Monday, May 30, 2011

Foreign and Transport Ministers to face parliament over Kuwaiti port

Sulaimaniyah, May 24 (AKnews) - The Iraqi parliament is expected to summon Iraq's Foreign Affairs and Transport Ministers to tackle the issue of a planned Kuwaiti port which is feared to cost Iraqi ports 60% of their traffic.Basra ports

Kuwait announced plans to build the Mubarak port next to Iraq's main Umm Qasr port in the gulf two weeks ago outraging Iraqi lawmakers, in particular, number of Shia politicians who have pledged to take action against the Kuwaiti government.

"It is expected that after the parliamentary recess (which ends late May), Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and Transport Minister Hadi al-Amiri will be summoned to parliament to discuss the issue," said Bakir Hama Sadiq, a Kurdish MP in the Iraqi house of representatives.

"If Kuwait plans to build the port on the Bubyan island, then Iraq's water route will be gone and any ship movement in the Umm Qasr and Khaw Zuber ports will not be possible," said Hama Sadiq.

Bubyan island

A joint committee between Kuwait and Iraq was expected to convene and solve the problem jointly, however, "Kuwait insists on building the Mubarak port," Hama Sadiq added.

The MP suggested that Iraq and Kuwait should each make compromises: Kuwait could build the port with Iraq's consent, but the port must not threaten Iraq's marine activity.

"The issue between Kuwait and Iraq over the Mubarak port is partially related to transportation and partially to diplomatic relations, therefore, both Zebari and al-Amiri will clarify the issue in parliament so that we understand what is going on and then see where we stand," said fellow Kurdish deputy, Mahmood Osman.

Iraq has witnessed protests against the construction of the port, particularly in the port city of Basra, 550 km south of Baghdad, calling on the Iraqi government to intervene and stop Kuwait going ahead with their plans.

Iraqi economists have warned that the Iraqi ports could lose 60% of their business as the Kuwaiti port will paralyze their traffic.

At least one Shia political bloc has been highly critical of the Kuwait port plan and has vowed to take action.

Earlier this week, an Iraqi parliamentarian from the Ahrar bloc, loyal to the Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, warned that his list was ready to act in a way that will "surprise all the political blocs" in Iraq in reaction to the proposed construction of the Kuwaiti port.

The foreign relations committee in the Iraqi Parliament has warned that xenophobic statements targeting Kuwait should be guarded against in order to avoid tensions in bilateral relations with the neighboring state.

Written by Raber Y. Aziz, Idris Abu Bakir contributed to this story

24/05/2011 09:55