Speculation Is Rife About the Future of Kuwait’s Parliament (Omar Alabdali & Luai Allarkia, June 27, 2024, New/Lines)

Kuwait has long been an object of perplexed interest for Arab political observers. The country’s political system, essentially a constitutional monarchy with a combative parliament, is rare in a region filled with autocrats, police states masquerading as secular republics, and other types of dictatorships.

Its intricate parliamentary politicking is unusual, as is the sight of assembly members aggressively questioning members of the royal family in a Gulf sheikhdom where reverence for emirs and princes is an obligatory part of the political etiquette. The complexities of the emirate’s political shenanigans and the rise and fall of governments and elected assemblies can often seem Byzantine and incomprehensible to political observers in the region.

But Kuwait’s experiment with a form of democracy, however flawed, is worth chronicling. The evolution of its political system, spurred along by the traumatic invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, is unique in the region. But it is also worth examining as a cautionary tale that highlights the limits of political maneuvering in a region where a retreat to one-man rule in the name of stability is easy, and where proponents of democracy must fight time and again to preserve their right to challenge those in power.