İrem UZUN -TDO- Known as the “Wise Man of the Region”, Kuwait’s 91-year-old Emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah died on Tuesday after decades as a leading figure in the oil-rich Gulf nation.  Born in 1929, Sheikh Sabah is widely regarded as the architect of modern Kuwait’s foreign policy having served as foreign minister for nearly 40 years between 1963 to 2003, when he became prime minister.

Sheikh had ruled the Gulf country since 2006 and directed its foreign policy for more than 50 years. His designated successor is his half-brother, Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah.  "With great sadness and sorrow, we mourn... the death of Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Emir of the State of Kuwait," said Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al-Sabah, the minister in charge of royal affairs, in a television broadcast. State television announced his death after playing Quranic prayers. He had been in hospital in the United States since July following surgery for an unspecified condition in Kuwait that same month.

Condolences poured in from across the Arab world for “the emir of humanity”, and several countries in the Gulf and wider region announced mourning periods.  “Today we lost a big brother and a wise and loving leader ... who spared no effort for Arab unity,” Jordan’s King Abdullah said on Twitter. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif lauded Sheikh Sabah for fostering “moderation and balance” in Kuwait and the region. U.S. President Donald Trump said in a statement he was saddened by the death of a dear friend and called Sheikh Sabah an “unwavering friend and partner to the United States”. Sabah kept strong ties with the United States, which led a coalition that ended Iraq’s 1990-91 occupation of Kuwait and used the Gulf state as a launchpad for the 2003 Iraq invasion.

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