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AZProgressive's Journal
AZProgressive's Journal
March 30, 2015

Kuwaiti activists targeted under GCC security pact

The Saudi-backed Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Internal Security Pact signed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait is now in full swing. It has truly ushered a new era of Pax Saudiana across the Gulf. The agreement was proposed in 1982 but remained under discussion until all GCC countries accepted its terms. The last country to ratify the pact was Kuwait. Ironically, the first casualties of this controversial agreement that took almost three decades to be ratified are Kuwaiti activists. Since January, at least three Kuwaiti opposition figures, social media activists and heads of political movements have been detained at the request of the Saudi authorities. Meant to enhance security for economic development and stability of GCC countries, the pact has now tuned into creating cross-border controls, evacuating the Arab Gulf of dissent and eliminating safe havens for dissidents of one country in another one.

The first casualty was Hakim al-Mutairi, an Islamist graduate in religious studies at Birmingham University and founder of the Umma Party in 2008, a Salafist transnational movement seeking political change by elections. His party aspires to create a Muslim society, implement Sharia and free the Gulf from the presence of foreign troops. Although the party remained unlicensed in Kuwait, it was tolerated up to a certain extent. In several books, Mutairi — who belongs to a large tribe in both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait — critically scrutinized the texts of Saudi Salafists, reprimanding them for rejecting elections and pluralism. He warned in "Liberty or Deluge," one of his most popular books, of the perils of the subjugation of religion by kings and princes, restrictions on freedoms and criminalization of opposition. In another book, he offered a reinterpretation of Gulf history, depicting the kingdom and emirates as foreign creations serving the interests of an ongoing colonialism. He described Gulf citizens as “slaves without chains.”

Mutairi’s ideas and activism echoed across the Gulf. In 2011, and under the euphoria of the Arab uprisings, a group of professors, activists and lawyers announced the formation of a Saudi Umma party. Needless to say all founders were immediately imprisoned. The spokesman of the party, Muhammad al-Mufrih, was outside Saudi Arabia at the time and continued to issue statements from Istanbul where he took refuge and passed away in 2014. In December 2014, in an interview with TV station Al-Shorouk, Mutairi accused Saudi Arabia of poisoning Mufrih. When he returned to Kuwait, he found that the Saudi authorities had filed a case against him, and thanks to the GCC Internal Security Pact the Kuwaiti authorities detained him. He was released on bail after paying a large sum.

On March 15, Tariq al-Mutairi, a Kuwaiti opposition activist and head of the Civil Democratic Movement, was detained also at the request of the Saudi Foreign Ministry, according to the Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior. According to his lawyer, the charges include “acts of aggression against a foreign country — i.e., Saudi Arabia — undermining the reputation of Kuwait, openly calling for overthrowing the regime and misusing his phone.” Tariq's and Hakim's recent activism in participating in a demonstration in support of famous Kuwaiti opposition figure Musallam al-Barrak, currently serving a two-year prison sentence, must have angered the Kuwaiti government. Tariq created a Twitter hashtag to free Barrak and more than 2,000 Kuwaitis joined the demonstration.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/03/saudi-gcc-security-dissident-activism-detention-opposition.html#ixzz3VtHAHiLh

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