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The reconstruction of post-war Kuwait: a missed opportunity?

Barakat, Sultan and Skelton, John (2014) The reconstruction of post-war Kuwait: a missed opportunity? Kuwait Programme on Development, Governance and Globalisation in the Gulf States (37). The London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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The reconstruction of Kuwait, following its occupation by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1990, constitutes a significant though rarely studied episode of post-war recovery. On the eve of liberation in 1991, Kuwait faced a number of challenges including physical rehabilitation and reconstruction, political and constitutional issues, reconciling a deeply divided population and socio-economic recovery. The passing of more than twenty years since Kuwait’s liberation allows the paper to reflect, from a long-term perspective, on the decisions which were taken following liberation and how these have impacted the country’s subsequent political, social and economic trajectory. The timeliness of such an examination has been highlighted by the contemporary ongoing political crisis in Kuwait in the context of the Arab Spring, at the centre of which stands a widely perceived, long-standing deficit of the Al Sabah regime’s political legitimacy. The paper argues that had Kuwait’s reconstruction assumed a different shape, it is conceivable that the country would have experienced a profoundly different development trajectory over the following two decades. The authors contend that Kuwait’s contemporary political and socio-economic crises have their roots in a post-war reconstruction model which delivered substantial success in physical and rapid macro-economic recovery, but which did not fully realise opportunities to establish an accountable and trusted governance system, promote reconciliation and equality between divided groups, and encourage sustainable social and economic development. The paper argues that the opportunity to deliver long-term benefits was undermined by a non-holistic post-war vision dominated by notions of regime security which in turn necessitated renewed post-war business-as-usual authoritarianism, exclusionary nationalist policies and the recreation of the pre-war power-for-welfare political trade-off.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 The Authors
Divisions: Middle East Centre
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2014 15:28
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2021 00:30
Projects: The Kuwait Programme on Development, Governance and Globalisation in the Gulf States

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