Kuwait ready to 'assist' Iraq amid protests

The Emir of Kuwait and Iraqi PM discuss latest Iraqi developments, Kuna reports

Kuwait's ruling emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, prepares for a donor's summit at Bayan Palace in Kuwait City, Kuwait, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. Kuwait on Wednesday hosted the final day of a conference seeking billions of dollars to help rebuild Iraq after the war against the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)
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Kuwait said that it was ready to support Iraq in overcoming the current unrest in the south of the country before a joint cabinet-parliament meeting in Kuwait City on Tuesday.

Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed said during a call with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi that the “stability of Baghdad is among Kuwait’s chief concerns”, reported the state-run Kuwait News Agency (Kuna).

Mr Abadi reassured Sheikh Sabah that security in the port city of Basra, which borders Kuwait, remains “intact in Iraq amid nationwide protests”.

Three demonstrators were killed as demonstrations against unemployment spread throughout the country, including the capital Baghdad, since last week.

The protests come amid simmering political uncertainty in Iraq after contested elections in May. The country is also still recovering from a devastating war against ISIS that has drained the country’s resources.

Mr Abadi on Saturday evening announced investment worth $3 billion (Dh11bn) for Basra province, as well as pledges to spend on housing, schools and services.


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Activists said Iraqi security forces in the southern oil-rich province have started arresting protesters who have taken part in the week-long demonstrations there demanding jobs and better services.

Earlier this week, Kuwaitis feared the unrest spilt over the border after a video emerged online showing armed militants storming a guarded area surrounded by terrain similar to that of Kuwait. The ministry denied the claims and said the attacks were in Basra.

Kuwait’s chief lawmaker, Marzouq Al Ghanim, said on Sunday, after the phone call between Sheikh Sabah and Mr Al Abadi, that the cabinet will be holding a joint meeting with parliament to discuss the latest developments in Iraq.

Mr Al Ghanim said the session was requested by a number of MPs who expressed concern at the situation in the neighbouring country.

Kuwait last year pledged $2 billion to the reconstruction of Iraq in a conference hosted in Kuwait City that saw dozens of countries attend and pledge a total of $30 billion.

The pledge came as a surprise as Iraq is also set to resume payments to fully meet the $4.6 billion still owed to Kuwait in reparations for the destruction of oil production during the Gulf War.

The Kuwaiti session will be attended by Sheikh Sabah Al Khaled, Kuwait’s foreign minister.

Last week, Iran cut electricity to the southern Iraqi provinces of Ziqar and Meysan over unpaid bills, according to Turkish news agency Andalou.

More than 75 per cent of Iraq’s accessible oil reserves are found in Basra.