During his meeting with the ambassadors of the five permanent UN Security Council members on June 19, Zebari said that the decision to release Iraq from Chapter VII must include a clear statement that Iraq has implemented all its international obligations.
Although the Iraqi regime changed after the 2003 US invasion, Kuwait had been refusing that Iraq be released from Chapter VII because some in Iraq have opposed recognizing the border demarcation line drawn by UN Security Council Resolution No. 833 in 1993 under exceptional circumstances.
The Iraqi objections to the UN-demarcated border and to the joint oil fields have remained, despite that 250 Iraqi families living atop the new border line have been deported.
The essence of the dispute will not be completely resolved unless both sides establish a real and lasting cooperation, and finish the ongoing debate about the outstanding issues.
One dispute that still feeds popular anger and political demagoguery is the Mubarak Port, a controversial project under construction near the Kuwaiti Bubiyan Island. Iraq is concerned about the port’s potential impact on Iraq’s already limited maritime traffic in the Arabian Gulf.
Resolving the mutual differences regarding the border, the joint oil fields, or the Mubarak Port requires overcoming the ordeal of the past two decades at the cultural and popular levels.
The problem between Iraq and Kuwait is that their relationship remains mostly confined to the political and official spheres. There have been no significant economic, popular, cultural, artistic and athletic ties that would help overcome the crises of the past.
Although achieving such relationships is partly an Iraqi responsibility, it is mainly a Kuwait responsibility. For a century, Kuwait has been afraid of Iraq, a country that is larger and more populous and that refused to recognize Kuwaiti sovereignty for decades; and in 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. So removing the gap separating the two peoples requires finding more effective and permanent solutions.
Mushreq Abbas is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor’s Iraq Pulse. He has been managing editor of Al-Hayat’s Iraq bureau since 2005, and written studies and articles on Iraqi crises for domestic and international publication.