Kuwait welcomes ‘positive Iraqi statements’

Officials attempt to contain controversy before lawmakers ignite it into firestorm

Kuwait has hailed statements by Iraqi government officials that dismissed allegations made by some Iraqi parties over Khor Abdullah, an estuary between the two countries that has sparked a new controversy.

“We welcome the statements that aim at calming down the situation and which we support,” Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Al Jarallah said. “We pay absolutely no attention to any other comments that attempt to mislead or flare up and escalate the situation. We look at the positive side, and the positive statements by Iraqi officials about the topic, including Prime Minister Dr Haider Al Abadi and Foreign Minister Ebrahim Al Jaafari, are important in this regard,” Al Jarallah told media on Tuesday evening, Kuwait News Agency reported.

Khor Abdullah is a waterway between Kuwait and Iraq, and the agreement between the two countries is related to the regulation of navigation, and not to the demarcation of the border, Al Jarallah added.

“The border demarcation between the two countries was finalised by United Nations Resolution 833. We are currently implementing the agreement to regulate navigation between Kuwait and Iraq which was signed in 2012. We started some time ago to implement it and to develop the technical bases for the operation. The meetings between officials from both countries on January 24-27 confirmed the technical process to organise navigation in Khor Abdullah,” he said.

The Iraqi parliament last month flared up following bitter standoffs between lawmakers who accused their government of surrendering the maritime border to Kuwait and others who defended the official stance.

Some Iraqi MPs claimed Khor Abdullah was not included in legal or geographic terms in Resolution 833.

Others alleged that the government would be compromising Iraqi sovereignty by going ahead with the Khor Abdullah agreement.

However, Al Abadi, in a statement on January 31, termed as “unjustified” the raising by some parties of the issues of Khor Abdullah and border demarcation with Kuwait, even though the frontiers were demarcated according to UN Resolution 833.

“The aim of raising these issues at this time is to deflect attention from victory achieved in the city of Mosul,” Al Abadi told a news conference. “Unjustified media frenzy has been created over Khor Abdullah.”

In Kuwait, Al Jarallah earlier this month insisted that Kuwait did not take even an inch of Iraqi territory, while lawmakers reacted to the stance of Iraqi MPs regarding Khor Abdullah by calling for a special session in the parliament to debate the estuary and the border issues that the two countries had finalised years ago.

Resolution 833 stipulates that “through the demarcation process the Commission was not reallocating territory between Kuwait and Iraq, but it was simply carrying out the technical task necessary to demarcate for the first time the precise coordinates of the boundary set out in the ‘Agreed Minutes between the State of Kuwait and the Republic of Iraq regarding the Restoration of Friendly Relations, Recognition and Related Matters’ signed by them on 4 October 1963.”

The resolution said that the “task was carried out in the special circumstances following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and pursuant to resolution 687 (1991) and the Secretary-General’s report for implementing paragraph three of that resolution.”

The 2012 agreement, deposited at the UN following the signature by both countries, calls for the formation of a joint commission to organise navigation, guarantee the safety of Khor Abdullah, protect the environment, maintain the inlet and handle fishing boats.