Kuwait emir, 91, flies to US for medical care after surgery

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (AP) — Kuwait’s 91-year-old ruling emir left yesterday morning for the United States (US) to seek further medical care after recently undergoing surgery, its state-run news agency reported.

Kuwait has yet to elaborate on what required His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah to seek a previously unannounced medical treatment beginning tomorrow and a surgery on Sunday. However, Sheikh Sabah’s sudden surgery could inspire a renewed power struggle within Kuwait’s ruling family.

The state-run KUNA news agency quoted a statement from the country’s royal court saying Sheikh Sabah left “based on advice from the medical team treating His Highness to complete his treatment after a successful surgical procedure.”

“We ask Allah the Almighty to aid his recovery and sustain His Highness, who is healthy and well taken care of, and to protect him from all harm,” the statement said.

A statement attributed to Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al Sabah, the country’s royal court minister, did not elaborate or say where in the US Sheikh Sabah will receive treatment.

Kuwait’s ruling emir His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah. PHOTO: AP4

However, an Airbus A340 flown by Kuwait’s government left yesterday morning flying west. That same Airbus had flown to Rochester, Minnesota, and New York City before returning to Kuwait just days before Sheikh Sabah’s surgery. That Airbus A340 is believed to be a medical transport aircraft.

Rochester is home to the flagship campus of the Mayo Clinic, one of America’s best hospitals, and has treated His Highness Sheikh Sabah in the past.

The Mayo Clinic did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

A US State Department official said America “provided assistance to help with the emir’s treatment”, without elaborating. The official spoke to The Associated Press (AP) on condition of anonymity as the information had not been made public.

Kuwait earlier announced that 83-year-old Crown Prince Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah had assumed some of Sheikh Sabah’s powers temporarily, without explaining why that was necessary.

A copy of the ministerial decree posted by Kuwait’s official gazette, Kuwait Al-Youm, and seen by the AP on Sunday, said the Crown Prince would be empowered for “the duration of a surgical procedure until the health event is over”.

The decree did not elaborate. Kuwait’s Information Ministry has not responded to requests for comment.