Monday, May 30, 2011

Sadrists promise "surprise" response to Kuwaiti port issue

Basra, May 21 (AKnews) - An Iraqi parliamentarian from the Ahrar bloc, loyal to the Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, has warned that his list is ready to act in a way that will "surprise all the political blocs" in Iraq in protest over the construction of a Kuwaiti port that's expected to threaten the trade of Iraq's principal port in Basra.Basra ports

The dispute over Kuwait's Mubarak port, positioned close to Iraq's main port in Basra, 550 km south of Baghdad, goes back to two weeks ago when Kuwait announced its plans for the hub which Iraqi economists said would cost the Iraqi ports 60% of their traffic.

Kuwait plans outraged Iraqi lawmakers, in particular, Shia politicians leading to a heated debate over whether Kuwait has the right to build the port or if the management of shared waters should be a joint operation.

Awwad Uday, a Sadrist MP from Basra, said his bloc had "taken a path no other bloc had taken towards the Kuwaiti port issue".

"Ahrar bloc, under instructions from its leader Moqtada al-Sadr, is preparing for action towards Kuwait that will surprise all political parties in Iraq regarding the Mubarak port," Uday said.

Uday's statement comes as the foreign relations committee in the Iraqi Parliament warned last week that xenophobic statements targeting Kuwait should be guarded against to avoid tensions in bilateral relations.

"All Iraqi parties and communities, whether political or social, are waiting for the (Sadrist) Current to take action or decisive move that would resolve this issue in favor of Iraq, after the government failed to do so and blessed the construction by Kuwait" The Sadrist Mp said.

Last week, Basra province witnessed protests against the construction of the Mubarak port, calling on the Iraqi government to intervene and stop Kuwait going ahead with their plans.

Relations between Iraq and the Gulf States had already been ruffled by statements issued by Iraqi Shia MPs over the protests in Bahrain where the Shia majority came ot in protest against their Sunni rulers.

Iraq was on track to join the economically powerful Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) but it is believed its bid was rejected due to the stance taken by the political blocs and the demonstrations organized by some Iraqi deputies, most notably in the Shia-dominated cities of Najaf and Karbala.

The Omani minister of foreign affairs told AKnews last week that Iraq's rejected bid to join the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was due to its "unwise" political approach.

The position of the Shia Iraqi lawmakers sparked criticism at home also. Sunni Arabs said such a stance would adversely affect Iraqi-gulf relations and the reconciliation process between Iraq and Kuwait. Iraq still pays large sums of compensation to Kuwait each year following the Saddam Hussein-led 1991 invasion of the neighboring state.

But the Sadrist MP confirmed that the Sadr Current "pledges to the Iraqi people not to allow any party or state to harm the Iraqi economy...whatever the result"

Written by Raber Y. Aziz, reporting by Nour anl-Tamimi (AKnews)

21/05/2011 11:19