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Kuwait arrests Iraqi spy 8, September 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iraq, Kuwait.
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The fun and games between Kuwait and Iraq continue apace.

Latest developments include the arrest of a man ‘of Iraqi origin’ for some kind of intelligence links with Iraq. The chap apparently liven in Hawalli, my old area of Kuwait (aaah…Abou Khodor…you are missed…) and worked for a communications company.

It’ll not before long such a spy is found in Iraq, I am sure, secreting secret stuff back to Kuwait. The tit for tat nature of this saga continues.

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The worsening Kuwait Iraq relationship 26, July 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iraq, Kuwait.
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I recently wrote an article for Foreign Affairs discussing the ever-worsening Kuwaiti-Iraqi relationship. You should give it a read.

I note today with neither joy nor vindication a further worsening of their relationship. Specifically, an Iraqi MP has accused Kuwait of stealing Iraq’s oil with ‘slant drilling’. This comment, as infuriating as it is by itself, is all the worse given the historical resonance with which it is loaded loaded: Saddam Hussein said the same thing as one of his pretexts for invading Kuwait.

At the moment the relationship is entering a spiral. Comments from deliberately provocative MPs on both sides purely designed to please a domestic audience are making things worse. This patch of deliberate provocation will pass.

Then, cool-headed MPs must prevail upon their counterparts to reset this relationship for everyone’s sake, using the real benefits which are possible should the two neighboring countries come together as a carrot. Needless to say, these MPs will have a hard time, for it is infinitely easier to prey on the public’s prickly fears and prejudices than it is to ask for a mature and long-term thinking approach.

Video: UK army abuse of Iraqi civilians 5, November 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iraq, UK.
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The following video is taken from The Guardian website. They describe its content as the UK’s ‘Guantanamo’.

As unpopular as this may well be, I wholly do not class shouting at a prisoner as abuse. The development of this kind of ethos, however, can be dangerous. Arguably the death of the man in UK custody whose case prompted the release of these videos is a case in point.

Much as with Godwin’s Law, I feel that we need to be much more careful with the use of the word torture than we currently are. I believe that I know what torture is – like pornography – when I see it. I am sure that lawyers can argue that according to various conventions this is an example of torture, but for me it is not.

Describing these activities as torture demeans what purportedly happens in jails in Egypt (the black house), Syria, Iran, North Korea etc.

Kuwait arrests 5 Iraqi fishermen 11, October 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iraq, Kuwait.
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Kuwaiti coastguards have arrested five Iraqi fishermen for entering Kuwait’s territorial waters. In May, Gulf News reports, 10 Iraqi fishermen were arrested for the same offense.

There have been numerous such skirmishes along the Gulf in the past few years. Borders are often poorly demarcated, not agreed upon, not known or fishing grounds have been destroyed or depleted forcing fishermen to fish further afield.

While technically speaking these are minor incidents they have a history of spiraling out of control: the recent Qatari-Bahraini incidents spring to mind. Yet nowhere is there a keener sense of latent anger than between Iraq and Kuwait. Were the nationalistic Parliaments to pick up on these incidents, the situation could easily be amplified significantly.

 

 

Kuwait sue Iraqi Airways for $1.2bn 29, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iraq, Kuwait.
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For the first time in 20 years an Iraqi Airways plane landed at London’s Gatwick Airport last week after being delayed by the ash cloud. No sooner had it landed, however, than the UK High Court issued an order seeking the immediate freeze of all Iraqi Airways assets worldwide. Kuwait Airways Co. submitted a claim to the UK court for some $1.2 billion for assets stolen by Saddam Hussein two decades ago. They claim that they ought to be allowed to take Iraqi airways planes as compensation.

On this occasion, the Kuwaitis could not seize the plane as it was leased from a Swedish company. However the director general of Iraqi Airways had his documents taken to prevent him from flying. The Journal further reports that the Kuwaiti authorities have several successful court rulings relating to the $1.2 billion figure but so far Iraqi Airways have simply ignored the demands for payments.

How in good conscience Kuwaitis can still demand money from Iraq is just beyond me. It seems utterly inhumane, wholly ruthless and deeply wrong.

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Kuwaiti Ambassador: ‘it’s the Persian Gulf’ 20, February 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iraq, Kuwait, Middle East, The Gulf.
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Kuwait’s Ambassador to Iran recently told the Iranian news agency Mehr that the body of water between Arabs and Persians is and always will be called the ‘Persian Gulf’. This is quite an admission from an Arab Ambassador. Typically, Arabs call the body of water the Arabian Gulf whereas Iranians fall back on centuries of customary law and modern-day international law and call it the Persian Gulf. Recently an Iraqi politician suggested that the water ought to be called the Gulf of Basra, just to complicate things further. Angry spats frequently develop over the naming of this body of water. Indeed, ironically the Islamic Solidarity Games were recently cancelled because of arguments over just this issue. It is unlikely that this Ambassador’s comments will make him many friends on his side of the Gulf.

Hat tip: the ever reliable MEMRI

Kuwait to forgive Iraqi debts 19, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iraq, Kuwait.
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The Kuwaiti Foreign Minister has announced that Kuwait will forgive the outstanding Iraqi debt stemming from their two decade old invasion. He stated that Kuwait did not want anything but ‘good relations and security’. Theoretically, Iraq still owes Kuwait some $36bn from old loans and war reparations.

How Kuwait, a fantastically rich country with a tiny population, high levels of literacy, 100% employment for its nationals, one of the most generous welfare states on earth, free utilities, frequent loan forgiveness for nationals who can’t resist the latest Hummer, a comprehensive healthcare system and scant security issues given the US guarantees and continued presence on its lands, could have waited until now is beyond me. Better late than never, I suppose.

US aid to Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan 11, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Central Asia, Iraq, Yemen.
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By 2008, nonmilitary [US] aid to Yemen had dwindled to less than $20 million. Afghanistan is expected to receive $2.7 billion a year in nonmilitary aid, Pakistan $1.5 billion and Iraq $500 million.

The administration doubled Yemen’s economic aid last year, but as Barbara K. Bodine, another former ambassador, pointed out, the amount “works out to $1.60 per Yemeni.”

The NYT.

100,000,000 Iraqi dinars reward for information 29, December 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iraq.
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An Iraqi man has just been given 100m Iraqi dinars ($85,000) for a tip-off of the place and timing of a suicide car bombing. This is part of a campaign by the Iraqi government to up reward money for such tip offs as well as for information more generally.

A few thoughts:

1) This seems like a good idea to me. I am sure that it may well save many lives.

2) It is – I fear – only a matter of time before the first snitch dies a really rather awful death once s/he is found out. I imagine that such a such influx of cash to the average Iraqi household would be extraordinarily difficult to keep ‘under wraps’.

Basra bans alcohol 7, December 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iraq.
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Iraq, for so long a relatively liberal, cosmopolitan and highly educated society from ancient times to the pre-Saddam era, has been succumbing to the ravages of dictatorship and bungled occupation for decades now. This latest nail in the coffin of an inclusive and advanced Iraq pales into comparison to the great many sins committed against it in recent times but is, nevertheless, still – I feel – noteworthy.

Hat tip: Angry Arab