KUWAIT CITY - Sheik Saud al-Nasser al-Sabah, who served as Kuwait’s ambassador to the United States during the 1990 invasion of the oil-rich country by Iraq and the subsequent war to oust Saddam Hussein’s forces, has died, a government-backed newspaper reported yesterday. He was 68.
Al Qabas newspaper said the former diplomat died Saturday. It gave no cause of death.
A member of Kuwait’s royal family, Sheik Nasser was a leading voice calling for international help during Iraq’s occupation. But he was forced to defend his tactics when it was revealed that his then-teenage daughter, Nayirah, told US lawmakers in October 1990 that she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers yank newborn babies from incubators. Several rights groups later questioned the account, which helped galvanize US public opinion in favor of war.
A statement yesterday from President George H. W. Bush called Sheik Nasser a trusted partner during the occupation and the US-led war in 1991 that drove Iraq’s military from Kuwait.
“Throughout that defining ordeal, he stood proudly with the United States as our coalition ejected Saddam’s forces from Kuwaiti soil and upheld international law,’’ said Bush’s statement from Houston. “He was truly a good man, and a joy with whom to work.’’
Sheik Nasser served as Kuwait’s envoy to Washington from 1981 to 1992. He later served in Kuwait’s government as information minister and oil minister.
In the past decade, he played an elder statesmen’s role with close ties to the White House and US officials. He also was a strong opponent of anti-Western views by Islamic hard-liners in Kuwait. In 2003, he joined other Kuwaiti leaders in endorsing the US-led invasion of Iraq and called it the “beginning of the end’’ for Muslim extremists.
Al Qabas said a funeral was scheduled for yesterday.