June 22, 2006


Eye of the Storm: Kuwait makes history (Amir Taheri, 6/21/06, THE JERUSALEM POST)

Next week, Kuwaitis will go to the polls to elect a new National Assembly which will, in turn, approve a new prime minister and cabinet.

The Kuwaitis will be making history for a number of reasons. This is the first election in which women are allowed to vote, which means the size of the electorate has more than doubled. More importantly, and much to the chagrin of Islamists who insist that women are unfit to play any role in politics, a number of women are standing, often on a platform of radial social and economic reform.

With a native population of one million, Kuwait is one of the smallest states that form the Arab League. Nevertheless, its general election is important for the impact it is certain to have on broader Arab politics.

One reason is that the exercise will help consolidate the idea of holding elections as a means of securing access to power, something new and still fragile in most Arab states. Days before the Kuwaitis were due to go to the polls, the United Arab Emirates announced that it, too, would opt for a parliamentary system based on elections. This means all but five of the Arab states are now committed to holding reasonably clean elections at the municipal and/or national level.

SOME OF this new interest in holding elections is due to the impact of Iraq on the broader Arab imagination. Many within the Arab ruling elites saw, with a mixture of admiration and terror, how Saddam Hussein's regime, regarded as the strongest of the Arab despotic structures in recent memory, collapsed within three weeks.

The message was clear: An Arab regime without some mandate from the people is never more than a house of cards. Next, the Arab masses began to see millions of Iraqis queuing to cast their ballots in several municipal elections, a referendum, and two general elections, all in a couple of years.

Finally, several radical Islamist movements turned to elections, as opposed to armed jihad, as a means of winning power.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 22, 2006 4:05 PM

And they can't blame US when they fail, they voted them in.....

And considering Kuwait, IIRC, was about to institute sharia around 9/11.......

Posted by: Sandy P at June 22, 2006 8:04 PM

They can blame Bush, at least until '08.

Posted by: ic at June 22, 2006 11:31 PM

The president said you can accomplish a lot if you donít care who gets the credit or the blame and thatís how heís governed. I couldn't agree more and couldn't care less what the rest of the world or our home grown critics have to say about it.

Posted by: erp at June 23, 2006 7:57 AM