Lt Gen­eral Mo­ham­mad Al-Yousuf Al-Sabah to re­tire af­ter 39 years in ser­vice

Se­nior of­fi­cial left his fin­ger­prints on var­i­ous In­te­rior Min­istry de­part­ments

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL - By Dr Ner­min Al-Houti

KUWAIT: Lt Gen­eral Sheikh Mo­ham­mad AlYousuf Al-Sabah is a se­nior In­te­rior Min­istry of­fi­cial who com­mit­ted him­self since join­ing the mil­i­tary ser­vice to keep a watch­ful eye on Kuwait’s se­cu­rity and safety, and ded­i­cated all his ef­forts for this cause. He has been sail­ing the seas and roam­ing the land, and still does so to ful­fill his prom­ise. Lt Gen­eral Mo­ham­mad Yousuf Al-Saud Al-Sabah, As­sis­tant Un­der­sec­re­tary for Bor­ders Se­cu­rity, has been work­ing hard for more than 39 years to pro­tect Kuwait’s se­cu­rity.

“This man is in uni­form from morn­ing till evening, car­ry­ing out his se­cu­rity du­ties at its best,” said HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah AlAh­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, de­scrib­ing Sheikh Mo­ham­mad Al-Yousuf in words con­veyed by the In­te­rior Min­is­ter when he dec­o­rated him with the rank of Lt Gen­eral, the high­est rank in pub­lic ser­vice. The fol­low­ing are ex­cerpts from an in­ter­view con­ducted with Sheikh Mo­ham­mad, and pub­lished jointly with AlAn­baa daily.

Hope and wish

Ques­tion: Lt Gen­eral Sheikh Mo­ham­mad Al-Yousuf, what does the date Septem­ber 15, 1978 mean to you?

Sheikh Mo­ham­mad: Ful­fill­ing my wish to join the In­te­rior Min­istry Mil­i­tary Ser­vice. Ques­tion: So, that was your Wish?

Sheikh Mo­ham­mad: Yes that was my wish, and I will tell you a story that few peo­ple know. First, I should men­tion the fa­vor of the Late Sheikh Saad Al-Ab­dul­lah Al-Sabah in ful­fill­ing that wish on sci­en­tific and aca­demic ba­sis. I went to him when he was In­te­rior and de­fense min­is­ter to join the in­te­rior min­istry, which gives the right to the in­di­vid­ual to join the In­te­rior Min­istry af­ter re­ceiv­ing a diploma and go through a two year mil­i­tary course. I had fin­ished two years at Kuwait Univer­sity, which could be con­sid­ered as a diploma and gives me the right to join the mil­i­tary col­lege. Yet, Sheikh Saad kept post­pon­ing our meet­ing, and even­tu­ally told me that af­ter two years when I fin­ish my univer­sity stud­ies, I can come meet him be­cause he wanted me to join the mil­i­tary ser­vice as a univer­sity grad­u­ate. I had fin­ished my third year then, and only one year re­mained. I grad­u­ated and joined the mil­i­tary col­lege. The first course had nine univer­sity grad­u­ates and I passed it on top of the class, then I joined the In­te­rior Min­istry as a univer­sity grad­u­ate, and my wish was ful­filled. I will never for­get this for the Late Sheikh Saad Al-Ab­dul­lah, who wanted me to be an of­fi­cer with a univer­sity de­gree.

Na­tion­al­ity and Travel Doc­u­ments Ques­tion: In 1996, you brought up sev­eral se­cu­rity is­sues and de­manded deep rooted so­lu­tions, in­clud­ing the uni­fied link­ing, DNA, un­cov­er­ing na­tion­al­ity ma­nip­u­la­tion, and the bedoon (state­less) is­sue. To­day, we see that what you brought up then is on its way to be solved, and some of these is­sues have al­ready solved. How would you com­ment on this, be­ing the se­cu­rity nu­cle­o­lus for those is­sues?

Sheikh Mo­ham­mad: It is not only be­cause of me, but rather it is the re­sult of the work of my col­leagues and su­pe­ri­ors. We were a group that worked for Kuwait’s se­cu­rity, so I can­not claim per­sonal credit, or say that I work alone be­cause, my prin­ci­ple is al­ways to work as a team, and not to work in­di­vid­u­ally, and the state­ments you men­tioned were the re­sult of joint work. What I did through my po­si­tion as Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of Na­tion­al­ity and Travel Doc­u­ments was to link the na­tion­al­ity, pass­ports, new­borns and civil iden­ti­fi­ca­tion di­vi­sions. In the past, when some­one gets a new­born, he used to go to Hawally to reg­is­ter the new­born, then he gets a pa­per from the Na­tion­al­ity and Travel Doc­u­ments Depart­ment and goes for the Civil ID, and this was an ex­haust­ing process for par­ents. So I made a pro­posal and the de­ci­sion was made to have an of­fice for the na­tion­al­ity and travel doc­u­ments, and an­other for the Civil ID to make it easy for cit­i­zens to process trans­ac­tions in a shorter time.

Ques­tion: It is known that you re­ject the use of the word “I”, and I felt through read­ing and hear­ing about you that you are re­ally hum­ble. Yet, I at­tribute to you that you were the first to say that there is no is­sue called ‘bedoon.’ In 1995 you made a press state­ment while be­ing Di­rec­tor of the Na­tion­al­ity and Travel Doc­u­ments’ Di­rec­torate, say­ing that 90 per­cent of the bedoon have for­eign ori­gins, and this is what we see in re­al­ity to­day and re­vealed by the Cen­tral Agency

for Rem­e­dy­ing Il­le­gal Res­i­dents Sta­tus?

Sheikh Mo­ham­mad: It is not an is­sue be­cause I do not think that there is a per­son with­out ori­gins. The state­ment I made at the time and I still re­mem­ber that state­ment I made at the time, and still be­lieve that there is no per­son who does not have a home­land. If he does not know his ori­gin, he has a fa­ther and a grand­fa­ther whose ori­gins are known, so there is noth­ing called ‘bedoons.’ Bear in mind that my state­ments did not come out of in­di­vid­ual ef­forts, but rather as a re­sult of joint work.

I will not for­get the role of Ma­jor Gen­eral Adel Al-Mu­nayes and his work on this is­sue at the time, and the work that we car­ried out is com­pleted now by Saleh Al-Fad­ha­lah (the Di­rec­tor of the Cen­tral Agency for Rem­e­dy­ing Il­le­gal Res­i­dents Sta­tus) who made com­mend­able ef­forts to com­plete the work on this se­cu­rity and na­tional mat­ter while of­fer­ing deep rooted so­lu­tions, and dis­cover many of those who were claim­ing that they do not be­long to a coun­try. I be­lieve that the state of Kuwait will not let them down when they ex­press good in­ten­tions to the state, as Kuwait is al­ways a coun­try of giv­ing to all those who re­sort to it and a home of hu­man­i­tar­ian ac­tion un­der the lead­er­ship of the Hu­man­i­tar­ian Leader HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ah­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

El­derly and dis­abled

Ques­tion: You were the first to ac­ti­vate the de­ci­sion is­sued by Lt Gen­eral Yousuf AlKharafi on Septem­ber 2, 1998 to co­op­er­ate and ease the trans­ac­tions of the dis­abled and the el­derly, and many lauded your ac­tions with this group of peo­ple. How do you com­ment on that?

Sheikh Mo­ham­mad: Yes, a de­ci­sion was is­sued by our men­tor Lt Gen­eral Yousuf Al-Kharafi and I as the Di­rec­tor of Na­tion­al­ity and Travel Doc­u­ments formed an in­te­grated team to go and help those who can­not come to the di­rec­torate such as an el­derly per­son.

The Me­dia

Ques­tion: Sheikh Mo­ham­mad Al-Yousuf is known for avoid­ing me­dia ap­pear­ances as he prefers to work silently. But de­spite that, we find you de­fend­ing any­thing that is con­cerned with Kuwait and its se­cu­rity. So why do you keep away from the me­dia?

Sheikh Mo­ham­mad: Why ap­pear in the me­dia? I am a cit­i­zen car­ry­ing out my du­ties, so what is the role of the me­dia in this? Yet, when my depart­ment is un­justly treated, I go to the me­dia and de­fend as long as I be­lieve that I am right. For ex­am­ple, when jour­nal­ist Adel Al-Zawawi called me to ask about so­cial me­dia re­ports claim­ing that mem­bers of the Ab­daly cell es­caped through sea, I told him that the ru­mors were not true, and if it was proven oth­er­wise, the Kuwaiti peo­ple have the right to take me to court.

As part of our du­ties, most Coast Guard of­fi­cials spent days at mid sea in­clud­ing Lt Colonel Sheikh Mubarak Al-Ali Al-Sabah and oth­ers in vig­i­lance against any at­tempt for the 14 fugi­tives to es­cape. I am not say­ing that it is not pos­si­ble for them to es­cape be­cause we can­not con­trol all 2,900 slip­ways, and it is not pos­si­ble to place a po­lice­man at each slip­way to reg­is­ter who gets in and out.

De­spite that dif­fi­culty, my depart­ment was sure that they did not leave as our var­i­ous au­thor­i­ties said there is noth­ing un­of­fi­cial that left, and I an­swered Zawawi due to my con­fi­dence in my depart­ment and men.

The en­vi­ron­ment

Ques­tion: We al­ways no­tice that you call for the pro­tec­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment be it on land or sea. Kuwait wit­nessed an oil spell about a month ago, and it was the Coast Guard that dis­cov­ered it first. How did it start?

Sheikh Mo­ham­mad: Al­though the di­rec­torate is not equipped for that, the Coast Guard was the first to in­form au­thor­i­ties re­spon­si­ble for com­bat­ting oil spills. We are a se­cu­rity au­thor­ity and our job is to in­form, and that is what hap­pened. I find it re­ally strange that the En­vi­ron­ment Pub­lic Au­thor­ity does not have boats, so we helped them with our boats in or­der to safe­guard Kuwait’s se­cu­rity and peo­ple’s safety. It is re­ally sad to see that the au­thor­ity re­spon­si­ble for the en­vi­ron­ment poorly equipped.

Un­for­get­table per­son­al­i­ties

Ques­tion: Who is Sheikh Ali Sabah AlSalem Al-Sabah for Lt Gen­eral Sheikh Mo­ham­mad Al-Yousuf?

Sheikh Mo­ham­mad: He is a le­gend as far as I am con­cerned and I named my son Ali Sabah af­ter him, as he was born three months af­ter his death.

Ques­tion: What is the story be­hind the pa­per that was sent by Sheikh Ali Sabah AlSalem to you, and you keep it in every of­fice you move to?

Sheikh Mo­ham­mad: it is an or­di­nary story, but one that has many mean­ings and re­minds me of the late Sheikh Ali Sabah AlSalem, who I would never for­get. He sent me a pa­per with an em­ployee when I was a Lt Colonel ask­ing me to help solve a problem that the em­ployee was fac­ing. And since then, I framed the pa­per and it ac­com­pa­nied me where ever I went.

Ques­tion: Sad­ness has many forms, but those who saw you at the mo­ment when Sheikh Khalid Al-Yousuf was buried can see the re­al­ity of sad­ness and de­par­ture on your face and tears. Does he have your ev­er­last­ing love?

Sheikh Mo­ham­mad: My brother Khalid was close to all my broth­ers and me per­son­ally. Khalid was the joy of Yousuf Al-Saud house. I lived with him his ill­ness, and I should men­tion some of those who were with us in­clud­ing Bar­rak Al-Us­tath as well as Bader Al-As­four. Ques­tion: What does Lt Gen­eral Ab­dul­lah Al-Fares mean to you? Sheikh Mo­ham­mad: He is a model in se­cu­rity work, a first class teacher, a to­tal mil­i­tary school on its own. I learned a lot from him al­though I did not work with him ex­cept in some is­sues as I was lucky to work un­der his lead­er­ship. I used to go and at­tend in­ves­ti­ga­tions in some com­pli­cated crimes to learn from his in­struc­tions.

Ques­tion: What about Sheikh Ali AlYousuf Al-Sabah? Sheikh Mo­ham­mad: He is a sup­port for me. All my broth­ers sup­port each other. We are to­gether and we are kept to­gether by ‘Um Mo­ham­mad’ Sabeeka bint Ah­mad AlHu­maidhi and our sec­ond mother Bibi AlYousuf Al-Sabah.

A fi­nal word

Ques­tion: Your ser­vice will come to an end in a few days. Do you feel that you car­ried out all what you wanted to do, es­pe­cially at the Coast Guard? Sheikh Mo­ham­mad: Of course not, as there is a lot that I did not carry out so far.

Ques­tion: Like what?

Sheikh Mo­ham­mad: Many things. For ex­am­ple, I wanted to de­velop more than I did. I wanted to dis­tin­guish the coast­guards­men with more in­cen­tives. I be­lieve that any per­son who has a goal and ful­fills it should move on, but I al­ways have new goals, there­fore I be­lieve that I did not reach my goals so I can­not say that I ful­filled all what I wished for es­pe­cially in this se­cu­rity sec­tor.

Ques­tion: If you were asked to con­tinue ser­vice in any form and po­si­tion af­ter re­tire­ment, will you ac­cept? Sheikh Mo­ham­mad: Of course I will ac­cept, and I am at the ser­vice of Kuwait.

Lt Gen­eral Mo­ham­mad Al-Yousuf Al-Sabah meets with HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ah­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

(From left) Lt Gen­eral Mo­ham­mad Al-Yousuf Al-Sabah with his fa­ther Sheikh Yousuf Al-Saud Al-Sabah and his son Saud.

Lt Gen­eral Mo­ham­mad Al-Yousuf Al-Sabah meets with HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ah­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

Lt Gen­eral Mo­ham­mad Al-Yousuf Al-Sabah is pic­tured with his mother Sabeeka bint Ah­mad Al-Hu­maidhi ‘Um Mo­ham­mad.’

KUWAIT: Lt Gen­eral Mo­ham­mad Al-Yousuf Al-Sabah.

Lt Gen­eral Mo­ham­mad Al-Yousuf Al-Sabah is pic­tured with his wife Sheikha Latayef Ab­dul­lah Al-Khal­ifa Al-Sabah.

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