Kuwait’s Cabinet resigned and its parliament was dissolved Sunday over a “lack of cooperation” among the tiny, oil-rich country’s branches of government, setting the stage for early elections.
Parliaments typically don’t serve out their full terms in the stalwart U.S. ally, but lawmakers elected in Kuwait’s last election in 2013 largely sided with the government as they served in the wake of Arab Spring protests and the rise of the Islamic State group.
The drop in global oil prices has squeezed this major OPEC member to the point of cutting back on the country’s many subsidies, stirring dissent.
Kuwait’s state-run television station and its news agency announced the Cabinet resignation and the parliament dissolving on Sunday afternoon, just a few hours after government officials held an emergency meeting.
In a decree, Kuwait’s ruling emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah said “given the circumstances in the region … and the security challenges” he had ordered the parliament dissolved. The statement did not elaborate.
Kuwait has faced the threat of militant attacks since the rise of the Islamic State group. An Islamic State-claimed suicide bombing in 2015 targeting a Shiite mosque in Kuwait City killed 27 people and wounded scores. On Oct. 8, an Egyptian driving a garbage truck loaded with explosives and Islamic State papers rammed into a truck carrying five U.S. soldiers in Kuwait, wounding only himself in the attack.
Earlier Kuwaiti news reports about the government dissolving focused entirely on economic issues. The price of oil has been halved from heights of over $100 a barrel in the summer of 2014. Government-subsidized gasoline prices have been raised and other benefits have been cut, leading to growing dissent.
Some Islamist and other opposition groups boycotted the last elections for Kuwait’s 50-member legislative body, held three years ago.