Kuwait, (P)GCC Signal Regional Arab Challenges

Kuwait, (P)GCC Signal Regional Arab ChallengesKuwait, (P)GCC Signal Regional Arab Challenges

The good news from Kuwait this week is that security forces busted a terror cell that had a massive cache of weapons and explosives hidden in a farm north of Kuwait City and arrested three Kuwaiti men accused of operating a terror cell.

The bad news is that such terror cells appear to have become more common phenomena in Kuwait and other Persian Gulf Arab states, Rami G. Khouri wrote for Agence Global.

The suicide bomb that killed and injured dozens of civilians in a mosque in Kuwait on June 26 was detonated by a Saudi young man; 29 people were arrested after that incident and Kuwaiti authorities seek the death penalty for 11 of them. Another four Kuwaiti nationals were arrested in late July who were allegedly linked to the Islamic State.

In Saudi Arabia, after a string of bombings killed dozens of Saudi civilians and security officers, authorities last month arrested 431 people, most of them Saudi nationals, again linked to the IS.

Why would some young men in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia engage in this kind of violence against innocent civilians in their own countries?  Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are wealthy societies that provide their citizens with basic needs in health, education, housing and employment, in most cases for little or no cost.

What is more, the perpetrators of such terror attacks do not seem to mirror the profiles of young men in mangled and stressed societies like Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Tunisia who see themselves and their families condemned to lifelong poverty, marginalization and pain.

The current wave of terror attacks and the people who carry them out seem to reflect a new set of conditions and mindsets, related heavily to the IS phenomenon that has secured very few but violent supporters in countries around the region, including in the Persian Gulf.

Having already plunged a dagger into the hearts of Arab states like Iraq and Syria, the new danger from groups like IS is that they are taking their savagery into the heart of Arab urban regions that historically were spared such terror attacks.

More troubling than the discovery of the cache of weaponry in Kuwait was the beheading of a kidnapped Croatian civilian in Egypt by the IS’ local affiliate, Sinai Province, that emerged from indigenous groups in northern Sinai that have become increasingly radicalized in recent years.

The kidnapping and beheading of this victim happened on the outskirts of Cairo. Should we expect soon to see IS kidnap Arabs or foreigners inside major towns or behead a captive in some big city square?

These remain for now isolated acts carried out by very small numbers of individuals whose personal or political torments drive them towards such deviant behavior. The danger is that this trend, however small, appears to continue spreading, despite the thousands of aerial attacks against IS in the past year in Syria, Iraq and the Egyptian Army’s security clampdowns in Sinai.

Unless we figure out the exact balance between political issues and personal troubles that explain the behavior of IS followers, we will probably have to live with this situation for many years.

Both the public politics and the personal psychology issues in the mind and world of an IS member can be addressed; but these must be clearly identified first and we still seem far away from that, as Cairo and Kuwait reminded us this week.