I recently attended an event organized by the Saudi Information Ministry through the King Fahad Cultural Center to mark Kuwait’s 57th national day.
The celebration also marked the 27th anniversary of liberation. These two events represent the link between independence and liberation. Kuwait gained its independence in 1961. It then drafted a constitution and the first parliamentary elections were held on Independence Day.
Kuwait then witnessed several developments. Some of them were marked with calmness while others with distress, and some fell somewhere in between. The country thus witnessed domestic and foreign political, economic, security and social challenges. It has not been spared of existential crises ever since its modern establishment as few days after its independence, its Iraqi neighbor who at the time was led by “the leader” Abd al-Karim Qasim, threatened it; thus Saudi Arabia came to its aid during the days of late King Saud bin Abdulaziz.
Kuwait is a unique state within the Gulf. It has a glorious cultural history and different political potential.Mashari Althaydi
I said modern establishment in reference to the country after declaring independence in 1961 because the old or intermediary establishment was that by Kuwait’s founder and reference of the current state, the grandfather of the current ruling family Mubarak Al-Sabah or Great Mubarak as dubbed by resources.
The most dangerous “existential” crisis which Kuwait confronted was annexing the state to become Iraq’s 19th governorate after the foolish or rather huge political crime committed by Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait in 1990 in a manner similar to Hitler’s and Stalin’s.
Back then, a great and brave historical leader, King Fahd bin Abdulaziz rose to the rescue and led efforts to form an international alliance to liberate Kuwait. He made the famous statement: “Either Kuwait is liberated or Saudi Arabia goes with it!”
He’s not only brave because he fought the enemy but because he also confronted Arab populist propaganda and Islamists who assaulted the kingdom. The book “In the eye of the storm” by late politician Ghazi Al Gosaibi, and which is a collection of his articles in Asharq al-Awsat daily, is informative of that miserable Arab media and political scene.
This was in the near and far past. Kuwait now faces new challenges such as to how to stay safe from the fire of regional politics and confrontations – I won’t delve into domestic affairs here. What’s more important is the answer to these questions. Can Kuwait be neutral or can it engage in major confrontations? In what form will this neutrality or engagement be?
Kuwait is a unique state within the Gulf. It has a glorious cultural history and different political potential. However, today’s challenges are different than yesterday’s in terms of politics and development. Therefore, today’s solutions must be different than yesterday’s.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.