The Saudi-backed Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Internal Security Pact signed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait is now in full swing. It has truly ushered a new era of Pax Saudiana across the Gulf. The agreement was proposed in 1982 but remained under discussion until all GCC countries accepted its terms. The last country to ratify the pact was Kuwait. Ironically, the first casualties of this controversial agreement that took almost three decades to be ratified are Kuwaiti activists. Since January, at least three Kuwaiti opposition figures, social media activists and heads of political movements have been detained at the request of the Saudi authorities. Meant to enhance security for economic development and stability of GCC countries, the pact has now tuned into creating cross-border controls, evacuating the Arab Gulf of dissent and eliminating safe havens for dissidents of one country in another one.
The first casualty was Hakim al-Mutairi, an Islamist graduate in religious studies at Birmingham University and founder of the Umma Party in 2008, a Salafist transnational movement seeking political change by elections. His party aspires to create a Muslim society, implement Sharia and free the Gulf from the presence of foreign troops. Although the party remained unlicensed in Kuwait, it was tolerated up to a certain extent. In several books, Mutairi — who belongs to a large tribe in both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait — critically scrutinized the texts of Saudi Salafists, reprimanding them for rejecting elections and pluralism. He warned in "Liberty or Deluge," one of his most popular books, of the perils of the subjugation of religion by kings and princes, restrictions on freedoms and criminalization of opposition. In another book, he offered a reinterpretation of Gulf history, depicting the kingdom and emirates as foreign creations serving the interests of an ongoing colonialism. He described Gulf citizens as “slaves without chains.”