KUWAIT: Recently some MPs proposed approving conscription law in Kuwait. This draft was proposed about five years ago, but after the political situation in the Middle East witnessed turbulence, this proposal was highlighted again at the parliament session. The proposal reinstates mandatory military service in Kuwait after Kuwait’s parliament suspended obligatory military service in 2001. According to this draft, conscription is necessary for Kuwaiti men aged between 18-35 years of age, who will have to undergo military training and serve in one of the army’s units.

University graduates will have to serve for nine months minimum, while those without a university degree will serve for a year. This law will exclude students of courses from the army, Ministry of Interior, National Guards, Fire Department, or volunteers at these institutions. Among the ones who will be excluded from enlistment are single children, the oldest sons and brothers of martyrs. Joining service may be delayed for a year if the man is the sole provider at home for his parents or if his mother is divorced or widowed and is dependent on him.

Similarly, a widower with young children can buy time before starting service. According to the MPs who proposed this law, their aim is to encourage Kuwaitis to help meet the requirements of the defense ministry against possible threats, and also to raise strong youth who can shoulder responsibility. 25-year-old Khalid thinks this law draft should be organized in terms of the age category. “A 25- or 26-year-old man is usually working. He could be a doctor or teacher and this enlistment could hold him back from progressing in his career and may create a vacuum in these professions.

Conscription should be enforced upon graduation from high school between June and September and then for another three months during the next vacation as this is the time when students are free,” he told Kuwait Times. “As a businessman, attending such a course will affect my plans and complicate my work. On the other hand, I will join military service, as it’s my duty towards my country. This service helps the applicants develop their character.

Military service should be improvised to suit modern life better,” added Khalid. The law may also include single Kuwaiti women between 18 and 30 years of age in activities that suit their nature. “I agree with the idea of Kuwaiti women joining mandatory military service as most armies around the world have women soldiers. It’s necessary as we make up the other half of the community and this service is our national duty. I think there will be better communication between women and men if both are a part of the army. If I was single, I would definitely join,” said Fatma, a 27-year-old married Kuwaiti. Some Kuwaitis have had a bad experience with the previous conscription service. “If the new system and conditions of the mandatory military service are the same as the old one, then I’m 100 percent against it. It was a waste of time and money. I’m a technician, and I had to serve for two years as a guard at one of the gates, although it had nothing to do with what I had studied. It made no sense because even though a technician’s position was open in the army, they made me guard the gate,” grumbled Faisal, a 35-year-old Kuwaiti. “The law should organize this service to let people serve or work in their field. For instance, they should not force a pilot to leave his job to work as a guard at any gate, when there is a shortage in the airline company where he works.

In the military, there is a need for pilots and he could serve as a pilot instead of just guarding some gate,” he further said. Nawaf, a 30-year-old citizen, thinks this is the best time to apply this law. “The current political situation in the region in not stable and we need to be prepared for all eventualities. If something like the Iraqi invasion happened again, we should at least have basic military knowledge. We are a rich country and don‘t have to scrimp and save here and besides, we are surrounded by three big, strong countries, so we really need mandatory military service. If it was applied, I will definitely go but on the condition that they pay me the same salary I’m getting now. I have financial obligations and it’s not logical for me to leave my job now that pays me KD 2,000 to join service at a KD 200 pay. I also think that women should be allowed to enlist as well since they have a lot of free time which they waste in cafes and restaurants,” he opined

By Nawara Fattahova