US President Donald Trump bestows Legion of Merit award on Kuwait's sick ruling emir

US President Donald Trump bestows Legion of Merit award on Kuwait's sick ruling emir
Donald Trump has awarded Kuwait's ruling emir with a top US honor.
3 min read
19 September, 2020
Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah is receiving treatment in the US [Getty]

US President Donald Trump has bestowed a top US honor on Kuwait's ruling emir, who according to the White House played a central role in resolving a years long four-nation boycott of Qatar and is now ill and receiving treatment in the US, the White House said Friday.

Trump awarded the Legion of Merit to Kuwait’s Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, who, along with Oman, has sought dialog to end the dispute that has torn apart the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Speaking to reporters after the private ceremony, Trump said Kuwait was "excited" about developments in the Middle East.

"So, we're having some very good discussions with the Taliban, as you probably heard," Trump said. 

"It's been public and we'll be down to very shortly, we'll be down to less than 4,000 soldiers. And so we'll be out of there knowing that certain things have to happen. Certain things have to be fulfilled. But 19 years is a long time 8,000 miles away. 19 years is a long time."

Trump was referring to agreements between Israel and Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

"I had two calls this morning with countries that want to know when can we go into the deal? They want to go," he added.

"It's not that we're giving anything. They want security. They want peace. And they're really tired of fighting. It's incredible. They're tired fighting. They've been fighting for so many years. They're tired of fighting."

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been part of the boycott that’s targeted fellow GCC member Qatar since June 2017.

Egypt also joined the boycott, which saw nations close their airspace and borders to Qatar.

The Legion of Merit is a rarely awarded decoration that can only be bestowed by the president, typically to chiefs of state or heads of government of other countries.

The honor was last awarded in 1991.

The emir’s eldest son, Sheikh Nasser bin Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah of the State of Kuwait, was to accept the award on behalf of the emir.

In July, Sheikh Sabah flew across the world in a US Air Force C-17 flying hospital, just days after undergoing an unspecified surgery at home.

The dramatic airlift to the Mayo Clinic reflected the close ties between the two nations but also raised concerns over the ruler’s medical condition. The clinic declined to discuss his condition on Friday.

Trump also said the US was having "good discussions" with the Taliban.

Taliban and Afghan government-appointed negotiators are sitting together for the first time to try to find a peaceful end to decades of relentless war.

Washington's peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said at the start of negotiations last weekend that spoilers existed on both sides.

He said that some among Afghanistan's many leaders would be content to continue with the status quo rather than find a peaceful end to the war that might involve power sharing.