Kuwait emir, 91, flies to US for medical care after surgery

Kuwait did not reveal nature of Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad al-Sabah’s illness or what treatment was planned in the US.

Kuwait''s Emir Sheikh Sabah al Ahmad al Sabah is pictured as he leaves parliament session in Kuwait City
Under Kuwaiti law, when the emir is absent, Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf, the emir's half-brother, is appointed as acting ruler [File: Stephanie McGehee/Reuters]

Kuwait’s 91-year-old ruler Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah left for the United States on Thursday morning to seek further medical care after recently undergoing surgery, the state-run KUNA news agency reported.

The report did not elaborate on what required Sheikh Sabah to seek a previously unannounced medical treatment.

On Wednesday, KUNA quoted a statement from the country’s royal court saying Sheikh Sabah was leaving the country “based on advice from the medical team treating His Highness to complete his treatment after a successful surgical procedure”.

The surgery took place on Sunday.

The statement, attributed to Sheikh Ali Jarrah al-Sabah, the country’s royal court minister, did not elaborate or say where in the US the emir will receive treatment.

Kuwait also announced earlier this week that 83-year-old Crown Prince Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah had assumed some of Sheikh Sabah’s powers temporarily.

Under Kuwaiti law, when the emir is absent, Sheikh Nawaf, the emir’s half-brother, is appointed acting ruler.

Sheikh Nawaf is an elder statesman who has held high office for decades, including the defence and interior portfolios.

A copy of the ministerial decree posted by Kuwait’s official gazette, Kuwait Al-Youm, and seen by The Associated Press on Sunday, said the crown prince would be empowered for “the duration of a surgical procedure until the health event is over”.

Sheikh Sabah, a widely beloved ruler in this OPEC-member nation, took power in 2006, just nine days into the rule of the ailing Sheikh Saad al-Abdullah al-Sabah.

In September 2019, Sheikh Sabah underwent medical tests shortly after arriving in the US, leading to a meeting with President Donald Trump being called off.

The emir had his appendix removed in 2002, two years after having a pacemaker fitted. In 2007, he underwent urinary tract surgery in the US.

He is widely regarded as the architect of modern Kuwait’s foreign policy.

Kuwait, a nation home to 4.1 million people, has the world’s sixth-largest known oil reserves.

Source: News Agencies