Regional challenges and parliament dissolution: Causes and effects
The Amiri decree regarding the recent dissolution of parliament; on October 16, cited ‘security and regional’ challenges as of the main reason behind the decision. As explicit as this reason is, it also bears many implications, some of which are realities on the ground, and others are more intertwined given the ever-changing series of events constantly overwhelming the Middle East region in particular and subsequently the world.
Therefore, Kuwait, in its aptitude as an Arab, regional and international player, in addition to its democratic status among its Arab peers, could not isolate itself from those challenges, and thus came His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s decision to dissolve the parliament and call for elections; due on November 26.
“This is yet another shrewd and momentous step by His Highness the Amir,” said Professor of Political Sciences at Kuwait University (KU) Dr Shamlan Al-Essa in comments to Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) regarding the dissolvent decision.
It is also a means to bolster the constitutionally immune ‘one-man, one-vote’ system, which would contribute in raising the public’s democratic awareness even further, Essa noted. “Along with security challenges, the Middle East region, especially the Arabian Gulf area, is also witnessing major economic tests ahead,” he said.
Government-subsidized fuel prices have been raised shortly before the recent dissolution, and other benefits have been cut, leading to growing dissent among the people towards the parliament, one of the most effective in the Arab world.
“What is currently happening in Syria, Iraq and Libya, as well as the potential danger of a spilling sectarian rhetoric domestically, required His Highness the Amir’s timely wisdom in this regard,” Essa underlined, echoing His Highness the Amir’s constant call to the Kuwaiti people to ‘choose the best’ among candidates.
Kuwait has faced the threat of militant attacks since the rise of the Islamic State (IS). A suicide bombing on June 26, 2015 claimed by the group targeted the Shiite Imam Al-Sadeq mosque in Kuwait City, martyring 26 people and wounding scores others. On October 8, 2016, an Egyptian driving a garbage truck loaded with explosives and IS pamphlets rammed into a truck carrying five US soldiers, wounding only himself in the attack.
Kuwait is also dealing with the economic challenge of declining oil prices; representing over 90 percent of the country’s overall income, despite having the world’s sixthlargest proven oil reserves. “Historically, the rate of change in MPs faces in Kuwait is between 40-50 percent, but I predict these coming elections will see more than a 60percent change,” Dr Essa pointed out.
Meanwhile, Dr Ibrahim Al-Hadban, also Professor of Political Sciences at KU, said that regional circumstances surrounding Kuwait are “very dangerous” and the economic outlook “is making the situation even more challenging.”
Seconding what Dr Essa went with about the happenings in Syria, Iraq and Libya, Dr Al-Hadban added that the situation in Yemen stands out as one of the most critical on a regional level, especially for Saudi Arabia and neighboring Gulf States.
“With the ongoing skirmishes on the Yemeni border southern Saudi Arabia, and fears of a military spillover from the north along the borders with IS-plagued Iraq and Syria, having a more intact domestic front in Kuwait has never been as crucial as now.”
Late last September, Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah said Kuwait is ready to receive the Yemeni stakeholders if they are willing to reach deal and break the political stalemate. Kuwait hosted the first round of the UN-sponsored intra-Yemeni peace talks between April 21 and August 6.
Dr Hadban said the decision to dissolve the parliament at this particular time and elect another one would help achieve His Highness the Amir’s aspiration of a fortified and sound democratic system, as well as practice in Kuwait, which would definitely support the country’s security in face of upcoming challenges. — KUNA
Professor of Political Sciences at Kuwait University Dr Shamlan Al-Essa