Kuwait. According to COUNTRYAAH, Kuwait City is the capital of Kuwait which is located in Western Asia. The government continued to work hard for opponents during the year. The Ministry of Information withdrew the publication permit for al-Watan, a leading newspaper that was previously a government-loyal body but which has taken an increasingly critical stance. The decision was appealed, but a court granted the government the right.
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In February, an appeals court sentenced opposition leader Musallam al-Barrak to two years in prison for insulting the emir in a speech in 2012, when al-Barrak was a member of parliament and speaking before a large crowd. Al-Barrak was the country’s leading opposition representative and had previously been sentenced to five years in prison for the incident, but that ruling was revoked. The new verdict was set by the country’s highest court in May. According to human rights organization Amnesty International, al-Barrak was considered a political prisoner.
During the fasting month of Ramadan in June, the country was shaken by a serious act of terror when a suicide bomber exploded in a Shiite Muslim mosque on the outskirts of Kuwait City. The attack claimed 27 lives and injured over 200. A group with links to the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organization blamed the crime. IS considers Shia Muslims, who are a minority in Kuwait, as apostates. Prosecution was brought in July against a large number of suspected employees. The majority were Kuwaiti or members of Kuwait’s stateless population, Bidun, but several Saudis and other foreign nationals were also among the arrested. In September, seven people were sentenced to death for the suicide attack, five of whom were absent. Eight were sentenced to prison for between two and 15 years, while 14 were released.
Kuwait was part of the Saudi-led alliance that launched air strikes against Yemen in March, where the Shiite Muslim movement took control of large parts of the country and fled President Abd al-Rahman Mansur al-Hadi.
Population, society and rights
As with all the desert countries of the Gulf, with the exception of Yemen, Kuwait has a strong urbanization, with a rate equal to more than 98%. A second relevant data in the analysis of the demographic composition of the country concerns the percentage of non-Kuwaiti citizens on the total population. In fact, it is estimated that, out of about three million residents, more or less 70% are made up of expatriates (mainly from South-East Asia and other Arab countries) and even residents without citizenship.. This trend, which makes Kuwait one of the countries with the highest net immigration rate in the world, is due to the large size of the internal labor market, generated by the oil industry and its related industries, compared to an indigenous population of about one million residents. The level of outgoing remittances, mainly directed to Southeast Asia, is therefore very high. The Kuwaiti population is mostly Arab and, on the religious level, is divided between a Sunni Muslim majority and a large minority of Shiites, equal to 30%.
In the Persian Gulf area, Kuwait is characterized by higher levels of political and civil liberties than other regional players. In 2005, Kuwait granted women the right to vote, also allowing them to actively participate in political life: the 2009 elections thus saw four women enter parliament for the first time.
In the two-year period 2011-12 the country was crossed by a wave of demonstrations and street protests. Originating in the wake of the Arab Springs, the protesters’ claims pointed the finger both at the corruption of the political class and against the authoritarian drift demonstrated on some occasions by the royal family and the government: above all, the cancellation of the elections of February 2012 and the failed attempt to restrictively reform the electoral law which reduced the number of votes available to each voter from 4 to 1. During 2014 there were several cases of arrest of political opponents and withdrawal of passports against them.