Thursday, October 28, 2010

Deterrence Of Strife in Kuwait

By Zuheir Kseibati
This comment was published in al-Hayat on Thursday 28/10/2010
No matter where you turn your face in the Arab region, you are hit with the sight of the residing “visitor” who can undermine entities and knock on the doors of states while feared by all. Some however are attracted by this “visitor” as long as the slogan is defiance: the opposition’s defiance of any authority, even if by abusing freedoms which are always relative… and the governments’ defiance of the detractors, even if only out of self-assertion and to fill the vacuum after the reform contracts were “fulfilled,” and after development reached its peak, the images of hungry children disappeared and analphabetism was eradicated.

The “visitor” residing on the thresholds of borders, governments and oppositions, is keeping everyone concerned with its scary shadows. However, it has surpassed everything that might bring the Arabs together and has become the main amalgamator whose hegemony cannot be ignored, although some have opened the windows to it instead of the doors, in the hope they would deter it!
It is strife whose ball is continuously thrown by both the governments and the oppositions at one another, under the illusion of a salvation whose tunnel is extending every time the authority and its rivals try to outsmart each other by playing with the sword of “conspiracy,” whether it is “soft,” smart or rough.

In reality, there are many types of strife that emerged with the end of the era of Israeli monopolization of the projects to strike the unity of Arab entities. Yet, the suspicion is still present in Palestine and Lebanon where “conspiracy” is still a resident. In Iraq however, strife comes in chapters, some of which are doctrinal and others sectarian. Of course, the “visitor” is not absent from the ready-made projects for Sudan, while even Egypt, the greatest Arab state, is not spared from it as it is moving in Upper Egypt at times and has become a tool to pressure the political decision in Cairo.

In the Gulf, where poverty and partisan alignments are quasi-inexistent, the heavy visitor has chosen to use the sword of some opponents to generate sectarian tensions and render any reformatory file a time bomb.

A few years ago, just like in other Gulf States, the sectarian classification of a parliamentary bloc in Kuwait was not a familiar thing. Some deputies have and are still exercising the “hobby” of interrogating the ministers and defying the alternative without any consideration for the consequences of the chronic turmoil affecting the relations between the People’s Assembly and the governments. This defiance “hobby” even extended to the column of some newspapers, and the language of insults acquired a provoked “legitimacy” by launching attacks against everything.
A new alarm bell was set off by the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, upon the inauguration of the promised parliamentary session with a flow of interrogations. In this new round, it may be fine to detonate another battle over the problem of the citizens’ debts and attempt to remove the “mine” of the Kuwaiti Football Association law, going through attacks against a minister accused of exerting sectarianism in his appointments.

Although it is certain that Sheikh Sabah did not lack the courage or the boldness in recognizing the chaotic reality of some politicians in Kuwait, what is dangerous at this stage of political infiltrations in the region – under the cover of doctrinal claims which are suddenly intensifying – resides in the fact that those running behind the heroisms of defiance and screaming lack the courage of reasoning and modesty in programming the reformatory goals and the opposition.

True, the Emir of Kuwait reiterated his warnings against “any attacks on national principles,” the violation of the laws and the use of the street as an arena to convey an opinion and its opposite, but what is also true is that the tone of Sheikh Al-Sabah does not conceal bitterness toward the prevalence of screaming over sensibility. For the first time ever, he thus used the expression “religious conflicts” in recognition of the stage reached by the inclinations of some among those who wish to abuse the available margin of freedoms and parliamentary life that was hindered three times within four years.

Some may say that the flaw must be constitutional. However, the old and renewed question revolves around the extent of the respect of the constitution and the laws by the opposition – whichever opposition – and by those who are loyal to the government. Indeed, Article 11 of the Audio-Visual Media Law prohibits “any offense against the dignity or private lives of individuals or society,” any attacks against the neutrality of the judiciary and the targeting of any group within society and the principles of the constitution.

Across the media outlets in Kuwait (nine dailies and four television channels that are privately-owned), freedom was made available. However, it is facing the arrows of criticism due to the collapse of self-restraints which take into consideration the structure of the authority and the nature of society. Although the statement of Sheikh Al-Sabah paved the way for a stage of legislations which will handle the “mayhem, chaos and futile practices,” the opposition and its deputies must recall tragic Arab chapters which started off by surrendering to doctrinism and sectarianism, as well as to the freedoms of instincts and emotions.

The governments are also making mistakes, but the flaw is planting the seeds of sin each time the role of the state is confiscated by those fighting with its sword.

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