The latest front in the Arab Spring opened up in the oil-rich Gulf kingdom of Kuwait when Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed Al Sabah issued a decree on Dec. 6 dissolving Kuwait’s parliament in response to months of protests. The decree, which requires that new elections be held within 60 days, has now become the focus of the growing political crisis in what has historically been the Gulf’s most liberal kingdom.
Mark Katz, a George Mason University political scientist and an expert on Gulf politics, told Trend Lines that the situation, however chaotic, isn’t particularly surprising.
“The idea of a parliamentary democracy and a ruling family keeping control is incompatible,” says Katz. “It’s not a profound observation, but one that Kuwait’s ruling family doesn’t want to acknowledge.”