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Country Analysis Brief: Kuwait

November 20, 2014 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Kuwait
Source: Energy Information Administration

As a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Kuwait was the world’s 10th largest petroleum and other liquids producer in 2013. Despite being the second smallest in land area among the OPEC member countries, Kuwait exports the fifth-largest volume of crude oil and condensates following Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, and Nigeria.

CRS — Kuwait: Security, Reform, and U.S. Policy (updated)

February 25, 2014 Comments off

Kuwait: Security, Reform, and U.S. Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Kuwait has been pivotal to all the U.S. interventions in the Persian Gulf region since the 1980s because of its location, its role as the object of past Iraqi aggression, and its close cooperation with the United States. Kuwait remains a key to the U.S. ability to act militarily in the northern Persian Gulf region now that all U.S. forces have left Iraq. Kuwait’s relations with the post- Saddam government in Iraq have warmed significantly in recent years through resolution of many of the territorial, economic, and political issues from the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Although the threat from Iraq has abated, Kuwait is increasingly suspicious of Iranian intentions in the Gulf, aligning Kuwait with U.S. efforts to contain Iranian power in the Gulf. Still, Kuwait maintains relatively normal economic and political relations with Iran so as not to provoke it to take military action or to provide material support to pro-Iranian elements inside Kuwait. Regional issues were the focus of meeting between the Amir of Kuwait and President Obama on September 13, 2013, during the Amir’s visit to Washington, DC.

Playing with Fire: Why Private Gulf Financing for Syria’s Extremist Rebels Risks Igniting Sectarian Conflict at Home

December 9, 2013 Comments off

Playing with Fire: Why Private Gulf Financing for Syria’s Extremist Rebels Risks Igniting Sectarian Conflict at Home
Source: Brookings Institution

In this new Saban Center analysis paper, Elizabeth Dickinson examines why private financing by Gulf donors for Syria’s extremist rebels risks igniting sectarian conflict in Gulf countries. Over the last two and a half years, Kuwait has emerged as a financing and organizational hub for charities and individuals supporting Syria’s myriad rebel groups. These donors have taken advantage of Kuwait’s unique freedom of association and its relatively weak financial rules to channel money to some of the estimated 1,000 rebel brigades now fighting against Syrian president Bashar al-Asad.

The paper charts how individual donors in the Gulf encouraged the founding of armed groups, helped to shape the ideological and at times extremist agendas of rebel brigades, and contributed to the fracturing of the military opposition. From the early days of the Syrian uprising, Kuwait-based donors—including one group currently under U.S. sanction for terrorist financing—began to pressure Syrians to take up arms. The new brigades often adopted the ideological outlook of their donors. As the war dragged on and the civilian death toll rose, the path toward extremism became self-reinforcing. Today, there is evidence that Kuwaiti donors have backed rebels who have committed atrocities and who are either directly linked to al Qaeda or cooperate with its affiliated brigades on the ground.

FACTBOX — Women’s rights in the Arab world

November 23, 2013 Comments off

FACTBOX — Women’s rights in the Arab world
Source: Thompson Reuters

Egypt is the worst country for women in the Arab world, closely followed by Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen, according to gender experts surveyed in a Thomson Reuters Foundation poll released on Tuesday.

Comoros, Oman, Kuwait, Jordan and Qatar came top of the survey, which assessed 22 Arab states on violence against women, reproductive rights, treatment of women within the family, their integration into society and attitudes towards a woman’s role in politics and the economy.

The results were drawn from answers from 336 gender experts invited to participate in an online survey by the foundation, the philanthropic arm of the news and information company Thomson Reuters, in August and September.

+ Complete poll results

New Report: Energy Conservation Key Security Goal for Gulf

August 21, 2013 Comments off

New Report: Energy Conservation Key Security Goal for Gulf
Source: Chatham House

The systemic waste of oil and gas in the Gulf is eroding economic resilience to shocks and increasing security risks, including to citizens’ health. Success or failure in setting and meeting sustainable energy goals in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries will have a global impact, says a new report Saving Oil and Gas in the Gulf.

The six GCC countries – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, the UAE and Bahrain – now consume more primary energy than the whole of Africa. Yet they have just one twentieth of that continent’s population. Energy intensity in the region is high and rising in contrast to other industrialized regions and is driven by systemic inefficiencies.

Almost 100% of energy in the region is produced from oil and gas without carbon dioxide abatement, and water security is increasingly dependent on energy-driven desalination. If the region’s fuel demand were to continue rising as it has over the last decade, it would double by 2024. This is a deeply undesirable prospect for both the national security of each state and the global environment.

Saving Oil and Gas in the Gulf is the first report to offer practical recommendations that address the key challenges of governance, political commitment and market incentives from a GCC-wide perspective. It draws on the results of two years of research and workshops in the region, with representatives of over 60 local institutions w ith a critical interest in and influence over domestic energy.

The report concludes that efficiency savings are urgent, achievable and will build a bridge to renewables deployment.

CRS — Kuwait: Security, Reform, and U.S. Policy

July 15, 2013 Comments off

Kuwait: Security, Reform, and U.S. Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Kuwait was pivotal to two decades of U.S. efforts to end a strategic threat posed by Iraq, because of its location, its role as the object of past Iraqi aggression, and its close cooperation with the United States. Kuwait remains a key to the U.S. ability to act militarily in the northern Persian Gulf region now that all U.S. forces have left Iraq. Kuwait’s relations with the post-Saddam government in Iraq have warmed significantly in recent years through resolution of many of the territorial, economic, and political issues from the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Kuwait is increasingly suspicious of Iranian intentions in the Gulf, aligning Kuwait with U.S. efforts to contain Iranian power in the Gulf and prevent Iran from exerting undue influence in Iraq. Still, Kuwait maintains relatively normal economic and political relations with Iran so as not to provoke Iran militarily or prompt it to try to empower pro-Iranian elements in Kuwait.

Although Kuwait’s foreign policy fluctuates little, its political system has been in turmoil since 2006, and has deteriorated significantly since late 2012. The political disputes in Kuwait have centered on opposition to the political dominance of the Al Sabah family, as well as over official corruption, security force brutality, citizenship eligibility, and other issues. These disputes, manifested primarily in the form of opposition to the Al Sabah family within the National Assembly, have produced repeated dissolutions of the National Assembly and new elections. The latest suspension occurred on June 16, 2013 and triggered new elections to be held on July 27, 2013. Perhaps accelerated by the uprisings in several Arab countries since early 2011, the disputes in Kuwait have also expanded beyond the Assembly to the general population. Public protests expanded significantly in late 2012 to challenge the Sabah regime’s unilateral alteration of election rules to shape the December 1, 2012 elections to its advantage. Most oppositionists boycotted the December 1 elections, lowering the turnout but producing an overwhelmingly pro- government Assembly. The demonstrations sometimes have been suspended after compromises with the government.

Yet, the ruling establishment in Kuwait retains substantial assets that will likely prevent major political change. Kuwait remains a relatively wealth y society where most citizens do not want to risk their economic well-being to try to bring about the downfall of Al Sabah rule through violence. Reflecting that sentiment, the opposition largely confines its demands to limiting Sabah power rather than ending the family’s rule. To contain unrest, the government is able to use financial largesse—budgets loaded with subsidies and salary increases—as well as some repressive measures, including beatings and imprisonments. But, the many years of political paralysis have led to some economic stagnation as well, because parliamentary approval for several major investment projects has been held up due to the infighting. The lack of economic vibrancy led to strikes in several economic sectors in 2012.

On other regional issues, in part because of its leadership turmoil, Kuwait tends to defer to consensus positions within the Gulf Cooperation Council. This deference is evident in Kuwait’s stances on the Israel-Palestinian dispute as well as on the uprisings in Yemen and Syria. Kuwait has largely confined its support for the armed rebellion in Syria to financial aid. On the uprising in Bahrain, in March 2011, Kuwait joined a Gulf Cooperation Council intervention on the side of the government, but unlike Saudi Arabia and UAE, Kuwait sent naval and not ground forces.

Country Analysis Brief: Kuwait

July 8, 2013 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Kuwait
Source: Energy Information Administration

As a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Kuwait is the world’s 10th largest oil producer in 2012. Despite being the second smallest land area among the OPEC member countries, Kuwait exports the third largest volume of oil. Kuwait’s economy is heavily dependent on petroleum export revenues, accounting for nearly half of its gross domestic product and nearly 70 percent of export revenues. EIA estimates these revenues were 75 billion dollars in 2012. Kuwait should remain one of the world’s top oil producers as the country pushes towards a target of 4 million barrels per day (bbl/d) of production capacity by 2020.

In an effort to diversify its oil-heavy economy, Kuwait has expanded efforts to explore its non-associated natural gas fields, which remain a small portion of its natural gas production. Gas exploration leads to greater production of gas to provide feedstock for its struggling electricity sector which frequently overloads in peak times.

Energy policy is set by the Supreme Petroleum Council, overseen by the Ministry of Petroleum, and executed by The Kuwait Petroleum Corporation and its various subsidiaries. In addition, Kuwait has an active sovereign-wealth fund, the Kuwait Investment Authority, which oversees all state expenditures and international investments. Despite, Kuwait’s constitutional ban on foreign ownership of its resources, the government has taken measures to increase foreign participation in the oil and gas sectors. Kuwait is a constitutional emirate led by the Emir of Kuwait, a hereditary seat led by the Al-Sabah family. The Prime Minister and his deputy and council of ministers are approved by the Emir.

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