Kuwait a forgiving victim of aggression


Over the past six decades since the country’s independence in 1961, Kuwait has been a consistent supporter and well-wisher of the Iraqi people. Though, over the years, differences with different dispensations of Iraqi regimes have led to unfeasible demands and threats of aggression by the Iraqi side, Kuwait’s brotherly relations and assistance to the people of Iraq have remained steadfast. Even the full-fledged invasion of Kuwait by Iraqi forces under Saddam Hussein in 1990, and the seven-month-long occupation, failed to permanently damage the people-to-people ties between Kuwaitis and Iraqis.

Despite the aggressors inflicting unimaginable atrocities on the people and damaging the infrastructure, as well as plundering and pillaging the country’s wealth, and severely wrecking the environment through setting ablaze over 700 oil wells and discharging oil into the marine waters off Kuwait, the country remained committed to its friendship with the Iraqi people, commiserating with them during their crises and celebrating their successes.

In the decade that followed the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, Kuwait’s foreign policy towards Iraq was limited by certain constraints that were influenced by the need to comply with various United Nations Security Council resolutions issued against Iraq. The resolutions by the world body came in response to Iraq’s invasion and occupation of Kuwait, and in the aftermath of the war that liberated Kuwait.

The main features of this foreign policy were that Saddam Hussein’s regime could not be trusted or dealt with; the Iraqis were victims of a dictatorial regime and needed support of the international community; and that Kuwait would stand by the side of the Iraqis, as Arabs and Muslims.

On 4 August 1998, in response to allegations by the Iraqi regime that Kuwait was behind the international sanctions on the government of Baghdad, the late amir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah,famously proclaimed: “We are not a super power to force the (UN) Security Council to lift, or to keep sanctions on Iraq.”

He added, “We distinguish between the Iraqi regime and the Iraqi people, and we are outraged that the people of our neighboring country must endure poverty and starvation.”

Noting that Iraqis residing in Kuwaiti live with dignity and respect, he stressed that Kuwait would carry on with helping the Iraqi people, especially the refugees in the north and south of Iraq. Additionally, on 23 November 1998, during a visit by Egypt’s former minister of foreign affairs Amr Moussa, Sheikh Sabah said: “Kuwait does not plan inflicting any harm on Iraq or its people, and retaining or overthrowing the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is an internal affair that Kuwait will not interfere with.”

Thanks to the humanitarian principles that Kuwait and the people have adhered to, and despite the anti-Kuwait rhetoric emanating from the Iraqi leadership, Kuwaiti relief aid has flowed into Iraq right from 1993. Under directives of Sheikh Sabah, the Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) provided assistance to the refugees in Iraq and in Iran in April, 1995. Following the liberation war of Iraq in 2003, Kuwait hurried with relief and humanitarian aid to the refugees there, and became a major donor to Iraq’s rebuilding.

In April 2008, Kuwait donated US$1 million to the UN refugee agency to support its operations for alleviating the suffering of the Iraqi people who lacked basic needs, food, water and health care. In November 2010, Kuwait announced providing a further one million dinars to the refugee agency in order to aid homeless Iraqi people who were forced to seek safer venues.

Moreover, during the 65th session of the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural and Social Committee of the UN General Assembly, Kuwait stressed the importance of the humanitarian side in the issue of the Iraq refugees, and noted that providing refugees with protection so as to ensure their safety and security was a shared responsibility of the international community.

Amid the rise of the number of displaced Iraqis and the deterioration in their living conditions, Kuwait on 11 July 2014, donated US$3 million to the UN refugee agency in humanitarian aid for Iraq, and in 2015 presented a further $200 million for the same purpose. In 2016, and ahead of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, Kuwait distributed 12,000 food packages through its charity organizations in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. The same year, the KRCS also offered 40,000 rations of food to the displaced Iraqis in the Kurdistan region. Additionally, during a conference for Iraq’s donors in Washington, in July 2016, Kuwait pledged US$176 million to support the Iraqi people.

The UN Security Council highly appreciated Kuwait’s continued support to achieve stability in Iraq. Moreover, after the Iraqi government announced the liberation of Iraq’s city of Mosul from the so-called Islamic State (IS) in July 2017, Kuwait expressed readiness to host an international conference for the reconstruction of the liberated regions, in line with the country’s long-established principles of supporting ‘Arab brothers’.

In February 2018, Kuwait hosted a conference that raised up to US$30 billion of aid pledges by donor countries and multilateral development institutions. In June 2019, the late amir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, headed a high-level delegation to Iraq in a historical visit that allowed the two countries to boost their relations on all levels. Since then visits between senior officials at the highest level between the two countries have been held under the framework of mutual efforts to cement and expand political, economic and commercial relations, and with plans to carve out a free trade zone and facilitate cross-border commodities’ transport and businesses.

In the latest such visit, at the tail-end of July, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah visited Baghdad and held discussions with the Iraqi leadership, in a bid to resolve border demarcation and joint oil field issues. After meeting with Sheikh Salem Al-Sabah, the Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein revealed they had agreed to carry forward discussions on border demarcation, with a higher joint committee supervising the works of subcommittees.

For his part Al-Sabah termed the discussions as “very fruitful,” emphasizing the need to resolve the maritime border demarcation. Additionally, plans were announced to open a commercial attaché at the Kuwaiti Consulate in Basra, Iraq. Al-Sabah also met with Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid and Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani. The Iraqi leaders expressed their commitment to joint efforts to resolve the issues between the two countries while safeguarding common interests.

The post Kuwait a forgiving victim of aggression appeared first on TimesKuwait.

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