Kuwaiti Parliament Stormed, Emir Orders Calm Restored

Kuwait's ruler tells security forces to restore order after parliment was stormed by protesters -- opposition vows revenge if demands unmet.

Gabe Kahn.,

Sheik al-Sabah
Sheik al-Sabah
White House Photo

Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, the emir -- or ruler -- of Kuwait, ordered security forces on Thursday to take all necessary steps to safeguard public order. His order came just one day after hundreds of protesters stormed parliment demanding the prime minister resign.

"His Highness (the emir) ordered the Interior Ministry and the National Guard to take all measures and preparations needed to confront all that affects the security of the country and the requirements for maintaining public order," the state's KUNA news agency reported.
Kuwait, a key regional U.S. ally and one of the world's main oil exporters, has largely escaped the so-called Arab Spring unrest that ended in the overthrow of the presidents of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
However, Wednesday's protest has been taken as a sign of extreme discontent. Footage showed protesters, including some opposition members of parliament, smashing down the gate of the building and overpowering security guards.
"The people want to bring down the head (of government)," the crowds chanted, recalling the cries of thousands of Egyptian demonstrators early this year demanding Hosni Mubarak's ouster.
The protesters are demanding the government headed by Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah, an influential member of the ruling family, to be sacked. They accuse him of corruption, which he denies.
Wednesday's protest came the day after the government and parliament, in an unprecedented move, voted against a request by some lawmakers to question Sheikh Nasser in the assembly.
"We are now waiting for the dissolution of government and the parliament. Until this happens, Wednesday was only the first step among many. We don't fear anything except God," said opposition lawmaker Musallam al-Barak.
"This is our assembly and the people's assembly, not the assembly of those who use it to protect their interests. When the constitution is violated, the people will take revenge."