Middle East The emir of Kuwait dies at 86

The emir of Kuwait, Nawaf al Ahmad al Sabah, died this Saturday at the age of 86

Middle East The emir of Kuwait dies at 86

The emir of Kuwait, Nawaf al Ahmad al Sabah, died this Saturday at the age of 86. The ruler of the rich Gulf nation has barely spent three years on the throne, which he ascended in September 2020, upon the death at the age of 91 of his half-brother, the charismatic Sabah al Ahmad al Sabah. It can be said that Nawaf's has been a transit mandate. The advanced age and health problems with which he assumed the reins caused him to immediately delegate a good part of his powers to the crown prince, Mishaal al Ahmad, who at 83 years old will be the new emir of Kuwait.

Nawaf's brief reign has been marked by the economic turbulence that the country suffered due to the sharp drop in oil prices in 2020 and by the enormous public spending as a result of the crisis caused by the coronavirus, which led the emirate to double its public debt in the year and a half that lasted the most difficult period of the pandemic.

Another milestone of his mandate was the amnesty decree by which the emir pardoned or reduced the sentences of more than thirty dissidents, a measure aimed at alleviating the hidden political crisis suffered by Kuwait, where the human rights situation is suffering. more than worrying deterioration since 2011. With that amnesty, the monarch sought to reduce the tension between the Government and Parliament, which in the last elections had seen support for opposition candidates grow spectacularly, in a clear symptom of citizen unrest.

Kuwait does not have political parties, but it is the only Arab country in the Gulf that has a Parliament elected by an open election system and that has traditionally exercised a control role over the Executive.

As in most of the Gulf Monarchies, in this emirate of 4.2 million inhabitants that produces almost three million barrels of oil a day, the succession to the throne does not occur from father to son, but through other systems. much more complicated between stepbrothers, which sometimes generates tensions in the Crown and causes scenarios of uncertainty that reach the entire international community. Not in vain, the Petromonarchies of the Gulf play a leading role in global geopolitics, both due to the importance of their countries as exporters of crude oil and gas, and due to their stabilization role in one of the most turbulent and unstable scenarios of all. the planet.

Succession in the Kuwaiti Monarchy is especially complex. And its current Constitution of 1962, which was reformed in 1992 after the liberation of the country from the Iraqi invasion promoted by Saddam Hussein, and which caused a war in which the main international powers intervened, establishes that Kuwait is a "hereditary emirate The two branches of the family alternate in power, something that did not happen, however, with the proclamation of Nawaf, who had been designated crown prince in 2006, with the rise of his half-brother Sabah to power, although both were members of the same line of the two that succeed each other at the helm. of the emirate.

To date, all the attempts caused precisely by the changes in the throne have been resolved, in a process in which the members of the National Assembly intervene decisively. But Kuwait, as is the case with other countries in the region, is suffering from a gerontocracy problem that is not clear how it will be resolved in the near future. The country has been in the hands of octogenarian monarchs for too long, and experts warn that the appointment of a successor from younger generations that does not guarantee widespread acceptance across the entire Kuwaiti political spectrum could endanger the stability of the emirate. We are facing a constitutional Monarchy - it cannot be confused with a democratic system, of course - in which the emir plays a key political role with very broad powers, and it is worth noting that since 1999 and to date, none of the nine elected assemblies have have been able to complete their mandate and the respective emirs have used their prerogatives to dissolve the House due to the political-institutional instability that afflicts the emirate.

Nawaf al Ahmad al Sabah was born in Kuwait City on June 25, 1937. He was the fifth son of the Kuwaiti ruler from 1921 to 1950, Sheikh Ahmad al Jaber al Sabah. Like almost all Arab princes of the time, he pursued higher education in the United Kingdom. For more than half a century, he has held different positions in the emirate, such as governor of Hawalli, Minister of the Interior, deputy chief of the Kuwait National Guard, or head of Defense. He was precisely at the head of this portfolio in August 1990, when Saddam Hussein's Iraqi troops invaded the rich oil emirate.

In the last decade, Kuwait has played a prominent role as a mediator to resolve several crises between neighbors in the region, such as the serious schism that pitted Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain against Qatar. Kuwait has tried to stay out of the age-old dispute between Shiites and Sunnis. And the now deceased Nawaf is credited with playing an important role in supporting programs that support unity within the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf.