The actions of the Kuwaiti constitutional monarchy against the Shias of Kuwait thus come as no surprise to any impartial eye that remotely follows the politics of the gulf emirate. The less than discerning eye of the US administration and its figure-head, President Bush, admittedly do not fall within this class.
It is in the nature of tyrants to call upon meaningless, or more accurately, misleading slogans to further perpetuate their iron fist policies against segments of the populous seen to pose any threat to their rule – whether such a threat is actual or perceived is equally threatening in the eye of one whose whole meaning to existence revolves around power and control.
Over the last two weeks, the power elites of the tiny emirate gulf state of Kuwait have summoned the fashionable "threat of national unity" pretext to forcefully inhibit the democratic expressions of its citizens. One does not need to go back far into the history books to notice how this elastic notion of posing a 'threat to national unity' has been used, not only by Kuwait, but also by fellow Gulf States to extinguish any gasps of democratic life. Neighboring Saudi Arabia and Bahrain also invoke similar lines whenever the perils of nascent expressions of patriotism, reform, solidarity or even Arabism take on any organized form.
The actions of the Kuwaiti constitutional monarchy against the Shias of Kuwait thus come as no surprise to any impartial eye that remotely follows the politics of the gulf emirate. The less than discerning eye of the US administration and its figure-head President Bush, admittedly do not fall within this class.
About one-third of Kuwait's native population of one and a half million are Shias. However, they have only four MPs in the 50-member Parliament – two of whom have been threatened with expulsion. In his January visit, President Bush met with former Prime Minister (now Emir) Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and did not hold back in his praises for the Kuwaiti monarch for pioneering democratic reform in the emirate.
On Thursday, the Kuwaiti security apparatus, keeping to the spirit of democratic reform, duly detained over 1,500 Kuwaiti Shias and other Arab nationals on charges of "belonging to Hizbullah and threatening state security". The background to these arrests follow from their participation in a memorial for Imad Mughniyah, who the Kuwaiti government alleges killed Kuwaiti citizens in a plane hijack – claims that even the Financial Times labels as unsubstantiated.
Shia MP Adnan Abdul Samad began his address at the memorial by clearly affirming the allegiance of Kuwaiti Shias to their nation and went on to state that there was no evidence implicating Imad Mughniyah for the alleged crime, establishing thereby their right to hold and participate in the memorial. After all, the Kuwaiti government did not even submit a warrant for the arrest of Mughniyah to the Interpol following his alleged masterminding of the hijack, a standard protocol procedure to bring to justice any criminal for similar acts. However, there is no room it appears, for raising such illogical questions in a democracy!
In the aftermath of the sweeping arrests and increased anti-Shia rhetoric in the Kuwaiti media, ominously familiar signs have begun to appear on the Internet inciting hatred against Shias. Shoddy long-bearded men staring at camera lenses warning of dire consequences for Shias. Of course, these far more threatening, declaratively violent messages have passed totally unnoticed by the Kuwaiti regime.
In order to fully comprehend the extremely disproportionate response – if not flatly illegitimate and unjust – of the Kuwaiti government, one cannot be oblivious to regional developments. With a new US-Israeli war looming on one of Hizbullah or Iran, we are entering an inevitable new phase where Arab monarchs and dictators beat to silence any voices that show solidarity with the resistance and question the project of American hegemony over the Middle East.
An increasingly belligerent tone is being adopted by the Texan and Tel Aviv; the Arab dictators on their part have agreed to play the silent game in requital, to fight the Silent War: a war on the peoples of the Middle East who sympathize with the values of resistance and refuse to succumb to the US-Israeli plan for the "New Middle East".
The heavy-handed reproach against Kuwaiti Shias, whilst bearing a historical context of systematic discrimination and the abuse of power to force them into submission to accept their permanent standing in society as third-class citizens, marks the beginning of a new phase. It may be a subtle shift from a hidden war to a silent war, yet it heralds grave regional perils.
The descent of the Arab world on to the streets in solidarity with the resistance as in 2006 is intolerable in the "New Middle East" and a process to condition the populous is necessary to set straight the new rules of the game.