KUWAIT: Following Iraqi PM Nouri Al-Maliki's denial of being aware of Kuwait's intentions to build Mubarak Al-Kabeer Port, members of his political bloc did not wish to "accelerate tensions" with Kuwait and called for opening a dialogue as their security forces were "not ready".
Maliki denied that Kuwait had informed Baghdad during bilateral talks of its intention to build the port. "The Kuwaiti side did not mention the port project during the talks between both countries," said Maliki. He was responding to statements made by Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al-Sabah in which he said he had informed Maliki of the project during a state visit he made to Kuwait in February.
A member of the Iraqi parliamentary services' committee MP Ehsan Al-Awadi accused both Iran and Kuwait of working against the Iraqi Al-Faw Port for economic and political reasons. He also accused the Iraqi transportation ministry of being incompetent in executing mega projects that have the potential to boost Iraq's economy. "Iran and Kuwait have been preventing the Faw Port project," he alleged, urging the Iraqi government to be more firm against interference in domestic matters.
Another member of the ruling Iraqi National Alliance, Suzan Al-Saad, said that the weak diplomatic performance of the Iraqi foreign ministry calls for immediate interference from Maliki. Saad also said that Iraq was witnessing several problems and that its security forces were not ready. "This calls for not accelerating tension with Kuwait. Problems have to be solved through dialogue, not through tension that serves neither side," she said, noting that violations of Iraqi lands and waters have seen no reac
tions from UN human rights organizations.
MP Hamed Al-Mutlak, a member of the Iraqi List Bloc headed by former PM Iyad Allawi, blamed both the Iraqi government and the US administration for the current crisis between Kuwait and Iraq over the Mubarak Port. "Relations between Iraq and US are governed by security pacts and treaties that highlight safeguarding Iraqi territories and borders - so where does the US stand on such violations?" he wondered.
Baghdad alleges that the Mubarak mega port will hinder Iraq's access to shipping lanes. Kuwait began work on the $1.1 billion port in May. The facility, on Kuwait's Boubyan Island, is scheduled for completion in 2016. The Gulf is the main export outlet for Iraqi oil, which accounts for the lion's share of the country's revenues, and Baghdad has started major work to modernise its outdated ports.
In another development, a number of Iraqi MPs launched a signature campaign pleading to annul the death verdict issued against former Defense Minister Sultan Hashim who was recently handed over by the US to the Iraqi authorities along with four former senior officials.
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