This is the final instalment of Sam Pryde’s observations and insight into the Middle East, gained whilst on his recent tour of the region. Enjoy.
This fascinating country was violated and destroyed by the conquering armies of Saddam Hussein in 1991. Our failure to achieve a complete victory over Saddam Hussein (i.e. remove him), left the Kuwaitis in perpetual fear that they will be attacked again, therefore they have not undergone any serious attempts at reconstruction.
After the removal of Saddam in 2003 and a recent calming of the internal situation in Iraq, Kuwait as finally gained the confidence to rebuild. This has been much helped by the transition to democracy, with parliamentary elections taking place later this year. No longer living with the fear of Saddam’s aggression Kuwaitis are free to participate in a political system, which benefits everyone. The only drawback to their political system however, is that they operate that senseless system of proportional representation which has led to a high turnover rate of governments, and has rendered decisions on construction impossible without first going through a long and painful consultative process.
Kuwaiti traders have also benefited greatly from the improved situation in southern Iraq, where the people are rebuilding and accumulating. British companies need to start taking advantage of their privileged position within the Iraqi market before it becomes saturated.
I only visited a relatively small number of the countries, in a region, which is perhaps geo-strategically the most significant to us. It is therefore directly within our interest to prevent one single country from dominating that region. The removal of Saddam Hussein liquidated one threat to regional stability, Iran now poses the main threat, and if they go nuclear the entire region could be destabilised. The Iranian regime is guided by the evil ideology of Islamic fundamentalism, an ideology whose followers have killed more Muslims than they have westerners. The most obvious and direct counter-ideology to this is Liberal democracy. Iran’s neighbour Iraq (despite Iranian efforts to destabilise it) is fast becoming a beacon of hope for democrats in the Middle East, and must surely provide encouragement for the many moderates who live inside Iran. This can only provide demonstration that a society where all interests are represented generally produces the most logical outcomes.
Democracy in my view is the best way to secure our interests in the Middle East. The notion that the Arabs don’t want or cannot handle democracy, I find to be profoundly racist. This is about universal human dignity, not cultural differences. Our policy in the Middle East should be, in the words of that great defender of freedom George W. Bush, “to fight for a balance of power that favours freedom.”