Kuwait: When Old Certainties Are Swept Away
Since the Iraqi invasion in 1990 there have been enormous changes in Kuwaiti society. Following its liberation, the country has made huge strides in the reconstruction of its infrastructure. At the same time, social, economic and political changes have also undeniably altered the make-up of the country. The big question is where these changes will lead.
FREQUENT VISITORS to Kuwait are apt to comment that little has changed in the Emirate as a result of the Iraqi invasion. In the mouths of Kuwait's detractors, the remark is often just snide and ill-informed criticism of the perceived flaws in Kuwaiti society: over-confidence, unwillingness to take on non-managerial jobs and an unresponsive bureaucracy. Coming from Kuwait's friends, the remark refers to the rapid re-building of Kuwait's infrastructure and is often accompanied by the comment that it is "business as usual" in Kuwait.
Both groups of commentators are seeing only a small part of the picture. The fall in Kuwait's population, the re-establishment of the National Assembly, the spending of most of the country's overseas reserves on war-related costs, the revelation of serious corruption in the management of its overseas assets and the exposure of Kuwait's total reliance on Western powers for its own security represent enormous changes in Kuwaiti society,
The question, therefore, is not whether Kuwait has changed, but where the changes seen so far will lead. Will Kuwait's ruling Al Sabah family become the first to lose power in the Gulf for more than 90 years or will the ambitions of some National Assembly members lead to a backlash and the imposition of more authoritarian rule? Or can the ruling family and its opponents find a modus vivendi and rebuild Kuwait as a smaller, more cautious version of its pre-invasion self? The outcome will have a profound effect on the rest of the Gulf, acting either as a spur to change or reaffirmation of the old …
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Publication information: Article title: Kuwait: When Old Certainties Are Swept Away. Contributors: Not available. Magazine title: The Middle East. Issue: 222 Publication date: April 1993. Page number: 30+. © 2009 IC Publications Ltd. COPYRIGHT 1993 Gale Group.
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