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Maliki vows to resolve all issues with Kuwait

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Maliki vows to resolve all issues with Kuwait

Post  Shilo on Sat Nov 27, 2010 9:10 am

Maliki vows to resolve all issues with Kuwait
27 November, 2010

Iraq and Kuwait have signed a border arrangement in a significant move aimed at freeing Baghdad from the UN-imposed sanction regime in place since 1990.

Under the new deal, Iraq and Kuwait agreed to create a 500m buffer zone on each side of their common 240km border. Kuwait pledged to finance the removal of Iraqi farmers living along the frontier and build 50 homes for them inside Iraq.

The UN Security Council demarcated the territorial border between Iraq and Kuwait in 1993 and it is today patrolled only by border police.
Saddam Hussain’s Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990, claiming it was Iraq’s 19th province torn away by British imperialism in 1932.
Following Iraq’s defeat in the First Gulf War, the UN Security Council slapped a sanction regime on Iraq. Under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, it allowed the international body to take military and economic measures against countries it defines as “aggressive”.

“For some time the Iraqis said they wanted to resolve the border issue, but never managed to do so,” Dr Yousef Ali, director of the Kuwait Centre for Strategic and Future Studies, said. “The UN should be the arbiter between Iraq and Kuwait regarding the border.”

Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki this week pledged to resolve all pending political issues with Kuwait. In a meeting with two UN officials, he focused on the matter of 370 missing Kuwaiti war victims saying that retrieving their remains was “a humanitarian and religious duty.”

Dr Ali said that Kuwaitis regarded the war victims issue as secondary in the diplomatic relations with Iraq.
Ali al-Saffar, an expert on Iraq at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said that Iraq’s recent overtures towards Kuwait were part of its attempt to end the 20-year-old UN sanction regime. He said that Iraq still owed Kuwait $ 25.5bn for damages incurred during the war.

As Iraqi armies retreated from Kuwait in the waning days of the Gulf War in 1991, they set over 700 oil wells ablaze, consuming more than 1bn barrels of oil over a period of seven months and causing an environmental disaster of huge proportions. Kuwait paid $ 1.5bn to extinguish the fires, and billions more to the US to help pay the costs of liberating it.

The exact number of Kuwaitis killed in the war is unknown, but estimates run at 2,000-5,000.

“Land and sea borders can be agreed upon relatively easily by the leaders,” al-Saffar said. “But Iraq’s huge outstanding debt will require a strong diplomatic drive to resolve.”
Al-Saffar said that Iraq regularly transfers 5% of its oil revenues to the UN as money earmarked for compensating Kuwait. Over the past 19 years Iraq has already paid Kuwait $ 17.5bn in compensation.

“Many Iraqis aren’t happy about this,” he said. “They feel that the debts owed to Kuwait are odious and vindictive; incurred by a dictatorial regime they had no say over.”

But although being on the receiving end of the deal, Kuwaitis too remain circumspect about Iraq.

“Many Kuwaitis feel threatened by Iraq,” Dr Ali of Kuwait said. “They feel that even though Saddam loyalists are no longer in power, they influence Iraqi society and may perpetrate terrorist activity in Kuwait.”
Ali said that despite Maliki’s goodwill toward Kuwait, he does not represent all segments of the Iraqi population.

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