Tag Archives: Kuwait

Bangladeshi Worker Protests Result In Beatings

Kuwait, like most Middle Eastern oil nations, imports hundreds of thousands of workers from Asia to handle the dirty work associated with life in modern societies. These workers have no rights since they are non-citizens, and are trapped in a country in which western ideas of civil liberties are not always accepted as the norm. Recently, due to rising inflation, many Bangladesh workers attempted to protest only to be met with the full force of the Kuwait government which does not enjoy anyone daring to oppose those in power. Nearly 170 Bangladesh workers who recently returned home complained they had been beaten and expelled after taking part in a labor protest in Kuwait. Over the past few days more than 1,000 Bangladeshis have been deported and most probably hundreds of others will meet that fate.

Problems arose when hundreds of Asian foreign workers in Kuwait staged demonstrations and went on strike to demand better pay and working conditions. Mohammad Ilyas, who was one of those deported, said: “The army beat us mercilessly while breaking up the protest and also in detention camps.” A major complaint of Asian workers is their employees deduct housing, medical, and meal costs from their wages. The foreign worker must accept what the employer claims is the cost of their meals or housing or medical expenses. In a word, take it or leave it. And, when Kuwaitis say, “leave” they mean the country.

Kuwait Leader Blasts US Over Iran Policy

Kuwait’s Speaker of the National Assembly, Jassem Ai Khorafi, accused the United States of deliberately attempting to provoke a conflict with Iran and made clear his nation would not allow its territory to be used in such a venture. “What is happening is that there are provocative Western statements, and Iran responds in the same way. Such a sensitive issue requires the language of dialogue, not escalation… It is necessary to respect Iran’s sovereignty because a resolution will not be reached by treating it like a US state.” Khorafi said the West was using double standards in the dispute by trying to halt Iran’s nuclear program while saying nothing about the nuclear program of Israel or dealing with that nation’s nuclear weapons.

The Speaker pointed out although Bush constantly emphasizes his commitment to peace, he also threatens Iran by sending warships into areas near its coastal region. The Kuwait leader is correct in emphasizing the importance of toning down threats and working in a peaceful manner through use of diplomatic contacts in resolving regional issues.

Kuwait Experts Fear An October Surprise

In an article appearing in the Kuwait Times, military experts from that nation predicted there is a strong possibility of war by November or even by mid-October. Many believe Tehran will be devastated by an unprecedented air assault such as previously never undertaken against any nation. However, these experts are still debating if the United States would place itself in a situation requiring opening a third front in addition to Afghanistan and Iraq while few believe Israel has the military capability of pulling off such an air attack on its own.

Kuwait is worried an attack on Iran will result in closing the Straits of Hormuz and block its export of oil. They envision, Kuwait has three alternatives if the sea route is blocked. One would be sending oil through Saudi Arabia, another is through Iraq pipelines that lead to Syria and the Mediterranean and the other is via a pipeline to Oman. However, none of these alternatives is as yet a possibility and such an approach would require years of construction.

There is no good scenario if an air assault is undertaken. The Middle East would be plunged into new terrorist activities for years to come.

Road Rage In Kuwait City Involves US Military

A fight broke out between Kuwaitis and members of the US army on Arabian Gulf Street in Kuwait City when a driver of a bus belong to the American army alledgedly drove recklessly and almost caused several accidents. The incident led to a clash between American soldiers on the scene with Kuwaitis. The result was a massive traffic jam, shouting people and at least one soldier who fired his weapon into the air. A retired Kuwait army officer attempted to intervene and sooth feelings but he supposedly was ignored and insulted by the American soldiers. Witnesses say the Americans insisted that Kuwait police had no authoriy over their actions and they had a right to do whatever they so desired.

These scenes of conflict between soldiers and civilians are common in war zones. An eye witness told the Arab Times Americans were driving recklessly and then shouted and threatened Kuwaitis. The incident is minor, but symbolic. As long as American military forces remain as occupiers in Arab nations we can expect such situations to occur.

Kuwait Female Civil Rights An Issue

Kuwait University Professor Dr. Khalifa Alhamida told a reporter, “Sometimes discrimination is needed in society.” He justified qotas aHt Kuwait Unversity which require hgher GPAs for women than men since women now constitute two-thirds of university enrollment. It is common for many Kuwait men to travel abroad in search of education while few women take advantage of that opportunity. Some advocates of female quotas argue their society needs more male leadership so imposing higher standards for women essentially helps the entire nation.

The Kuwait legislature has been debating, but not taking action on, a Woman’s lw which would grant extensive rights to women such as allowing them to pass on Kuwait citizenship to children, and monetary support for those remaining home caring for children

Kuwait Cracks Down on Travestites

The Kuwait government, acting on a new law added to its already repessive dress code, began arresting tranvestites who were in violation of new regulations which criminalize cross dressing. The law states: “Any person committing an indecent act in a public place or imitating the appearance of a member of the opposite sex, shall be subject to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or fine not exceeding one thousand dinars($3,500). The police did not waste any time in executing the law’s provisions.

Fourteen people were arrested in the initial round up and reports indicate at least three were beaten by the police. Human Rights Watch insists the law “violates basic rights to privacy and free expression, and those continuing arrests show why it should be repealed.”

What can one say about such laws. They have no place in any society which respects the rights of people to express themselves in non-violent ways.

Iraq War– A Kuwait Perspective

Five years have passed since US troops swept through Iraq, toppling the Saddam Hussein regime and brought democracy to the brutalized nation. But, says the Kuwait Times, “fear of Saddam’s hated police has been replaced by a new terror, with Iraq still being hit on a daily basis by insurgent attacks and Sunni-Shiite violence where victims are counted in the scores.” Although the level of violence has dropped over the past few months, “scoring a military victory is easy, but a political victory is more difficult to achieve,” according to Mustapha Aani of the Gulf Research Centre.

The figure on the number of dead Iraqis ranges from under a hundred thousand to nearly a million. The Kuwait Times agrees violence has fallen, but there is no indication of any change in the confused and divided Iraq government which is wracked by corruption and hatred between Sunni and Shiites. The Iraq parliament “has done little to approve crucial legislation, and has been paralyzed by competition from parties bent on addressing their narrow sectarian interests.

What are the results asks the newspaper? “US credibility has been eroded in the Middle East, the influence of Iran, Washington’s nemisis, has grown, and the price of oil has spiked to record levels, with negative repercussions on the global economy.”

Kuwait Might Make 21st Century

Kuwait aspires to becom a modern vibrant society with cultural centers and an education system that would attract people from all over the region and world. But, Kuwait is still hampered by outdatedf laws stemming from the religious sector. A new law will end segregation of male and female students at Kuwait universities. According to liberal MP Mohammad Al-Sager, “All universities and schools in Muslim countries adopt coeducation and their standard is good. So, why should we cast doubt on the morals of our sons and daughters by forcing them to separtate?” Conservative MPs were furious at his remarks and threatened to make certain segregation remained.

It’s time to move on, Kuwait.

Kuwait Cracking Down On Terrorism– Or Is It?

The Kuwait Ministry of Awqat and Islamic Affairs is launching a campaign to halt the spread of terrorism in its nation. From now on, it will “monitor” all speeches given in mosques by Imams and preachers which lean toward fostering feelings of anger and violence. Anyone who uses a mosque in order to preach about politics will be punished “suitably.” The Ministry of Education intends to educate youth about the dangers of extremism. “Most extremist organizations,” said a spokesperson, “target students, incite them and send them to Iraq and Afghanistan or to any other part of the world to wage Jihad.” The Awqat Ministry is determined that everything possible be done to ensure this culture not take root in Kuwait.

The assumption of Kuwait authorities is that some type of “education program” will deter young people from moving away from violence toward acceptance of the world in which they live. The root causes of Muslim youth deciding to participate in a “jihad” do not spring from lack of education, they arise from dissatisfaction with society or anger that those in authority are not adhering to the tenets of their religion. Although Kuwait has taken steps to expand the parameters of democracy, it still has a long way to go on this issue. Perhaps, if young people could participate in democratic encounters within their society, they might be less inclined to go on jihads. Muslim youth, like so many other young people in this world, are seeking justice and peace. One does not “educate” youth about democracy, one “practices democracy.”

American Knowledge Of Middle East— Needs Improvement!

A recent survey of the American public’s knowledge of Kuwait reveals extensive ignorance. Few understand Kuwait has elections in which women have rights and vote. The poll found 62% of Americans do not know women vote in Kuwait, 58% do not realize there are democratic elections and in a somewhat confusing pattern, 12% believe Kuwait is a “center of terrorism” while 13% believe it is “an ally of the United States.” Although Kuwait has a booming economy in which numerous American businesses are involved, only 5% of Americans believe it is a good place to do business.

The poll results are not surprising given that few Americans ever study about the Middle East or the Muslim religion in their academic career. Information about the area is gleamed from sound bites appearing on the six o’clock news that are presented by individuals who have limited knowledge themselves about topics they are discussing.