Kuwait urges Iraq to return to maritime boundary agreement

Baghdad's Supreme Court has overturned a 2012 deal on the disputed waterway

Kuwait's coastguard. Sheikh Ahmad called for the complete demarcation of Kuwaiti-Iraqi maritime borders. Photo: Kuwait Interior Ministry
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Kuwait's Prime Minister has said there are “historical fallacies” in an Iraqi ruling on an agreement that regulates navigation in the Khor Abdullah waterway between the two countries.

Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al Sabah made the remark after a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al Sudani at the UN General Assembly in New York.

It follows an Iraqi Federal Supreme Court decision early this month that annulled the law ratifying the agreement, which was approved by parliament in Baghdad.

It should have been ratified with the approval of at least two thirds of MPs, not a simple majority, judges said in the ruling.

The agreement was reached in 2012 and ratified by each of their legislative bodies in 2013.

In remarks carried by state news agency Kuna early on Thursday, Sheikh Ahmad called on Iraq to take “concrete, decisive and urgent measures” to address the ruling and "the historical fallacies mentioned in it".

The statement did not elaborate on those so-called fallacies.

The Iraqi Prime Minister "stressed on Iraq's commitment to the relevant Security Council resolutions, the principles of international law, common understandings and good neighbourliness, and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the sister State of Kuwait", the Iraqi statement said.

The two countries are embroiled in a decades-long maritime boundary dispute.

For decades, Iraqi fishermen have complained of harassment by Kuwaiti and Iranian naval patrols while fishing in the disputed waterway, Iraq’s main navigation channel to the Arabian Sea.

About 80 per cent of Iraq's imports are shipped using the route.

Sheikh Ahmad also called for the complete demarcation of Kuwaiti-Iraqi maritime borders “in accordance with international law”, Kuna added. GCC countries and the US made the same call on Wednesday.

The land border between the countries was demarcated by the UN in 1993 after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, but it did not cover the length of their maritime boundaries. This was left for the two oil producers to resolve.

Mr Al Sudani also expressed his country's desire to "continue holding joint committee meetings and to exchange visits between officials and experts in the two countries, in all fields, in order to enhance levels of co-operation and partnership, build confidence, advance bilateral relations and overcome all obstacles".

Updated: September 21, 2023, 8:18 AM