The 83-year-old emir ascends to the throne amid regional turmoil and geopolitical shifts.
Kuwait’s Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah became the Gulf monarchy’s ruling emir after the death of his half-brother Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah on Monday.
The Kuwaiti government cabinet announced Sheikh Nawaf’s ascension to the throne in the same statement that declared the death of the older al-Sabah at age 91.
“According to the rules of the constitution… the cabinet names the crown prince, his royal highness Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, the emir of the state of Kuwait,” said the statement, which was read by deputy prime minister Anas Khalid al-Saleh in a televised address.
“We pray to the lord to engulf his highness [Sheikh Nawaf] with his generous care and grant him good health and aid him and chart his steps on the path of righteousness.”
Sheikh Nawaf, who has been crown prince since 2006, is the son of the 10th ruler of the emirate, Sheikh Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, who ruled Kuwait for almost 30 years in the first half of the past century.
The 83-year-old emir has served in various cabinet positions throughout his life, including leading the ministries of defence, the interior and social services.
He started his public service career as the governor of Hawalli province in 1962 and held the post for 16 years.
Sheikh Nawaf had taken over some of the emir’s responsibilities earlier as the late al-Sabah travelled to the United States to receive medical treatment.
He begins his reign amid regional turmoil and geopolitical shifts across the Middle East.
Kuwait’s fellow Gulf monarchies are normalising relations with Israel, and the rift between Qatar and its neighbours in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – a conflict that Sheikh Nawaf’s predecessor attempted to mediate without taking sides – is still ongoing.
Sheikh Nawaf’s ascension will likely spark debates over who will succeed him. The current emir’s appointment as crown prince in 2006 had broken a tradition of alternating the throne between the al-Jaber and al-Salim clans of the royal family.
The two clans are descendants of Jaber al-Sabah and Salim al-Sabah, two former emirs whose father Mubarak al-Sabah is considered the founder of modern Kuwait.
The Kuwaiti constitution dictates that the country’s rulers must be descendants of Sheikh Mubarak.
The Gulf monarchy has an elected parliament but the emir remains the head of state with power over virtually all affairs in the country.
The new emir will be sworn in on Wednesday as Kuwait abserves 40 days of mourning, including three days where government agencies will be closed.
Source: Middle East Monitor