29 November 2023

Kuwait’s ruling emir ‘stable’ in hospital after medical emergency

29 November 2023

The ruling emir of oil-rich Kuwait is said to be in a stable condition after he was taken to hospital due to an emergency health problem.

The incident renews long-standing concerns over Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah’s health since he became ruler in 2020.

The report by the state-run Kuna news agency did not elaborate on the problem faced by 86-year-old Sheikh Nawaf.

However, he has handed over power several times during his rule to his deputy while facing medical checks and other issues.

State-run news previously reported that he travelled to the United States for unspecified medical checks in March 2021.

The health of Kuwait’s leaders remains a sensitive matter in the tiny Middle East 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 emotion over the loss of Sheikh Sabah, known for his diplomacy and peace-making, was felt across the wider Middle East.

Sheikh Nawaf’s term, meanwhile, has largely been quiet as Kuwait struggles through political disputes – including the overhaul of Kuwait’s welfare system – which prevented the sheikhdom from taking on debt.

That has left it with little in its coffers to pay bloated public sector salaries, even as Kuwait generates immense wealth from its oil reserves.

In 2021, Sheikh Nawaf issued a long-awaited amnesty decree, pardoning and reducing the sentences of nearly three dozen Kuwaiti dissidents in a move aimed at defusing a major government stand-off.

Kuwait, a nation home to some 4.2 million people that is slightly smaller than the US state of New Jersey, has the world’s sixth-largest known oil reserves.

It has been a staunch US ally since the 1991 Gulf War expelled the occupying Iraqi forces of Saddam Hussein.

Kuwait hosts some 13,500 American troops in the country, as well as the forward headquarters of the US Army in the Middle East.

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