Viewing cable 06KUWAIT285
Title: FREEDOM AGENDA AND THE KUWAITI SUCCESSION:

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
06KUWAIT2852006-01-28 14:02:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kuwait
VZCZCXRO5080
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHMOS
DE RUEHKU #0285/01 0281402
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 281402Z JAN 06
FM AMEMBASSY KUWAIT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2706
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KUWAIT 000285 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR NEA, NSC FOR ABRAMS AND RAMCHAND, LONDON FOR 
TSOU, PARIS FOR ZEYA 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/27/2015 
TAGS: PGOV PREL KU SUCCESSION FREEDOM AGENDA
SUBJECT: FREEDOM AGENDA AND THE KUWAITI SUCCESSION: 
SOMETHING TO CHEER ABOUT 
 
REF: KUWAIT 259 AND PREVIOUS 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Richard LeBaron for 
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
¶1.  (C) The Freedom Agenda took a step forward this week as 
Kuwait's parliament played a vital role in the constitutional 
removal of one Amir and the appointment, scheduled for 
confirmation on January 29, of another.  In the flurry of 
commentary about the Hamas electoral gains, the significance 
of this constitutional, Parliament-driven change in 
leadership in Kuwait has escaped broad international notice. 
This triumph for democracy, albeit modest, was univerally 
welcomed in Kuwait and should be duly recognized by the USG. 
 
¶2. (C) When internal ruling family negotiations over 
leadership broke down, Kuwaitis turned to their constitution 
and National Assembly to resolve the dispute, setting a 
precedent for greater parliamentary involvement in 
decision-making that is likely to have a lasting impact 
within Kuwait and possibly beyond.  Kuwaiti media and 
commentators, proud of their constitution and National 
Assembly, have been trumpeting the vitality of their 
democratic institutions, tending to gloss over the very 
traditional central role played by the ruling family. 
Arguably, the Sabah family role was reaffirmed by the manner 
in which the succession took place.  Nonetheless, 
Parliament's role illustrates that functioning checks and 
balances and respect for rule of law can thrive within the 
conservative Arab heartland. 
 
¶3. (C) At a lunch hosted by the Ambassador on January 28, a 
group of very politically engaged Kuwaitis were unanimous on 
at least one point: the succession, because it was done 
transparently (with loads of press coverage) and in 
accordance with the constitution, was legitimate.  The 
diverse group included female activist Rola Dashti, advisor 
to the Prime Minister Yousef al-Ibrahim, wealthy investor 
Faisal Mutawa, university administrator Moudhi al-Hamoud, 
political science professor Nada al-Mutawa, economist Amer 
Tamimi, and GCC political consultant Abdullah Bishara.  The 
group held differing views on next steps, but all agreed that 
the National Assembly had been central to the process and 
would remain relevant no matter what direction the country 
took.  Several mentioned the pride they felt in having had a 
voice in selecting the Amir through the elected members of 
the National Assembly. 
 
¶4. (C) Starting what proceeded to be a relatively transparent 
process, the ruling Sabah family met on January 20 to engage 
in the traditional closed process of achieving an internal 
consensus on succession.  That was an important step in 
making Shaykh Sabah the Amir, but it was not the final word. 
When the family failed to reach consensus, the majority, 
which supported Shaykh Sabah, had no choices but to follow 
constitutional and legal procedures to remove Shaykh Saad 
from his position and transfer authority to Sabah.  It was 
not always this way.  When faced with opposition in 1976 and 
1986, the Amir disbanded Parliament by extra-constitutional 
means and the government ruled by Amiri decree.  Such an act 
would be unacceptable today.  The ruling family proved 
willing to rely on constitutional and parliamentary 
procedures, even if that meant surrendering exclusive control 
of the succession process. 
 
¶5. (C)  On January 25th, local papers publishing the news of 
the deposition of Shaykh Saad and the nomination of Shaykh 
Sabah as Amir by the Council of Ministers, gave equal 
prominence to photos of two figures on their front pages. 
One was Shaykh Sabah, the other was Speaker of the National 
Assembly Jassem Khorafi.  It is hard to imagine Shaykh Sabah, 
an Amir whose authority now so clearly derives from 
constitutional procedures and parliamentary approval, acting 
in a way that undermines those institutions.  Exactly how 
this will affect his approach to political and economic 
reform will be the subject of further analysis after a new 
prime minister is named and a cabinet is formed.  But for 
now, we are on safe ground is saying that an established 
system of constitutional division of power and rule of law 
has been shown to serve the needs of the people of Kuwait 
well.  The Freedom Agenda took a significant step forward 
this month in Kuwait. 
 
¶6. (C)  From media coverage elsewhere in the Arabian 
peninsula, it appears that Kuwait's successful democratic 
resolution of the succession crisis has attracted attention. 
Kuwait's neighbors followed the succession machinations 
closely, likely with an eye on implications for their own 
 
KUWAIT 00000285  002 OF 002 
 
 
ruling regimes.  Some GCC commentators have drawn unfavorable 
comparisons with their own countries' practices, concluding 
that there are lessons to be learned from the Kuwaiti 
experience. 
 
****************************************** 
Visit Embassy Kuwait's Classified Website: 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/kuwait/ 
 
You can also access this site through the 
State Department's Classified SIPRNET website 
********************************************* 
LeBaron