Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

His death comes after was rushed to a hospital for an unspecified illness in late November.

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Kuwait’s ruling emir, the 86-year-old Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah, has died after a three-year, low-key reign focused on trying to resolve the tiny, oil-rich nation’s internal political disputes.

Kuwait state television broke into programming with Quranic verses just before a sombre official made the announcement.

“With great sadness and sorrow, we – the Kuwaiti people, the Arab and Islamic nations, and the friendly peoples of the world – mourn the late His Highness the emir, Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, who passed away to his Lord today,” said Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah Al Sabah, the minister of his emiri court, who read the brief statement.

Authorities gave no cause of death.

Kuwait’s deputy ruler and his half-brother, Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmad Al Jaber, now 83, is believed to be the world’s oldest crown prince. He is in line to take over as Kuwait’s ruler and represents one of the Gulf countries’ last octogenarian leaders.

In late November, Sheikh Nawaf was rushed to a hospital for an unspecified illness. In the time since, Kuwait had been waiting for news about his health. State-run news previously reported that he travelled to the United States for unspecified medical checks in March 2021.

The health of Kuwait’s leaders remains a sensitive matter in the Middle Eastern nation also bordering Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which has seen internal power struggles behind palace doors.

Those from Sheikh Nawaf’s lifetime, born before oil fully transformed Kuwait from a trading hub into a petrostate, have been fading away with age. That, as well as other Gulf Arab nations putting younger and more assertive rulers in power, has increasingly put more pressure on the Al Sabah to pass power onto the next generation.

Sheikh Nawaf was sworn in as emir following the 2020 death of his predecessor, the late Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah.

He previously served as Kuwait’s interior and defence minister but wasn’t seen as particularly active in government outside those terms. However, he was largely an uncontroversial choice for emir, though his advancing age led analysts to suggest his tenure would be short. It was – Sheikh Nawaf had the third-shortest tenure of any emir since the Al Sabah ruled Kuwait beginning in 1752.

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