MOGADISHU, Somalia – Somalia has joined the rest of the world in paying tributes to Kuwaiti ruler Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah who died on Tuesday in the US, just 14 years into his rule, which was characterized by high profile diplomacy in the Middle East and around the globe.
Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, a veteran diplomat who positioned the small Arab Gulf state as a regional peacemaker and forged a U.S. alliance that deepened after the country was invaded by Iraq in 1990, died aged 91, state media confirmed on Tuesday afternoon.
In a tweet, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo also paid tributes to the Kuwaiti leader, saying: “We have received with great sadness and sorrow the death of the late Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Emir of the State of Kuwait.”
Said Abdullahi Deni, the president of the Puntland State of Somalia, also acknowledged the contribution of Kuwait leader, adding that his death is a significant loss to the Arab League of Nations and international diplomacy. He said the Emir was a great humanitarian.
“On behalf of the government and people of Puntland State, we extend our deepest condolences to the people and MOFAKuwait of Kuwait for the loss of the late Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. The Emir was a great leader, peacemaker and humanitarian. May Allah have mercy on him,” read the statement.
And Somaliland, which has been fighting for statehood for three decades, paid tributes to the veteran diplomat, who was often involved in the crisis between Hargeisa and Mogadishu, which is seemingly far from over. Somaliland claimed independence from Somalia in 1991 after decades of the authoritarian rule of General Siad Barre.
Somaliland Head of Liaison Office in Nairobi Bashe Awil Omar mourned the Kuwaiti ruler as a “great” man who was known as “the father of humanity” in an interview with Garowe Online. He lauded him for helping Somaliland at the “hour of need” and pledged close cooperation with the gulf nation.
“May Allah have mercy on the great Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad. As Somaliland we mourn with great sadness and sorrow with our brothers in Kuwait,” he said in a message, noting that the Sheikh’s death is a huge loss to the Arab League of Nations and the international diplomatic missions.
“Sheikh Sabah who was also known as the father of Humanity initiated a wide range of humanitarian assistance to the Somaliland people. May his legacy inspire future generations,” added Omar, who also served as the region’s envoy to the United Arab Emirates from 2015 to 2018.
In 2012, former Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud visited the Kuwaiti ruler in a state visit where they discussed bilateral ties. The visit is ranked as one of the high profile trip by a leader of secessionist Somaliland in as many years.
Somaliland has intensified diplomatic activities in recent months with an aim of persuading the international community to recognize it as a sovereign nation. But in a recent interview, Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo dismissed the agitations, arguing that “Somalia will not separate into regions, that’s why they have failed in their bid”.
Sheikh Sabah, who suffered a debilitating stroke in 2019, had travelled to the U.S. for medical care following complications from bladder surgery in July. State news agency KUNA reported his death without giving a cause, but there was grief everywhere in the country.
Born in 1929, the late ruler who served as Kuwait’s foreign minister for nearly 40 years took power in 2006. He was regarded as the architect of modern Kuwait’s foreign policy and a respected voice in the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] region and the broader Middle East.
His death is expected to elevate his 82-year-old half brother, Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah, to Kuwait’s leadership, but the governing committee will reach such a decision in coming hours or even days.
While the incoming emir’s policies were not yet apparent, analysts have predicted that Kuwait would continue to act as a mediator in its turbulent neighbourhood, deftly navigating between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on one side and those Arab states’ enemies, Iran and Qatar, on the other.
A Persian Gulf country of 4.2 million people burrowed between Saudi Arabia to the south and Iraq to the north, Kuwait has the world’s sixth-largest known oil reserves, giving it immense wealth that has granted it a degree of independence from its more powerful neighbours.
By Kuwaiti tradition, which dictates that the post of emir should alternate between the ruling family’s two branches, Sheikh Sabah was not supposed to rule. But he was propelled to power in 2006 after a health crisis sidelined his predecessor, Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah, nine days into Sheikh Saad’s reign. Sheikh Saad died in 2008 at 78.
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