The prime minister of Kuwait appeared at the Elliott School of International Affairs Thursday to accept the President’s Medal before a group of GW students and international dignitaries.
Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and some of his cabinet members were present to accept the award from University President Steven Knapp, University Marshal Jill Kasle and Elliott School Dean Michael Brown, who presided over the ceremony.
“I want personally to extend to you the deep gratitude of the government and the people of Kuwait for this special role your government and the young men and women in your armed forces played in 1991 when called upon to help save the people of a small nation from the brutal aggression of Saddam Hussein,” Sheikh Nasser said.
The prime minister also discussed more recent topics such as Kuwait’s commitment to eliminating worldwide terrorism and its commitment to supporting a new Iraq.
“As proactive partners in the U.S.-led campaign against global terrorism, we are providing military and diplomatic assistance as well as supporting efforts to block the financing of terrorist groups,” Sheikh Nasser said. “We are active and strong allies with the U.S. in the global war on terrorism.”
Sheikh Nasser concluded his speech with a call to action for the students in the audience.
“You will have the chance to contribute in resolving these difficult issues and influence the direction the new world will take you,” he said.
Some students attending the event expressed concern with the size of the room and the availability of the ceremony to students.
The event was open to the public, advertised on the GW Web site and included in a listserv e-mail, according to Menachem Wecker, assistant director of public affairs for publications and media.
“We tried to accommodate as many students who came without having sent in RSVPs as we could, but we have a limited number of seats, so that was not possible,” Wecker said.
Ambassador Edward “Skip” Gnehm Jr., professor of Gulf and Arabian Peninsula affairs at GW, former Ambassador to Kuwait and GW alumnus, organized the event. The event is one in the Middle East Policy Forum series being held this semester at GW.
“My principal goal was to give our students an opportunity to interface with an important leader from the Gulf region, a region of considerable interest to the U.S.,” Gnehm said.
Deborah Jones, the current American ambassador to Kuwait, attended the ceremony alongside other dignitaries. She said it is important to cultivate a relationship between the U.S. and the Middle Eastern state.
Jones said, “I think (these relationships) lay the critical foundations for diplomacy and for relationships between like-minded nations like Kuwait and the United States.”