Kuwait 2006-2007 (Part four)

The Bottleneck Period-Facts and Analysis

It is natural for the future ruler to have his allies (advisors) who help him reach his goals, and it is also natural for those allies (at times) to have their own agendas that may contradict with those of the ruler. This can inevitably lead to a complicated relationship frought with a number of sensitive issues.

The famous Italian writer Niccolò Machiavelli, in his book “The Prince” raised some important issues concerning this relationship when he stated that the new ruler should discard his lukewarm allies as soon as he assumes power.
He also menmtioned: “A prince must nevertheless make himself feared in such a manner that he will avoid hatred (1)”

In analyzing the political arena of Kuwait; we notice that our rulers depend highly on social liaisons with all classes to ensure the ruler-public relationship remains amiacable; they (“the rulers”) place great importance in participating in the social affairs of the citizens including weddings and funerals as well as other social events to gain empathy amongst a large number of people which is considered mandatory to the ruler. And here-in lies the role of the ruler’s allies… to fill in the gap between the people and their ruler.

Usually the ruler creates a strong alliance with the following factions:

  1. Merchant families: they have played an important role in establishing the country and supporting the Royal family -and Government- being it financially or morally.
  2. Tribal Shaikhs: most of Kuwaits tribal members have a blind loyalty to their Shaikhs and Princes.
  3. Head of political parties: factions who have a strong need to lead, control and direct their followers according to their ideology or policy.
  4. Social climbers: a social climber is a person who has no dignity or ethics, and is ready to do anything to gain the approval of his benefactors.

The problem does not lie in the ruler’s need of his allies, but rather, in the latter’s need to benefit from this relationship, especially when these needs are outside the scope of work concerning state and ruler benefit.

  • Businessmen rely on this alliance to gain more favors and increase their contracts and progressively increase their wealth.
  • Tribal Shaikhs rely on this alliance to gain the ruler’s blessing and approval, and to ensure payback, particularly in assigning members of their tribes to state posts, even if the chosen members are not qualified for these posts.
  • Political party heads rely on this alliance to gain key roles in directing policies of the country, each according to his direction.
  • Social climbers rely on this alliance because without it they do not have any importance in society and through their cunning they gain the prestige and importance they crave.

This ties in perfectly with the advice given by Machiavelli that “the ends justify the means*” urging the new ruler to gradually eliminate his allies as soon as he assumes stablity in his position as a ruler. This stands to reason, since the increase of the demands of the allies correlate conversely with those needs of the ruler, especially when those allies do not know their natural limits and start to uptake the power of authority and assume the ruler’s role, a matter that rises resentment towards those allies and eventually to the ruler.

And here we remember Micaville’s other advice: “A prince must nevertheless make himself feared in such a manner that he will avoid hatred”, where he summarizes the reason for fear transformation into hatred in two points: “What makes him (the prince*) hated above all else is being rapacious and a usurper of the property and the women of his subjects; he must refrain from this; and in most cases, so long as you do not deprive them of either their property or their honor (1)“, for the ones who are ravished of their honor and deprived of their daily earnings have nothing to lose.

And aside from Micaville’s theories we have witnessed many phenomenal behaviors of the ruler’s allies in Kuwait, and I almost can assure that the reader does not need examples or names mentioned to get him to agree with me on such behaviors of which some are clearly palpable in:

  • Handling of government institutions by the allies as if handeling their own private properties.
  • Consistency in breaking state laws as if they were not written to be applied on them.
  • Monopolizing some vital services that brings them riches and banning any thought to end this monopolization.
  • Their fierce dispute to keep illegitimate gains.
  • Spreading horror and fear among citizens toward their power; which is at times more than that toward the ruler.
  • Generosity in handling public financial demands especially when the allies do not have to pay from their own pockets, but that of the state’s.
  • Spreading corruption or corruptive ideas, since the corrupt can’t bear oxygen in fresh air and his survival is dependant upon “corruption dioxide”.
  • And the most sarcastic phenomena; the image of the innocent, resilient smile on the faces of those allies, as if trying to give the impression of “ poor guys, the public had treated them unjustly”.

And as we notice that these very trends have participated incisively in creating some negative reaction in the citizens toward their ruler and his allies- retinue- such feelings of pessimism and remorse, or the decline of patriotism among citizens when they compare state problems they’re facing to the lavish lifestyle of the ruler and his allies or retinue.

And accordingly; the ruler has to deal cautiously of how to best utilize his allies; he has to know who represents an asset and who is a millstone, and how can he utilize his assist and discard or lessen the impact of his milestones. The ruler is the emblem of the country and a great subject of citizen’s attention and trust, and he has to play the role of the merciful father to all the citizens without any discrimination.

In short; I honestly wish all the good and prosperity to this beautiful country. The events of the year 2006 had caused deep wounds in my heart, and I hope that they’d be cured by whatever event we are to face in the remainder of this year, in spite of the remorse feelings and skepticism that is spreading everywhere.

May God bless Kuwait.

(1) NiccolÒ Machiavelli, The Prince, trans. Peter Bondanella and Mark Musa, ed. Peter Bondanella (Oxford: Oxford University, 1998).

* Editor’s note

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