Kuwait: Security, Reform, and U.S. Policy
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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Kuwait, which has been pivotal to nearly two decades of U.S. involvement in Iraq, has been mired for the past three years in internal wrangling between the elected National Assembly and the ruling Al Sabah family, primarily over the political dominance of the Al Sabah. In March 2009, this infighting led to the second constitutional dissolution of the National Assembly in the past year, setting up new parliamentary elections on May 16, 2009. Among other effects, the political stalemate has delayed or caused cancellation of key energy projects, including some projects involving major foreign energy firms, as well as of measures to help Kuwait deal with the effects of the global financial and economic crisis. The elections produced many new deputies in the 50-seat Assembly, including four women, the first to be elected to the Assembly in Kuwait since women were given the vote in 2005. However, the elections did not resolve the government-Assembly political disputes or produce meaningful progress on major issues, and there is the potential for yet another dissolution of the Assembly and new elections. On regional policy, the political stalemate in Kuwait has caused Kuwaiti leaders to generally defer to Saudi Arabia and other more active Gulf states. Kuwait has not attempted to take a leadership role in mediating disputes within the Palestinian territories or to try to determine Irans role in Gulf security and political arrangements. It has built ties to a range of Iraqi leaders and contributed to the rebuilding of post-Saddam Iraq, but the two countries differ over whether and how to close out the Saddam-era U.N.-administered reparations process.
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