Death of Kuwait ruler Sheikh Sabah draws outpour of grief

The death of Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, the leader of Kuwait who earned a reputation as a seasoned diplomat and a rare ruler who could cross the region’s political and sectarian divides, drew an outpouring of grief from across the Arab world Tuesday.

As news of his death broke, condolence messages streamed in from leaders throughout the region. As a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional body of Arab Gulf states, Kuwait has often charted its own course, pushing for diplomacy to resolve a bitter dispute between Qatar and other Arab states that continues to this day.

The United Arab Emirates ordered a three-day mourning period and lauded Sheikh Sabah for his “wisdom, tolerance and peace,” with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Emirates’ day-to-day ruler, describing him as “a great pioneer in Gulf cooperation.”

The Saudi royal court said in a statement that the kingdom’s leadership and Saudi people share in their grief with the state of Kuwait and “brotherly Kuwaiti people.” The statement said the emir passed away after a journey full of achievement and generous service to his country and humanity as a whole. In Lebanon, where the late Kuwaiti leader played a key role in trying to end the country’s ruinous 1975-90 civil war and later helped with its reconstruction, politicians also offered their condolences.

“With the death of Sheikh Sabah, Lebanon has lost a great brother who stood by the Lebanese during the difficult circumstances over the past years,” said a statement from President Michel Aoun.

The U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait Alina Romanowski called Sheikh Sabah a “popular leader and special friend of the U.S.” The U.S. Embassy in Kuwait said he “devoted his life to peace and regional stability.” A statement issued from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi expressed “great sadness” over Sheikh Sabah’s death, recalling the long-standing “fraternal stance” of the emir toward Egypt. He ordered Egypt’s flag lowered to half-mast for three days.

Jordan’s royal court announced a nationwide 40-day mourning period, with the country’s King Abdullah II mourning the loss “of a great brother and wise leader who loved Jordan.”

Source: Associated Press