A strong-arm government superseding the authority of a legislature characterized by rapidly-rising Islamist political factions?
That’s practically the story of the Arab Spring, but lest you think Egypt is the only recent case, yesterday the emir of Kuwait suspended parliament. Reuters reports:
His suspension decree, published on state news agency KUNA, comes ahead of a planned questioning session in parliament of Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Hamoud al-Sabah, a royal family member, by hostile lawmakers over Kuwait’s citizenship law.
The wealthy OPEC member state, a regional U.S. ally, has escaped the kind of violent anti-government protests seen elsewhere in the Middle East, but tensions have escalated between the cabinet and opposition lawmakers who push for a say in government.
Kuwait’s cabinet is hand-picked by the prime minister who is appointed by the emir.
The Gulf state brought in its fourth government in six years after a snap parliamentary election in February.
But opposition lawmakers, who hold a parliamentary majority, failed to strike a deal with the ruling family in February for a significant share of cabinet posts and have since used the questioning sessions to target the government.
They were offered four posts out of a possible 16 following the election, but they held out for nine, scuttling any deal.
And in what must qualify for the hall of fame for bad timing, news arrives this morning that the United States plans to keep a force of 13,500 troops in the country for the indefinite future:
The report obtained by The Associated Press in advance of Tuesday’s release provided precise numbers on U.S. forces in Kuwait, a presence that Pentagon officials have only acknowledged on condition of anonymity. Currently, there are about 15,000 U.S. forces in Kuwait at Camp Arifjan, Ali Al Salem Air Base and Camp Buehring, giving the United States staging hubs, training ranges and locations to provide logistical support. The report said the number of troops is likely to drop to 13,500.
Several members of Congress, most notably Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., had pressed for a residual U.S. force to remain in Iraq, but the failure of the two countries to agree on whether American troops should be granted legal immunity scuttled that idea. Instead, officials talked of positioning a strong U.S. force just across the border in Kuwait. The strategy preserves “lily pad” basing that allows the military to move quickly from one location to the next.
Maybe we’ll get to call them a ‘peacekeeping’ force soon.