Saher Ellayl on @washingtonpost

Kuwait’s TV serial on unity during Iraq invasion stirs debate over current political discord

KUWAIT CITY — Each night for the past three weeks, families in Kuwait have been transfixed by a drama in which they already know the ending: Iraq forces will be driven out and the shattered Gulf nation will rebuild. But a 30-part television serial on Iraq’s 1990 invasion has become more than just a retelling of the occupation and the brief but intense Gulf War.

 

The series is being seen by many as a reminder of past national unity at a time when Kuwait is caught in a near endless cycle of tribal bickering and political showdowns between the Western-backed ruling family and conservative Islamists, who want to impose measures such as banning public concerts and blocking women athletes from major sporting events. Tensions over the Gulf Arab showdowns with Shiite power Iran also have brought pressures on Kuwait’s minority Shiites.

 

The series “Saher al-Lail” — “Insomniac” in Kuwait’s Arabic dialect — is the most ambitious attempt by a Kuwait TV network to portray the invasion and six-month occupation. It follows the story of an extended Kuwaiti family: a Kuwaiti diplomat married to an Iraqi; their son, an army officer held in prison; and the diplomat’s nephews and nieces in the resistance, including one who is captured and tortured by Saddam Hussein’s soldiers.

 

The screenplay writer, Fahad al-Aliwa, said he attempted to steer away from the political complexities and contradictions of the occupation — which included fabricated testimony in Washington about Iraqi atrocities recounted by the Kuwait ambassador’s daughter pretending to be a refugee witness.

 

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