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Dr Ahmed Al-Khatib … where are we going, where are the good old days?

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IT has become necessary to end this unfortunate farce that demeans the minds of the people of Kuwait who chose 60 years ago to have a state of institutions based on a Constitution that promotes openness and equality.

Therefore, the finest and most competent men were selected as the members of the Constituent Assembly. They worked day and night to draft the current Constitution, which included all Kuwaiti tendencies. This happened at a time when the demographic structure was still far from the impurities that later changed everything.

In this Constitution, the boundaries of partisan politics were and still are meticulously drawn, especially in implementation and commitment. Hence, there was neither overstepping of authorities nor any belittling in the language of speech.

I still remember the first crisis the country faced in 1964. It happened at a time when the late Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem was on a visit to India. He cut short his visit and returned to the country to solve the crisis.

On that day, he saw that the opposition was right in its position and he sided with it. The government was formed again. During that time, the country witnessed neither any disruption in its work nor any quarrels between MPs and ministers that could end in the disruption of the two wings of the country’s administration.

At that stage, the opposition was strong and effective. It included a group of Kuwaiti men, led by Dr. Ahmed Al-Khatib who had clear and firm stances on issues.

I remember well that, at the opening of the ordinary session of the National Assembly in October 1965, Amir Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem fell ill. Dr. Al-Khatib rushed to his aid and treatment, and accompanied him to Al-Shaab Palace.

After Amir Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem recovered, he told Al-Khatib, “I was told a lot about you, but you have proven to be gallant, principled, and patriotic. You alerted us to many things … May Allah reward you for what you have given to Kuwait.”

At that time, security reports focused on opponents in a bad way, and caused division among the people of the same country.

By extending this introduction, my intention was to review the role of the opposition that wants the best for Kuwait, and not the one that seeks to paralyze the country for personal reasons, or in implementation of a suspicious partisan agenda.

At that time, we did not have such destructive factions and groups that portray themselves as though they included millions of members when in reality their number did not exceed more than four or five people. All of them speak on behalf of all Kuwaitis, and place conditions on the government, but they actually represent only themselves.

Unfortunately, the government sometimes succumbs to such people, the latest being a group of clerics who met the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, and insisted on the postponement of the military enrollment of women.

Given that Sheikh Hamad Jaber Al-Ali’s decision did not satisfy them, they grilled him, such that it was a vital setback for the government as a whole and not just for the defense minister.

What the minister missed is that these people do not represent all of Kuwait, but instead they speak for themselves, and any decision that is not in line with the Constitution should not be relied upon.

The work of a woman is a constitutionally guaranteed right. She is a judge, a doctor, a teacher, an ambassador, a minister, and an MP among many other roles. Also, Kuwait is the last Gulf country to accept women in the military corps, given that Saudi Arabia started this twenty years ago. In the UAE, there are women pilots flying fighter jets such as Major Maryam Al-Mansouri who fought against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and against the Houthi terrorists in Yemen.

However, if some of these protesters’ argument is that about 100,000 cases of harassment of female soldiers in the American army were registered, they missed the fact that the squad that captured Saddam Hussein included women fighters.

If the argument of these people is that this is contrary to Islamic law, then what about the venerable “Umm Amara” who fought on the side, or rather by the side of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and was wounded 12 times in the same battle?

Likewise, in the Battle of Ajnadayn, were there not women fighters among the Muslims fighters, as well as in the Battle of Yarmouk in which they had the greatest influence in resolving the battle?

Irrespective of the calculations that imposed the grilling of the minister, there is no doubt that the mistake was yielding to the demands of a handful of people who only represent themselves. The government must be able to protect the constitution, and above all, the right of Kuwaiti women to work and to follow the example of the women martyrs who shed their blood for this land during the Iraqi occupation. We are today marking the 31st anniversary of the start of the liberation war, which liberated the land but not the minds.

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah

Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times