolt in Syria and called for the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=64808.

2014-06-16

KUWAIT CITY – A Kuwaiti human rights organization on Sunday urged the Gulf state to fulfil pledges to abolish the sponsorship system for foreign labor and to end the arbitrary deportation of expatriates.

In a report on human rights in the oil-rich emirate, the Kuwait Society for Human Rights also called for measures to end abuse of thousands of domestic workers and for a final resolution to the plight of more than 100,000 stateless people.

The group said that Kuwait pledged several years ago to end the sponsor system which is likened to slavery and common in Gulf States, but so far nothing has been done.

The current system ties a migrant worker’s residency status to an individual employer, or sponsor, without whose consent the worker cannot change jobs.

This gives employers unchecked leverage and control over workers, who remain completely dependent on their sponsor.

A few weeks ago, neighboring Qatar said it was introducing measures to abolish the system.

The Kuwaiti group also called for an end to so-called administrative deportation which allows police to deport foreigners without a court ruling.

However, it noted that the interior ministry has recently regulated the procedure by restricting the right to deport to the ministry’s undersecretary.

Some 2.8 million expatriates work in Kuwait compared with 1.25 million nationals. More than 600,000 expatriates are domestic workers.

The society urged the government to pass a special law on domestic workers to stop abuses that it said are tantamount to slavery.

“Domestic helpers are subjected to many abuses, some of which could be called slavery, in addition to torture, humiliation and rape. The society has monitored a large number of such violations,” the report said.

On stateless people, known locally as bidoons, the society urged speedy measures to improve their humanitarian and legal as a prelude to “granting them their full rights”.

Bidoons claim the right to Kuwaiti citizenship because they or their forefathers lived in the country before the 1959 nationality law.

But the government says a majority of them came from neighboring countries after the discovery of oil, and destroyed their identification papers.

The society said the government should adopt a clear roadmap aimed at resolving the problem in steps.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://middle-east-online.com/english/?id=66560.