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The third major event in Kuwait this year, the June 29 parliamentary elections, garnered international coverage—until it was pushed out of the news, first by the crisis in Gaza and then by the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.The second major development barely registered on the world’s radar screen, although it was the reason why the elections took place a year ahead of schedule.Kicking off Kuwait’s amazing political year was the intricate double transition among three emirs that took place in January.Ruling family quarrels the previous fall over the succession to the ailing emir, Jabir al-Ahmad, had been dampened, but they were not resolved.The emir himself was caught off guard when, in May, the long-running struggle to redraw districts suddenly attracted thousands of vociferous supporters to a broadly based movement spearheaded by young Kuwaitis.
Larger districts, the reformers believed, would render these shenanigans costlier and more difficult.
Scholastics can debate whether a tree falling in a forest makes a noise if no one is there to hear it.
Observers of Kuwait are more concerned about whether steps toward constitutional democracy will continue to proceed briskly without the perception that supporters of democracy abroad, as well as at home, are paying attention.
Fast on the heels of two remarkable developments in the slow democratization of the emirate, a convulsion gripped another part of the Middle East, crowding Kuwait out of the news. Serious news about Kuwait rarely penetrates far beyond the region in the best of times.
When the story is about democratization rather than invasion or terrorism, even the most encouraging of news can evaporate without a trace.