A Youth-Coup Against the Kuwaiti Opposition
Since 2009, young Kuwaiti activists have been the ones leading protests and calls against former Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammed and accusing him of corruption. These young leaders were criticized last year for allowing opposition MPs (conservative and Islamist) to take over their movement for their own political interests.
They did not respond to the comments and instead campaigned for those MPs, and were expecting to see reforms led by the MPs who formed the majority of Kuwait’s parliament. The parliament was elected last February but was dissolved last month by the constitutional court for wrong procedures in the previous parliament’s dissolving decree issued by the Emir.
This Wednesday, 28 young political activists shocked the opposition by issuing a statement criticizing their performance.
The statement says that they offered all their support to help the opposition to become the parliamentary majority and thus apply reforms that help create more political freedoms and bring power to the people.
The statement states that “unfortunately” the opposition did not meet their expectations and have lowered their demands; compromising their project for other interests.
The 28 activists ended their statement with two demands: 1) a law to allow political parties and 2) changing the system of five electoral districts to one electoral district.
Within Kuwaiti’s political crisis, this comes as another blow the opposition. The constitutional court deprived them of their parliamentary seats; some MPs will face trials for storming the parliament last November; their late call for a constitutional monarchy caused confusion in the political sphere; and opponents are getting ready for the coming elections (not decided yet). However, this is a crucial turning point that could create a new political force which could over soon.
During last year’s protests, Kuwaitis who are critical of the opposition refused to take part in the protests because of the presence of opposition MPs whom they accused of working against individual freedoms or of being corrupt.
The criticism was mostly directed towards the young leaders for compromising their beliefs in political reforms and a civil state by allying with the majority MPs.
The youth were asked to work away from all politicians to create a genuine popular base capable of including all Kuwaitis concerned with a serious political project aiming for more freedoms and reforms.
Opposition MPs have already started making comments on the youth’s statement. The opposition will certainly try to be inclusive of the youth’s demands and avoid any clash with them.
The Popular Bloc and their Islamists are already in a vulnerable position especially considering the latest statement made by the Justice Bloc headed by tribal Salafi MP Mohammed Hayef.
Cracks are showing within the opposition, especially regarding boycotting the coming elections if the government tries to change the electoral system through court decisions.
Where does this leave the reformative youth in this equation? Their statement started by emphasizing that they can no longer be diplomatic or kind to the opposition because that will be a “betrayal for the country”.
If the youth insist on their demands and work on mapping long-term demands such as having a constitutional monarchy with an elected prime minister, then these young leaders will be a strong reformative power.
However, if they surrender to inclusion attempts by the opposition MPs, then they will surely continue to be a second priority in the power struggle and might eventually lose their public support.
This is a positive development for Kuwait; the youth are becoming independent, and by facing opposition MPs, they can become the major players in mapping Kuwait’s political steps.