Kuwait has been neutral in many of the intractable conflicts in the Middle East. But the death of his longtime ruler, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, poses a dilemma for his successor: whether to normalize relations with Israel without statehood for the Palestinians, WSJ reported.
The late Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah was a staunch supporter of the Palestinians, even as Arab support for their vision of an independent state waned. The recent US-brokered normalization of ties between Israel and the two Arab Gulf states - the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain - has pressured others, including Kuwait, to follow suit.
A senior member of the Kuwaiti royal family expects Saudi Arabia and the UAE to try to pressure Kuwait to follow their example more, especially on regional issues in which Sheikh Sabah has sought to play centrally. According to him, the new emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, actively participated in the decisions of his predecessor and does not support the unilateral normalization of relations with Israel.
“Kuwait wants a neutral position,” the person said. “We won’t support and praise what is happening but we won’t criticize it either.”
The new emir will soon begin talks with other leading members of the ruling family to select senior officials, including a new crown prince, a process that could take weeks, perhaps months.
The choice of the crown prince is important because Sheikh Nawaf is already 83 years old and in poor health. Top candidates include Sheikh Sabah's eldest son, 72-year-old Sheikh Nasser al-Sabah; and his nephew, former prime minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammed, 79 years old.