Kuwait emir slams 'illegal' demonstrations, warns of crackdown

The latest from Kuwait -- protests, crackdowns -- raises inevitable question: is this resource-rich Gulf nation next in line for the Arab Spring? 

The nation's leader, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, today took to state television in order to expressly forbid "illegal" demonstrations, reported Agence-France Presse, threatening words that come a day after government forces resorted to tear gas and stun grenades to disperse angry crowds of opposition supporters. 

"The practices of deviation, violence and chaos have sparked fear and anxiety," the emir said, referring to the recent wave of protest activity there, according to AFP. He went on to vow he will not allow "chaotic rallies" to destabilize the country, said the Associated Press

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The emir's speech today signaled a turnaround after he held talks with four top opposition leaders late Sunday in what had appeared to be a mediation bid, reported AFP

Political unrest has been on the rise in Kuwait after the emir ordered a controversial last-minute amendment to an electoral law, said AFP, changes the opposition has denounced as a bid to cement power ahead of December 1 parliamentary elections. 

Large crowds of protesters on Sunday temporarily obstructed a main road south of Kuwait City, said AFP, drawing stun grenades and tear gas from security forces as they broke up the unauthorized event. 

Political rallies are not hugely unusual in Kuwait, an OPEC member and US ally, according to Reuters, saying the government is more representative than many of its neighbors. However, the emir does have full control of state affairs and gets to pick the prime minister.