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Kuwait and the exit of Iraq from Chapter 7

As the national elections near, the political life get more active and heated. Already the Kurdish political parties completed their regional elections with new meeting with al-Maliki and the leaders of the Kurdish parties. A new crisis is brewing and about to explodes, this time with Kuwait. President Obama is reported to have asked Iraq to give 5% of its oil to Kuwait, which bound to the heat inside Iraq. Al-Ghad is publishing a comment by Iraqi journalist, Dhia al-Muriib, on an article by Robert Fisk in The Independent on July 29.

Al-Ghad

The British daily, The Independent, published on July 29 an article by Robert Fisk under the title: “Gulf War Legacy flares as ’stingy’ Kuwait puts the squeeze on Iraq”. The article had wide echoes in the international media. It talked about the insistence of Kuwait’s rulers to keep Iraq under the tutelages of Chapter Seven of the UN charter with its implied sanctions and continued payment of reparations which the writer maintains to be contrary to Kuwait’s own interests. In view of the importance of this subject which occupies a wide interest among the parliamentary and popular circles of the two countries and their governments in addition to the UN and the governments of many countries, I deemed it necessary to make these historical remarks to shed some lights on the background of the relations between the two countries:

To start with I would like to underline that I do not wish to deal with injurious aspects of the relations because this is the matter for history to decide. But I confirm that Iraq with her endowment of human and natural resources and her cultural heritage can be on par with the most developed countries if she had the right leadership and therefore she is in no need for any territories or riches; on the contrary she can contribute to the whole region with her cultural and material contributions as she has done throughout history. What the deposed ruler of Iraq had done to Kuwait was deplored and condemned by the Iraqi people who had staged an uprising in March 1991 and toppled Saddam’s regime in all Iraq’s governorates except the four “ white” ones. But the end was well-known and hundreds of thousands of the Iraqi people were exterminated who constituted nearly half the population of Kuwait. On the other hand it should be pointed out that the Kuwaiti brothers had consistently throughout the past fifty years adapted stands of arrogance and conceit which do not conform with their demographic, geographic or political tenets thereby furnishing the justifications for the aggressive reactions on the part of the rulers who harbour evil against them.

From the very outset Kuwait had courted disaster for itself and the whole region by overacting its attempts to secure its survival by inviting foreign military presence in the region. Take for example the incident which was mentioned by Henry Kissinger, as quoted by Richard Haass in his book “ War of Necessity, War of Choice”, (which I quote hereunder for its historical importance):

I assumed that the Arab-Israeli conflict would be at the forefront of the “Kissinger recounts in his memoirs a meeting in Dec. 1968 between the then president-elect(Nixon) and the visiting emir of Kuwait: “I assumed that the Arab-Israeli conflict would be at the forefront of the Amir’s concerns and prepared an erudite memorandum on the subject. Unfortunately. The Amir wanted, above all to learn what plans the new administration had for the Persian Gulf after the UK vacated the area, as it had announced it would do in 1971. What were Americas intentions if, for example, Iraq attacked Kuwait?” (P. 18)

This was a strange and provocative question from the Kuwaiti ruler, especially when the Baath Party had just then seized power in Iraq and was on very friendly terms with Kuwait. When that party had come to power for the first time through the bloody 8 Feb. 1963 coup d’état, one of its political postures were announced by its foreign minister who was a member of the regional leadership of the party Taleb Hussain Shabib.

The first of those postures was the abrogation of Law No. 80 of 1961 by which Iraq had recovered 99.5% of its territories from the oil monopolies. And the second step was the recognition of the independence and sovereignty of Kuwait. For the latter decision the Baath regime got a reward of KD 30 million and for the former it was installed in power!

However, one cannot but recall that seven months after that meeting, US President Nixon proclaimed the Nixon Doctrine, which promised among other things: “ We shall provide a shield if a nuclear power threatens the freedom of a nation allied with us or a nation whose survival we consider vital to our security”.

The doctrine was also applied by the Nixon administration in the Persian Gulf region, with military aid to Iran and Saudi Arabia, so that these US allies could undertake the responsibility of ensuring peace and stability in the region. According to author Michael Klare of (Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of Americas Growing Petroleum Dependency), application of the Nixon Doctrine “opened the floodgates” for US military allies in the Persian Gulf, helped set the stage for the Carter Doctrine and the subsequent direct US military involvement of the Gulf War and the Iraq War.

Second: Kuwait played a prominent role in goading Iraq’s dictator to go to war with Iran after the Islamic Revolution. I do not want to go into details but I recount one incident quoted from The Prize: the Epic Quest for Oil ,Money and Power by Daniel Yergin:

I assumed that the Arab-Israeli conflict would be at the forefront of the “In its seventh year, in1987, the war broke through the barriers that had largely
Restricted it to the two belligerents and for the first time became internationalized
Drawing in both the other Arab states of the Gulf and the two super-powers…
Iran zeroed in on Kuwait, which was assisting Iraq..Khomeini’s forces not only hit
Shipping going to and from Kuwait, but also launched five missile attacks on
Kuwait itself”.

The author then recounts how the Kuwaitis had asked “the Russians for protection, and when that information reached the most senior levels in the Reagan administration, the Kuwaiti request, in the words of one official, didn’t linger”. The potential significance of the approach to Moscow provided reason for a quick response. For Russian involvement would have expanded Russian influence in the Gulf- something the Americans had sought to prevent for more than four decades and the British for no less than 150 years”. So the Reagan administration told the Kuwaitis that the US “would take on the whole job of reflagging or nothing at all”.

Surely bringing in the Russians, the Americans, NATO or whoever it might be to protect Kuwait and its oil as the ultimate cost and price! And that is what the Iraqi despot demanded as it may be safely assumed, for the Gulf states assured him that their “ debts” were part of that price.

Whatever the case might be, those and similar “debts” fall under the definition of the “odious debts”- a well known doctrine recognized by the international law- as the Iraqi people are not bound to repay them. It was one of the gross injustices that the occupying powers of Iraq referred to them as “sovereign debts” in the UNSCR No. 1483, of May 23, 2003. The purpose of this was to use this as a sword against the new regime in case of its “disobedience” to the occupiers. Kuwait not only overplayed this weapon but it also interfered crudely in the internal affairs of Iraq. However the stability in the region, which is so important for the survival of Kuwait, as well as the historical relations between the two countries should call on the Kuwaitis to think twice of their present attitude.

Third. The Independent Inquiry Commission into the UN Oil-for-Food Programme, which was headed by Mr. Paul Volker former chairman of the US Federal Reserve found out in 2005 that about $5 billion had been unjustly approved for the UN Compensation Commission as part of the war reparations to Kuwait, the UNCC, upon the instigation of Kuwait replied vehemently with 19 memorandums arguing that the reparations were entitled to get simple, multiplied and compound interest so that they would ultimately add up to a $560 billion which was at that time equivalent to the value of nearly one third of the proven Iraqi oil reserves. Surely there is no parallel in history that a country generally held to be the cradle of civilization be subjected to obliteration to compensate for the follies of a mad dictator invading his tiny neighbour! This can be seen in a more glaring light when we compare it with the Kuwaiti attitude of almost indifference to their loss of hundreds of billions of dollars because of the global financial crunch.

Before conclusion it has to be pointed out that this is not the only pressure which being brought to bear on Iraq. There are even negotiations with the loyalists of the old regime to bring them back to power! This will be the subject of a future article.

Dhia al-Murib

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