With a renewed scholarly interest in critical Arabian Gulf and Peninsula Studies (AGPS), this paper revisits how the Kuwaiti press analyzed third world liberation struggles during the 1960s. As the country with the most freedom of political expression in the region, Kuwait’s forgotten literary scene was alight with vigorous debates on Marxism and third world nationalism, colonialism and revolution, and questions of labor, laying emphasis on local conditions and their relation to wider global struggles. From the first year of the country’s independence in 1961, progressive newspapers like al-Tali’a [The Vanguard], the literary arm of the Movement of Arab Nationalists (MAN) regional branch in Kuwait, were at the forefront of engaging with themes that grappled both colonized and independent nations across the third world.
In focusing on the international reporting of al-Tali’a, this paper turns to the pages of the Peninsula’s most prominent progressive newspaper to analyze how anti-colonial thought proliferated the Kuwaiti literary and journalistic scene during the revolutionary decade of the 1960s. From reports on mass labor mobilization in the militant docks of Manama and Adan, to interviews with revolutionaries deep in the jungles of Guinea-Bissau and Vietnam, al-Tali’a’s dedicated its pages toward educating people in Kuwait on global liberation struggles through through interviews, journalism, letters to the editors, poetry, and short stories, whilst simultaneously organizing material and popular support in Kuwait for global revolutionary struggles–especially for in cases of the anti-colonial revolutions in Palestine and South Arabia. Beyond their solidarity with third world national liberation struggles, the pages of al-Tali’a were also filled with intense discussions surrounding the major political and ideological debates that consumed the MAN, regional anti-colonial movements, and global transnational revolutionary currents.
Together with oral history research and memoirs, this paper carefully examines how the Kuwaiti literary scene was pivotal in supporting and amplifying the revolutionary struggles of the third world to its Arabic-speaking audience. Lastly, the final section of the paper offers a reflection on the impact on the Kuwaiti press of consequential milestones of the 1960s, such as the Arab losses in 1967, the subsequent rise of the new left in the region, and the wave of political repressions in Kuwait during the late 1960s. In analyzing the Kuwaiti press during this decade, I argue that the Kuwaiti literary scene played a major role in shaping regional anti-colonial politics and solidarity.