KUWAIT CITY, Feb 11: “A number of military units, including security, control and Armed Forces, were assigned at the borders between Kuwait and Iraq as a precautionary measure while the alert and readiness levels were raised.
This step was taken based on information about the presence of several Iraqis in Umm Qasr which is near Khor Abdullah,” Assistant Undersecretary for Land Border Security Abdullah Al-Muhanna told Al-Jaridah daily.
The decision was taken following calls made in Iraq to stage demonstrations in protest against the agreement over navigation rights in the estuary signed by Kuwait and Iraq in 2012. “The situation is under control and the precautionary measures taken by Kuwait will deter any abuse,” Al-Muhanna asserted.
Meanwhile a report published on gulfnews.com quoted Iraqi sources as saying that the demonstration on Friday was supposed to be held at the border but it was moved to another location in response to the request of security forces.
In a press statement on Friday, the Iraqi Defense Ministry explained that its naval forces conducted an “exploratory round in the waters of the northern Gulf to ensure protection of oil ports, curb smuggling operations, and monitor the entry of commercial vessels to Iraq’s territorial waters because all of these are significant to the economy of the country.”
The two countries addressed the thorny border demarcation issue following United Nations Resolution 833 and a bilateral agreement signed in 2012 and ratified in 2013. However last month, the Iraqi Parliament flared up after bitter standoffs between lawmakers who accused their government of surrendering the maritime border to Kuwait through the agreements 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. 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 Oct 4, 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 after being signed by both countries, calls for the formation of a joint commission to organize navigation, guarantee the safety of Khor Abdullah, protect the environment, maintain the inlet and handle fishing boats. In a press statement on Jan 31, Iraqi Prime Minister Dr Haider Al-Abadi pointed out the “unjustified” raising by some parties of issues on Khor Abdullah and border demarcation with Kuwait, even though the frontiers were demarcated according to Resolution 833. “The aim of raising these issues now 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.” Earlier this month, Kuwait’s Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Khalid Al-Jarallah stressed the country did not take even a single inch of Iraqi territory.
“Khor Abdullah is a waterway between Kuwait and Iraq, and the agreement between the two countries is related to the regulation of navigation, not the demarcation of borders. The demarcation was finalized through 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 from Jan 24-27 confirmed the technical process to organize navigation in Khor Abdullah,” the undersecretary explained. In related news, a number of lawmakers have expressed satisfaction over the outcome of discussions between National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim and his Iraqi counterpart Dr Saleem Al-Jobouri who confirmed Iraq’s willingness to abide by international agreements with Kuwait.
The two parties discussed the recent statements of Iraq concerning Abdullah Bay in a meeting held in Cairo on the sidelines of the second conference of Arab parliament speakers with MPs Auda Al-Ruwaei, Waleed Al- Tabtabaei, Ali Al-Daqbasi, Askar Al-Anazi and Khalid Al-Otaibi in attendance. The MPs stressed the importance of maintaining good relationship between the two countries and for both parties to overcome problems in Abdullah Bay especially after some Iraqis held demonstrations there.
MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei described the demonstrations as just a tempest and the Iraqi side confirmed that it remains committed to all conventions in this regard. He said he is satisfied with the statements of Al-Jabouri, stressing Kuwait and Iraq has more important things to do other than the Abdullah Bay controversy.
On the other hand, MP Auda Al-Ruwaiei highlighted the role of diplomacy in solving problems, adding the meeting was clear and honest. He pointed out the government and Parliament will be able to solve issues like the Abdullah Bay controversy only through legitimate means. He praised Al-Jobouri for his sense of responsibility as this serves the interests of Iraq and Kuwait.
MP Khalid Al-Otaibi asserted that the stability of Iraq means the stability of Kuwait, affirming both sides are willing to address all problems between them. He said the cooperation of the media and joint committees with Iraqi parliamentarians refl ect positively on the interests of the two countries. MP Askar Al-Anazi disclosed the Iraqi delegation clarified the provocative remarks of some people regarding Abdullah Bay do not represent that of all Iraqis. MP Ali Al-Daqbasi said the meeting was successful as they heard assurances from the Iraqi side and all of them agreed that such a border problem is nothing but a “whirlwind”.
By Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff and Agencies