Kuwait’s Crown Prince hits out at Iraq over Khor Abdullah waterway row

Baghdad cancelled deal with Kuwait to regulate maritime navigation

Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmad Al Sabah addresses the Kuwaiti Parliament. Photo: Kuwait TV
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Kuwait's Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmad Al Sabah said he was “surprised” by an Iraqi court ruling nullifying a treaty on the crucial Khor Abdullah waterway, as he inaugurated the second term of the country's parliament.

The maritime border deal between Iraq and Kuwait, which had regulated navigation on the route into the Arabian Gulf since 2012, was annulled by the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court in September.

The crown prince said the decision "violates all international conventions and treaties".

“We affirm Kuwait's respect for international laws and norms and we are surprised by what was recently issued by the Iraqi Federal Court regarding Khor Abdullah,” he said.

At the inauguration the crown prince also called for an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza war.

“The leadership, people, parliament and government of the State of Kuwait are following with great interest the bloody events taking place in the Palestinian territories, especially the Gaza Strip, denouncing the attacks of the brutal Israeli aggression and the brutal attacks it is carrying out and attempts at forced displacement that have exceeded humanitarian values ​​and international norms,” Sheikh Meshal told parliament on Tuesday.

Kuwait on ‘high alert’

The current Kuwaiti National Assembly officially began its second session after a summer break, during which the state faced threats from Iran over the Al Durra offshore gasfield, as well as the maritime fallout with Iraq.

A day before parliament’s reopening, Defence Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah said he had ordered the Kuwaiti military to be “ready and vigilant” in case of any threat to national security.

Following the speeches by crown prince and the speaker, parliament will elect members of more than a dozen permanent and temporary panels, including for financial and economic affairs, budget, and the interior and defence committees.

The assembly is to hold a special sitting on Wednesday to debate the situation in Gaza and declare support for the Palestinians.

MPs are expected to debate a draft law that would ban any economic dealings with Israel.

Some politicians were seen decorating MPs seats with Palestinian kaffiyeh scarves, which were then removed by parliamentary staff before the Kuwaiti leader’s arrival.

Calls for domestic unity

Sheikh Meshal last spoke publicly to the nation and parliament when he inaugurated the National Assembly’s session in June, calling for unity after more than three years of political turmoil.

Kuwait formed its fifth government in less than a year under Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al Sabah, appointing ministers for the defence and oil portfolios.

When Sheikh Meshal addressed parliament in 2022, he fought back tears as he recited verses from the Quran calling for unity, before receiving a standing ovation.

This time around, Sheikh Meshal repeated a call for greater co-operation between MPs and government.

“Some parliamentary demands are aimed at achieving personal gain and are merely demands to clear blame from themselves. We warn against trading in the name of citizens for personal and marginal gains,” he said.

“The people must hold their representatives accountable and work to control the political scene and correct its distortions through a clear and courageous opinion on all issues that the representatives may raise, to prevent the representatives from using the excuse that their demands are popular demands."

A general election in September last year delivered a mandate for change, bringing 27 new legislators to the 50-member assembly.

But in March, Kuwait’s Constitutional Court annulled the decree, dissolving the previous parliament and reinstated it. A few weeks later, the ruling Al Sabah family dissolved parliament again, setting up the most recent vote in June, in which most of the legislators elected in September regained their seats.

Updated: October 31, 2023, 9:33 AM