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Kuwait and other states must find ways to help the bidoon

Bidoon in Kuwait, and elsewhere, need a better deal, says a Kuwaiti writer. Other opinion topics: Geneva 2 is not very promising, and the Arab Spring is in a sad state.

In Kuwait and the Gulf, the thorny issue of the citizenship status of the stateless people known as the bidoon needs to be calmly and open-mindedly discussed and led to a happy solution before it is too late, Kuwaiti writer Mohammad Hussein Al Yusufi argued in yesterday’s edition of the UAE-based newspaper Al Bayan.

A year ago, a recent medical graduate, the son of a Lebanese father and a Kuwaiti mother, was murdered. The crime took place in The Avenues, the largest shopping mall in Kuwait. A squabble over parking spots, between the victim and the killer, led to the crime. The killer was one of those labelled bidoon, from the Arabic phrase bidoon jinsiyah, meaning “without nationally”.

Less than a month ago, another tragedy occurred in Marina Mall, also in Kuwait. A bidoon stabbed a young Kuwaiti man to death, following a fight right in front of shoppers.

Then, last week, came the most outrageous of these crimes: a deadly knife fight between a father and son, at a “bidoon house”, left the father stabbed to death.

“Three killings in one year, perpetrated by young men who had no hope for a decent life because they had no citizenship,” the writer noted, adding that such young men usually suffer social problems in their homes; they often blame their parents for being stateless.

The stateless people in the Gulf often struggle to scrape a living; they are usually rejected despite their efforts to land a job.

Many are ashamed of their identities as bidoon, which they hide as best they can. Their pride is broken as they see their parents seeking help from charities.

A week ago, the Kuwaiti interior ministry warned the bidoon against taking to the streets after Friday prayers. At times last year some bidoon, especially the young, staged demonstrations demanding a solution to their problem.

“We are faced with a rebel generation of bidoon youth; we are facing a more-than-40 year-long phenomenon without a real solution,” the writer commented.

Kuwait is suffering a serious predicament over the bidoon, and so do all the Arabian Peninsula states, to varying degrees. Hence the need to find a suitable way to end this crisis for good. Arab nations must understand that stalling will only worsen the situation, as has happened in Kuwait where the bidoon now number 120,000.

Humanitarian solutions must be considered for those who don’t exactly meet citizenship requirements, because they are not alien to our societies, given their long-time residence, integration and ties of kinship, with GCC nationals.

Therefore the issue of stateless people in the region must urgently be brought into public debate, with a view to reaching a final settlement.

Geneva 2 meeting may not even happen

The so-called Geneva 2 conference planned for next month, to seek a peaceful settlement to the Syrian conflict, faces so many obstacles that it probably will not be held in November, or any time soon, the Sharjah-based newspaper Al Khaleej said in an editorial.

The US and Russia agreed to convene the conference to forge a political solution to the bloody crisis in Syria, after military intervention was ruled out. Still, developments on the ground and the conflicting stances of local and regional players have been stumbling blocks.

The Syrian regime cannot reject the Russian stance in support of the peace talks, considering that opposition hardline militant groups – namely Jabhat Al Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – are refusing to take part in the conference.

Other opposition groups, including the National Coalition and the Syrian National Council, are not enthusiastic about taking part in the meeting. Division is possible: some of them may agree to go to the conference, but certain parties are against negotiations, on principle.

Moreover, the opposition’s backers do not see that the situation now is suitable for convening the meeting, especially that the balance of power on the ground has not been shifted in their favour.

They are also apprehensive of a US-Russian deal at their expense, the paper noted.

Arabs should worry about their Spring

If Libya slides deeper into unrest, if the national dialogue fails to fulfil Yemenis’ aspirations, if Tunisia fails to make its transition – as the opposition keeps seeking to mimic what happened in Egypt – and if Syria plunges into more bloodshed, then Arabs should kiss their Spring goodbye, Mustafa Alloush wrote in the Doha-based newspaper Al Sharq.

The Arab Spring has been under fire at home and abroad, with its enemies calling it instead an Arab Autumn, Bloody Spring, Islamist Winter, Neocolonialism, a New Sykes–Picot Agreement, and so on, the writer said.

The danger the Arab Spring is facing lies in a media blitz to defame it and prevent any real revolution that could improve the future for coming generations, according to the writer.

Unfortunately, these “Spring-haters” are buoyed by the setbacks in Arab Spring countries. Observers are still taken aback by the overthrow of an elected president by Egypt’s military, which will most likely now hold power for decades to come.

The mayhem in Syria, wreaking havoc on the country’s institutions and social fabric, is appalling. Libya is still in turmoil and its prime minister was recently kidnapped by gunmen. Tunisia is still struggling with its transition. Indeed, Arabs should worry about their Spring.

* Digest compiled by Abdelhafid Ezzouitni

AEzzouitni@thenational.ae

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