Mar 12 2013
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Kuwait Voices Dismay At Border Protest
KUWAIT CITY, March 12
Kuwait has expressed dismay to the United Nations over a protest by stone-throwing Iraqis against the demarcation of the border, state media reported, underlining lingering tensions between the Arab neighbours a decade after Saddam Hussein was overthrown.
Iraq formally accepted a UN-demarcated border line in 1994 after the first Gulf War -- when Iraqi strongman Saddam sent his troops into Kuwait in 1990 and was forced out by a US-led coalition.
But many Iraqis in the area remain opposed to it, saying the line robbed them of property and territory.
Iraqi police sources said the protesting crowd hurled stones at Iraqi security forces in the border town of Um Qasr on Monday, prompting the security forces to fire in the air to disperse them. The unrest was triggered by border signs maintenance work nearby, they said.
Kuwaiti border guards, hearing the gunshots and believing they were being targeted, opened fire at Iraqi security forces in response, Kuwaiti media reported. There were no reports of casualties on either side.
Kuwait's Foreign Ministry undersecretary, Khalid Al-Jarallah, said his country has submitted a memorandum to the United Nations and to Iraq over the incident, according to Kuwait's state news agency KUNA.
"We have issued a statement expressing our dismay over the irresponsible act," he said. "It is an act that runs counter to the nature of brotherly relations between Kuwait and Iraq."
Kuwait pulled its border guards out of the area after the incident "to calm the situation", Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai reported on its website.
KUNA said some of the protesting Iraqis had obstructed UN-supervised border signs maintenance and removed the border fence between two signs.
An Iraqi police source told Reuters that one activist was injured in the border unrest.
Leaders of both oil-producing countries have been working to improve ties in the past year, despite public wariness. The nations came to an agreement over Gulf War-era debts last year.
Iraq's foreign and transport ministers travelled on the first flight of state-run Iraqi Airways to Kuwait since 1990 last month, in a symbolic gesture hailed by officials as a sign of improving relations.
Kuwait's Amir and Iraq's prime minister have also visited each other's countries and officials have vowed to work together to maintain border markings.
Meanwhile, the Future Bloc in the National Assembly has called on the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly to hold an emergency meeting with ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defense and Interior and the MPs to discuss the incident at the Iraqi border.
This came following reports that the UN team supervising the demarcation of the Kuwait-Iraq border came under gunfire attack from the Iraqi side.
The bloc's spokesman, Yaqoub Al-Sane who held a meeting with another bloc member Ahmed Al-Mulaifi said the bloc feels it necessary to hold a press conference due to the incident Monday night at Kuwaiti-Iraqi border.
He added, "The incident will not go unnoticed and we call on ministers of Foreign Affairs and Interior and the Speaker of the Parliament to debate this matter and take appropriate measures.
Al-Mulaifi stated the bloc will not remain silent on this issue to prevent it from escalating in future. He pointed out the Iraqi side has collected all its compensations "and what is required from it now is to take measures to protect our employees and military personnel and prevent its citizens from 'attacking' Kuwaiti officials from the Iraqi side of the border."
He added, "We seek to invite all MPs and members of the Foreign Affairs Committee to discuss this issue and prevent recurrence of such practices. We call for holding an urgent meeting on the issue."
Meanwhile, the Interior and Defense Committee of the National Assembly discussed the bedoun issue with delegates of the Central Agency for Remedying the Status of Illegal Residents (bedoun) in Kuwait led by Major-General Najeeb Al-Othman.
The committee's Rapporteur MP Abdullah Al-Tameemi in a statement said the Central Agency explained many issues during the committee meeting. He added the meeting discussed the draft law on the naturalization of 4,000 bedoun.
He added the Committee decided to postpone discussions on this issue until it is discussed with those who have presented a draft bill and the concerned minister.
He said the Committee discussed the decree law 21/2012 on the establishment of the National Elections Commission in the presence of the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice Abdul Aziz Al-Majed, indicating the Committee has decided to postpone the discussion of this issue for further study.
He said the committee also discussed the issue of the alleged Israeli company which monitors the Kuwaiti border. The issue is contained in a grilling request filed by MP Faisal Al-Duwaisan against the Interior Minister.
He added the committee has invited Al-Duwaisan to attend the meeting next Monday to discuss this issue.
In another development, MP Saadoun Hamad Al-Otaibi has disclosed that he and some MPs will grill Minister of Health Mohammed Barrak Al-Haifi on the overseas medical treatment issue.
He said, "The minister had rejected an emergency request from a female cancer patient while he sent one of his relatives abroad for treatment and this is a huge violation committed by the minister in just two months after taking office."
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