2003 July 20 Sunday
Kuwait Split Between Islamists, Tribalists, Modernists

Amir Taheri reports on an interesting twist in Arab politics: the rise of tribalism in Kuwaiti politics is in opposition to both the modernizers and the Islamists.

The Islamists, having at first encouraged Bedouinisation as part of a broader strategy to prevent Kuwait's Westernisation, now regard the tribes as a potentially dangerous enemy for themselves. After all, Islam, is the first great religion born in a city and opposed to the Jahiliyah (ignorance) of the desert in its time.

"What matters to these guys is their tribe," says an Islamist intellectual. "They regard Islam as just a small part of their Bedouin lore and certainly would not want an Islamic system in which there are no tribes or even nations, only the broader Muslim Ummah."

Taheri says that the ruling elites see tribalism as a useful non-democratic non-Western counterweight to Islamism. Tribalism poses less of a threat to the elites than either the Islamists or the democratizing modernists.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 July 20 10:30 AM  Civilizations Clash Of


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