x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Kuwait's Sheikh Nasser dies

Sheikh Saud Al Nasser Al Sabah, who served as Kuwait's ambassador to the US during Iraq's 1990 invasion of the country and the American-led war to oust Saddam Hussein's forces, has died aged 68.

KUWAIT CITY // Sheikh Saud Al Nasser Al Sabah, who served as Kuwait's ambassador to the US during Iraq's 1990 invasion of the country and the American-led war to oust Saddam Hussein's forces, has died, a government-backed newspaper reported. He was 68.

Al-Qabas said the former diplomat died yesterday. It gave no cause of death.

A member of Kuwait's royal family, Sheikh Nasser was a leading voice calling for international help during Iraq's occupation. But he was forced to defend his tactics when it was revealed that his then-teenage daughter, Nayirah, told US lawmakers in October 1990 that she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers yank newborn babies from incubators. Several rights groups later questioned the account, which helped galvanise US public opinion in favour of war.

A statement today from George HW Bush, the former US president, called Sheikh Nasser a "trusted partner" during the US-led war in 1991 that drove Saddam's military from Kuwait.

"Throughout that defining ordeal, he stood proudly with the United States as our coalition ejected Saddam's forces from Kuwaiti soil and upheld international law," said Mr Bush's statement. "He was truly a good man, and a joy with whom to work."

Sheikh Nasser served as Kuwait's envoy to Washington from 1981 to 1992. He later served in Kuwait's government as information minister and oil minister.

In the past decade, he played an elder statesmen's role with close ties to the White House and US officials.

He also was a strong opponent of anti-Western views by Islamic hardliners in Kuwait. In 2003, he joined other Kuwaiti leaders in endorsing the US invasion of Iraq and called it the "beginning of the end" for Muslim extremists.