Relations between Kuwait and Iraq improved significantly, following the overthrow of the Saddam Hussain regime in 2003, but Wednesday’s visit by Kuwaiti Prime Minister Shaikh Jaber Mubarak Al Sabah to Baghdad can be considered the most serious step towards real normalisation of relations between the two neighbours.
During the visit, the two sides agreed to strengthen political, economic and social ties. However, the most significant move was the declaration that Kuwait and Iraq will report to the United Nations that Baghdad has succeeded in fulfilling most of its commitments to Kuwait, as specified by the UN Security Council following the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
The rocky relationship between the two countries has greatly affected the regional equilibrium. The invasion and the subsequent liberation war led to the political and religious polarisation of the Gulf region. Thus, by agreeing to move forward and address mutual concerns, Kuwait and Iraq are contributing towards easing regional tensions and creating an atmosphere where Iraq can accelerate its rebuilding process. Also, the less troubles Iraq has with its neighbours, the more it becomes able to put in efforts in addressing its domestic troubles. While the region boils with political tension and sectarian animosity, Kuwait and Baghdad are trying to bury past hostilities and open a new chapter that will certainly boost regional cooperation.
Finally, Iraqi leaders should realise that the Kuwaiti gesture was made despite domestic pressure to the contrary. Therefore, they should ensure their country respects Kuwait’s sovereignty and ends the bizarre claims on Kuwaiti territory. It is time this issue is put to rest once and for all.