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Political Dissent Stirs Kuwait

Erin Dwyer

Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah ordered security forces to “take all measures” necessary to calm the public after protesters stormed Kuwait’s parliament Wednesday evening demanding the prime minister’s resignation and the dissolution of the national assembly.

Claims of the prime minister’s corrupt nature have been growing steadily as opposition members of parliament have sought to question the PM over suspiciously transferred money into accounts outside of Kuwait. It was also alleged that in the last three months, 16 of the 50 members of parliament received approximately $350 million in bribes. Last month, in light of the scandal’s generated hype, Kuwait’s foreign minister resigned.

Protesters surround Kuwait’s parliament

Footage from the protest shot from cell phones shows demonstrators forcing their way into the parliament building, chanting, “The people must remove the prime minister!” and “Let the people enter the People’s assembly!” Once inside, the demonstrators proceeded to the main chamber where they sang the national anthem before leaving in only a few minutes.

Despite governmental pressures to abide by the status quo, opposition leaders remain strong in their convictions. As lawmaker Musallam al-Barak explained, “We are now waiting for the dissolution of government and the parliament. Until this happens, Wednesday was only the first step among many. We don’t fear anything except God.”

Similar to other Gulf states, Kuwait’s ruling family has thus far thwarted threats to its standing by increasing government hand-outs, backed by its wealth accrued from oil revenues. Such bribes will only last so long, however, and the emir would be wise to increase reforms and reign in the corruption before he is forced to follow in the footsteps of Egypt’s Mubarak, Libya’s Qaddafi, and Tunisia’s Ben Ali.