Ambassador Mohammad Bahar Al-Oloum

On the occasion marking the 10th anniversary of restored relations between Iraq and Kuwait, the Iraqi ambassador to Kuwait, His Excellency Mohammad Bahar Al-Oloum spoke about his satisfaction on the distinguished and positive improvements of Iraqi-Kuwaiti relations, and the mutual cooperation on the part of both countries to “fold the chapter of the past.”

The Iraqi ambassador noted that the two countries have succeeded in making substantial improvements in their relations, particularly during the last three years. While Iraq has had an embassy and a chargé d’affaires in Kuwait since the fall of the regime of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in 2003, it did not have an ambassador in the country since 1990, until the appointment of Ambassador Al- Oloum in 2010.

Urging Kuwait and Iraq to work together to treat the strains resulting from the 1990 “Saddami aggression on dear Kuwait,” the ambassador stressed that the Iraqi people should not bear the brunt of the evil actions of the ousted regime of Saddam Hussein, whose forces had invaded and occupied Kuwait for seven months. “The aggression was a crime committed by a man who broke all bonds of Arab brotherhood, neighborliness, friendship and compassion … such acts are neither taught by Islam nor Arab values; nor are they synonymous of the Iraqis’ traits, morals, traditions and nature,” said the ambassador.

Ambassador Al-Oloum lauded Kuwait’s role in helping to liberate the Iraqi people from suppression of Saddam’s tyrannical regime and re-affirmed that the two countries have made concrete strides forward in cementing bilateral ties, recalling in particular Kuwait’s stance at the Arab League meeting in 2003, when the issue of re-accepting Iraq as a member state was raised. He also hailed His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al- Jaber Al-Sabah during the Arab summit in Sirte, Libya, where he affirmed Iraq’s right to host the 2012 summit.

Moreover, the landmark visit by His Highness the Amir to Baghdad in 2012, to attend the Arab League summit there, gave substantial boost to the efforts for restoration of bilateral relations. Several senior Iraqi leaders, namely President Jalal Al-Talbani and Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, had paid visits to Kuwait.

On the other hand, top Kuwaiti leaders, namely His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah and His Highness Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al- Sabah had visited Iraq. These reciprocal visits by the Kuwaiti and Iraqi leaders had resulted in resolving some sticking issues and led to formation of a joint commission “that constituted the corner stone for the new chapter in our ties.”

The ambassador noted that the committee, later, held three rounds of talks, during which two accords for tourism and business cooperation were signed. Elaborating on some of the issues that needed to be thrashed out following the “Saddami aggression,” Ambassador Al-Oloum said the UN had issued 70 resolutions regarding Iraq, as a result of its invasion of Kuwait, and a large number of these resolutions were under the UN Chapter VII, including three that tackle “the Kuwait-Iraq situation, concerning the borders, the compensations, the POWs and the missing as well as the Kuwaiti properties.”

Placing a nation under Chapter VII “means that this country poses a threat to international peace and security, thus the measure restricts its activities, development and progress and financial transactions and a lot of other activities,” the Iraqi ambassador added. With respect to the UN resolution on the compensations, he said the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) had adopted the compensations resulting from the aggression and a UN panel was formed in 1994, and in line of this “Iraq was compelled to pay US$ 52 billion as compensation for the aggression.”

Iraq has paid part of the required sum but $9 billion has yet to be paid, Al-Oloum said. Iraq, currently, pays some $1.25 billion every three months to Kuwait, thus the whole fund would be paid up by 2015, and therefore, Iraq would be relieved of the Chapter VII rulings. As to the issues of the Kuwaiti POWs, the missing and the properties, Ambassador Al-Oloum said the relevant UN resolution stipulates release of 605 Kuwaiti and non-Kuwaiti prisoners, thus Iraq had to search for them “and hand over their remains to Kuwait” he said, reaffirming that many of the prisoners had died after being nabbed by the occupation forces in Kuwait.

Due to the mutual cooperation, embodied by the formation of a joint commission under auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), remains of some 247 dead prisoners had been located, he said. “The one responsible for this cause was the head of the regime, Saddam Hussein, along with his henchmen, thus there was scarcity of information about the missing ones,” the ambassador added, noting that both the Kuwaitis and Iraqis had tasted the bitter experience of losing loved ones at hands of the ousted regime personnel.

The ambassador acknowledged that there were several Kuwaiti properties that should be given back to Kuwait, indicating that some items had been given back to the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry. The envoy noted that two weeks ago, 4,500 books, three valuable paintings and some other priceless items, were brought back. Regarding the issue between the Kuwaiti and Iraqi airlines, he affirmed that the Kuwaiti company had demanded $500 million worth of compensation from the Iraqi side.

The whole sum had been paid to the Kuwaiti airways. The ambassador went on to add that in early 2012, a UN team maintained border marks, numbering from one to 106, and later on, the international organization announced that the relevant UN resolution concerning the borders had been fully implemented. “Accomplishment of this historic task,” Ambassador Al- Oloum said, “was the corner stone for building future ties on clear bases between Kuwait and Iraq.

In a further sign of the confidence in the strength of bilateral relations the Foreign Ministry in Kuwait recently refuted media claims that it had recalled its ambassador and other diplomats from Iraq in the wake of ongoing turmoil in that country . In a brief statement, the ministry said that the Kuwaiti diplomatic mission is still functioning in Iraq, but it has been downsized due to the unrest in the country. “Iraq has authenticated its good and positive intentions toward the neighbor, Kuwait, and the international community and has affirmed its resolve to respect its neighbors through respect and full implementation of the international resolutions,” concluded the ambassador.

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