Wednesday, July 08, 2015

EEK! Magazine Poll to Expats on the Bombing in Kuwait

I'm glad to see that EEK! Magazine is starting up again after a while out of service.  They sent a very interesting poll a few weeks ago after the suicide bombing at the Imam Sadiq Mosque in Kuwait.  I'm publishing my responses below:

1)   As an expat living in Kuwait, would you mind sending us your thoughts on Friday’s attack in GENERAL TERMS?

I cried.  I am incredibly sad for Kuwait; however I am proud of my second home for how fast they united and showed solidarity between religious sects.  All ONE Kuwait.

I think this event seems more personal because technology has changed and has brought something that might be 5-10-20 miles away from you into your living room.    I've been in Kuwait since 1996.  There have been security issues - big ones - during this time, but not bombings.  We didn't immediately receive information because, until recently, smart phones with apps like Twitter and Instagram weren't common.  Now, everyone has the technology, and you could be sitting in your home (or boat, or car, or at the beach)  watching events evolve.  You see the images instantly.  They're raw and uncensored.  You feel the emotions along with the person feeling them (like when I saw HH the Emir's face after witnessing the aftermath of the bombing).

2)   I more specific terms, could you comments briefly on the following statements:

 a)   I think this was a once-of event and will likely not happen again

This is not a one-off event.  Although it was carried out by a Saudi national, it was assisted by Kuwaiti stateless (Bidoon) people.  The Bidoon situation in Kuwait has been going on for several generations. It is a breeding ground for "deviant" ideology to come in and take root in the country (and I am not placing blame on the Bidoon population).  Young men are hopeless (many are without educations, jobs, a way to help their families, and are not able to marry because of their economic situation). Many are denied drivers licenses or passports.  When you lose hope, there is vulnerability.  Terrorist groups like ISIS (and others) have an open opportunity to offer a little hope through deviant religious beliefs and a sense of (displaced) "family"/community. Before this event, the Bidoon have been blamed for crime in the country.  This suicide bombing may be a turning point as now they are being trained in explosives and other means.   Unless the Bidoon issue is specifically addressed and a solution(s) is found, there will only be an increase in violence. I believe that the Government is aware of the potential threat;   If not, there would be no need to purchase urban warfare equipment, water cannons, rubber bullets, etc.

 b) Malls are targets and I will choose very carefully

This was true even before the recent events.  There is added security at the #1 most popular mall in Kuwait, but there is nothing in place to ensure that large bombs can't be brought into their underground parking lots.  Metal detectors aren't the answer, but sniffer detection dogs are and mall owners should start considering them as an option.  I try to avoid times when there are large amounts of people in the mall. It is never a good idea; from someone with a knife (or a bomb)  to someone with the flu - I don't need to be that close to anyone.

 c)   My concern is real and I feel uneasy

It is a real concern because now this recent attack has shown the vulnerability of security in Kuwait.  There are holes - just like there were prior to 9/11 in the States.  The age of innocence is gone.  

 d)   I will think twice now before attending places frequented by expats

I always think twice, but any time something terrible happens, it just deepens my caution.

 e)   I do not feel threatened by the attack at all, it can happen anywhere

It can happen anywhere, but in my almost 20-years in Kuwait, I've learned to be vigilant.  You have to be.  Don't wear your big American flag T-shirt, for example.  Know your surroundings.  Have a "plan B".  And for your own sake - make friends with Kuwaitis because in a real emergency, they may be the only people who can help you.

 f)   My family and I are so affected we are thinking of leaving Kuwait

I disagree with this statement.  My family here consists of 2 dogs, 1 parrot, and 5 goats,  We are all just fine here.

 g) Another attack like this and we will definitely leave the region

My mother is in her 80's.  I don't know if I want to put HER through the stress, but I feel fine about staying.  I love Kuwait and feel safe here overall.

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