U.S. sidelined from Gulf turmoil

Crucial allies in region stifle fight for freedom

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Al-Islah says it seeks only a wider public voice in the country’s affairs — but even that is considered dangerous territory in a nation that allows no political parties and swiftly squelches any signs of public protests.

Dubai’s police chief, Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim, warned in September of an “international plot” to overthrow the governments of Gulf Arab countries by Islamist factions inspired by the rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

“The Muslim Brotherhood does not believe in the nation state,” UAE Foreign Minister Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said last month. “It does not believe in the sovereignty of the state.”

The claim was made just weeks after UAE President Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan offered an invitation to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to visit Abu Dhabi.

Suspicions about the Muslim Brotherhood run so deep that the Gulf Cooperation Council — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE — are expected to make it a main topic of talks when leaders meet next month.

By that time, however, Kuwait will have held its next election for parliament, by far the most politically powerful legislature of the Gulf Arab states.

Opposition groups, led by Islamists and backers from Kuwait’s powerful tribes, have two main paths ahead: either seek to reclaim control of the chamber, or boycott the voting in protest of the tightening crackdowns.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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