Kuwait’s Seth Sabah: GCC loses ‘voice of wisdom’ Middle East

Kuwaitis expressed grief after the death of Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jabir Al-Sabah at the age of 91. Earlier this year, the oil-rich Gulf nation’s leading figure went to the United States for medical research. Some health tests and post-treatment care in recent years.

“A friend of mine told me this morning that ‘they took off his ventilator, so he’s close, pray for him’,” Issam Altawari, a Kuwaiti financial businessman, told Al Jazeera. “It’s a sad feeling,” he said after announcing Sabah’s death on Tuesday.

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 the respected voice of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region and the broader medium of the East.

“Seth Sabah was a man of peace known as a mediator in any conflict in the GCC. There is a great loss of citizens and foreigners here in Kuwait. “It will be missed,” Michelle Fay Santiago, a Filipino journalist based in Kuwait since 1999, told Al Jazeera.

Defender of the United GCC

In June 2017, a coalition of Arab countries led by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia imposed a sea, land and air blockade on Qatar, accusing the emirate of supporting “terrorists” and forging closer ties with Iran. Doha has denied all allegations.

The blockaded countries called for an end to the regional crisis, including the closure of Qatar’s broadcaster Al Jazeera media network, the severance of diplomatic ties with Iran, the closure of a Turkish military base in Qatar and the severance of all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hezbollah.

“We know that these 13 demands are not acceptable,” Sheikh Sabah said of requests that would affect Qatar’s sovereignty. Throughout the crisis, the politician played the role of a critical mediator, calling for a peaceful resolution of the three-year blockade.

“It gained Kuwait’s reputation as a centralized state in Arab politics,” Clemens Che, a research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute, told Al Jazeera.

In the year 2019, U.S. After returning to Kuwait after medical treatment in, Seth Sabah said: “Our brothers and sisters are G.C.C. The ongoing controversy in the states is not acceptable or tolerable. It weakens our abilities and weakens our advantages. ”

A French diplomat familiar with Kuwait told Al Jazeera: “Since 2017, Kuwait has embarked on diplomatic, political, economic and technical efforts to keep alive the multilateral regional structure that the GCC was, despite all the attacks by other regional actors.”

The Qatar-GCC diplomatic crisis still lingers, but David Shenker, the top US diplomat for the Middle East, recently expressed cautious optimism that the siege of Qatar by neighboring Arab states could end soon.

According to the French diplomat, the idea of ​​multilateralism has been ingrained in Kuwaiti identity since the 1990-1991 Gulf War, and the late Kuwaiti ruler was “one of the last proponents of multilateralism in the Gulf region and the Middle East.”

The new pay generation of Gulf rulers

On January 10, Qaboos bin Said Al Said of Oman, another defender of GCC regional unity and peaceful dialogue, died at the age of 79

In the end, the loss of the Omani ruler and Seth Sabah, known as the “Vice Man of the Region”, replaces the new and more assertive Gulf rulers of Saudi Arabia’s incumbent Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

“We see a new era of regional politics for the Gulf,” Che said.

At a time when the GCC is experiencing its worst political crisis in decades, the region is left without a regionally respected figure to promote communications and multilateral cooperation.

“The GCC has always been at the center of Kuwaiti policy. I am sure the new rich will follow, ”Altawari said. He noted that the country firmly believes in the GCC as a concept “as a way forward for Kuwait and the rest of the region”.

The country’s-old Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmed al-Sabah was declared the new amir by the country’s cabinet to make his half-brother successful.

Washington D.C. “There is no indication that the leadership will change Kuwait’s posture in the future,” Christine Diwan, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Kuwait, told Al Jazeera.

‘People started mentally preparing’

Sheikh Sabah’s death continues to fight the Kovid-1p epidemic in Kuwait and the GCC region, which has infected more than 1.1 million people in the country. The health crisis and the double whammy of lower oil prices led to an economic downturn.

Earlier this month, Kuwait cut about 3 3 billion from its 2020-2021 budget as its economy of about $ 140 billion now faces a deficit of 46 46 billion. Deutsche Bank estimates that Kuwait’s economy will shrink by 7.8 percent this year.

“Kuwait is facing a big and unprecedented challenge of protecting our economy from the external shocks caused by the virus, especially the fall in oil prices and the value of investments and assets,” the state news agency Kuna quoted the late Amir as saying. ”

-Ill-rich GCC countries have long relied on hydrocarbon revenues to sustain a liberal social welfare system and provide employment to the majority of their citizens. Last year, oil revenue accounted for 89 percent of Kuwait’s revenue. As experts predict a global slowdown in oil demand in the coming decades, Gulf nations will face the difficult challenge of re-establishing their economies.

“People are getting mentally prepared, some kind of sacrifice will be needed,” Altawari said.