Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

“Kuwait Will Work it Out”

Some ambassadors, in my humble opinion, are just weenies. They go to all the dinners, they shake hands with important people, they mouth polite phrases and the party line, and some barely connect with the country where they are assigned. No one can accuse the current American ambassador to Kuwait, Deborah Jones, of being a weenie. This woman is a lion. And you get the feeling she loves what she is doing, and that she is truly connected with issues and activities in Kuwait.

”Kuwait will work it out”, stresses U.S. ambassador

Dina AlـMallak
Al Watan; you can read the entire article by clicking on the blue type, here.

KUWAIT: “Kuwaiti people are wellـeducated and know themselves well enough …. They don”t need someone coming from outside to fix their machine. We look forward to the lively debate that is to come,” said U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait Deborah Jones on Wednesday.

In a roundtable open discussion with a group of journalists from the Kuwaiti media, U.S. Ambassador Jones underscored the U.S. relations and aims locally and in the region. She also discussed such topics as the local elections, President Barrack Obama”s goals, and the Kuwaiti detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Excerpts:

How does the U.S. administration view the recent political developments in Kuwait?

Jones: Obviously Kuwait is a sovereign country; we take that word, “sovereign,” very seriously. Kuwait is not one of the 50 states. On the other hand, I don”t think that it is a big secret in the world that the United States is a big believer in democracy ـ representative democracy ـ and participatory governance.

The best way to ensure peaceful transition and growth, as countries grow, because governments are organic and we think that democracy ـ representative democracy ـ is what helps countries to grow and develop, and avoid violent transitional episodes.

We have always supported Kuwait”s democratic traditions, which we believe are deeply embedded in your diwaniya tradition and others, such as participatory governance. We describe the process here as being vibrant and a little bit complicated. We support that, given the alternatives. Politics is about building capacity and ensuring that there is growth and access to resources.

When political gridlock leads to stagnation, no one benefits of course. So, democracy is about a couple of things ـ it”s about representative government. It”s also about respectful rule of law and respect for institutions.

We feel pretty confident that Kuwaitis are going to work (it) out. There is a lively debate and you all have an important role to play as a free press, in responsibly reporting on what you hear, and contributing to that democratic dialogue, which is often noisy. I was going to use the word cacophony, which means a clash of sounds. We are used to this in the United States; we are used to having a lot of noise that comes when the various branches of government interact.

You can read the entire article HERE

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April 16, 2009 - Posted by | Adventure, Bureaucracy, Character, Community, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Leadership, Political Issues

14 Comments »

  1. she’s having a good time. let it be.

    Comment by error | April 16, 2009 | Reply

  2. I love Deborah Jones, she is connected with Kuwaiti society, she visits tribal leaders and Islamic conservatives and Liberals. she is breaking barriers for Kuwaitis themselves. I hope she stays longer we need strong women in this part of the world.

    Comment by AMD | April 16, 2009 | Reply

  3. She is a great Ambassador, I have met her several times and she is astute, charming, well informed and a very hard worker. She’s a credit to her profession and a great catalyst for fine tuning and reforming the close relationship between the US and Kuwait.

    Comment by hilaliya | April 16, 2009 | Reply

  4. Well the cacophony of the U.S is quite very different from that of Kuwait.

    Democratic dialogue !! .. ??

    I am not being a pessimist here, but, lets get factual, rather than to sugar coat democracy.

    ~ Soul

    Comment by Soul | April 16, 2009 | Reply

  5. I agree, Error. She seems to love what she is doing, and she does it well.

    AMD – She’s amazing, isn’t she?

    Amer – WOW!

    Soul – I know you are an idealist. Democracy is an ideal – that people are created with equal right and every voice should be heard. Sometimes it gets a little noisy, and sometimes the bullies take over the classroom. Every country develops a different model, and goes through endless struggles trying to make it work. I would suggest that part of it’s attractiveness is that none of us have gotten it right yet, that democracies develop and change over time. Jones picked out a key democratic trait – the diwaniyya, the consultative nature of dialogue in this part of the world, as a piece of what will uniquely structure democracy in Kuwait.

    Comment by intlxpatr | April 17, 2009 | Reply

  6. Assumptions are bad, Intlxpatr.

    I agree with the part of diwaniyas playing an important part in structuring democracy.

    Has Kuwait’s democracy been successfully legislated to avoid an uneven distribution of political power ?

    I guess the balance always weighs heavy on one side.

    1963 – 1967 8 members resign in protests.
    1967 – 1971 Vote rigging by Government – 7 members refuse seat in protest.
    1971 – 1975
    1975 – 1976 Dissolved
    1981 – 1986 Districts modified from 10 to 25
    1985 – 1986 Dissolved
    1992 – 1996
    1996 – 1999 Dissolved
    1999 – 2003
    2003 – 2006 Dissolved
    2006 – 2008 Dissolved
    (Courtesy – http://www.hilaliya.com/2009/03/democracy-has-failed-in-kuwait.html)

    Now we know which side the needle turns to.. don’t we?

    ~ Soul

    Comment by Soul | April 17, 2009 | Reply

  7. Soul – I believe democracy evolves. If you know the American model of democracy, if you have read our history, you will know what I mean when I say it is a constant struggle, and every citizen has to be both responsible and vigilant – not just that his/her own rights are protected, but that the rights of the minorities, even criminals, are protected. It is an ongoing struggle. We have had our own scoundrels, and to this day, we have those who see conspiracies.

    I think what Jones is saying is that Kuwait will work out something that is right for Kuwait. Honestly, we are still working on it after over 200 years; we still haven’t got it right.

    For example, recently the Patriot Act created some major threats to our constitutional rights and protections. The struggle goes on.

    Kuwait has an important right – the right to talk about things, to debate issues with some openness. This election offers another opportunity to put the national priorities out there for debate.

    Comment by intlxpatr | April 17, 2009 | Reply

  8. Soul
    Don’t forget Kuwait first experience with Democracy was in 1756 when the people of Kuwait chose Sabah the first to rule Kuwait unlike the rest of the Gulf were the ruling family ruled by the sword. the second experience was in 1921 with a municipal elections, and 1936.
    our democracy is not perfect but at least we have the most vocal and free media in the Arab world and we have the highest literacy rate in the Arab world. I think it’s an accomplishment since we’re surrounded by dictatorships. Every democracy evolved during time and didn’t start being perfect.

    Comment by AMD | April 17, 2009 | Reply

  9. LOL, AMD, I am agreeing with you, and none of us have it perfect. I think it is an unending process, and, God willing, we get better at it.

    Comment by intlxpatr | April 17, 2009 | Reply

  10. Intlxpatr – Yes, democracy evolves, respecting the institutions and rules of the law.. protecting the rights of everyone.

    With the assembly being dissolved 3 times in 9 years, 4 governments stepping down and 5 forming in 3 years is quite a blow on Kuwait’s experiment of Democracy.

    The government that resigned in 2008, singled out 3 reasons for the current state of matters..

    1. he deteriorating level of dialogue,
    2. the arbitrary use of constitutional tools, and
    3. the inability of the government to work with the National Assembly in the current atmosphere.

    There is a new saying in the air.. “Kuwait is the past, Dubai is the present and Qatar is the future”

    If there is any hope to the democracy experiment, then there should be some serious considerations of the mechanisms which determine current affairs.

    AMD – I am still wondering how far we could go on this experiment without proper mechanisms to channelize growth in the first place.

    Yeah, I still got hope in the Government and The Emir.

    ~ Soul

    Comment by Soul | April 17, 2009 | Reply

  11. Your Emir is a brave and courageous man, steering the ship of state in these turbulent times. It would be so EASY to be a benevolent dictator. He has chosen the harder path, sharing power. It isn’t easy. Every citizen needs to support him and to support candidates who understand his vision – a consultative democracy, using Kuwait traditions. I think he wants a uniquely Kuwait model of democracy, and I applaud him! 🙂

    Comment by intlxpatr | April 18, 2009 | Reply

  12. […] Here There And Everywhere’s Intlxpatr praises the role of the current US ambassador to Kuwait Deborah Jones in her post “Kuwait Will […]

    Pingback by Global Voices Online » Kuwait: Election rhetoric, arrests and the whole shebang | April 19, 2009 | Reply

  13. Democracy in Kuwait is democracy of the mob. Man, am I glad we don’t have full fledged western-like democracy here! The day we have FULL democracy in Kuwait is the day I’m packing my stuff and getting the hell outta here.

    Just a quick look at our beloved parliament history and composition shall reveal the reason for my justified panic. Already, the NON-ELECTED government stopped the parliament on several occasions from turning us into a 14th century theocracy just like our southern neighbor. Not to mention the plethora of laws to RESTRICT freedom of speech, to LIMIT our rights, and to introduce religious police (aka Big Brother) to watch everything we do, again just like our neighbor to the south!

    The government had to PRESSURE the parliament to pass women suffrage rights! It was forced down their throats as the parliament rejected it before. I’m Kuwaiti but I truly feel alien in my own society, who the hell are those people?!

    Comment by knro | April 25, 2009 | Reply

  14. I agree, knro.

    Comment by intlxpatr | April 25, 2009 | Reply


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