Reformist Kuwaiti Political Figure, Son of Former Emir, Passes Away

Reformist Kuwaiti Political Figure, Son of Former Emir, Passes Away

Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al Sabah, who was once a front-runner to become the next leader of the Persian Gulf country, died of natural causes. He was 72.

The former crown prince often spoke out against government corruption and pushed for greater openness. Nasser also backed large, expensive projects which were designed to diversify Kuwait’s economy. He felt these two areas would help Kuwait keep pace with its more well-developed neighbors, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. However, his father, the late emir Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, did not agree, and forced Nasser out of Kuwait’s government. Instead, his uncle became emir of Kuwait.

Kuwait’s state-run news agency did not give a cause of death. However, Nasser had been in poor health since he underwent surgery to remove a lung tumor in 2018.

Kuwait’s Government and the Global War on Terror

Islamic extremism has now spread across the world. But it began in the Persian Gulf area. As a result, Kuwait’s government has been an important partner in the Global War on Terror since before pundits coined this phrase.

Currently, there are thousands of private military contractors in Kuwait. As outlined below, they have various duties. Life as an overseas contractor is dangerous, but it is also exciting and lucrative. If you are thinking about such a life, before you sign on the dotted line, you should probably know something about Kuwait’s government.

Technically, Kuwait is a constitutional emirate. Its government is a mixture of an autocracy (rule by one person) and a democracy (rule by the people). Like the United States, Kuwait has three branches of government. However, unlike the United States, these branches have overlapping powers. And, there are few checks and balances.

Kuwait’s legislature, the National Assembly, has 50 members. Kuwaitis elect all of them. However, both the emir and the Constitutional Court (Kuwait’s version of the Supreme Court) may unilaterally dissolve the National Assembly. If that happens, new elections must be held within two months. But no one is exactly sure what happens if the emir refuses to comply with this requirement.

The emir, who is essentially a king, appoints the prime minister, who is technically the head of the executive branch. The prime minister appoints cabinet ministers. The National Assembly must approve these appointments. The National Assembly also has the power to remove cabinet ministers. However, unlike king or queen, emir is not necessarily a hereditary post.

As for the judicial branch, in addition to the aforementioned Constitutional Court, there are Courts of First Instance and appeals courts. Most observers believe Kuwait’s judiciary is the most independent judicial system in the Arab world.

In a nutshell, the emir essentially runs the government from behind the scenes. However, the emir’s authority is far from absolute. So, if you live in Kuwait and have a problem with the government, such as a visa issue, you might be able to resolve it without the emir’s personal intervention.

Contractors in Kuwait

Kuwait has lots of oil, is in a very strategic location, and has almost no security force. Therefore, former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein saw Kuwait as low-hanging fruit in 1990. Hussein did not think Saudi Arabia would turn to the United States and the international community for help, but that is what happened. In doing so, Saudi Arabia’s king rejected Osama Bin Laden’s offer of assistance. Bin Laden angrily departed for Afghanistan, and we all know what happened next.

Shortly thereafter, an American-led international coalition established a beachhead in Kuwait. This beachhead soon became several large, permanent military bases. Camp Arifjan, Camp Doha, Ali Al Salem Air Base, and Camp Buehring are the four largest such installations. A fifth facility, an air base at Ahmed al-Jaber, primarily refuels and rearms carrier-based aircraft.

During the height of the Iraq War, Kuwait was an important staging area, mostly for airstrikes. Today, Kuwait still serves as a staging area, mostly for drone and airstrikes against ISIS forces in Iraq, Syria, and other parts of the Middle East. Additionally, Kuwait is a stockpiling station for Hercules transports and Warthog ground attack planes. These aircraft are basically the workhorses of American air power in the Middle East.

Most of the contractors in Kuwait are from DynCorp, Northrop Grumman, or Fluor. These companies are closely associated with weapons and aircraft maintenance. Other contractors in Kuwait serve as morale officers, cooks, doctors, or in other combat support roles. Still other contractors man checkpoints and escort VIPs on tours.

Injury Compensation Available

There is not a lot of angry violence directed against Americans in Kuwait. Most Kuwaitis understand that the American military presence is the price they paid for independence from Iraq. Furthermore, because the country is a pseudo-democracy, most people feel that they have a way to express themselves other than through political violence.

Nevertheless, the risk of contractor injury is high in Kuwait. Falls from a height and slip-and-fall injuries are among the most common trauma injuries. Hearing loss is also a problem at noisy air bases. Runway personnel usually protect their ears. But hangars and other parts of the base are almost as noisy, and these workers often have no protection.

When regular servicemembers are injured in ways like these, the Veterans Administration takes care of them. When overseas contractors are hurt, the Defense Base Act and its no-fault benefits takes care of them. These benefits replace lost wages and pay medical expenses.

Generally, the DBA pays two-thirds of the victim’s average weekly wage for the duration of the disability. The AWW includes not only regular cash compensation, but also irregular non-cash compensation, like performance bonuses and housing allowances.

The DBA insurance company usually pays medical expenses directly. This category includes both direct and ancillary medical costs. Contractors are not financially responsible for any unpaid charges.

For more information about the DBA benefits process, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A.