The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, died Tuesday at the age of 91, in the United States of America after a long illness.
On July 18, Kuwait announced the transfer of some of the prince’s powers to his crown prince, Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, 83, after the prince was hospitalized.
On July 23, the Emir of Kuwait traveled to the United States to complete medical treatment after surgery for an unspecified medical condition he underwent in Kuwait.
The Amiri Diwan issued a statement saying, “With great sadness and sorrow, the Amiri Diwan mourns to the Kuwaiti people, the Arab and Islamic nations, and the friendly peoples of the world, the death of the late His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Emir of the State of Kuwait who moved next to his Lord.” The death of the Emir of Kuwait.
The Emir of Kuwait took over the reins of power in the oil-producing countries and allies of the United States in January 2006, and his rule lasted for more than 16 years. He also led the country’s foreign policy for more than fifty years.
The late Emir is seen as the architect of the modern foreign policy of the oil-rich state of Kuwait.
During his tenure at the helm of the Foreign Ministry for four decades, he forged close ties with the West, especially with the United States, which led the military campaign to liberate Kuwait from the Iraqi occupation in 1991.
During that period, Sheikh Sabah sought to maintain a balance in his country’s relations with its larger neighbors, as he established close relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and rebuilt the link with Iraq that had previously occupied Kuwait during the era of Saddam Hussein and kept the door to dialogue with Iran.
Sheikh Sabah also contributed to mending the rift through several crises, most notably the Yemeni crisis and the Iran-Iraq war, which enriched his personal experience and made him an acceptable mediator for all parties.
This mediation continued even after Sheikh Sabah assumed power in 2006, until he was named leader of humanitarian work by the United Nations in 2014, a position that no one had preceded in recognition of his humanitarian efforts at all levels. He tried to mediate a solution to the Gulf crisis that began on June 5, 2017, when Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed their relations with Qatar and imposed a blockade on it.
“He will leave a feeling of loss given Sabah Al-Ahmad’s prominent role as a diplomat, as a regional mediator and as a collective figure at home,” said Christine Diwan of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.
She added, “Kuwaitis appreciated him for his ability to keep the emirate out of regional conflicts and rivalries.”
She pointed out that “the leadership of Kuwait will give priority to stability on both the domestic fronts and regional politics. The focus will be on the home front. There will also be a lot to administer locally, and parliamentary elections are expected in the next two months.”
The country’s policies are not expected to change with his successor, even as the Gulf states, the UAE and Bahrain, have normalized relations with Israel recently.
And Christine points out that “there is no indication that the future leadership will want to change Kuwait’s position,” because normalization with Israel is not popular with Kuwaitis.
It is also not expected that the transfer of power in Kuwait will affect the country’s oil policy or foreign investment strategy through the Kuwait Investment Authority, which is one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world. As for oil policy, it is determined by the country’s Supreme Petroleum Council, whose members are appointed by the Emir of Kuwait.
During the coming period, attention will be focused on choosing the new emir for his crown prince and prime minister – who will be entrusted with the task of managing the thorny relationship between the government and parliament, especially at this time when Kuwaiti financial resources are under severe pressure due to low oil prices and the consequences of the spread of the Corona epidemic.
It is noteworthy that Kuwait is one of the richest Gulf countries, which are rich in oil and other energy sources. There are more than 100 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. This represents about 10% of the world’s reserves. Kuwait produces about 2.7 million barrels of oil per day, of which it exports about two million barrels.