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May 16, 2005
Kuwait Suffrage A Reality

One of the complaints about our choice of allies in the War on Terror reflected on Kuwait's restrictive political environment, especially towards women. This was especially true after American troops led the way for a UN coalition to liberate Kuwait from Saddam's invasion in 1991, but that criticism got revived recently with the current Bush administration's focus on democratization. Now that issue can be put to rest, as Kuwaiti women have finally been granted complete political rights in the conservative Arabic country:

Kuwaiti lawmakers approved political rights for women Monday, clearing the way for females to participate in parliamentary elections for the first time in the Gulf nation's history. ...

The nation's Cabinet asked for the vote Monday in a surprise move after a number of attempts had been stymied by fundamentalist lawmakers. The bill was approved 35-23 with one abstention and immediately became law.

Scores of women activists in the gallery immediately rose to their feet in applause, with some ululating and others singing the national anthem.

"I am overexcited. I can't believe this," said activist Rola Dashti, who said she would run in the next parliamentary election. "I'm starting my campaign as of today."

Islamists only amended the bill to ensure that Islamic law is followed, with the possible effect of creating a requirement for separate polling stations by gender. Otherwise, women now can run for Parliament and vote on the same basis as men in Kuwait -- a belated but welcome development for a staunch American ally in the Gulf, and a significant victory for the Bush administration.

This leaves Saudi Arabia as the only Arabic nation with elections on any level that excludes women by law. However, the Saudis just held their first election ever this year at the municipal level, and one might expect that repetition will eventually force a change of direction in the Kingdom as well. The Saudis are more staunchly Wahhabist, of course, which will mean that they will resist that change more than the Kuwaitis. Don't expect the Bush Administration to remain silent in the face of that resistance, especially with Condoleezza Rice as the chief officer of our foreign policy.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 16, 2005 12:12 PM

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Last week, the rights of Kuwaiti women were dealt a significant blow when the all-male parliament stalled a vote to allow women to vote and run for office in that country's upcoming elections. Now, however, Kuwaiti women's suffrage is a... [Read More]

Tracked on May 16, 2005 11:42 PM

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