Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Iraq and Kuwait Row Brews Over Shipping Access

Mubarak Port Project Causes Friction
Shipping News Feature

MIDDLE EAST – The Iraqi Transportation Minister Hadi al-Amari has today called on the Kuwaiti government to halt work on the Mubarak Al-Kabeer port project and stated that the continued work on the project “demonstrates the clear intention of Kuwait to block shipping lanes from Iraqi ports”.

Work began on the controversial $1.1 billion project in April, with the Kuwaiti’s stating that their goal is to build a world-class container port on Boubyan island that will be capable of meeting the shipping needs of the Gulf states and countries in Central Asia, with a total of sixty berths of twenty meters draft expected to be available once the port is fully online.

However, the Iraqi’s have complained that the project violates the two countries' UN - demarcated border and encroaches on its territorial waters, as well as jeopardising Iraq’s own plans for a giant new port on the Al-Faw Peninsula, little more than a kilometre from the site of the new Kuwaiti shipping centre.

Mr. Amari added that: "We say we will not accept that Basra and Iraq be strangled in any way.

“We feel it is necessary to stop work, especially since only 14 percent of the work has been completed".

Tensions have been raised between the two states by a long-running dispute over billions of dollars in reparations owed by Iraq for its invasion of Kuwait in 1990. For many Iraqis the location of the new development is perceived as part of a wider scheme to keep Iraq from rebuilding its economy and infrastructure after years of conflict.

Photo: Daniel Feher – Free World Maps