Some believe it will be another five years before Kuwait can approach the idea of political reform again. But until then, activists should not be discouraged. Calling for an elected government in a region governed in the purest tribal form is not going to bear fruit overnight.
Almost by default, the swelling numbers of young
Arabs, especially in the culturally vibrant centres of the Arab world (Cairo,
Tunis, Beirut, Damascus, Casablanca, Kuwait, Manama), will create plurality - in
social views, political positions, economic approaches, and in social
identities and frames of reference.
The Shari’a is largely irrelevant to most important issues of policy and
administration in the economy and in government. Its historical and symbolic
locus is on family and sexuality: patriarchal rights, segregation of the sexes,
enforced female modesty.
of the criticisms made of the emerging economies is that they are using cooperation
to gain markets, political influence and access to natural resources. But that
is what the countries of the North are also seeking.
The military and security apparatuses of these Gulf states
plays a role in keeping the peace, but the best way forward is to build a civil
society that is bound by a unifying mechanism such as a functioning, representative,
New demands for political reform in the Gulf are meeting a repressive response by regimes especially panicked when pro-democracy protests swell into cross-sectarian movements for meaningful political reform. This brutality polarises opinion between advocates of reform and proponents of repression. It also poses a dilemma for western policy makers in their engagement with their strategic partners in the region.
With its oil reserves measured in years rather than decades and facing the imminent yet difficult transition to a post-oil economy, Bahrainis simply cannot afford another wasted ten-year cycle of partial reform and renewed repression. Major unrest in the Gulf States is altering their self-projection as global actors and oases of stability in an otherwise insecure region. In this context, the Bahraini government’s lethal response to peaceful demonstrators inflicted immense damage on its international credibility
Iranian officials attempt to discredit US missile defence deployments. China warns Obama over meeting with Dalai Lama. Somali Al Shabab unite with Al Qaeda’s jihad. Female suicide bomber kills 54 Iraqi pilgrims. All this and much more in today’s security briefing.