KUWAIT CITY — Kuwait's embattled Interior Minister Sheik Jaber Al-Khaled Al-Sabah stepped down Sunday amid rising political tensions that include calls for the first major Gulf street protests inspired by uprisings in Egypt and elsewhere.
Opposition groups have sharply escalated pressure on Kuwait's leadership in recent months over claims of corruption in the oil-rich state and perceived attempts to roll back political freedoms. Kuwait's political system is the most open in the Gulf and its parliament is one of the few elected bodies in the region capable of demanding reforms from rulers.
The change at the Interior Ministry could signal an attempt to weaken the calls on social media sites for street demonstrations Tuesday outside parliament to protest "undemocratic" practices by Kuwait's government. If major crowds gather, it would mark the first anti-government rallies in the Gulf since the toppling of Tunisia's strongman ruler last month touched off other Arab protest movements, including Egypt's groundswell against President Hosni Mubarak.