The ruler of the oil-rich Gulf Kingdom of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, has died, according to state television. He was 91 years old.
“We mourn with great sadness and sorrow for the Kuwaiti people, the Arab and Islamic nations and the friendly peoples of the world, the death of the late Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Emir of the state of Kuwait, who next to his The royal palace said in a statement, according to Kuwaiti state television.
State television announced his death after playing Quran prayers.
News of his death comes two months after the non-alternating ruler was flown to the U.S. at a U.S. Air Force C-17 aviation hospital, just days after undergoing unspecified surgery at home.
Kuwait has been a staunch U.S. ally since the American-led war that drove the occupation of Iraqi troops out.
It is slightly smaller than the US state of New Jersey and is home to some of the largest oil reserves in the world.
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Sheikh Sabah has been an emir since 2006, after parliament unanimously voted to oust his predecessor, the ailing Sheikh Saad Al Abdullah Al Sabah, just nine days after his rule.
Sheikh Sabah has pushed for diplomacy to resolve regional issues such as the ongoing boycott of Qatar by four Arab nations and has hosted large donor conferences for war-torn nations like Iraq and Syria.
His dramatic airlift to the US in July had already taken place sparked a debate about what Kuwait will look like after its death.
Kuwait has both a royal family and a parliamentary body, the National Assembly, making it the most democratic country on the Gulf Cooperation Council, according to Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a foreign affairs think tank based in Washington.
Sheikh Sabah’s half-brother, Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah, has been Crown Prince since 2006 and is expected to succeed him. When the sick ruler was admitted to a hospital in Kuwait in July, the Crown Prince temporarily assumed some of his powers.
Sheikh Sabah, born on June 16, 1929, held a number of government posts before becoming Kuwait’s Foreign Minister in 1963, a position he held for four decades.
His country’s greatest crisis came in 1990 when the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and occupied the nation for seven months. On February 24, 1991, US troops and their allies stormed into Kuwait. It ended 100 hours later.
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