Kuwait is an Arab constitutional monarchy located in southwest Asia in the northeastern area of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered to the south by Saudi Arabia and to the north by the former nation of Iraq. The northwestern coast of the nation abuts the Persian Gulf. Prior to Doomsday, Kuwait was a major oil producing nation with the fifth largest oil reserves in the world. Since 1990, Kuwait has been a member of the Gulf States Union (GSU).
Originally founded in 1705, Kuwait emerged as a significant stop of the regional trading routes. Because of increasing pressure by the Ottoman Empire seeking to re-impose its will on the region, Kuwait invited Great Britain into their country in the 1890s. This led to a treaty in 1899, which effectively brought the nation under British control. In 1913, the Ottomans and British agreed to grant Kuwait the status of an autonomous region in that its rulers were in essence governors serving on behalf of the Ottomans. With the end of World War I, the British repudiated this agreement in 1920. In June 1961, Kuwait became fully independent of Britain.
Prior to Doomsday, Kuwait had been in the midst of an escalating economic crisis caused by several factors. The previous year, the Souk Al-Manakh, the nation’s unofficial stock market, had crashed triggering a recession throughout the region and had left all but one bank insolvent. Additionally, revenue from petroleum sales had decreased as a result of a decline by the worldwide oil market caused by reduced demand and an oil glut.
Kuwait was not directly impacted as a result of Doomsday. However, it did receive some fallout carried by winds from strikes in the USSR, Syria and Turkey.
Kuwait, like all nations of the Arabian Peninsula, was hit economically hard by Doomsday, especially in that it followed the ongoing economic crisis which had begun the previous year. The one good aspect of this however, was the oil industry had already been slowing down and in turn had helped to reduce the expenditures of the government. Kuwait’s biggest immediate concern was assuring enough food existed for its population. The government instituted a crash program of hydroponics to grow food and increased its commercial fishing. Additionally, it was able to turn to its fellow GCC states for assistance However, Kuwait experienced its share of internal problems, especially over foreign workers. At the time, the population of the nation was approximately 41% Kuwaiti and 58% foreign. As a result, when some Kuwaitis lost jobs because of economic problems, it triggered scattered violence and some calls to expel outside workers. This was confined mainly to capital of Kuwait City and never reached the level as it did in other nations.
Iranian Backed Terrorism
In 1984, Iranian backed radical Islamic Shia terrorists unleashed a series of attacks on the government in an attempt to topple it. Since Ayatollah Khomeini and his followers had seized Iran in 1979 and installed an Islamic theocracy, the stated goal of the Iranian government had been to export Islamic fundamentalism to other Persian Gulf nations. Kuwait in particular had become a target because of the extensive financial support it had provided to Iraq in its war against Iran. Islamic Jihad and the Islamic Daiwa Party terrorist groups, both supported by Iran, had planned to launch a series of attacks in December 1983, but as a result of Doomsday postponed them. In early 1984, Iran ordered the attacks to proceed and they were scheduled for February 6, 1984.
After a lengthy discussion, the terrorists revised the list of targets they had originally planned to hit. In the end, they selected sites which they felt would strike out at the government and its economy and raise fear among the population: The Kuwaiti Parliament Building; Kuwaiti International Airport; Central Bank of Kuwait; Shuaiba Petrochemical Plant; Electrical Control Center; Kuwaiti Towers; and the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation Headquarters. The attack on the parliament and the petrochemical plant would take the form of suicide attacks, while the others would be targeted by car and truck bombs.
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Prior to World War II, the Kuwaiti economy revolved around the pearling industry, shipping, spices, dates, and horses. Although oil exploration and the drilling of wells first began in the late 1930s, it would not be until the 1950s and 1960s that the true potential of the deposits would be realized. By the time the Kuwaiti government nationalized the oil industry in the mid-1970s; it had emerged as the most significant part of the overall economy and in turn had spurred a massive growth. As of September 1983, it accounted for some 41% of its GDP and nearly 80% of government revenues. Despite this, Kuwait was forced to import much of what it needed, especially food, given there was next to no arable land on which to grow. Its major trading partners were the US, Western Europe, and Japan. Although Kuwait had begun to diversify its economic base, it was still an ongoing process as of Doomsday.
The greatest impact of Doomsday on Kuwait would be economically. The international oil market collapsed and by 1984 oil prices had dropped to about $5 a barrel. The nations who constituted their major trading partners for both imports and exports had literally ceased to exist overnight. Additionally, Kuwait had begun to invest its revenue in overseas ventures beginning in the 1950s, such as property and businesses in the US, Western Europe, and later Japan. It is estimated at the time of Doomsday, the nation was receiving an annual return of some $5 billion with an investment in the US alone near $100 billion. With the war, this wealth evaporated to a large extent. With the slow stabilization of economic global markets since the 1990s, Kuwait has gradually sought out and re-established control over its remaining investments in untouched areas of the world, such as its 10% in Volkswagen do Brasil in Brazil.
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Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government.
The executive branch is lead by the emir, who under the constitution is the official head of state. A hereditary office, it has held by the Al-Sabah royal family since 1756. The current emir is Sabah IV Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Saba, who ascended to the throne in 2006 upon the death of his brother. Considered the ultimate authority in most matters of state, the emir's powers include the appointment of the prime minister, dissolving parliament, and appointment of military officers. Upon the death of the emir, the crown prince assumes the throne. The prime minister acts as head of the government, appointing a cabinet of fifteen ministers to assist him in operate key areas. The office of prime minister is always held by a member of royal family and prior to 2003 had always been the crown prince. Ultimately, bowing to public pressure, this practice was changed. The prime minister or any minister may be dismissed by the Assembly under certain circumstances.
The National Assembly, known as the Majlis al-Umma, consists of sixty-five members, fifty deputies elected every four years and the cabinet ministers. Although the emir is considered the ultimate authority on many matters, the constitution gives the assembly considerable power and it plays a major role in responding to concerns of the people and in analyzing and challenging government policies. Among the duties of the Assembly is the ability to initiate legislation and question government ministers. Additionally, it has the sole power to approve who is selected as the new crown prince.
Prior to Doomsday, Kuwait maintained a small armed force. However, with the uncertainty of the post war world and the crisis with Iraq in 1988-1989, the nation has actively sought to increase its armed forces. Since its weaponry was being supplied by the west, Kuwait has not been able to update its equipment much since 1983. However, it has been able to add weaponry belonging to the former Iraqi military captured during the occupation of parts of the former state since its collapse in the 1990s. The goal is to begin phasing out older equipment as newer models are manufactured by GSU armament factories. Currently, the total armed forces, army, navy, and air force, stands at 30,000 personnel.
The largest part of the armed forces, the Kuwait Army has risen from about 16,000 officers and enlisted men before Doomsday, to approximately 22,000 today. It consists of at least three armored brigades, which include Chieftain tanks and BMPS; one mechanized infantry brigade; and one artillery brigade with a regiment of self-propelled howitzers; and a surface-to-surface missile (SSM) battalion.
The Kuwait Navy operates out of its only base, Ras al-Qualayah. Prior to the war, the navy was involved in mostly coastal patrolling and maintained a force of about 1800. Given the increased duties of patrolling the Persian Gulf over the years it has increased it ranks to about 3,000.
The Kuwaiti Air Force consists of approximately 2,500 officers and enlisted personnel. The Air Force headquarters is located at Al Mubarak Air Base, with the remaining forces stationed at Air Defense Brigade, Ali Al Salem Air Base and Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base. It consists of at least eighty combat planes, mostly Mirage F1s and A-4 Skyhawaks, and more than forty helicopters, some fitted with anti-tank missiles. Ground based air defense systems are structured around the Hawk missile system and tied to the Saudi Arabia air defense system to receive data from USAF AWAC planes, now part of the regional defense system.
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