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DURING the period between the late 19th century and early 20th century, the Ottoman Empire was referred to as the “Sick Man of Europe” because of the internal crisis that afflicted the empire. With the escalation of problems, the state’s grip began to weaken, and many political and ethnic currents emerged, some with separatist tendencies.
In the year 1908, weakness began to appear clearly when some political groups monopolized power. In light of the weakness of other government institutions, the “Young Turks” party emerged as a force that had a great impact in the First World War. It led to the defeat of the empire, and the victorious countries divided their lands. Its death was announced in 1920.
The reason for recalling this lesson – something that all countries should consider, the tiny ones before large – is the report titled “Kuwait, the sick man of the Gulf” published in the British magazine “The Economist”. This is because our current conditions are almost similar to that of Turkey in the 19th and early 20th centuries in both form and content.
In its report, the magazine stated that, “Kuwaitis complain about everything”. This is not an exaggeration. Even though the country has one of the largest sovereign funds in the world and is the tenth highest oil producer with a production rate of 2.8 million barrels per day, it lacks many ingredients.
For example, in the index for Education Quality that was released a few days ago, Kuwait was outside the classification. A country like Lebanon, which suffers from several complex crises and is on the verge of an economic and livelihood collapse, ranked seventh in the Arab world and 59th globally.
If the educational situation of Kuwait is like this, then the economy is not in a better condition. For about 60 years, we have been hearing about diversifying sources of income. At a time when Gulf countries were able to make oil a supplementary income within 25 years, Kuwait is still stagnating, and its infrastructure lacks modernization.
On the other hand, Gulf countries have preceded us, becoming the axis in the field of logistics and transportation, even though Kuwait has a strategic position that qualifies it to play this role better than others.
Diversifying sources of income and securing wealth is not just a slogan, but rather a crucial issue. In the Russia-Western Europe crisis, the problem of sanctions and the confiscation of Russian funds and investments abroad emerged as a warning alarm for all countries. The current crisis has proven that self-sufficiency in food, industry, and agriculture sectors is a crucial necessity.
It is true that there is a silver lining in this matter. During the Iraqi invasion in 1990, the step to freeze Kuwaiti funds was a smart one. This is because, if the Iraqi regime had been able to gain global support or if the Cold War was still in its infancy, then Kuwait’s national wealth might have been lost. Unfortunately, we did not learn from this lesson to diversify the financial, economic and investment safety, both local and global.
“Kuwait is the Sick Man of the Gulf” – this headline must draw everyone’s attention, as the crisis cannot remain as it is, in the absence of solutions to achieve what constitutes a political and economic safety net.
The absence of will and the diversity of decision-making sources, in addition to outdated laws have led to this miserable situation.
Therefore, the solution remains in one decision-making reference, in addition to a push to amend the laws. Indeed, if the matter requires amending the Constitution, there is no harm in that. All this requires is a strong hand and a skilled surgical team to treat the diseases that made our country the “Sick Man of the Gulf”.