Kuwait became independent from Great Britain in 1961. Until the year 1990, it existed as an independent country, and its population was about 2 million people. Iraqi occupation has decreased the population by 25%. “Saddam Husain had not only invaded the territory of a small and defenseless neighbor which had spent much of the previous decade paying his debts, but his forces also killed and imprisoned many of its inhabitants, laid the country waste and took its portable assets off to Baghdad. “
This invasion placed Kuwait under foreign rule for the first time in its history. The sovereignty of the state was renewed in February 1991, but it has a long-lasting effect on the economy, politics and social structure of the country.
More than fifteen years have passed sincthe an immediate occupation of Kuwait by the Iraqi army. This invasion caused much damage to the young country. Unexpected and brutal, it had caused death and destruction. A lot of buildings were damaged, oilfields went out of function, which caused serious damage to the economy of the county. Thousands of people were killed, many business and private buildings were destroyed. “At the Kuwait Research and Studies Centre they produce a wealth of literature on the occupation based on the half million documents left behind as the Iraqi forces fled: testimonies of Kuwaiti resistance from the documents of Iraqi intelligence officers, maps of the eastern parts of Saudi Arabia for use in a possible thrust down the coast, plans for the destruction of the oil field and lists of goods to be taken back to Iraq”
Behavior of Amir during the occupation put under doubt the necessity of the ruling family itself. Such question arose because Amir and his family were spending a nice time in exile when all the country experienced hard times of occupation. Amir and his family did not hurry up to come back to their motherland even after the war was over. Such an attitude was perceived as a betrayal by many citizens of the country. This switch of attitude became one of the important factors, which led to the gradual reduction of the status and importance of royal family as a political unit. “Although the Al Sabah remained paramount, the family as a ruling institution had changed dramatically since it assumed its leading role in the mid-eighteenth century.” Succession patters have changed. Now the rule is not passed from father to son like it used to be in the nineteenth century. The Kuwaiti constitution has recently established new patters of power succession. Relationships between the royal family and Kuwaiti society have also changed dramatically.
This occupation has had bad consequences for the economy of the country. According to the most moderate calculations, Kuwait has lost 60 billion dollars during this war without calculating negative effect on the environment of the country caused by the firing of oil wells.
Despite the Arabian states supported Iraq during the invasion, some states, such as Jordan and Yemen did not express their negative attitude to the actions of Iraq. This had an adverse effect on their foreign relations with Kuwait after it was liberated.
Right after the invasion, Kuwait broke up diplomatic relations with Jordan, Yemen, and Sudan. It took many years to renew these diplomatic relations. Despite negative consequences of the occupation, it has had some positive impact on Kuwait as well. Fires, ignited by Iraqi army when it was leaving Kuwait, have reduced sandstorms in this region. Prices for oil continuouthe sly grow in the modern world and Kuwait, which has a big amount of oil, gets much profit from such growth.
After the 1990, the situation with Shi’ia population of Kuwait became better. The position of Shi’ia people, who make one quarter of all Kuwait population, has significantly deteriorated when Kuwait supported Iran in Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88. Shi’ia have lost their influence in government and armed forces. The Iraqi invasion of 1990 has changed such a situation. It finally resulted in the so-called desertification of the society. Shi’ia obtained more rights and became an integral part of the Kuwait society. After the reform of legal system, they obtain their own court of appeal. At the moment, they have their own MPs.
Kuwait-Iran relationships have also improved after the invasion of 1990. Iran Ambassador expressed his pity for troubles, caused in Kuwait by Iraq. This resulted in establishing better political and financial relations between Kuwait and Iran.
During long time after the invasion Muslim Brotherhood was very weak in Kuwait. Only several years after invasion Al-Haraka Al-Dusturiyya Al-Islamiyya, the Islamic Constitutional Movement started gaining forces. Leaders of these movement claim that they have broken any relations with Muslims outside the country. Sunni fundamentalists gradually come back to power in the country.
The position of women in the Kuwait is still a subject of great disputes. Despite considerable attempts to liberate women from pressure, their position is still dependant in the society. Women’s suffrage became a subject of big controversy. Historically, Kuwait men had right to vote since the independence of the country. During the occupation by Iraq Amir promised women, who took part in national resistance, a right to vote. Amir tried to keep his word, and after the liberation of Kuwait he issued a decree, giving women right to vote. This decree has met a fierce resistance from the side of opponents of women’s suffrage. Opposition to this law initiated by Islamist movement finally won and women did not receive suffrage right. The United States of America actively supported suffrage company. Supporters of female rights lost because there were 30 votes against 32 of those, who stood against women’s suffrage. Oppression of women is not the only echo of the Islamist movement.
Its power also appears in the form of censorship. Kuwait has comparatively free media in comparison with other Arabian countries but during the last decade, the situation with the freedom of media has worsened. Censorship appears under the pressure of Islamists. There is a special committee responsible for censorship, which is called Censorship Committee. Unfortunately, the activity of this committee constantly grows. Period of freedom, which followed Iraqi occupation, was changed by the increase of dictatorship. “A censorship committee vets all books — in 1998 around 40 books were banned, in 1999 the number went up to 200. These include works on the history of Islam, writings by Muhammad Arkoun and others.” Censorship exists in educational institutions. The books, which are allowed for study at schools and universities, are narrowed with each year. American and Australian authors are extracted from the study plan because they are not considered to be truly “English”. Islamists ban different authors and works of art. As we can see, a short period of comparative freedom has changed with the period of increasing censorship.
Repressions of female right and increase of censorship appear as a signs of stagnation. Freedom of speech, which is one of the main signs of democracy development, has not become an integral part of Kuwait society yet. Those, who dare to speak freely, can experience discrimination. Stagnation can be noticed in many levels. Lack of changes in ministries and academic institution can be a very vivid example of this stagnation.
There are good sides in modern Kuwaiti society, such as religious freedom, for example. It cannot be qualified as “freedom” in usual sense of this word, but in comparison with other Arabian countries, Kuwait shows a considerable religious tolerance. In Kuwait there are Sunni, Shi’i and even Christian churches and places for worshiping. Two Islamic sects live side by side in Kuwait. Representatives of other religions also have opportunities to express themselves freely. Masses are said in different languages.
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