Iraq, Kuwait Incident “Highly Unlikely” to Escalate

A Kuwaiti coast guard died following an exchange of fire with an Iraqi fishing boat in an incident that highlights the need for discussions on controlling the border, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

Bloomberg reports that Iraq is investigating the events yesterday, which also led to the sinking of the vessel. Four Iraqis aboard the boat were arrested by the Kuwaiti forces while five others were rescued by Iraq’s navy, he said, without giving further details on the shooting.

“Such regrettable incidents” shouldn’t get in the way of good relations between the two countries, al-Dabbagh said. The incident is “highly unlikely” to escalate, though ties between the two neighbors will remain cool, the London-based Control Risks Group said in a briefing note today.

Both countries claim the boat had been sailing in their territorial waters, with Kuwaiti state news agency KUNA quoting Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah as saying the Iraqis may have been smugglers.

The New York Times reports that the ship involved was the Ahmed Wahid, a fishing vessel with nine crew members out of the Iraqi port city of Fao [Faw].

(Sources: Bloomberg, New York Times)

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