One of Gulf Nations' Last Octogenarian Chiefs Has Died

Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah is dead at 86
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 16, 2023 6:00 AM CST
Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Nawaf Dead at 86
Kuwait's then-Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah is seen in Kuwait City on March 26, 2014.   (AP Photo/Nasser Waggi, File)

Kuwait's ruling emir, the 86-year-old Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah, died Saturday 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 Koranic verses just before a somber 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, per the AP.

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's 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 traveled 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 bordering Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which has seen internal power struggles behind palace doors.

Sheikh Nawaf was sworn in as emir following the 2020 death of his predecessor, the late Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah. The breadth and depth of emotion over the loss of Sheikh Sabah, known for his diplomacy and peacemaking, was felt across the region. Sheikh Nawaf previously served as Kuwait's interior and defense 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 Sabah family ruled Kuwait beginning in 1752. More here.

(More Kuwait stories.)

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