Moving to grind out political dissent at home while the world’s attention is focused on fighting militant extremists in Iraq and Syria, the government of Kuwait is increasingly wielding a penalty that was once rare here: revoking citizenship.
The severity of the punishment, imposed for offenses that sometimes amount to little more than disagreeing with the government, has stoked bitterness and raised an unaccustomed fear that new lines are being drawn between loyalty and treason.
Kuwait, where citizens have elected full-throated Parliaments for decades and lawmakers have publicly criticized official corruption, has been the most politically open of the conservative Persian Gulf monarchies.
But as tensions in the country have been growing, analysts said, the revocations have raised concerns that Kuwait is also taking cues from some of its more repressive neighbors in the region, including some that have won praise from the United States for joining the military campaign against the Islamic State.
“They are sending a message,” said Sulaiman al-Jassem, a Kuwaiti human rights activist who is one of many people here facing criminal charges for what the activists say are essentially political acts, like attending protests. “There are no limits,” he said.
According to the state news agency, Kuwait’s government has revoked the citizenship of more than two dozen people in the past three months, including 18 on Monday.
Ahmed Jabr al-Shammari, one of those whose citizenship was revoked, ran a television channel and newspapers that gave space to opposition figures and antigovernment points of view. The government, after suspending his media outlets, eventually shut them down in July and took away Mr. Shammari’s citizenship — leaving him essentially “stateless,” he said.