BY: Danieal Ranjbar
PEJOURNAL – Sheikh Sabah Ahmad Jaber Al-Sabah, Emir of Kuwait, died on Tuesday (September 29th) at the age of 91. Kuwaiti state television cut off its regular programs on Tuesday evening local time and began broadcasting the Quran. International news agencies saw the move as a sign of the possible death of the emir of Kuwait, who had long been ill. Minutes later, Kuwaiti state television confirmed Amir’s death, quoting the Royal Palace.
Sheikh Sabah has been the Emir of Kuwait since 2006. He previously served as Secretary of State for many years and Minister of Finance. He had recently become seriously ill and was hospitalized in the United States. Following the death of the Emir of Kuwait, 40 days of public mourning were declared in this country. He is the fourteenth emir of Kuwait who died at the age of 91. Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, 84, is the Crown Prince of Kuwait. Earlier, following the deterioration of the Emir of this country, part of his authority had been transferred to the Crown Prince.
History of the Al-Sabah family in Kuwait
The Sabah dynasty ruled Kuwait from 1760.
In the early 18th century, three important families, the Al-Sabah, the Al-Khalifa, and the Al-Jalaham, settled in Kuwait for economic and political reasons and agreed to rule Kuwait from 1716 to 1756. The administration of Kuwait was divided into three families, with the Sabah family in charge of political affairs, with Al Khalifa in charge of land trade and Al Jalaham in charge of maritime trade. But this communal government did not last long, disintegrated in 1756, and the Sabah dynasty, which was the most important part of the Kuwaiti political process, began its rule in the region alone.
The first emir of Kuwait was from the Al-Sabah family called “Sabah Bam Jaber”. Since then, 14 emirs have ruled Kuwait since Sabah Ahmad Jaber Sabah, who came to power on January 29, 2006. During the rule of “Sheikh Mubarak”, the son of the second and fifth Sheikh of Kuwait, the system of government of this land took on a new form; Because he inherited the government in the family of his two children.
During the reign of the same sheikh, the treaty of 23 January 1899 on British support for Kuwait was concluded between the two countries, and thus Kuwait came under British protection. The treaty contained several key issues, including a ban on the transfer of land and a ban on Kuwait’s relations with foreign countries. It declared independence in 1961 during the rule of Kuwait’s Abdullah Salem al-Sabah, which was under British protection under the 1899 Treaty. After Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, who was loved and respected by the people of Kuwait and was the emir of this country until 1965, his brother “Sheikh Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah” came to power. The sheikh also died on December 31, 1977, and Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah took charge of Kuwait.
Despite the rule of the Al-Sabah family for the past two centuries, Kuwait is the only country in the Gulf that has had a constitution since independence in 1961, guaranteeing the separation of the three branches of the independent parliament, political freedoms and freedom of the press. The sovereignty of this small Gulf country seems to have largely adhered to these important constitutional principles. Although the Emir of Kuwait has the constitutional right to dissolve the parliament under certain conditions, elections in that country are free and with the amendments to the law, all Kuwaiti citizens, both men and women, have the right to be elected and elected. Enjoy.
The Policies of The Former Emir
Sheikh Sabah did a lot during the fourteen years of his rule over the small but rich country of Kuwait. He became prime minister in 2003. He previously served as his foreign minister for 40 years (since 1963). In this sense, Sheikh Sabah is the only politician in the world who has held the longest tenure as a diplomat.
During his reign, Sheikh Sabah acted as a mediator and peacemaker among the countries of the region and made great efforts to keep his country away from regional tensions and conflicts. In international relations, he always acted moderately and neutralized tensions. Those around him described him as a “calm and enlightened” ruler in a troubled and tense region that ensured the stability of Kuwait.
For example, in recent years, while political tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia intensified and led to the severance of relations between the two countries (January 2016), Kuwait, unlike many Arab countries, did not cooperate with Saudi Arabia and maintained relations with Tehran without damaging Kuwait’s relations with Saudi Arabia. He has repeatedly condemned Saudi Arabia’s continued aggression on Yemeni soil and stressed the need to support the Palestinian cause.
The best example of this behavior of Sheikh Sabah was seen in the sudden decision of several countries in the south of the Gulf led by Saudi Arabia to besiege and boycott Qatar by air and land. Kuwait did not cooperate with Saudi Arabia and its allies and kept Kuwait’s relations with Qatar at the previous level. In addition, Sheikh Sabah tried to mediate between Qatar and the besieging countries.
Among the leaders of the Arab countries in the region, Sheikh Sabah was the first Arab leader to visit Iraq in June 2019 after Saddam Hussein, opening a new chapter in relations between the two countries. He also sought to restore his country’s ties to a group of Arab countries that sided with Saddam Hussein during Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Despite all this, critics say that during Sheikh Sabah’s rule, freedom of expression in Kuwait became more restricted and painful. Dozens of dissidents, critics and bloggers have been tried and jailed in recent years on charges of “slandering” Amir. Kuwait has a population of 4.4 million. Thanks to oil revenues, the people of this country have one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. Sheikh Sabah was the fourth emir to rule Kuwait since independence in 1961.
The New Emir of Kuwait
An hour after Sheikh Sabah’s death, the Kuwaiti cabinet announced Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah as the new emir of Kuwait. Nawaf is 83 years old and was the Crown Prince of Kuwait and has undergone several surgeries at home and abroad. Nawaf al-Ahmad is the sixth son of Sheikh Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, the tenth emir of Kuwait, and has been the Crown Prince of Kuwait since February 2006. He is one of the most prominent candidates to succeed his brother. Prior to becoming Crown Prince, Nawaf held several ministerial posts during his political career, including Minister of the Interior, Defense and Social Affairs, and Deputy Prime Minister.
Sheikh Nawaf has held several positions since 1961. He first became governor of Holi and then interior minister. He was later appointed head of the Ministry of Defense. After the liberation of Kuwait, he became the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs of Kuwait and held this position until October 17, 1992. On October 16, 1994, he replaced the Kuwaiti National Guard. He became the Minister of the Interior on July 13, 2003. In the same year, he retained his position as First Deputy Prime Minister by order of the Emir of Kuwait.
I should mention that in April 1991, after the war in Kuwait, which was accompanied by the liberation of the country from the military occupation of Saddam’s regime, he was elected Minister of Labor and Social Affairs in the first post-war government. Then in 1994 he was elected Deputy National Guard. His foreign policy is not outside the traditional process in Kuwait. A policy based on the maximum reduction of tensions with neighbors and mediation between countries, in which case “Nawaf Al-Ahmad Jaber Al-Sabah” has repeatedly led the Kuwaiti delegation to mediate between Qatar and the Saudi and UAE governments.
Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah was born on June 25, 1937, in the Farij al-Shawikh area of Kuwait. According to the website of the Crown Prince of Kuwait: Sheikh Nawaf is the sixth son of the tenth Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh “Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah”, who was the Emir of Kuwait from 1921 to 1950. Sheikh Nawaf spent his primary and higher education in various centers of Kuwait and has always been famous among other sheikhs for pursuing his higher education. However, the Crown Prince of Kuwait has not specifically announced his degree. Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah was re-elected defense minister in 2003 and was crowned in 2006.
Hidden Government & Power Rivalry in Kuwait
A noteworthy point in examining the governance environment in Kuwait is the existence of a “hidden state” that includes a collection of wealthy and influential families. Like many Arab countries such as Egypt, Jordan and the UAE, gaining the support of the secret government has a great impact on the path to success or failure.
In Kuwait, of course, the emir and the crown prince are usually away from hidden rivalries and conflicts between government and government officials; But in the meantime, it should be mentioned that “Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad”, the eldest son of the current Emir of Kuwait and the Minister of Defense, said that according to informed sources, due to falling out and disagreeing with the secret government, there is little chance of coming to power. It has Kuwait.
The Al-Ghanim, Budi, Al-Kharafi, Al-Hamidi, and Al-Marzouq families and several wealthy and influential families in Kuwait own a collection of businesses and the media, and many members of parliament themselves. They owe it to this family.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Nawaf enjoys a strong position in Kuwait and, unlike his nephew Nasser Sabah al-Ahmad, has good relations with the family. In addition, as mentioned, he has a good command and control over the Ministries of Defense and Interior, and many consider his influence in the Ministry of Defense more than “Nasser Al-Ahmad”, who is currently in charge of this ministry. On the other hand, the sons of “Sheikh Nawaf” have high positions in the Ministry of Interior and are practically in control of this ministry.
The Impact of the Transfer of Power in Kuwait on Region
Many experts and political analysts in the region believe that the transfer of power in the country will affect its diplomatic activities as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council, because the current emir of Kuwait, Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, will stay in power for a long time. For four consecutive decades (from 1963 to 2003) he served as Secretary of State.
The Emir of Kuwait has a strong diplomatic sense of neutrality, and his extensive experience has helped him succeed, especially in resolving regional tensions, including the dispute between the Gulf states and the conflict between Qatar and neighboring oil countries, including Saudi Arabia.
While in 2017 the Gulf Cooperation Council was on the verge of collapse after a serious crisis and following the challenge between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain with Qatar and the severance of their relations with Doha, Sheikh “Sabah Al-Ahmad The Emir of Kuwait, Jaber al-Sabah, stepped in and put the ceasefire plan on the table, announcing that he would do his utmost to prevent a military conflict between the two sides.Despite the failure of the late Emir of Kuwait to mediate between Qatar and the embargoed countries, Kuwait has remained neutral with Oman and continues to work to resolve disputes.
For sure thinking about future is hard and difficult to say what will happen but according to information and experiences that new Emir of Kuwait have it already and Power inside of country that he and his family have under the control; thinking about something very special will be change in Foreign Politics of Country is far from reality; But changing so many things inside of the country is something that can come to mind at least for beginning of his Government.
In the end, it should be said that most likely, due to the transfer of power between the brothers and their old age, Kuwait will see conditions like Saudi Arabia in the not too distant future and the son of one of the brothers will come to power by interrupting this process; However, Kuwait has shown that it is not comparable to Saudi Arabia in terms of trying to avoid internal and external tensions; changing power in countries in this region become something special that in last months public and scholars speaking about it, all because of Crown Prince of UAE and Saudi Arabia and their new strategy or we can say different politics then their fathers.