Government spokesman and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Ali Fahd Al-Rashed yesterday categorically denied reports published by a local daily yesterday about bombings at the Mubarak Al-Kabeer port project, citing an Iraqi source.
Work on the project is in full swing and no bombings or terrorist acts took place near it, Al-Rashed confirmed. A local paper had claimed that workers at the site of the Mubarak port had reported grenade attacks near the project ten days ago and Kuwaiti authorities blacked out news about the attacks.
Meanwhile, Iraq’s parliamentary speaker said yesterday that Iraq will resort to the UN if the committee set up to negotiate the Mubarak Al-Kabeer port issue fails to resolve the problem. The speaker, MP Mohammad Al-Khaldi, said that the Iraqi parliament is following the issue of the Mubarak port closely and with great concern and is keenly awaiting a report by the parliamentary committee which is working closely with the country’s transport ministry and foreign ministry.
Iraq will raise the issue with the UN and the US government if necessary, he warned, adding that the US is Iraq’s main partner. He stressed, however, that the issue of Mubarak Al-Kabeer port had still not reached the point of political escalation, pointing out that nobody in Iraq is expecting external assaults from Kuwait or any other party. Al-Khaldi claimed that Kuwait has already begun damming waterways in the second phase of the project, calling upon the Kuwaiti authorities to deal fairly with Iraq.
Responding to the Iraqi speaker’s comments, Kuwaiti legal expert Tariq Harb called on Iraq to fight the United Nations Security Council rather than Kuwait as it’s the body that issued the 1993 decision that reallocated much of the Iraqi waterfront area in the Gulf to Kuwait, which helped Kuwait to plan the new port. Another Iraqi MP Abdul Elah Al-Naely earlier called upon the Iraqi government to make the issue of Mubarak Al-Kabeer port an international one in case negotiations on the issue with Kuwait fail
to produce the desired results.
Al-Naely accused the Kuwaiti negotiators of being inflexible in their attitude to the issue, insisting that if no acceptable compromise can be reached between the two nations, the Iraqi government should resort to the Security Council and make the case an international one. Claiming that there has been some antagonism towards the Iraqi government from Kuwaiti MPs, the Iraqi lawmaker said that it was regretful that some of his parliamentary colleagues are siding with Kuwait on the issue, adding that there are no shortcuts to reaching a diplomatic settlement.
Another Iraqi lawmaker, Alya Naseeb, said that the Kuwaiti authorities were about to announce the completion of a quarter of the construction work on the new port whilst the Iraqi side is busy forming committees. Naseeb said that the Iraqi committee currently examining the contentious issue has not yet provided any clear evidence on the subject, adding that whilst the committee’s duty is to provide information about the possible effects of the port on the Iraqi economy, the questions put by the committee m
embers to Kuwaitis on the issue had been “nave: –
she cited in particular the committee members’ questions about the port’s location, suggesting that the Kuwaiti authorities had easily managed to sidestep these. She claimed Kuwait is racing against time to complete the project and aims to conclude the first quarter of the work quickly in order to ensure that it is complete and unchallengeable.
A third Iraqi parliamentarian went even further, accusing Kuwait of corrupting young Iraqis by making drugs available to them. MP Faleh Al-Zayadi did not point the finger at Kuwait alone in making his outlandish claim, also accusing Saudi Arabia of being behind the widespread use of drugs amongst young Iraqis. Kuwaitis don’t want to have relations or real friendship with Iraq due to Kuwait’s abiding memories of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s atrocities, Al-Zayadi suggested.
The Iraqi MP said that the spread of drug abuse in Iraq’s Muthanna governorate was underpinned by political motivation rather than sociological reasons, suggesting rather implausibly that Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are attempting to destroy Iraq’s infrastructure by ensuring that young Iraqis become drug addicts. He praised Muthanna governorate’s governing council in admitting to the scale of the drug problem amongst young people there, pointing out that given the widespread nature of the problem, it is less easy to hide than in other governorates.
Al-Zayadi alleged that Saudi Arabia and Kuwait had been working closely together directly and indirectly since the fall of Saddam’s regime to ensure insecure and unstable conditions in Iraq, adding that Kuwait’s relentless opposition to Iraq being allowed to drop its Chapter 7 obligations despite all the compensation it (Kuwait) had received was the most obvious proof of this. The MP was also scathing about Kuwait’s construction of the Mubarak port project, describing Kuwaiti policy towards Iraq as “revenge policy” rather than one of neighborliness and suggesting that the Kuwaiti authorities’ decision to build the port in the location chosen was taken to damage the Iraqi economy.
Iraq is serious about adopting a strategy of building positive and amicable relations with neighboring nations after the collapse of the former regime, said Al-Zayadi, adding that the Iraqi government has given guarantee after guarantee to Kuwait. He asserted, however, that some Kuwaitis do not want to live with the new situation and insist on continuing with the feud between the two nations and hold the whole country of Iraq responsible for the crimes perpetrated by Saddam’s regime.
Another Iraqi MP Jawad Al-Bolani, was calmer and more conciliatory, however, appealing to Kuwait to review its attitude towards Iraq, warning that if Kuwait was to continue its antagonistic policy which only harms Iraq, this would lead to creating further regional tensions. Both Iraq and Kuwait should work for better future growth policy, and for economic and cultural strength and stability, he stressed, adding that the language of threats does not resolve crises whilst coming together to resolve outstanding issues in an adult fashion is the only guarantee of building positive relations between the two states.