The people of Kuwait are observing a forty-day period of mourning for the late Sheikh Jabir al-Ahmed al-Sabah. Kuwait's hereditary leader, or Emir, died after a long illness. He was seventy-eight years old and had ruled Kuwait for nearly thirty years.
In 1990, Sheikh Jabir was forced into exile after Kuwait was invaded and brutally occupied by the Iraqi army of Saddam Hussein. In 1991 a U.S.-led coalition liberated Kuwait and the Kuwaiti leader returned home. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says, "A close bond developed between Kuwait and the United States during the 1991 liberation and continues to be just as strong today":
"Under the Emir's leadership, ties between Kuwait and the United States grew to be deep and robust. Kuwait has been a vital partner in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom and in the global war on terror. The Emir demonstrated his commitment to democratic government by overseeing elections and reestablishing Kuwait's parliament after the 1991 liberation and by succeeding last May in granting full political rights to Kuwaiti women."
Mr. McCormack says the U.S. "will miss Sheikh Jabir's leadership and friendship, while we know that his successors will uphold his proud legacy."
Among his achievements, Sheikh Jabir established Kuwait's Fund for Future Generations, a plan to provide for economic security in a time when the country's oil reserves may be depleted. In a written statement, President George W. Bush said, "Sheikh Jabir worked tirelessly to provide a better future for Kuwait's citizens and was the driving force behind many reforms, including the establishment of a vibrant, elected parliament and a free press."
The U.S., says Mr. Bush, sends its "deepest condolences to Sheikh Jabir's family and to the government and people of Kuwait on the passing of this historic leader."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.