Where Is The Condescension In My Article On Kuwait? |
Al Hayat - 09 July, 2012
Author: Jihad Al Khazen
Last week, I wrote about the problems facing the Arab countries, but found Kuwait to be an exception. It was my opinion that Kuwait faces no real problems that justify the sheer magnitude of political grumbling there. I received many messages agreeing with my conclusions, while some criticized my position, and it is their right to do so.
Opinions are subjective, and may hit or miss the mark. I do not claim to be infallible. I don’t think anyone is, including the Pope in Rome. Yet I try my best for my information to be accurate. What I said was, “Kuwait is a wealthy country that enjoys a wide margin of political and personal freedoms. Kuwait also ranks among the top quarter in the corruption perceptions index. Furthermore, Saddam Hussein is gone and will not return. No one poses a threat to the regional security of the country, and high oil revenues are guaranteed for generations to come”.
Every word above is correct, and so is what I wrote about the problems of the other Arab countries, which I said range from the difficult to the outright impossible. I then concluded from all this that Kuwait is the exception. In the end of my article, I said, “People, it is summertime. Go travel, enjoy yourselves and fast the month of Ramadan. Thank your God for the blessings He has bestowed on you.” This does not go beyond what I once heard from brother Jassem al-Kharafi, that Kuwait’s problem is that it has no problems.
Once again, I thank those who supported me, and welcome those who disagree with me, and only object to errors in the facts they mention.
The MP for the parliament of 2009 Mr. Saleh Al-Mulla, said, in response to tweets that I had described the Kuwaitis as being superficial, that Kuwait is a corrupt country, advising the Kuwaitis to travel out of the country to forget all this. He even says that I wrote condescendingly.
With all due respect, I want to tell the Kuwaiti MP that I never accused the Kuwaitis of being superficial, not even indirectly, nor did I write condescendingly. Furthermore, I did not say that Kuwait is a corrupt country. Instead, I said that Kuwait ranks in the top quarter of the corruption perceptions index, which means it is in a good position among 180 countries covered by the index.
In addition, I did not recommend that the Kuwaitis travel to forget corruption, and instead said that it is summertime, and the Kuwaitis who can afford it usually travel in the summer to escape the heat. My summer in Lebanon in the past would not be complete without seeing the Kuwaitis in their white dishdashas in Bhamdoun al-Mahatta. The Kuwaitis have always been welcomed by every Lebanese.
Where is the condescension in my article on Kuwait? I dare say that the Kuwaiti parliament is an ad against democracy. Moreover, my whole point is that the Kuwaitis should be happy with their lives because they don’t have any real problem.
The date 14/7/1990 was the anniversary of the Iraqi ‘Revolution’. On that day, about two weeks before the invasion of Kuwait, and after Saddam Hussein gave a speech threatening Israel, I wrote in this column attacking the dictator who wanted, for the purpose of giving a speech, to claim that he sought to throw Israel into the sea. I then republished the article two days later because of an error.
When Kuwait fell under occupation, Al-Hayat was the only newspaper in the world to run a special edition on the occupation. A few days later, the publisher of Al-Hayat, Prince Khalid bin Sultan, the current deputy defense minister in Saudi Arabia, became the Commander of Joint Forces & Operation Theater in the Kuwait liberation war.
One day, I will give a lecture in Kuwait on the role of Prince Khalid in the liberation, as I personally bore witness to it between Riyadh and the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, and the threats I received because of the twice-published article. I would also talk about the large efforts and costs of printing the special edition, and how senior editors travelled in the afternoon to European capitals to distribute the edition in Frankfurt, Paris, and Rome, in addition to London itself. I promise that all my witnessed will be living ones for the sake of honesty and truth […].
Al-Hayat, when it comes to the relationship with Kuwait, is above suspicion, like Caesar’s wife. Despite this, I read a comment by Mr. Anwar al-Rashid, Secretary General of the Kuwaiti Labor Umbrella, which mixes poison with honey (as he said). Rashid addressed me by saying, “Mr. Jihad, you have made a mistake against the Kuwaiti people, and you must apologize”.
Mr. Rashid was beside the truth in his comment. While I accuse him of doing wrong by me and the people of Kuwait, I call on him to apologize to the latter, because I don’t want him to apologize to me.
Rashid also asked, “Why is Mr. Jihad blocking the people’s legitimate demands for reform?” But I did not tackle reform whatsoever, nor supported or opposed it, and did not make any reference to the opposition or the loyalists, but only called on the Kuwaitis to be happy with their lives.
Rashid objected to my saying that Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah is a ‘good guy’, and I know that he is. But I only spoke about three men out of an entire royal family and ministers who must number more than one thousand.
The Secretary General added, “This is not the first time that we read an article by Khazen in which he attacks the people of the Gulf and praises their rulers…”
This is a big accusation. Racism is punishable by British law with not only a fine, but also a prison sentence. So I say to Mr. Rashid, as he deserves, that he is lying. I also challenge him to come up with one article I have ever written in which I attack the people of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, the UAE, Qatar or Kuwait – just one article. Otherwise, he should apologize to the peoples of the Gulf, whom he has lied to.
Mr. Anwar Rashid also asked, “By what right does Jihad el-Khazen ask us to fast, sleep and travel?” But once again, what I said was “People, it is summertime. Go travel, enjoy yourselves and fast the month of Ramadan. Thank your God for the blessings He has bestowed on you.” Everyone knows that the Kuwaitis travel in the summer to escape the heat. Rashid has thus inserted the word ‘sleep’, without me having used in in my article.
The issue here is not a conflict between the Sheikhs’ state and the state of law, as the commentator above claims. I say: A thousand times the Sheikhs in Kuwait and elsewhere, and never people like a man who distorts and misrepresents an article in 60 lines in front of him to add things that suit his prejudices.
In the end, I conclude by advising the members of the Kuwaiti Labor Umbrella, if they exist, to beware of the Secretary General’s statements and verify his sources, because his extremism invalidates his objectivity and credibility.