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Kuwait sends forces to Iraq border amid tensions

11 February 2017 12:53


Kuwait has deployed military forces to its border with Iraq amid tensions over Baghdad’s handover of a waterway’s sovereignty to Kuwait city.

Four units of Kuwaiti special forces were stationed along the Iraqi frontier on Friday.

Kuwaiti security sources said that the deployment is meant to support border troops in an attempt to avert any measures that would fuel tensions.

Before the deployment, people on the other side of the border had held a demonstration in the southern Iraqi port city of Umm Qasr, calling on the Baghdad government to revise a 2013 agreement to hand over the Khawr Abd Allah waterway to Kuwait.

The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper reported that the protest was held outside the Umm Qasr governorate office building to denounce the Iraqi cabinet’s recent approval of the deal.

Iraqis protest against the government’s approval of a deal to hand over the Khawr Abd Allah waterway to Kuwait, in Basra, February 9, 2017.

A local official said that thousands of the demonstrators attempted to advance to the border but were asked to divert their path.

Khawr Abd Allah has been in dispute since the early days of modern-day Iraq and Kuwait.

Kuwaiti and Iraqi land and maritime borders were demarcated under United Nations Security Council Resolution 833 in 1993, when former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was still in power. However, it took the two countries until 2012 to finalize demarcations where Khawr Abd Allah is located.

The cabinet of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi endorsed the maritime deal late last month, arguing that the agreement had been approved by the Iraqi parliament in 2012.

Umm Qasr residents, however, say the deal adversely affects Iraq’s maritime trade. They have urged the Iraqi government to set up a legal committee to investigate the issue.

In a related development, the Iraqi parliament speaker, Salim al-Jabouri, has ensured his Kuwaiti counterpart that the Iraqi government will remain committed to the deal.

In a meeting in the Egyptian capital of Cairo on Saturday, Jabouri told Kuwaiti parliament speaker Marzouq al-Ganem that Baghdad would comply with its commitments and will respect the sovereignty of neighboring states.

Ganem said that there were a small number of people who sought to provoke tensions between Iraq and Kuwait and that they should not be allowed to do so.

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