When a Salafist group in Kuwait displayed an Islamic State of Iraq flag during a demonstration supporting the Syrian people on June 24th, the move generated wide controversy.
Some analysts viewed the incident as evidence that several secret terrorist cells exist and surface whenever they deem appropriate. Others played down its significance, asserting that Kuwait is one of the most stable nations in the Middle East.
Sheikh Shafi al-Ajami, secretary of the association of Sharia scholars in the Gulf Cooperation Council and one of the organisers of the demonstration in al-Irada Square, stated, "If an al-Qaeda flag was displayed, it does not represent us. We do not support it, nor have knowledge of it."
Dr. Shafiq al-Ghabra, professor of political science at Kuwait University, said that displaying flags during demonstrations to express one's view is a form of personal freedom whereby demonstrators are intending to send a message to officials.
He told Al-Shorfa, "The decision by Kuwaiti youth to display the al-Qaeda flag, or any other organisation or party, is not a crime and does not mean we are on the brink of a revolution as is happening in a number of other Arab countries, nor that a terrorist act is being planned. "
Al-Ghabra said Kuwait is one of the most stable countries in the region, and any type of youth demonstration can only be classified as a political act whereby participants are seeking reform and expansion of democracy.
"There is no justification for violent movements similar to those occurring in some Arab countries because the Kuwaiti people are entirely satisfied with their leadership and object only to resolutions that conflict with democracy or liberty that all in Kuwait are accustomed to."
Major General Saber Suwaidan, a former commander of the Air Force and strategist, agreed, saying Kuwait "is a democratic country where the freedom of expression is exercised in all forms and by all means, which could not lead anyone to engage in prohibited activity".
He rejected what he said the demonstrators resorted to while expressing their support for the Syrian people in their revolution, "because that does not depict support and could potentially show them as aiming to undermine security".
"What one youth resorted to cannot be generalised as representative of all the Kuwaiti people, nor does it necessarily shape the political future of the Kuwaiti youth," Suwaidan said. "The bottom line is that Kuwait is currently stable and will continue to be so in the future. What happened is merely an individual expression of opinion. "
Dr. Shamlan al-Issa, professor of political science at Kuwait University, said the problem internationally, and in Kuwait in particular, is that youth movements cannot be controlled.
"What happened during the demonstration was expected, especially since the organisers were young members of the Muslim Brotherhood, backed by a group of young Salafists and young members of some tribes," he said.
He said, "By displaying the al-Qaeda flag, or the Taliban flag, or that of any similar organisation, a demonstrator is proclaiming or expressing the views of that group."
According to Al-Issa, although security in Kuwait is considered the most stable in the region, "what transpired during that demonstration with the display of those flags could only be classified as evidence of the presence of a number of secret cells, which surface whenever they deem appropriate."
He said the next few days "will reveal whether those cells will be activated and ought to be of concern, or remain dormant and only reveal their existence when circumstances call for it."