There is great concern in Kuwait, where 91-year-old Emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah has been in hospital since Saturday. Some of the powers of the “Golf Mediator”, who has succeeded in imposing his country on the region’s diplomatic scene, have been handed over to his Crown Prince for the time being.
The announcement of the hospitalization on July 18 by the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, has left the country in doubt. The monarch, who was to officially “undergo medical examinations”, eventually underwent surgery “with success”, the official Kuna news agency announced on Sunday.
At the same time, some of the Emirates’ powers, which have been in power since 2006, were “temporarily” transferred to his Crown Prince and half-brother, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
Emiss’ fragile health, 91 years old and dean of Arab heads of state, is often at the heart of concerns in the Gulf monarchy, the first to elect a parliament in 1962, but also among regional and international actors, such as the United States.
If, despite the emir’s popularity, the country is often paralyzed by recurring political crises, with repeated changes of government and the dissolution of parliament abroad, sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah has managed to get Kuwait to play a significant mediating role.
Having occupied the positions of Foreign Minister (from 1963 to 2003) before ascending the throne, he has a long diplomatic tradition of neutrality and non-alignment illustrated precisely in the Gulf, the theater in regional tensions with Iran, where Kuwait has diplomatic representation and friction. between Qatar and neighboring petromonarchies, beginning with Saudi Arabia.
Dialogue and satisfaction
As the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was about to implode in 2017, after the severe crisis that saw Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain sever ties with Doha, the Emir of Kuwait, at the forefront of negotiations, play the short circuit card and announce that it has prevented a military escalation.
If the emir’s mediation failed to free Qatar from the embargo imposed on its neighbors, which accuses it of supporting Islamist movements and of approaching Iran, Kuwait is today the main gas partner of the gas emirate in the region with the Sultanate of Oman. Following the announcement of his hospitalization on Saturday, he also received phone calls from King Salman of Saudi Arabia and the Emirate of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
But Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, a descendant of the Al-Sabah dynasty that has ruled since the mid-18th centuryecentury in the small emirate that enjoys huge oil revenues, is above all an essential ally to the United States in the region.
Kuwait, liberated by a coalition led by Washington after the Iraqi invasion in 1990, maintains constant cooperation with the US military. The two countries have also been linked to a defense agreement since 1991, under which the United States has more than 13,000 troops in the emirate, a strategic transit point for troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Americans also have several bases in the country, including Arifjan, which is located 70 km south of the capital Kuwait City.
A security alliance that is often criticized by international non-governmental human rights organizations that often condemn violations of freedom of expression and a policy of repression against all forms of political dissent in Kuwait, despite the pluralism of its parliamentary monarchical system.