Assembly to hold debate on Khor Abdullah issue

Ghanem: Some grillings politically motivated

KUWAIT: Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem yesterday said that he will invite the government to brief the National Assembly in a closed debate on Feb 14 on the shared Khor Abdullah waterway with Iraq. The issue of the narrow estuary has become an issue in Iraq, leading to demonstrations in the southern city of Basra, with a number of Iraqi parliamentarians accusing Kuwait of taking part of Iraqi territorial waters.

Kuwaiti and Iraqi land and maritime borders were demarcated under the UN Security Council resolution 833 issued in 1993 when former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was still in power. Land borders were demarcated in a simple way, but it took the two countries until 2012 to demarcate the maritime borders in Khor Abdullah, which faces the Kuwaiti islands of Warba and Boubyan, where the Mubarak Al-Kabeer container harbor is being built.

A number of MPs strongly demanded government action in response to what they described as Iraqi provocations concerning Khor Abdullah. “Iraqi MPs statements in this regard are irresponsible because Kuwaiti-Iraqi borders are governed by UN resolutions. Somebody in fishing in troubled waters,” they stressed. In this regard, MP Saleh Ashour said that the government has to immediately form an operations room to track anti-Kuwait developments in Iraq.

MP Ali Al-Deqbasi said the parliamentary foreign affairs committee will convene today to discuss the ‘usual’ Iraqi provocations. “It is obvious that the US-Iran honeymoon is over,” he said on his Twitter account. MP Marzouq Al-Khalifa urged the foreign ministry to take serious measures and not to take the Iraqi demonstrations lightly. MP Abdullah Fahhad Al-Enezi urged the government to summon the Iraqi ambassador and express its objection to alleged claims on the waterway and call off the Iraq donors conference.

MP Mohammed Al-Dallal called for consolidation against Iraqi provocations, while MP Safaa Al-Hashem said that these demonstrations reminded her of similar ones held over the Mubarak Al-Kabeer Port. She claimed this is a form of pressure to get more aid. MP Nasser Al-Dousari said allegations made by some Iraqi MPs are false and that they forgot that the estuary is named after Sheikh Abdullah Al-Sabah, who died in 1813. “Kuwait is fully capable of protecting its borders and security,” he warned.

MP Osama Al-Shaheen warned that violating Kuwait’s sovereignty at Khor Abdullah or in any other part of the country is totally rejected, and that the government should take all needed security and diplomatic measures. MP Riyadh Al-Adasani stressed that Kuwait is fully committed to international agreements and that the government must take Iraqi protests seriously, wisely and cautiously.

Meanwhile, Minister of Public Works Abdurahman Al-Mutawa said the Cabinet will discuss today whether to attend the Feb 8 Assembly session to vote on the no-confidence motion against Information and Youth Minister Sheikh Salman Al-Hmoud Al-Sabah following the Jan 31 marathon grilling on the sports suspension and alleged violations.

Speaker Ghanem saw no crisis over the issue, saying that a majority of MPs want to work and produce. He however charged some MPs’ interpellations of ministers are politically motivated and not related to the grilling motions’ topics. He added that a small minority in the house, “who are well known”, does not want to work and deliver without problems. He said that the grilling should not be blown out of proportion and said he is confident things will return to normal as before the grilling.
In another development, the legal and legislative committee yesterday approved a draft law calling to set up a special authority for the demographic structure that will oversee a plan to make Kuwaitis form 50 percent of the population over the next seven years. MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei said the Assembly is expected to vote on this draft law on March 14.

The government has already said that its demographic policy calls to reduce the number of expatriates from 70 percent now to 60 percent after 15 years. The seven-year plan means that a large number of expatriates, especially from large communities like Indians and Egyptians, will have to leave the country by the deadline. Tabtabaei said that the Assembly is scheduled to vote on draft laws calling to  cancel the hike in petrol prices and to abolish the planned increase in the prices of electricity and water due to be implemented in May.

By B Izzak and A Saleh

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