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An Odd Democracy

1 minute read

Democracy is so fragile in the Arab world that its appearance even in limited form is encouraging. In a Kuwaiti election last week, the vote was restricted to males 21 and older who were able to trace their ancestry in the emirate to 1920 — only 13% of the population of 650,000. (Women might be allowed to vote in 1996.) Though small, the vote last week was free enough to enable a coalition opposed to the regime of Sheik Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah to win 31 of 50 parliamentary seats. The government can expect sharp debate over its unpreparedness for the 1990 invasion by Iraq. Kuwaiti-Iraqi tensions remain so high that last week Chad Hall, a U.S. munitions expert working to clear ordnance inside Kuwait, was briefly taken prisoner by Iraqis who apparently thought he had crossed the unmarked border.

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