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Cable reference id: #09BAGHDAD1912
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Reference id aka Wikileaks id #216549  ? 
SubjectSolving The Iraq-kuwait Maritime Boundary Issues
OriginEmbassy Baghdad (Iraq)
Cable timeTue, 14 Jul 2009 15:02 UTC
References07BAGHDAD4136, 08BAGHDAD3764, 09BAGHDAD1481, 09BAGHDAD1784, 09BAGHDAD1869, 92USUNNEWYORK2987
Referenced by09BAGHDAD2124, 09BASRAH67
Extras? Comments
Hide header C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 BAGHDAD 001912 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/14/2019 TAGS: ECON [Economic Conditions], EPET [Petroleum and Natural Gas], ETRD [Foreign Trade], EWWT [Waterborne Transportation], PBTS [National Boundaries, Territories, and Sovereignty], PREL [External Political Relations], PGOV [Internal Governmental Affairs], UNSC [UN Security Council], IZ [Iraq], KU [Kuwait] SUBJECT: SOLVING THE IRAQ-KUWAIT MARITIME BOUNDARY ISSUES REF: A. BAGHDAD 1784 B. 92 USUN 2987 C. BAGHDAD 1869 D. 08 BAGHDAD 3764 E. 07 BAGHDAD 4136 F. SECSTATE 68248 G. BAGHDAD 1481 Classified By: Ambassador Christopher Hill for reason 1.4 (d). ------- Summary ------- ¶1. (SBU) In paragraphs 16 and 17 of this message, we lay out a way forward to address Iraq's concerns with respect to its right to free access to the sea, including an unambiguous statement of Iraqi rights to international waters and a suggested expansion of the Khor Abdullah Interoperability Protocols. The complexity of the issue (paras 2-15) may exceed the interest of the international community in resolving it. Nonetheless, this is an issue that currently divides the Gulf and creates the possibility for future tensions. This message provides a brief overview of the history of the Iraq-Kuwait maritime border demarcation; highlights the latest GOI positions, understandings, and misunderstandings on the maritime border; traces the route that a ship would take from the Persian Gulf up into the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr; explores the specific economic and political sensitivities to both the UNSCR 833 demarcation of the maritime boundary and the undemarcated section; and suggests confidence-building measures to move the conversation past politics into a useful bilateral discussion of technical issues that would ensure Kuwaiti sovereignty as well as unimpeded Iraqi access to the Gulf. End summary. ------------------------------------------ History of the Iraq-Kuwait Maritime Border ------------------------------------------ &We don,t want Kuwait, but we don,t want anyone else to have it.8 ) Sir Arthur Godley, Permanent Undersecretary, India Office, January 1899 ¶2. (U) Kuwait was established in the eighteenth century on territory adjacent to the Ottoman Wilayat of Basra, but was not considered part of the Ottoman Empire. In 1871, Shaykh Abdulla Al-Sabah of Kuwait accepted the title of District Officer of the Kuwait District in return for an Ottoman pledge that Kuwait would retain administrative autonomy. In 1899, then-ruler Shaykh Mubarak Al-Sabah signed a secret agreement with Britain that Kuwait would not cede or lease any territory to another power without Britain,s approval. In 1913, Britain and the Ottoman Empire signed the Anglo-Ottoman Convention, which included an attached map defining two spheres of influence of the Kuwaiti ruler, represented as two lines on the map. The inner line, in red, represented the portion in which the Shaykh of Kuwait would exercise complete administrative autonomy, and the outer line, in green, was a wider area in which the Shaykh would collect tribute from the tribes and exercise some administrative functions. Both the red and green lines included the islands of Warbah and Bubiyan. So from at least 1913 on, there was an international understanding that the islands belonged to Kuwait, but there was no discussion of the maritime boundary between the islands and the Iraqi mainland. ¶3. (U) In 1920, the Shaykh of Kuwait affirmed his claim to the boundary between Kuwait and Iraq as being identical to the green line in the Anglo-Ottoman Convention map, including the islands. In 1932, Shaykh Ahmad Al-Sabah of Kuwait and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Said exchanged letters in which they agreed to the same rough delineation of the boundary as described in the 1913 Convention. The language in the 1932 Qdescribed in the 1913 Convention. The language in the 1932 letters that deals specifically with the maritime boundary says that the boundary runs eastward (on land) from Safwan, &passing south of Safwan Wells, Jebel Sanam and Umm Qasr, leaving them to Iraq and so on to the junction of the Khor Zobeir with the Khor Abdulla. The islands of Warbah, Bubiyan, Maskan, Failaka, Auhah, Kubbar, Qaru and Umm el-Maradim appertain to Kuwait.8 In October 1963, the Prime Ministers of Kuwait and Iraq signed the &Agreed Minutes regarding the Restoration of Friendly Relations, Recognition and Related Matters,8 which recognized both Kuwait,s independence and the boundaries specified in the 1932 letters. The GOK registered this agreement with the UN in 1964 (Document 7063, UN Treaty Series, 1964). ¶4. (U) This 1963 reaffirmation of Kuwait,s independence and BAGHDAD 00001912 002 OF 004 the border stood until Saddam,s invasion in 1990, but not without low-level irritations, mostly provoked by Iraq. In 1963, Arab League troops which had been monitoring the border pulled out, and shortly thereafter Iraq undertook development of naval facilities just south of Umm Qasr and some of the now contentious farms at Safwan. A 1965 agreement to demarcate the border fell apart in 1967 with an Iraqi demand for Kuwait to cede Warbah and Bubiyan islands. Shortly after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Saddam Hussein issued Republican Decree 249, which redrew the boundaries of Basra Province to include nearly half of Kuwait,s territory. ¶5. (U) UNSCR 687 of April 3, 1991, established the framework for a cease-fire in the Gulf. It noted the 1963 boundary agreement and the need for demarcation of the boundary, demanded that both countries respect the inviolability of the boundaries and allocation of islands as specified in the 1963 agreement, called on the Secretary General to make arrangements to demarcate the boundary, and decided to guarantee that boundary. ¶6. (U) Pursuant to UNSCR 687, the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Boundary Demarcation Commission was established in May 1991. The Commission's work culminated in a report adopted by the Security Council in UNSCR 833 on May 27, 1993. The Commission demarcated 162 points on the border between the two countries, starting from point 1 at the tri-junction point between Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, all the way around, through the Khor Zubair, Khor Shatyana, and Khor Abdulla waterways and out to point 162, which the UN considered to be the mouth of the Khor Abdulla waterway. The Commission did not demarcate or even mention any future recommendations for demarcation past point 162 in the Gulf. UNSCR 833 made it a point to state that the Commission was not reallocating territory between Kuwait and Iraq, but was carrying out the technical task of demarcating the boundary set out in the 1963 &Agreed Minutes.8 The Security Council reaffirmed that the decisions of the Commission were final, and demanded that Iraq and Kuwait respect the inviolability of the boundary and the right to navigational access. ¶7. (U) The Commission was made up of technical experts and representatives from Iraq and Kuwait. The Iraqi delegation to the Commission attended five sessions in 1991-1992, and then stopped participating in July 1992. Iraqi FM Ahmad Hussein sent a letter on July 12, 1992, to the Security Council stating that Iraq would no longer participate in the Commission, citing a litany of complaints (Ref B). Iraq,s main complaint was that UNSCR 687 imposed a particular status on the Iraq-Kuwait border while boundary issues are best left to agreement between states. The letter also complained that the Commission's mandate did not extend to demarcation of the maritime boundary in the Khor Abdulla waterway, and that the entire process was biased against Iraq. The Commission noted the GOI,s lack of response to requests for information or comments after this date, but proceeded with its work. The Commission's Final Report was issued as an Appendix to UNSCR ¶833. ---------------------------------------- GOI Understandings and Misunderstandings ---------------------------------------- ¶8. (C) From recent meetings with GOI officials (Ref C and D), it is clear that not all of our GOI interlocutors on this issue are fully informed on the history of the delineation Qissue are fully informed on the history of the delineation and demarcation of the Iraq-Kuwait border, and do not have a detailed understanding of the UN Commission's decisions. At the same time, they are particularly concerned about important maritime border-related issues such as unimpeded access to the Gulf and Iraq,s future ability to develop its port and oil export capacity. ¶9. (C) In separate meetings on July 8, MFA Strategic Planning Office Director Fareed Yaseen and Deputy Foreign Minister Labeed Abbawi suggested to DCM and Deputy Pol/C that access and other issues pertaining to the maritime boundary be renegotiated. Both DCM and Deputy Pol/C reiterated U.S. policy that the UNSCR 833-demarcated border is non-negotiable. Abbawi said that the GOI wants the GOK to lease Kuwait,s portion of the Khor Abdulla waterway to Iraq, reprising a similar request made and turned down by Kuwait a handful of times throughout the 20th century. Abbawi claimed that the Kuwaitis have harassed Iraqi commercial ships attempting to navigate the area. When pushed for more details, Abbawi backtracked a bit, noting that Iraqi ships had to raise the Kuwaiti flag when they entered Kuwaiti waters as they sailed through the channel, which hurts Iraqi national pride. *********************** * Missing Section 003 * *********************** BAGHDAD 00001912 004 OF 004 worded sentences in an exchange of letters from 1932, which in turn was based on a line drawn on a map in 1913. That said, in a number of critical decisions, including the exact location of the border point south of Safwan and the way the boundary was demarcated from Umm Qasr through the Khor Zubair, given the options under consideration by the Commission, the decisions favored Iraq. The fact that the Khor Abdulla waterway boundary was demarcated at the median (giving half the waterway to Kuwait) rather than following the Khor Zubair demarcation using the low water point (giving the entire waterway to Iraq) may be an irritant to Iraq,s pride, but does not currently affect the ability of any ship (Iraqi or otherwise) in reaching Umm Qasr or any other Iraqi port. ¶15. (C) The boundary issue is politically charged on both sides and affects, and is affected by, the bilateral relationship (Ref G). Our understanding, based on reporting from Embassy Kuwait, is that the Kuwaitis have vivid memories of Saddam,s invasion and are sensitive to anything that suggests Iraq does not unequivocally accept Kuwait,s full sovereignty. In this context, we understand from Embassy Kuwait that Kuwait views as troubling the perceived reluctance on the part of Prime Minister Maliki to publicly acknowledge the UNSCR 833-demarcated border. On the Iraqi side, Maliki and many others here point out that they, too, were victims of the Gulf-financed Saddam regime, and that many Iraqis resent that a percent of their country's oil export revenues are being used during a time of economic hardship to pay compensation to Kuwait 18 years after the Gulf War. ¶16. (C) A public reaffirmation of UNSCR 833 by Prime Minister Maliki paired with Kuwait,s agreement to significantly decrease, if not end, Iraq,s compensation payments, would be symbolically resonant political steps that would go a long way towards calming tensions and creating the positive bilateral environment necessary to resolve the basket of maritime boundary-related issues. It would also help Iraq politically (and thus the Iraqi-Kuwaiti relationship generally) if a new Security Council resolution clearly reaffirmed that Iraq has right to unimpeded access to international waters ) something that allows Iraqi leaders to say unequivocally that Iraq is a Gulf state with open access to the sea. Rights to &navigation8 may mean the same thing, legally, but they do nothing politically. ¶17. (C) In the meantime, there are practical technical steps Iraq and Kuwait could take to build confidence and lay the groundwork for an eventual resolution of maritime issues: -- Expand the Khor Abdulla Interoperability Protocols (KAA IP) to include dredging and maintenance of the existing shipping channel and extend as far out into the Gulf as possible. These protocols, signed between the Iraqi and Kuwaiti Navies on November 11, 2008, establish basic protocols for monitoring and reporting on vessel positions, criminal activities and maritime incidents in the Khor Abdulla waterway. -- GOI to send and the GOK to accept the MOU currently held up in Prime Minister Maliki,s office on wreck removal in the Khor Abdulla waterway. This MOU and any expansion of the protocols mentioned above can specifically include, as the KAA IP currently does, clauses that specify that they do not in any way prejudice any future discussions, negotiations Qnot in any way prejudice any future discussions, negotiations or agreements in relation to the determination and delineation of Kuwaiti and Iraqi territorial waters. -- A UN-mediated body along the lines of the recent UK proposal that would review and, as appropriate, mediate outstanding issues arising from the maritime boundary, building upon the work done by the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Boundary Demarcation Commission and affirmed in resolution 833 (1993). ¶18. (U) Embassy Kuwait has cleared this cable. HILL



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