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Cablegate: Kuwait Media Reaction - Elections

VZCZCXRO9588
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK
DE RUEHKU #2478/01 1751420
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 241420Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY KUWAIT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5376
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHWSMRC/USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA// IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KUWAIT 002478

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/ARP, NEA/PA, NEA/AIA, NEA/PI, INR/NESA, R/MR, I/GNEA,
B/BXN, B/BRN, NEA/PPD, NEA/IPA FOR ALTERMAN
LONDON FOR TSOU
PARIS FOR ZEYA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO KDEM PGOV KU IR MEDIA REACTION

SUBJECT: KUWAIT MEDIA REACTION - ELECTIONS

TODAY'S TOPICS:

-- ELECTION SLOGANS
-- A MESSAGE TO VOTERS
-- YOUTH REVOLUTION
-- A CHANGE OF MIND
-- WOMEN AS A WEAPON TO FIGHT CORRUPTION
-- IS THIS DEMOCRACY? (Full translation)

Block Quotes
------------

Saturday, June 24, 2006

1. Secretary General of Kuwait's Journalists Association, Mr. Faisal
Al-Qanai suggested a new election strategy, "Let's take it back to
what it used to be." In his daily column in pro-government Arabic
daily Al-Seyassah that carried the same headline Mr. Qanai proposed,
"The election campaign slogan of candidate Marzook Al-Ghanim 'Let us
take it back to what it used to be' carries within it beautiful
meanings, and at the same time reminds us of our disgraceful reality
when we deserted our beautiful Kuwaiti values that used to bring
people together.... Kuwait used to be a pioneer in politics,
economy, socially, culturally, and in sports and art. We used to be
the model for neighboring countries, whose leaders looked upon us
with envy and astonishment. We need to recalculate and reorganize
our priorities. The government must put in place a comprehensive
development plan that carries the headline 'let us take it back to
what it used to be.'"

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2. Kuwaiti writer Mr. Zubn Al-Bathal headlined his article in
pro-government Arabic daily Al-Seyassah "a letter to voters." The
letter of Mr. Al-Zubn advised women, "My sisters and fellow women
voters: 'You represent a large number that out weighs men; that is
why your choice must be right and unbiased. You should not be
swayed to vote based on tribal, clan, family, or sect loyalties.
You should only vote for the qualified, and the best. You should
only vote for who you think is going to be good for our country and
people.'"

3. Headline "We Want it One," an article by columnist Dr. Sami
Nasser Khalifah in the independent Arabic daily Al-Rai Al-Aam
opined, "The coalition grouping changed its election slogan from 'We
Want it Five' to 'We Want it Coalition', which signifies the
importance of collective work in bringing large number of same
minded candidates to the parliament. We now ask, why not change it
to 'We Want it One?'.... Kuwait now needs an election bylaw that
guarantees equal representation to all, and gives a equal
opportunity to members of every residential district of the country.
We need a law that would not lose its effectiveness when the
population of Kuwait expands. Thus, an election system that
supports one district would not contradict with the core of our
constitution that guarantees our genuine Kuwaiti values: fairness,
equality, and equal representation."

4. Under the headline "I will vote for Waleed," Editor-in-Chief of
independent Arabic daily Al-Rai Al-Aam Mr. Jassem Boodai
editorialized, "This election surprised everyone by its timing,
length of period, the circumstances that surround it and even the
reasons that lead to calling an election, and the political
ammunition that has been used in it. Voters are more lost and
confused than the candidates.... If I put myself in the candidate's
shoes, I would be confused and undecided as well. Everyone is
talking the same talk, except for one man who was an exception to
that rule. This man has put the interest of Kuwait before his own
and took the right decision at the right time. Mr. Waleed Al-Jari
was a knight who dismounted a leading horse when he felt that real
objectives have been lost.... Mr. Waleed Al-Jari, from now until
Election Day and beyond, we will look for people like you to vote
for; nevertheless, your withdrawal from the race had the greatest
impact in all election campaign headquarters."

5. Saud Al-Samaka, a liberal academic and columnist in the daily
moderate Al-Qabas, wrote an article under the headline, "Youth of
Kuwait Unite" where he encourages Kuwaiti men and women, stating
"This political awakening movement must proceed regardless of the
election results. If we as the political powers in this country want
to lead Kuwait onto the right path, we must encourage and support
this youth awakening and political awareness, which represents a
turning point in our history. Today, I am repeating what I had said
in previous columns; the ball is now in the young people's court.
They are the ones who should work together and continue to do so for
their future, and the future of their children, and for Kuwait.
Youth of Kuwait unite and become a force of action and reform."

KUWAIT 00002478 002 OF 003

6. Political activist in women's issues Ms. Iqbal Al-Ahmed
criticized in progressive Arabic daily Al-Qabas, "When some
candidates were asked why they segregated women in their election
campaigns, and sometimes screened their presentations to an audience
of women on pre-recorded tapes, they replied: 'We are trying to save
our sisters the trouble of having to come to our diwaniyas. In
addition, the majority of our sisters wear veils, which make it
uncomfortable to sit in this hot weather and listen to speeches.' To
those people I say, if this is your excuse, then you had better
print what you wanted to say on pamphlets and distribute them to all
women in Kuwait, so that they could read your election program in
the comfort of their homes. At his election campaign headquarters
former MP Dr. Waleed Al-Tabtabaei clarified his previous position
that opposed the appointment of Dr. Masouma Al-Mubarak to the
council of ministers saying, 'Our decision was based on
constitutional grounds, and not on religious convictions. At that
time the lady minister's name was unlisted on election lists.' It is
strange to hear Dr. Tabtabaei say that now, when back during the
voting on the appointment he used to say, 'giving a woman
ministerial position meant giving her general sovereignty, an action
that is banned by Shariah and Islamic laws.'... Today Islamists
need the votes of women in their alleged fight against corruption;
therefore we see that their positions have changed. The same woman,
who yesterday was considered by them to be unfit mentally and
physically to practice politics, today has become their weapon with
which they will fight corruption!"

Full Translation
----------------

7. Under the banner "Is this a true democracy?" Editor-in-Chief of
pro-government Arabic daily Al-Seyassah and English-language Arab
Times Mr. Ahmed Al-Jarallah editorialized, "Ever since HH the Amir
issued a decree to dissolve the National Assembly and even before
dissolution of the Parliament was officially announced, the
government has been on the receiving end of some vicious accusations
and harsh criticism, which won't end until June 29, 2006, Election
Day. During their election campaigns, almost every candidate has
accused the government of selling Kuwait through the Northern
Oilfields project and jeopardizing the country's natural resources
and the future of its citizens by allowing foreign companies to
steal the nation's wealth leaving only some small pennies for the
citizens.

8. Some pessimistic candidates have accused the government of
helping the rich become richer and closing the doors in the face of
citizens with limited incomes. Soon others may go around wearing
T-shirts bearing the slogan 'Donate to poor Kuwaitis,' to paint a
bleak future for citizens. Almost all candidates have blamed the
government for the deterioration of medical and educational services
offered to the people of Kuwait.

9. A citizen has criticized the government for the demise of his
friend, who died while he was being taken to a medical center as the
first polyclinic to which he was taken was closed. Even the current
water shortage in the country is being exploited by some candidates
to blame the government. A candidate described the water shortage as
'an artificial crisis created to help the thieves at the Energy
Ministry.' A former MP, an Islamist who is competing in the
elections, said 'the government has created a shortage as a part of
its preparations to sign a deal to get water from Iran.'

10. We wonder what kind of government would allow its citizens to go
thirsty and suffer from unhealthy conditions to import water from
another country for a few million dinars.... If these dangerous
accusations are true and supported with incontrovertible proof, then
the concerned officials should be tried immediately to ensure they
receive suitable punishment.

11. Amidst all these accusations what is intriguing is the strange
silence being maintained by the government. The official spokesman
of the Information Ministry has not responded to any of these
accusations except the one over the closure of satellite TV
channels. Maybe he has chosen to counter this accusation as it
specifically concerns the Information Ministry. As a result
citizens are confused and do not know whom to trust for their
future.

12. Citizens are in a dilemma, because we will be in a crisis if the
candidates are liars. On the other hand, the situation will be even
worse if the candidates are not lying and what they say is true.
This means citizens can't trust the government, not only the current
one but also all the earlier governments and the future ones. If

KUWAIT 00002478 003 OF 003


what the candidates are saying is true, all the past, present and
future governments really should be held responsible for destroying
the lives of citizens. If the accusations of the candidates are
true, the government will remain accused of stealing the nation's
wealth day in and day out.

13. Why does the government remain silent when its reputation is
being tarnished? Why is its official spokesman not explaining,
defending, or clarifying the situation? In a democratic country
such as the United States, the official spokesman of the White House
or the State Department could not ignore such an issue, even if it
were published by a newspaper with a miniscule circulation or
contained in a videotape sent by bin Laden or his deputy
Al-Zawahari. The U.S. administration wouldn't dare allow any such
criticism to pass without offering a proper explanation, because it
is committed not only to its citizens, but also to the entire
world.

14. While the U.S. government believes in revealing facts to
identify the truth, in Kuwait it appears there is a 'gentleman's
agreement' between the government and candidates. This agreement
allows election candidates to level all kinds of accusations against
officials, while the government acts deaf or pretends the charges
are directed at someone else. All citizens have realized the
government and candidates have a hidden deal. As a result they don't
care for these meaningless accusations.

15. However, they don't mind listening to them as a pastime. We must
reconsider and re-evaluate such dangerous political practices. We
have to reexamine many simple and common practices that are
dominating our political life and then ask ourselves: is this a true
democracy?"

********************************************* *
For more reporting from Embassy Kuwait, visit:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/kuwait/?cable s

Visit Kuwait's Classified Website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/kuwait/
********************************************* **

TUELLER

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