President Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden released a statement Saturday to honor Kuwait’s emir Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah, who died at the age of 86.
“Sheikh Nawaf was a valued partner and true friend of the United States throughout his decades of service,” Biden said in a statement.
“Today, we mourn his passing and we honor his life and the vision we shared for greater peace and stability across the Middle East,” he continued. “We will continue to strengthen the longstanding ties between the governments and people of the United States and Kuwait as we pursue that future together.”
Nawaf served as Kuwait’s Minister of Interior twice — for a combined 13 years. He also did stints as the Minister of Defense and the Deputy Prime Minister.
He was the Emir of Kuwait from Sept. 29, 2020 until his death. During his reign, he focused on resolving the country’s internal political disputes, The Associated Press reported.
Authorities gave no cause of death for the former leader but said he was rushed to a hospital in November.
Sheikh Nawaf was a largely uncontroversial choice to be the emir but his age suggested his tenure would be short, according to the AP.
While in power, he focused on domestic issues including the welfare system and other political disputes like pardoning dissidents.
His half-brother, Kuwait’s deputy ruler Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmad Al Jaber, who his 83, has reportedly been named emir.
The health of the country’s leaders is a sensitive issue with Kuwait’s neighbors, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. There has been increasing pressure to put a younger leader in charge in the Middle East, per the AP.