Oil, Power and Ports: Iraq and Kuwait Bicker Over Border Areas

Another major issue for Basra citizens was the major port facility that Kuwait was planning to build. Iraqis feared that the Mubarak al-Kabir Port was Kuwait’s way of “trying to strangle Iraq’s shipping channels and scuttle a planned Iraqi port project,” news agency Associated Press wrote recently. “In response, the Kuwaitis claim their project could benefit the whole region and accuse Iraqi opponents of risking years of slowly improved relations.”

Earlier in August, Iraqi protestors gathered near the border and tried to remove signs and concrete barriers. However Kuwaiti military did not allow them to cross the border. Unconfirmed reports that Kuwait is planning to build a nuclear reactor on one of the small islands in the same border area has also caused tensions, with Iraqi concerns about agriculture and shipping in the area

On the whole, many Iraqis who lived in the area had concerns about the Kuwaiti attitude toward the disputed border areas. They claimed that Kuwaitis were continuing to teach their children that the border area actually extended beyond the current lines, right up to Jabal Sanam which lies over eight kilometres beyond Safwan, and inside Iraq.

Nabil Ahmad al-Amir, an advisor to the Basra governor, believed that not enough was being done to resolve what Basra locals saw as unjust. Action groups had written to the central government in Baghdad. “But politicians in Baghdad are too busy with their own problems,” he complained.

Iraqis have also complained that Kuwaitis are “stealing” Iraqi oil in border areas by using deviated or directional drilling techniques that allow them to suck oil out of wells across the border, so to speak. This is nothing new; in fact this accusation was one of the reasons that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein gave for invading Kuwait in 1990.

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