Sheikh Sabah, Kuwait's ruler who tried healing Gulf rifts, dies
Kuwait's ruling Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah died on Thursday, the royal court announced in a televised statement. He was 91 years old. Sheikh Sabah had ruled Kuwait since 2006. His designated successor is his half-brother, Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah. Sheikh Nawaf has been the acting Emir since Sheikh Sabah left Kuwait for his treatment in the United States.
State TV cut regular programming; broadcast Quranic verses in mourning
Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al-Sabah, the Minister-in-charge of Royal Affairs, said in a televised statement, "With great sadness and sorrow, we mourn the death of Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Emir of the State of Kuwait," AFP reported. The state television had cut its regular programming to broadcast Quranic verses, which indicates the death of a senior member of the ruling family.
Nature of Emir's illness, treatment remain unknown
The royal palace has not disclosed the nature of the Emir's illness or the treatment he was receiving in the US since July after undergoing surgery in Kuwait. The official statement did not disclose where he died. Sheikh Sabah had undergone urinary tract surgery in the US in 2007. In 2002, he had had his appendix removed, two years after getting his pacemaker fitted.
Sheikh Nawaf expected to be named successor
As per the Kuwaiti law, the Emir's half-brother, Sheikh Nawaf, is acting ruler in his absence. He has held high office for decades, including the defense and interior ministries, and is now expected to be appointed the new ruler.
Sheikh Sabah 15th leader in Kuwait's ruling family
Sheikh Sabah was born on June 16, 1929, and was the 15th leader in a family that has ruled Kuwait for over 250 years. He was the great-grandson of the founder of modern Kuwait, Mubarak Al-Sabah—known to consolidate power under one Emir by ordering the murder of his brothers. At 33, he took his first government post, before being named Foreign Minister in 1963.
He served as Foreign Minister for decades before taking throne
Sheikh Sabah served as the Foreign Minister from 1962 to 1991 and from 1992 to 2003. In 2003, he was named Prime Minister, before taking the throne in 2006. He was known to be the oil-rich nation's top diplomat who tried to heal rifts between feuding Gulf states. He also notably rebuilt ties with former foe Iraq after the fall of President Saddam Hussein.