Sheikh Sabah: A seasoned leader, sagacious statesman

September 29, 2020
Sheikh Sabah: A seasoned leader, sagacious statesman

Jameel Altheyabi

With the demise of Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on Tuesday, the region and the world have lost a “humanitarian leader” and a statesman par excellence.

Sheikh Sabah was a repository of wisdom, a man of initiatives, who well deserved the title of the “Emir of Humanity”, thanks to his initiatives, assistance, mediation, and support for development and peace.

Sheikh Sabah’s long and brilliant career in the government ever since the Independence of Kuwait in 1961, especially after assuming office as the minister of information, enabled him to accumulate administrative and media experiences, which made Kuwait a media and cultural beacon in the Gulf and the Arab world.

After Sheikh Sabah was assigned to work as the foreign minister — a position he held with an immense capability for 40 years (1963-2003) — he came to be known as a “dean of diplomacy”, reinforcing his role with tireless movements, shuttling between countries, presenting his country’s positions and offering mediation to settle disputes, and encouraging major countries to play a greater role to achieve security, stability, and development of people.

Sheikh Sabah’s diplomatic acumen and capabilities became much more evident during the period of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, when he played a prominent role in mobilizing support for his country, with the creation of a strong front that is no less solid than the field front established by Saudi Arabia and the allies of Kuwait to liberate it from the invasion of Saddam Hussein.

The period of invasion and liberation remained as the strongest evidence of the strength of the relations between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, especially when the late King Fahd pronounced his famous words: “Either Kuwait returns to its people or Saudi Arabia goes with it.”

This has remained as a pivot of the strong relationship between Riyadh and Kuwait over the past decades, and the late leader kept maintaining his position and role as an “international diplomatic magnate” with the wisdom, rationality, and political vision that made him an emissary of reconciliations and initiatives that history will never forget.

Even in his advanced age, Sheikh Sabah allowed Kuwait to play its crucial role as a mediator between the countries torn apart by disputes. While he was sick, Sheikh Sabah kept mediating to resolve the Qatar crisis despite Doha targeting his country with malicious campaigns and plots apart from inciting Kuwaitis to take to streets against him.

History will also preserve him in sublimity for soothing the deep wounds of the Iraqi invasion by spearheading Kuwait to host two donors’ conferences for Iraq and Syria. Despite the multiplicity of political fluctuations, Sheikh Sabah remained adhered to his wisdom, dignity, and sincere love for humanity and was steadfast more to the Gulfism of Kuwait and its independence and therefore he did not open his homeland for the Persian and Ottoman schemes in terms of the Iranian and Turkish military bases, unlike Qatar.

Throughout his life in the ministry and in the government, he was keen to tackle difficult responsibilities and tasks. “The responsibility is great and the burden is heavy, but we are able to shoulder them,” and this was his motto.

It is certain that with the demise of Sheikh Sabah, the region and the world have lost a man of peace and a symbol of wisdom. With his departure, the world community has lost one of its wise men and political magnates.

In every case of human concern, the late emir of Kuwait has left an imprint that history is impossible to erase. There is no reason to be worried about Kuwait after him as he left it too strong to be shaken by any attempts or conspiracies to undermine its security and stability.

September 29, 2020
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