Kuwait. On May 16, the country’s parliament approved a bill that gave women the right to vote and the right to run in future elections. The decision was taken too late for women to take part in the municipal elections held in June, but on June 12 a woman was appointed minister for the first time. Masuma al-Mubarak, a US-trained political scientist at Kuwait University, became Minister for Planning and Administrative Development.
Kuwait City police arrested a number of people at the beginning of the year, suspected of having planned acts against the US military. Several people were killed in connection with the arrests. Among those arrested were Amir al-Enezi, who was identified as a leader in the al-Qaeda terror network.
al-Enezi died in early February under unclear circumstances at a military hospital. Six of those arrested were sentenced to death in December, while 20 of them were sentenced to between four months and life imprisonment.
According to countryaah, Kuwait City is the capital and one of the major cities within the country of Kuwait. The United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC), established in 1991 to administer financial compensation to individuals and bodies affected by the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. 1990-91, completed its work in June. At the last session in Geneva, it was decided on US $ 367 million in compensation. In total, the Commission had distributed $ 52.5 billion.
The demands for political change in the 1990s partly brought to light. From the election of a new National Assembly (Majlis al-Umma) in 1992, various political directions have become clearer. Political parties are banned, but blocks are formed by the representatives elected to parliament. Thus, different directions are created, with a distinction between those who are loyal to the government and those who form a more or less clear opposition.
A liberal direction, among other things, seeks to limit the power of the royal family. There is no requirement to abolish the monarchy, but it has been advocated for the introduction of a constitutional monarchy as a governing body, with a government responsible to Parliament. The National Assembly in Kuwait has more influence than in other monarchies in the region. The emir has shown his power by intervening also in parliament, especially by exercising his right to dissolve it and to print new elections.
When the Kuwaiti royal family after the Gulf War allowed some liberalization, it was attributed, among other things, that it was under political pressure at home in Kuwait. At the same time, the emir was pressured from the United States, which had come to his rescue by gathering a coalition to liberate the country and reintroduce parliamentary practice. The royal family also needed to restore confidence in their own population after escaping the country by the invasion of August 1990, so as not to return until March 1991.
Liberalization has not allowed political parties to be allowed. On the other hand, it is possible to form independent organizations – including political ones. Consequently, in Kuwait, political associations are in the process of replacing political parties as a platform for political expression of opinion.
An important part of this development was the distinction between the two functions of Crown Prince and Prime Minister in 2003. Although the Prime Minister, like many members of the government, comes from the royal family, this makes it possible to criticize the head of government without offending the emir’s person and his family.
A milestone in political liberalization took place in 2005, when women’s suffrage was introduced. Women first took part in elections in 2006, and the first women were elected to parliament in 2009. Kuwait got its first female government member in 2005.
Kuwait’s population consists of a majority of Muslims (around 71 percent). Among Kuwaiti citizens, Islam is almost unanimous, and Sunnis form a clear majority. There is a minority of Shias. With immigration from other countries in the region, the proportion of Shiites has grown, making up a total of between one-fourth and one-third of the population. Contradictions between the two groups have influenced Kuwaiti politics to some extent, and characterized the bloc in parliament. In recent years – as the Shiites have become more and more integrated into society – they have moved closer to the established political order, and to a lesser extent become a clear opposition.
The Shiites dominate Kuwait’s commercial life, and most live in the cities. The Sunnis are strong in the traditional tribal community. This is where the emir has his cultural and political roots. With it, the royal family has been able to make up for the influence of the emerging urban middle class.
In the social sphere, there is a central dividing line between Kuwaiti citizens, with full citizenship rights, and immigrants with few rights and sometimes poor living conditions. This applies not least to guest workers from South Asia. Also a group of Kuwaiti who have lived in the country for a long time, but with origins from other countries in the region, fall outside: The so-called bidun (bidoon; ‘without nationality’) make up about 120,000 people; most are descendants of migrants from countries such as Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia that have not been accepted as full citizens. At most, the group comprised about 200,000 people. It was reduced in particular as a result of the many bidunas of Iraqi origin who fled after the war in 1990-1991.
In the late 1980s, Bidun still had certain rights, but these were removed as a result of the war. Authorities claim they are illegal residents, and have demanded that they must document where they come from. Without this, they could not obtain public documents such as ID cards, marriage certificates or driver’s licenses, or formal work. From 2011 bidun has been granted certain social rights, and from 2013 some have also been granted citizenship. The Bidun issue has become an important human rights issue in Kuwait, and an issue that has contributed to protests against the authorities.