Countries excelled through their leaders, others flopped through their democracy

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Everyone knows the circumstances that prevailed in the late 1950s and early 1960s and how they necessitated the establishment of the Constitution and democracy in Kuwait. These were particularly due to threats from the then Iraqi regime and the Soviet Union’s support for that regime, along with its refusal to recognize Kuwaiti independence. This led to the creation of a great and beautiful Constitution by the people of Kuwait, particularly the members of the Constituent Assembly.

Ahmed Al-Jarallah

The first Assembly experienced both positive stages and several setbacks, yet it remained aligned with the vision of the founding fathers to preserve the country’s political stability at all costs. Kuwait was the first Gulf country to adopt an advanced Constitution at that time. Despite the coups and revolutions in the Arab world, as well as various nationalist and religious movements, the people of Kuwait remained steadfast in their commitment until the 1980s, which brought about a significant crisis.

Despite a major popular movement, Kuwaitis were keen on adhering to the essence of their Constitution because they understood that Kuwait’s sovereignty and unity were the sources of their strength. Unfortunately, those who inherited these great values were not on par with the founding fathers of mature democracy; they were merely political teenagers. They misunderstood freedom of opinion and expression as a license to insult and undermine the powers of the ruler and perceived democracy as a means to encroach on the powers of other authorities, including the judiciary. They even attempted to restrict the ruler’s powers.

To exacerbate matters, social media began to spread fake accounts aimed at undermining people’s dignity to subjugate them. These individuals forgot that the Constitution stipulated it should develop itself within five years. Yet, they spread fear about harming it because they were aware of the loopholes that would allow them to impose their desires. Consequently, whenever someone proposed amending it, they launched campaigns against him, even denouncing him. They endeavored to deify the text, leading to a situation where, in recent years, a majority of Kuwaitis have become disillusioned with the Constitution and democracy.

In this context, I recall a story that offers many lessons regarding Kuwait’s situation and its regional image. When Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa assumed power in Qatar, succeeding his father in 1995, he sought suggestions from prominent personalities in the country. He told them, “I want us to have a democracy similar to that of Kuwait, what do you think?”

I believe that one of these personalities was the late Nasser bin Abdullah Al- Attiyah who said: “We are at your service, O Amir, and we gladly listen and obey.” Sheikh Hamad responded: “I am seeking your opinion.” Al-Attiyah stated: “Then you will find a brother cursing his brother. The chaos that Kuwait has reached left everyone divided. We are people whose affairs are governed by the orders of their leader.”

On this basis, the Shura Council was created in Qatar, similar to that in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. We have witnessed in those countries that development is proceeding according to what was decreed for them and corruption is almost negligible, because their rulers have the ambition and desire to revive their country, not dozens of rulers.

This was not the case in Kuwait when there were 50 rulers in the Assembly, all of whom believed that they had more executive powers than the head of State. Today, Kuwait is in the hands of a ruler who is faithful to its interests and has the desire to advance his country. This leader has been grieving due to the chaos and decline of his country, and how things turned out; so he made his big decision to get rid of the nation’s illness at whatever cost.

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times
[email protected]

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