Kuwait

Early history

  • Kuwait is a country in the Arabian Peninsula, surrounding the Gulf of Kuwait at the head of the Persian Gulf. 
  • In 1521, Kuwait was under Portuguese control in the late 16th century, the Portuguese built a defensive settlement in Kuwait.
  • In 1613, the town of Kuwait was founded in modern-day Kuwait City. Administratively, it was a sheikhdom, ruled by local sheikhs
  • In 1716, the Bani  Utub settled in Kuwait, which at this time was inhabited by a few fishermen and primarily functioned as a fishing village in the eighteenth century, Kuwait prospered and rapidly became the principal commercial center for the transit of goods between India, Muscat, Baghdad and Arabia. 
  • By the mid 1700s, Kuwait had already established itself as the major trading route from the Persian Gulf to Aleppo.
  • During the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, vessels made in Kuwait carried the bulk of trade between the ports of India, East Africa and the Red Sea.
  • Kuwaiti ships were renowned throughout the Indian Ocean. Regional geopolitical turbulence helped foster economic prosperity in Kuwait in the second half of the 18th century Perhaps the biggest catalyst for much of Kuwait becoming prosperous was due to Basra’s instability in the late 18th century.
  • In the late 18th century, Kuwait partly functioned as a haven for Basra’s merchants, who were fleeing Ottoman government persecution Kuwaitis developed a reputation as the best sailors in the Persian Gulf.

      Modern Era

        1.Golden Era(1946–82).

  • With the end of the world war, and increasing need for oil across the world, Kuwait experienced a period of prosperity driven by oil and its liberal atmosphere.
  • The period of 1946-82 is often termed “the golden period of Kuwait” by western academics. In popular discourse, the years between 1946 and 1982 are referred to as the “Golden Era”. 
  • However, Kuwaiti academics argue that this period was marked by benefits accruing only to the wealthier and connected ruling classes. It saw an increased presence of British, American and French citizens connected with the new oil industry, wealth transfer to people connected with the Emir, the creation of a new privileged upper class of educated Kuwaitis, bankers, and a vast majority of Kuwaitis living a life of penury.
  • This resulted in a growing gulf between the wealthy minority and the majority of common citizens in 1950, a major public-work programme began to enable Kuwaitis to enjoy a modern standard of living.
  • By 1952, the country became the largest oil exporter in the Persian Gulf region. This massive growth attracted many foreign workers, especially from Palestine, India, and Egypt – with the latter being particularly political within the context of the Arab Cold War In June 1961, Kuwait became independent with the end of the British protectorate and the Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah became Emir of Kuwait.
  • Kuwait’s national day, however, is celebrated on 25 February, the anniversary of the coronation of Sheikh Abdullah (it was originally celebrated on 19 June, the date of independence, but concerns over the summer heat caused the government to move it )Under the terms of the newly drafted Constitution, Kuwait held its first parliamentary elections in 1963. Kuwait was the first of the Arab states of the Persian Gulf to establish a constitution and parliament.
  • In the 1960s and 1970s, Kuwait’s press was described as one of the freest in the world. Kuwait was the pioneer in the literary renaissance in the Arab region. In 1958, Al-Arabi magazine was first published.
  • The magazine went on to become the most popular magazine in the Arab world. Many Arab writers moved to Kuwait because they enjoyed greater freedom of expression than elsewhere in the Arab world. The Iraqi poet Ahmed Matar left Iraq in the 1970s to take refuge in the more liberal environment of Kuwait.
  • Kuwaiti society embraced liberal and Western attitudes throughout the 1960s and 1970s
  • For example, most Kuwaiti women did not wear the hijab in the 1960s and 70s.

     2. 1982–89

  • In the early 1980s, Kuwait experienced a major economic crisis after the Souk Al-Manish stock market crash and decrease in oil price.
  • During the Iran–Iraq War, Kuwait supported Iraq. Throughout the 1980s, there were several terror attacks in Kuwait, including the 1983 Kuwait bombings, hijacking of several Kuwait Airways planes and attempted assassination of Emir Jaber in 1985. Kuwait was a regional hub of science and technology in the 1960s and 1970s up until the early 1980s the scientific research sector significantly suffered due to the terror attacks.
  • After the Iran–Iraq War ended, Kuwait declined an Iraqi request to forgive its US$65 billion debt. An economic rivalry between the two countries ensued after Kuwait increased its oil production by 40 percent. Tensions between the two countries increased further in July 1990, after Iraq complained to OPEC claiming that Kuwait was stealing its oil from a field near the border by slant drilling of the Rumaila  field.

      3.Gulf War (1990–91)

  • The invasion of Kuwait and annexation by Iraq took place on 2 August 1990. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s primary justifications included a charge that Kuwaiti territory was in fact an Iraqi province, and that annexation was retaliation for “economic warfare” Kuwait had waged through slant drilling into Iraq’s oil supplies. However, the initial casus belli was claimed to be support for a Kuwaiti rebellion. An Iraqi-backed puppet leader named Alaa Hussein Ali was installed as head of the “Provisional Government of Free Kuwait.” Iraq annexed Kuwait on 8 August.
  • The war was traumatic to the Kuwaiti population. The underground resistance was punished by summary executions and torture. Almost all Kuwaitis at the time lost some family member. In addition, half the population, both native and foreign-born fled.
  • A Palestinian exodus from Kuwait took place during and after the Gulf War. During the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait 200,000 Palestinians voluntarily fled Kuwait due to various reasons (fear or persecution, food shortages, medical care difficulties, financial shortages, fear of arrest and mistreatment at roadblocks by Iraqis). After the Gulf War in 1991, nearly 200,000 Palestinians fled Kuwait, partly due to economic burdens, regulations on residence and fear of abuse by Kuwaiti security forces.
  • Prior to the Gulf War, Palestinians numbered 400,000 of Kuwait’s population of 2.2 million. The Palestinians who fled Kuwait were Jordanian citizens. In 2012, 80,000 Palestinians resided in Kuwait.

After Gulf War (1992–present)

  • In March 2003, Kuwait became the springboard for the US-led invasion of Iraq. Upon the death of the Emir Jaber, in January 2006, Saad Al-Sabah succeeded him but was removed nine days later by the Kuwaiti parliament due to his ailing health. Sabah Al-Sabah was sworn in as Emir.
  • In 2011 and 2012, there were protests. The parliament was dissolved in December 2011 due to protests against the parliament. The prime minister stepped down following protests.

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Reference.

  • Ahmad Mustafa Abu Hakima, The Modern History of Kuwait:- 1750-1965, Luzac & company,1983.
  • Al-Sabah .M.Souad, The Transformation of Kuwait, I.B.Tauris,2015

Middle East

Key: Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, Middle East, Roman, Abdullah, Martial law

Jordan-Palestine , Six-Day War, West Bank to Israel, King Hussein  ,Palestine Liberation Organization  ,Yasser Arafat., Black September,, United States, Jordan River Crossing near Beit She’an. , Turkey, Syrian Civil War