Kuwait is a hereditary monarchy but has the most democratic political system in the Gulf. It is a constitutional emirate with a parliamentary system of government. The head of state is called the Emir or Sheik and it is a hereditary office. The country is currently under the reign of the Al Sabah family. Kuwait also has the world’s fifth largest oil reserves.
Thousands of protestors have recently taken to the streets ending in authorities firing tear gas and using stun grenades. Last week the Emir dissolved Parliament. While he has the constitutional right to do so, elections must now be held within 60 days. The situation has gotten worse as protestors are now angry at the Emir for announcing that he will be changing the electoral law. The proposed changes have not been made clear yet and while the Emir states that the changes are to fix deficiencies in the current system prior to the election, as allowed by Kuwait’s Constitutional Court, protestors believe this is a “constitutional coup” used to ensure the opposition does not gain a majority in the Parliament again.
Despite government efforts, protests have not seemed to die down and as we get closer to the election date set for December 1st, one can only assume that it will get worse and more violent. The United States has a vested interest in Kuwait, it has been a long time ally, we have military bases there, and as mentioned above, it is the fifth largest oil reserve in the world. My questions are, if the protests continue and governmental overthrow becomes a realer possibility, does the U.S. have the legal right to get involved in order to protect our interests? If it is found that the proposed changes to the electoral law are going to have the feared effect of keeping a particular group of people out of the Parliament, do the people have a right to overthrow the government the same as the United States claimed it had in the Declaration of Independence?