After more than 23 years under the scope of UN Chapter VII following its invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Iraq finds itself closer than ever to getting out from under that chapter and gaining more independence in controlling its money, importing weapons, and — above all — getting recognized as a fully sovereign country.
On June 19, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended to the UN Security Council that Iraq be taken out from under Chapter VII and that its outstanding issues with Kuwait be resolved in accordance with UN Chapter VI regulations.
In his report to the Security Council, Ban said, “The governments of Iraq and Kuwait have demonstrated statesmanship and respect for each other’s national interests, in reaching a mutually acceptable and beneficial arrangement. … Should the Security Council agree with my recommendation, Iraq will exit Chapter VII with regard to this file and will be one step closer to restoring its international standing, … an objective long sought by the leadership of the country following the removal of the regime of Saddam Hussein.”
That development came days after the Iraqi and Kuwaiti envoys requested from the UN secretary-general that the remaining differences between the two countries be settled within the scope of UN Chapter VI, after Kuwaiti Prime Minister Khaled Mubarak al-Sabah visited Baghdad on June 12.
After it invaded Kuwait, Iraq was required to pay Kuwait $52 billion in compensation, of which Iraq has so far paid $41 billion. During the Kuwaiti PM’s visit to Baghdad on June 12, it was agreed that the remaining amount — as well as other outstanding issues, such as the issues of the missing persons and the Kuwait archives that disappeared during the Iraqi occupation — be settled from within the scope of UN Chapter VI.
At a news conference on May 30, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said he expected Iraq to be released from Chapter VII in 2015. But the Kuwaiti initiative may have moved that date forward. The UN Security Council is expected to meet at the end of June and decide on Ban’s recommendation.