Iraq And Kuwait Are Beginning A Beautiful Friendship
Category: Kuwait
Immigrate to Canada or Australia
Study In Abroad

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- I first visited Safwan, a dusty town on the Iraq side of the border with Kuwait, in early 2003, a few weeks before the start of the U.S.-led invasion. Coalition forces were deploying a few miles to the south, waiting for the order to smash through the long manmade berm separating the two countries. Laith, my government-appointed Iraqi minder, knew what horrors were to come.

As a young infantryman during the 1991 ejection of Saddam Hussein’s troops from Kuwait, Laith had lost many comrades in that vicinity. In the retreat, he had carried the body of one soldier for several miles, and buried it in a ditch on the Iraqi side of the border late one night. He had meant to recover the remains eventually, for a proper internment. But it was months before he was able return, and by then he couldn’t recognize the landscape.

It haunted Laith still, the thought that the soldier’s family would never know where their son lay. “Maybe he’s there, under all that mud,” he said, pointing despairingly to the berm.

I was thinking of Laith’s story last week, when I saw images of a solemn ceremony at Safwan: Iraqi soldiers, led by an army major general, handed over the remains of 48 Kuwaitis who had disappeared during the 1990-91 occupation. More than 550 other Kuwaitis remain unaccounted for — and nobody knows how many hundreds of Iraqi soldiers were hastily laid to rest in the dark. But at least some families can now bury their dead.

The ceremony also marks an important milestone in the journey Kuwait and Iraq have traveled toward normal relations since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The dictator had encouraged Iraqis to regard the little emirate much as mainland Chinese view Taiwan: a rogue province that must one day return to the motherland. These days, Iraqi leaders say bygones should be bygones.

Last month, Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi declared that “the future prospects are far greater than the fears and obstacles between the two countries.” Earlier in the summer, Kuwait’s emir visited Baghdad, his first solo trip there; President Barham Salih of Iraq traveled to Kuwait City for the first time last winter.

This diplomatic confidence-building has great strategic purpose for Baghdad. Iraq, caught between two regional crises — the faceoff between the U.S. and Iran in the Gulf, and the deepening animosity between Saudi Arabia and the Tehran regime — recognizes Kuwait as a relatively safe harbor. The emirate maintains cordial relationships with all three of those antagonists, allowing it to deepen economic ties with Iraq without arousing suspicion or animosity.

For Kuwait, Iraq is a giant market and investment opportunity at its doorstep. It is also an escape from other tensions in the Arabian Peninsula. It is wary of the growing ambitions of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the Gulf Cooperation Council, and uncomfortable with the embargo imposed by those countries (along with Bahrain and Egypt) on Qatar. Iraq is one of the few places in the neighborhood where Kuwait can stretch its foreign-policy legs.

This overlap of interests is already bearing fruit. Iraq and Kuwait are planning to jointly develop oilfields, one of them in the Safwan area. It’s an opportunity to set aside decades-old disputes over the ownership of the land, and what lies beneath. (Remember that Saddam Hussein, in building a justification for the 1990 occupation, claimed Kuwait was stealing Iraqi oil.) Kuwaitis have also been helping the development of gas fields in southern Iraq. For Baghdad, these projects hold out the possibility of developing a hydrocarbons strategy independent from Iranian, Saudi and U.S. interests.

Beyond oil, Kuwait has promised to invest heavily in the reconstruction of Iraqi cities devastated in the war against the Islamic State. There are also plans to set up special economic zones on the border, allowing each side freer access to the other’s markets; last month, the commerce ministers of both countries visited a potential site for one of these — in Safwan.

It will probably be years before all the remains of the 1990-91 conflict are found; my minder Laith, who fled Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s fall, will never locate his fallen comrade. But Iraq and Kuwait are burying their differences, and that’s good for everyone.

To contact the author of this story: Bobby Ghosh at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tobin Harshaw at

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Bobby Ghosh is a columnist and member of the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board. He writes on foreign affairs, with a special focus on the Middle East and the wider Islamic world.



17 Aug, 2019 0 203
Posted Comments
Popular News
Plots For Those Affected By GCC Railway Project As per the law on establishing the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAAFR), those granted Wafra agricultural plots that will be removed due to the GCC railway project are... September 17, 2019 0 7531 Category: Kuwait
Kuwait University Students Shocked ? Kuwait University students were shocked, after moving to the new site in Shedadiyah, to find out that the place has three names – Kuwait University, Shedadiyah University and the third which is ... September 19, 2019 1 6124 Category: Kuwait
Out Of Kuwait – Sent Resignation To Company I need your advice on my situation with my company. I travelled out of Kuwait on my annual leave and due to some work here I cannot return for few more weeks. I informed my company and they have repli... September 16, 2019 0 3319 Category: Legal
Kuwait Army Units Put On Alert Presidency of the General Staff of Kuwait Army announced Wednesday that some military units are put in a state of combat readiness as a precaution against the current conditions in region. The measur... September 19, 2019 1 1799 Category: Kuwait
Change In Designation – Will My Driving License Renewed/Cancelled? Hello, my license was issued in 2016 and the title is ‘muazzif istakbal’ now i am moving to another company where the title is going to be ‘mushirf baya- sales supervisor’ the ... September 17, 2019 0 1475 Category: Driving License
Kuwaiti Woman To Pay KD 5001 Compensation For Illicit Relationship The Civil Section in the First Instance Court has instructed a Kuwaiti woman to pay KD 5,001 compensation to her ex-husband for the damages he incurred when she engaged in an illicit relationship befo... September 19, 2019 1 1424 Category: Crime News
Asian Driver Illegally Transporting Passengers Police have arrested an Asian driver of a bus for transporting passengers for money, reports Al-Anba daily. The Asian was driving a mini bus carrying nine Asians and appeared confused when he saw a... September 16, 2019 1 1325 Category: Crime News
3 Persons Charred To Death In 4-car Tragic Collision A four-vehicle collision on the Fahaheel Road opposite Abu Halifa resulted in the death of three unidentified persons after their vehicles caught fire, reports Al-Rai daily. Acting on information fire... September 17, 2019 0 1277 Category: Crime News
MP Safa Al Hashem Renews Call To Tax Expats Pockets, Tap Remittances MP Safaa Al- Hashem has unveiled a plan to grill Minister of Social Affairs Sa’ad Al-Kharaaz if the latter continues to allow the recruitment of expatriates, describing the situation as an &ldqu... September 16, 2019 0 1239 Category: Kuwait
Tremor Of 3.1 Magnitude Was Recorded In Kuwait A tremor of 3.1-magnitude was recorded north of Kabed and south of Jahra areas, Kuwait National Seismic Network said Sunday. The network’s head Dr Abdullah Al-Enezi said that tremor was recorded... September 16, 2019 1 756 Category: Kuwait
View All
Popular Offers
carrefour-offers in kuwait
Carrefour Offers
grand-hyper-offers- in kuwait
Grand Hyper Offers
special-costo-offers in kuwait
Special Costo Offers
nesto-money-fest- in kuwait
Nesto Money Fest
super-saver in kuwait
Super Saver
Popular Events
04 Dec, 2019
Category : Exhibition
01 Nov, 2019
Category : Music
21 Sep, 2019
Category : Food & Drink
03 Oct, 2019
Category : Film & Media
23 Sep, 2019
Category : Food & Drink
Kuwait Local News
Kuwait News
Crime News New Rules Entertainment