Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmed was appointed by the country’s cabinet as a replacement for Kuwait’s Emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, who died at the age of 91.
Thursday (1/10/2020), he is the half-brother of the 83-year-old Emir of Kuwait.
Kuwait’s new leader, Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf has been sworn in during a session of the National Assembly. The Gulf Arab region has begun a 40-day period of national mourning.
Sheikh Sabah gained a reputation as an outstanding leader who helped steer his country through the 1990 invasion of Iraq, falling in the global oil market and upheaval in parliament and on the streets, as quoted by Al Jazeera.
World leaders and Kuwaitis alike praised the legacy of the Emir of Kuwait. He is considered the architect of modern foreign policy and a mediator in some of the worst crises gripping the Gulf region.
“This man is the security of the Arab world, not just for Kuwait,” Bandar al-Dahani, a Kuwaiti, told the AFP news agency. God willing, the good is with Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf and he will follow the emir’s path.
Sheikh Nawaf, who has held high office for decades, took over Kuwait and is now facing the fallout from the COVID-19 Coronavirus crisis, which triggered a sharp drop in oil prices and severe economic consequences for gulf states.
The statesman, who was named heir apparent in 2006, served as defense minister when Iraqi forces entered the oil-rich emirate in 1990, as well as as interior minister facing challenges from armed groups.
The new leader is popular within the ruling al-Sabah family and is reportedly a consensus choice for the ruler. He also has a good reputation for his polite manners.
Significant policy changes were not expected during his reign, even after Gulf kawasab underwent a seismic shift with neighboring Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which chose to forge relations with Israel.
Normalization with the Jewish state is deeply unpopular among Kuwaitis, who largely support the Arab world’s historic position in demanding a settlement of the Palestinian struggle before granting diplomatic concessions to Israel.
Possible New Throne Rivalry?
Kuwait’s constitution stipulates that the ruler must be a descendant of the nation’s founder, Mubarak al-Sabah, but the throne has moved between the descendants of his sons, Salem and Jaber, for four decades.
Candidates for the newly vacated crown prince role include Sheikh Sabah’s son and former deputy prime minister, Nasser Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, a Kuwaiti politician.
“Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmed should be seen more as a key man than as a decisive new leader,” said Cinzia Bianco, a researcher at the European Council for Foreign Relations.
Behind the scenes, however, the younger prince is likely to continue competing to succeed him.