Search

 

Cablegate: Kuwaiti Yuppies Look Beyond the Long-Awaited War

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KUWAIT 001207

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/FO, NEA/ARP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV ETRD MARR IZ KU
SUBJECT: KUWAITI YUPPIES LOOK BEYOND THE LONG-AWAITED WAR

REF: A. KUWAIT 1105 AND PREVIOUS
B. KUWAIT 1056

1. SUMMARY: Where reftels analyzed how the US-led war against
Iraq might affect Kuwait's political and economic landscape
in general, this cable examines perceptions of a specific
sector of society -- young, upwardly-mobile,
democratically-minded professionals. At an informal dinner,
EmbOffs met with a group of thirty-something Kuwaiti men to
discuss the war's impact on their country, now and in the
future. Like others in their demographic, they have lived
nearly half their lives under the shadow of a brutally
hostile neighbor. Most of them wanted this war, but now that
it is here, what next? As Saddam's regime nears its end,
these potential leaders of tomorrow were eager to voice their
opinions on a wide range of topics, from the war to the
economy to Kuwait's relationship with the United States and
its growing feeling of isolation in the Arab World. END
SUMMARY.

----------------
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
----------------

2. ConOff, EconOff, and PolOff met March 27 for dinner with
ten liberal, pro-Western Kuwaitis to discuss their views on
how the war could affect Kuwait politically (ref A) and
economically (ref B). This gathering included lawyers,
businessmen, investors, and media professionals, each
financially well off by American standards (BMWs and Jaguars
in the driveway), but none members of Kuwait's ruling family
or upper elite class. A few studied in the US and each
graduated from Kuwait University, where they launched and
remain active in a liberal student group called the
"Democratic Circle." All but two arrived in Western dress,
the pair in dishdashas (traditional robes) quickly discarding
their headgear to better fit in.

3. Their views on the conflict ran the gamut from Rambo-esque
to anti-war, but all agreed Saddam must go (one hawk asked
"Why it had taken us so long," while even the lone dove was
in favor of his removal). Each participant appeared
well-informed and well-engaged in television coverage of the
war, viewing several hours of news a day. Each said he
watched a variety of television sources, from Al-Jazeera, Abu
Dhabi TV, and other Arabic-language channels to CNN, Fox,
BBC, and SkyNews. Most were critical of Al-Jazeera, but at
least one praised it for carrying information otherwise not
available. Most were also critical of CNN, stating that it
was repetitive and had lost much of its edge since the Gulf
War. All expressed a vested interest in the outcome of this
conflict.

----------
WAR'S TOLL
----------

4. While this group readily acknowledged the economic
prospects for Kuwait following Iraq's liberation (ref B),
their primary interest centered on the political
ramifications -- namely, the impact this war was having on
Kuwait's relations with other Arab states. Each participant
voiced concern over Kuwait's growing isolation in the Arab
world. Some noted with bitterness how no Arab nation had
stood up for Kuwait while Iraq was launching missiles into
its territory. (Note: Local press reported March 30 that
Saudi Arabia and Morocco finally deplored Iraq's actions, but
only after a missile actually struck a Kuwaiti target the
previous day.)

5. Others complained even more acrimoniously how Kuwait
routinely lent a money-laden hand to its Arab neighbors, yet
none were standing behind Kuwait in its hour of need. As one
participant said, "We've given millions, for what?" Others
questioned the value of the Arab League, one calling it a
"burden to Kuwait." Some said they would not be surprised if
the GOK refused to attend the next Arab League meeting.
(Note: During the March 31 session of Kuwait's National
Assembly, Members of Parliament railed against Arab League
Secretary General Amr Mousa and the several Arab countries

SIPDIS
that refused to issue statements denouncing Iraq. A proposal
now before the National Assembly would require parliamentary
approval of any further financial aid to Arab states. End
note.)

-----------
ODD MAN OUT
-----------

6. Most participants agreed that lack of Arab support went
beyond envy over Kuwait's oil wealth to fears of a
significant challenge to the status quo. They singled out
Syria, Egypt, and Libya as countries where autocratic leaders
were especially fearful of a new order, one in which the USG
established Iraq as a democracy to be followed by other
states in the region. They agreed Kuwait was hated for its
support of the United States, but even more so for being a
democracy. (Note: An interesting dichotomy exists here, in
which Kuwaitis pride themselves on the one hand for being
democratic, while acknowledging on the other that women and
most men still do not have the right to vote. End note.)

7. Even within Kuwait, the status quo was coming under
threat, they said. One participant told how he and other
members of the "Democratic Circle" were branded as communists
and atheists by the Islamist student group as a way to
discount their liberal ideas. Even so, these ideas were
permeating Kuwaiti society, especially among the younger,
media savvy "Internet generation," another participant said.
Nevertheless, the participants agreed that the Islamists on
campus -- as well as in larger Kuwaiti society -- remain
better organized and funded than their liberal counterparts,
with a clear and singular message (religion) that is easier
for many to grasp. Recent gender segregation at Kuwait
University demonstrates the potent Islamist influence.

-------------
LOOKING AHEAD
-------------

8. The participants expected economic opportunities to follow
Iraq's liberation, especially in nearby Basra, where some of
them have relatives. Such a development, however, did not
seem a central focus of this group, in comparison to their
older, more established, and better connected compatriots,
such as from the ruling al-Sabah or large merchant families.
Instead, they spoke of strong economic possibilities in
Kuwait. They said there was much money to be made in real
estate, oil, and other investments. They noted, however,
that most Kuwaitis continue to think along short term lines,
not willing to risk longer term investments. They agreed
with EmbOff that such thinking was hurting Kuwait's
development, but did not expect to see this behavior change
any time soon, even after Iraq opens up for business.

9. Whatever happens next, this group hoped that the US
military would maintain a strong presence in the country.
One participant said that at least for the foreseeable future
Kuwait will need protection against historically
expansion-minded countries like Iraq, Iran, and even Saudi
Arabia. Others stated America has proven it is the only
country Kuwait can really trust. They tended to agree the
safety provided by the United States far outweighed the
condemnation and isolation from their Arab brothers.

10. One area where this group fell in line with the majority
of their countrymen was on Middle East peace. Despite being
educated, open-minded, and fully aware of how the
Palestinians had twice sided with Saddam against Kuwait,
members of the group were still critical over what one called
"America's unquestioned support" for Israel. They were not
willing to admit that at least the USG was working to resolve
this impasse, when most Arab nations are not, and trying to
engage them in an objective discussion on this topic seemed a
non-starter.

-------
COMMENT
-------

11. While these remarks admittedly reflect the opinions of a
small group of Kuwaiti men, they can also be seen as
incorporating a wider view held by a segment of society that
figures to be among the economic, legal, and perhaps even
political leaders of tomorrow. Their ardent support for the
United States -- not only its military might, but more
importantly its democratic ideals -- in face of the wrath
this relationship garners from Kuwait's Arab neighbors, is
encouraging; we will endeavor to nurture it.
JONES

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Syria: Economic Decline, Rising Hunger And Surging Humanitarian Needs

Syria’s fragile economy has “suffered multiple shocks” over the past 18 months, with its currency plummeting and joblessness swelling as people struggle to cover their basic needs, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator told the Security Council ... More>>

OECD: Final Quarter Of 2020 Shows Continued Recovery In G20 International Merchandise Trade

G20 international merchandise trade continued to rebound in the fourth quarter of 2020 ( exports up 7.2% and imports up 6.8%), following the sharp falls seen in the first half of 2020, as lockdown measures affected trade globally. Although growth ... More>>

UN Report: Civilian Casualties Surged After Peace Talks Began In Afghanistan

Monitoring by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, and the UN Human Rights Office has revealed that despite a drop in civilians killed and injured overall in 2020 there was a rise in civilian casualties following the start of peace negotiations ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs


2021: Critical Year To ‘reset Our Relationship With Nature’ – UN Chief

During this time of “crisis and fragility”, the UN chief told the United Nations Environment Assembly on Monday that human well-being and prosperity can be vastly improved by prioritizing nature-based solutions. Painting a picture of the turmoil ... More>>


Paris Agreement: UN Secretary-General António Guterres To Mark U.S. Reentry With Envoy For Climate John Kerry

Watch live at webtv.un.org UN Secretary-General António Guterres will join U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John F. Kerry at an event marking the United States’ reentry into the Paris Agreement this Friday. The discussion with the Secretary-General ... More>>

WeBeliev: Scoop In Conversation With Abhishek Sinha, Founder Of WeBeliev, An NZ Crowdfunding Platform

WeBeliev supports 17 SDGs, launching sector specific campaigns every month Q. What is WeBeliev and why did you start it? A. WeBeliev is a Singapore-registered crowdfunding platform aimed at fundraising for all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ... More>>