Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, the Emir of Kuwait, who led his small oil-rich country on an independent path through four decades of rivalries and fighting in the Middle East as the country’s foreign minister and then ruler, died on Tuesday. He is 91 years old.
An official statement read on state television announced his death. Amir underwent surgery and was flown to the United States for medical treatment in July, according to Kuwait’s state news agency Guna.
His death is expected to elevate his 82-year-old half-brother, Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah, to Kuwait’s leadership. Although the policies of the incoming Emir are not yet clear, analysts predict that Kuwait will continue to act as a mediator in its turbulent environment, between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on the one hand, and Iran and Qatar, the enemies of those Arab countries, on the other.
With a population of 4.2 million in the Persian Gulf, Kuwait is buried between Saudi Arabia in the south and Iraq in the north, and Kuwait has the world’s sixth-largest oil reserves, providing enormous wealth and independence from its powerful neighbors.
Sheikh Sabah was an architect, often a metaphor for that independent, unplanned foreign policy.
Kuwait was on a regional tour in 2014 when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain fought Qatar. Charges Qatar has undermined the rulers of other countries by funding terrorism, interfering in domestic affairs, financing the Al Jazeera satellite network and collaborating with Iran.
Sheikh Sabah, immersed in the tribal, religious and political dynamics of the region, flew privately from the Arab capital to the capital in the mid-80s, and the leading round of talks eventually plunged both sides into a state of chaos.
During the enemies of Qatar Cut ties with the country Overall in 2017 – this time merging with Egypt – Kuwait Again acted as mediator, Despite having very little success. Qatar and its adversaries were severely divided, diplomatic and economic relations were severed, and land and sea siege against Qatar Is still in place. (Qatar denies interfering in other countries or financing terrorism.)
Despite many periods of uprising, Kuwait remained politically stable. With an elected parliament, camps similar to political parties, and sometimes intense public debate, Kuwaitis are able to participate more in their government than the Gulf Arab neighbors, which are ruled by absolute monarchies.
The country has been an important ally of the United States since 1991, when US-led forces repulsed the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait during the Gulf War. Today, Kuwait maintains about 13,000 U.S. troops.
James A. III, Secretary of State during the war. Baker said in a statement on Tuesday that Sheikh Sabah was “always honest and trustworthy.”
“Whether to work to calm tough competition between rival nations or to ensure catastrophic relief for refugees from war-torn countries,” he added. “Sheikh Sabah is focused on helping us create a better world.”
However, that consistency was tested. Under Kuwait’s political system, the emir appoints the prime minister from the Sabah family and maintains final views on state affairs, which has fueled long-running tensions between the appointed cabinet and the elected parliament. That imbalance led to the biggest civil crisis in the second half of Sheikh Sabah’s rule – when the Arab Spring uprisings spread throughout the Middle East in 2011 and reached Kuwait, raising open questions about the level of power of the ruling family. .
Kuwaiti opposition and opposition lawmakers, provoked by the government’s attempts to interfere in the parliamentary elections and what they saw as corruption among parliamentarians; Pushed for constitutional amendments To loosen the grip of the ruling family and move the country closer to a full parliamentary system.
Protests took tens of thousands of Kuwaitis to the streets, forcing the emir to change prime minister and dissolve parliament. After two years of unrest, the emir used the emergency laws to change the election rules in favor of the opposition government candidates.
The opposition-dominated parliament was dissolved, protesters repeatedly confronted police in the streets, and dozens of protesters were arrested for criticizing the emir.
Sheikh Sabah was born in Kuwait on June 6, 1929, the fourth son of the Amir at the time. His family ruled Kuwait continuously from the middle of the 18th century. According to the official autobiography published on the Kuwaiti embassy website, the young Sheikh was educated in Kuwaiti schools and by private teachers.
Appointed to the Government Board at the age of 25, he held various government positions until his death. His most important role before he became emir was as foreign minister, which he held for many years from 1963 to 2003 until he served as prime minister.
Sheikh Sabah does not have to rule because of the Kuwaiti tradition of mandating an emir position between two branches of the ruling family. But he was Pushed to power After a health crisis in 2006, his predecessor, Sheikh Saad al-Abdullah al-Sabah, was sidelined for nine days. Sheikh Chad died in 2008 at the age of 78.
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