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04KUWAIT3771 2004-11-03 14:47:00 SECRET Embassy Kuwait
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1. (S) Summary and Comment: An Al-Sabah ruling family
member and son of the Amir recently asked PolChief to join
him on a walk through his garden during which he railed
against the Prime Minister, accusing him of manipulating his
power and position to force the Amir and Crown Prince out of
office. He said most Kuwaitis expected the PM to eventually
become Amir and it was disrespectful for him to encourage the
Amir to take an "early retirement in Geneva." The Shaykh
spoke of a definite rift in the ruling family, but in
contrast to press reports, it was not between the Jaber and
Salem branches, rather it was among the old guard and the
young Turks of the Jaber line in a struggle for control of
family resources. As one of the Amir's many sons, the Shaykh
has a clear bias, but Post believes his criticisms of his
uncle the PM genuinely stem from what he considers to be
improper behavior and not anger or disappointment that his
own political future is at stake. In fact, as head of an
extraneous government body, his career has most likely
peaked, a common assessment among Post contacts and something
the Shaykh himself seems to realize. The Shaykh does not
seem to disapprove of the ultimate ascendancy of PM Shaykh
Sabah, rather his concerns center on the manner in which he
becomes Amir and the exclusion of the extended family in the
process. End Summary and Comment.

Crown Prince Returns Renewing Interest in Succession



2. (S) Crown Prince Shaykh Sa'ad returned to Kuwait October
28 following a month of medical treatment in the UK. His
return has renewed interest in the succession issue, with
some observers arguing that his return reunites the ruling
family, thus enabling it to reach a final decision on who
will succeed the ailing, elderly leaders and when.
Commenting on succession, one of the Amir's sons pulled
PolChief aside at a recent diwaniya to express his
displeasure at what he considers the machinations of Prime
Minister Shaykh Sabah to assume the amirship. The Shaykh
reported that the PM has coveted the position for years and
is only acting now because of his own advancing age and not
because of the worsening conditions of both the Amir and CP.
It is a fact that the PM is the de facto ruler of Kuwait;
therefore, said the Shaykh, there is no real reason to seek
the Amir's or the CP's abdication. In fact, the Shaykh
claimed that the PM, with the assistance of current Deputy
National Guard head Shaykh Mish'al, was behind the 2003
decision to remove the PM portfolio from the CP. He
explained that Shaykh Mish'al, younger brother of both the
Amir and the PM, was subsequently rewarded with the National
Guard. He also said the CP's recent visit to London was not
voluntary. He alleged that Mish'al, assisted by his brother
Interior Minister Shaykh Nawaf, forcibly removed the CP from
his home and sent him to London, fully expecting him not to
return. The Shaykh bitterly said such action was unnecessary
since everyone knows the CP "is finished." (Note: The
Ambassador attended the CP's November 1 Ramadan diwaniya and
observed that the CP, while in much better physical health
than the Amir, is not in command of his mental faculties.
End Note.)

Survival of the Fittest: The PM vs. the Amir


3. (S) The Shaykh was particularly upset following the
October 26 opening of the National Assembly. According to
the Constitution, the Amir opens each session of the National
Speech with what amounts to a state of the union address. He
may delegate the PM to deliver the speech, as was the case on
the 26th. The Shaykh complained that the deliberate care
with which his father was ushered into the assembly hall, the
mussing of his "ghutra" (white headdress) and the slowness
with which it was readjusted, as well as the lengthy address
delivered by the PM were attempts to highlight the
differences between the still healthy PM and the frail Amir.
He said everyone knows the Amir is not well and the PM sought
to discredit and embarrass him. It would have been better,
argued the Shaykh, to let his father say a few words to
declare the session opened and forego the long speech.
(Note: In fact, the Amir did whisper the words opening the
session, with some audible coaching from aides. End Note.)

All in the Family


4. (S) The Shaykh added that the PM and his sons (Shaykh
Naser, an economic adviser in the PM's office, and Shaykh
Hamad, a businessman) control most of the extended family's
extensive financial wealth and the PM now seeks to
consolidate wealth and political power in one distinct
lineage. (Note: Observers in Kuwait rate Shaykh Sabah and
his sons among the top five wealthiest families. End Note.)
The Shaykh also mentioned rumors that the PM intended to
name Naser as CP, but reported other older family members,
such as Mish'al, balked.

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