Kuwait: king orders crackdown after protesters storm parliament

Kuwait’s emir, Sheik Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, has ordered authorities to tighten security in the Persian Gulf mini-state after the parliament building was stormed by dozens of protesters on Nov. 16, as hundreds more demonstrated outside. Hundreds, including opposition lawmakers, have been protesting weekly outside parliament, demanding an investigation into corruption charges. “The Kuwaiti constitution can no longer accommodate the movement on the street,” said Islamist lawmaker Jamaan al-Harbash, calling for an end to Kuwait’s ban on political parties. “There must be a system of political parties in Kuwait so that it becomes a democracy that fosters state institutions rather than a clannish, tribal state. At a time when other Arab states are progressing, there is a dangerous regression taking place in Kuwait.”

The opposition wants to oust ruling family member Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah, accusing him of corruption. The invasion of parliament came after a vote to blocked a request by opposition lawmakers to question Sheikh Nasser—a move the opposition decried as unconstitutional. Kuwait is a longtime Western ally, which could host thousands more US forces under a Pentagon-drafted plan to boost troop strength in the Gulf after the withdrawal from Iraq. (Reuters, Nov. 21; AP, Nov. 17; BBC News, Nov. 16)

See our last posts on Kuwait and the Arab revolutions.

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