Re­gional chal­lenges and par­lia­ment dis­so­lu­tion: Causes and ef­fects

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL -

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.

Fuel prices

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.

Chal­leng­ing

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

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