When people discuss the Arab Spring, the main focal point of that discussion is usually revolved around the success it has had in the region. We have seen revolutions occur in Egypt, Tunisia, and currently progressing in Syria that will bring change to the region. What kind of change and to what extent the change will be are questions that can’t yet be fully answered. But, there is no denying that major positives have resulted from the Arab Spring.
However, this article from al-Jazeera reminds us that not everything has changed. Kuwait, an Arab country that is perceived to be moderate, recently jailed a major opposition leader for ‘insulting the Emir’ of Kuwait. Mussallam al-Barrak, a former Member of Parliament, is charged with five years in prison for insulting the Emir which is seen as a major crime in Kuwaiti law. This case has drawn major criticism from human rights groups who argued that the Kuwaiti Court of Justice failed to allow the defense to call certain witnesses such as Kuwait’s current Prime Minister to the stand.
This article is important in that it highlights how far the region still has to go for political equality and embracing certain freedoms such as speech. Kuwait, who has been a major supporter of the Egyptian and Tunisian Revolutions in the Council of the Arab League appears to be a hypocrite in regard to her own domestic policies. This is a perfect example of power politics and how Arab States are still trying to control the media and censor information in their respective nations while, at the same time, punish those that preach disobedience or criticize the status quo.