Kuwait’s new emir, Sheikh Nawaf, on Wednesday named Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Jaber Al-Sabah, a long-serving top security official, as crown prince.
Sheikh Meshal, 80, has been deputy chief of the Kuwait National Guard since 2004, largely staying out of the political scene and away from disputes within the royal family.
The Sabah ruling family “blessed” Sheikh Nawaf’s decision, the official Kuwait News Agency said Wednesday, a day ahead of a parliamentary session to approve the choice.
In recent years, the ruling family has been flaunting its differences, with lurid accusations of corruption and political conspiracies lodged by some of its members against others.
Kuwait, unlike other Gulf states, has a lively political life with an elected parliament that enjoys wide legislative powers and can vote ministers out of office. Political rows often burst into the open.
Sheikh Nawaf, 83, was sworn in on September 30 after the death of his half-brother, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, who passed away at the age of 91 after two months in hospital in the US.
The succession comes at a time when the oil-rich country is grappling with the hot topics of whether to establish ties with Israel and how to respond to low crude prices amid the coronavirus slump.
Sheikh Meshal is the seventh son of the 10th Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Ahmad al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
He is considered the most powerful man in the National Guard — an elite corps in charge of defending the emirate’s territory.
The position of chief is symbolically held by Salem al-Ali Al-Sabah, the eldest member of the Sabah ruling family.
Sheikh Meshal spent many years in the interior ministry, where he rose through the ranks to head the department of general investigation from 1967 until 1980 and was credited for strengthening its function as a state security service.
In 2016, he travelled abroad and underwent a “successful operation”, but details of the treatment were not disclosed.