Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, emir of Kuwait, dies at 91

Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, the emir of Kuwait, who for four decades as the country’s foreign minister and then ruler, propelled his small oil-rich country on an independent path through Middle East rivalry and conflicts. He was 91 years old.

His death was announced in an official statement read on state television. According to Kuwait’s state news agency KUNA, Amir underwent surgery in July and was then sent to therapy in the United States in July.

His death is expected to elevate his 82-year-old half-brother, Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah, to Kuwait’s leadership. While the policies of the incoming emir were not yet clear, analysts predicted that Kuwait would continue to act as an intermediary in its turbulent neighborhood, on the one hand cleverly between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and on the other of those Arab states The enemy, Iran and Qatar, on the other.

Kuwait, a Persian Gulf country of about 4.2 million people south of Saudi Arabia and northward from Iraq, has the world’s sixth largest oil reserves, giving it much wealth, which gave it freedom from its more powerful neighbors Degree conferred.

Sheikh Sabah was the architect and often the embodiment of that independent, non-violent foreign policy.

Kuwait served as a regional go-to service in 2014, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain accused Qatar of financing terrorism, allowing the rulers of other countries to mediate in their domestic affairs. Jazeera financed the satellite. Network and comfortable for Iran.

Steeped in the region’s tribal, religious, and political dynamics, Sheikh Sabah personally flew from the Arab capital when he was in his mid-80s, in a major round of negotiations that eventually assimilated the two sides into an uneven dent. .

In 2017, when Qatar’s opponents cut ties completely with the country – this time joining Egypt – Kuwait again mediated, albeit with far less success. Qatar and its adversaries are left with bitterness, diplomatic and economic ties are frozen and a land and sea blockade against Qatar is still in place. (Qatar denies that it has interfered with other countries or sponsored terrorism.)

Inside Kuwait, the second half of Amir’s reign and the Arab Spring uprisings that spread across the Middle East in 2011 brought open questions about the power of the ruling family.

Despite the turmoil, Kuwait is politically stable. And hosting about 13,000 American troops, it has remained an important ally of the United States since 1991, when US-led forces repulsed the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait during the Gulf War.

With an elected parliament, akin to political parties and sometimes vigorous public debate, Kuwait can participate in its government to a greater extent than its Gulf Arab neighbors, who are governed by absolute monarchy. But the Emir appoints the Prime Minister from the Sabah family and has the final say on the affairs of the state, an imbalance that led to Sheikh Saba’s biggest domestic crisis when the Arab Spring reached Kuwait. The agreement only prolonged tensions between the appointed cabinet and the elected parliament.

Kuwaiti protesters and opposition MPs, who they saw as the government’s efforts to curb the corruption scandal between parliamentary elections and members of parliament, have loosened the ruling family’s grip on power and shifted the country to full Pushed for constitutional amendments. Parliamentary system.

The protests threw thousands of Kuwaitis into the streets, forcing the Prime Minister to change and dissolve Parliament. Two years of unrest followed, during which Amir used emergency laws to change the election rules, which the opposition said favored government candidates.

An opposition-dominated parliament was dissolved, protesters repeatedly faced the police in the streets, and dozens of protesters were arrested for criticizing Amir.

Sheikh Saba was born on 6 June 1929 in Kuwait, the fourth son of Amir at the time. His family ruled Kuwait continuously from the mid-18th century. According to an official biography posted on the Kuwaiti Embassy website, the young Sheikh was educated in Kuwaiti schools and by private tutors.

Appointed to a government committee at the age of 25, he held various government posts until his death. His most important role before becoming wealthy was as foreign minister, a title he held from 1963 to 2003, when he was named prime minister.

From the Kuwaiti tradition, which dictates that the rank of emir should be optional between the two branches of the ruling family, Sheikh Sabah should not have ruled. But after coming to power in 2006, when his predecessor Sheikh Saad al-Abdullah al-Sabah removed him from power for nine days during the reign of Sheikh Saad. Sheikh Saad died in 2008 at the age of 78.

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