Kuwait’s PM hails improving relations with Iraq
UNITED NATIONS: After nearly 22 years since Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and the aftermath of the deterioration of relations between the two neighboring Arab nations, Kuwait highlighted “remarkable positive developments” in relations with Iraq after HH the Amir of Kuwait’s milestone visit to Iraq earlier this year. “Kuwait-Iraqi relations have witnessed remarkable positive developments, as Kuwait has let bygones be bygones to open up a new chapter in ties between the two neighboring countries,” said HH the Prime Minister of Kuwait Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah at the 67th session of the United National General Assembly.
“HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s milestone visit to Baghdad to attend the Arab Summit late last March has given great impetus to the relations with Iraq,” he said. He added that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki’s visit to Kuwait on March 14 also helped restore confidence and create a congenial atmosphere for a new chapter for relations. “Moreover, the Joint Kuwaiti-Iraqi Committee convened in April, and the two sides have reached several important points of understanding on some of the pending issues as well as agreeing on a plan of action to accelerate Iraq’s fulfillment of its UN obligations, in order to end the sanctions imposed on it under the UNSC Chapter VI after the occupation of Kuwait,” he said.
Sheikh Jaber lauded the UN’s role in resolving international disputes, but underlined the need for restructuring the UN’s organizations and upgrading its mechanisms to help meet growing challenges on the international arena. In this regard, he called for fair and evenhanded representations for world countries in its organizations, particularly the Security Council. “Kuwait underscores the importance of reforming the UNSC to better reflect the new international reality and ensure a proper representation of Arab and Muslim countries in line with their size, contributions and roles in defending the goals and principles of the UN and its charters,” Sheikh Jaber said.
He condemned both of the recent anti-Islam movie as well as the violent protests it triggered, stressing the need for international actions against those instigate hatred and tension amongst the followers of different faiths. “Kuwait strongly condemns the production of this movie and the killing and violent actions that followed it,” he said, stressing that these actions contradict with the core teachings of the religion of Islam. With this, he recalled the Amir’s call for a UN anti-religions defamation convention during the UN General Assembly summit on inter-faith dialogue in Nov, 2008. “The UN General Assembly has to give due attention to HH the Amir’s call and pass a resolution in this regard to protect social security and stability in the world,” he said.
Sheikh Jaber lamented the failure of all efforts to stop 18-month-long violence and bloodshed in Syria. He recalled the Amir’s calls at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Summit (OIC) on Aug 12 for an international action to put an end to the plight of Syrian people. “These (horrible) scenes in Syria put a huge responsibility on our shoulders before, our God, nations and conscience, and prompts us to move without hesitation to end this violent tragedy,” he said quoting the words of the Amir at the OIC summit.
Sheikh Jaber also denounced the Israeli government’s defiance to UN resolutions and international calls for stopping settlement activities on occupied Palestinian lands and the choking siege on the Gaza Strip. “Kuwait calls on the UNSC to press Israel to abide by UN resolutions related to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” he said, which call on Israel to withdraw from all Arab land occupied on June 5, 1967, in order to help achieve comprehensive peace in the whole Middle East region. He also called for international measures to persuade Israel to recognize the right of Palestinians to have their own independent state, with East Jerusalem as its future capital.
“Kuwait urges the need for good preparation for the 2012 (UN) summit on forming a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction in reference with the closing declaration of the 2010 Review Conference for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,” Sheikh Jaber said. He reiterated Kuwait’s call on Iran to take “serious and effective steps in the sake of cooperating with international efforts aimed at a diplomatic solution to its nuclear program and dissipating any doubts on its aims and objectives,” thus avoiding “further crises and struggles that have become unfortunately common to this vital region”.
On Iran’s relations with its neighbours, namely the United Arab Emirates, he added: “We also hope the Islamic Republic of Iran cooperates and complies with initiatives aimed at resolving the crisis over the occupied Emirati islands according to the principles and regulations of international law.” He urged Iran to be “an effective side in the region that practices its role according to the basis and principle of mutual respect and joint interests, in order to create a natural cooperative environment that serves the region, without interfering in its internal affairs.”
Sheikh Jaber highlighted Kuwait’s support of reform plans in Yemen, guided by its President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and the election of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in Somalia. He also hailed UN and international community efforts he described as “positive” on dealing with the issue of the Muslim Rohingya minority in Myanmar and expressed hope these efforts would be met with an end to the violence and spread of peace in the country.
He stressed Kuwait’s commitment to providing aid to impoverished countries. “Despite being a developing country itself, Kuwait has been since gaining independence in 1961 strongly committed to helping countries that are developing and are witnessing slower growth, through a number of mechanisms and initiatives, namely the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, which has been providing assistance to Arab, Asian, African, Central American and Latin American nations.” He also pledged Kuwait’s commitment to the international organisation’s efforts. “We pledge Kuwait’s complete commitment and cooperation in support of UN efforts to achieve the aims of its charter and enhance its international role in executing what has been agreed upon at its conferences.
In the context of its international commitment, Kuwait is set to be hosting in October this year the first Asian Dialogue Initiative Summit of heads-of-state, after it had been limited to foreign ministers in its 10-year-long lifespan. In March next year, Kuwait will also be hosting the Arab-African Summit, and the Kuwaiti senior official said he hoped these two meetings would do much to open up new prospects for stability, development and cooperation between the countries in the regions. “Kuwait gets ready to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of its constitution in November and this marks a four-century period of development and political growth,” Sheikh Jaber said.
It also “marks the growth of comprehensive and effective democratic practice, as the constitution is a torch that guides Kuwait – its government and people – through a path of a generous lifestyle based on mutual rights and duties, the ensuring of basic rights, general policy-making and on organizing the country’s foreign policies without interfering in the affairs of others”.
“This is an illustration of Kuwait’s political vision, based on faith in peace, and working for it, and ensuring developing and enhancing its relations with surrounding countries according to the principles of mutual respect and joint interests. Kuwait has faith that dialogue and spreading the beliefs of acceptance and moderation, and rejecting violence and fundamentalism are the key and the correct path towards equality, justice and reaching the most noble of causes, which is ensuring international peace and stability”, Sheikh Jaber concluded.
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the West and Israel of nuclear “intimidation” yesterday, and spoke at length about his vision for a new world order without the “hegemony of arrogance”. US, Canadian and Israeli officials boycotted the Iranian’s eighth annual address to the UN General Assembly, and there was no repeat of the walkouts of previous years, but there were still harsh words for Tehran’s foes. “Arms race and intimidation by nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction by the hegemonic powers have become prevalent,” Ahmadinejad declared, in a 35-minute speech that ended with a smattering of applause. “Continued threats by the uncivilized Zionists to resort to military action against our great nation are a clear example of this bitter reality,” he added, in his only reference to Israel.
Ahmadinejad’s last stay in New York as president has been marked as usual by new condemnation of Israel which he refuses to mention by name, calling them the “uncultured Zionists” or a “fake regime”. The United States boycotted the UN speech because of his attacks. Outside the UN headquarters, demonstrators protesting at Ahmadinejad’s presence set up a hangman’s gallows to symbolize Iran’s widespread executions.
Diplomats from Britain, France and Germany sat through Ahmadinejad’s address, but found nothing in his theological lecture to justify a repeat of the walkouts of previous years. This time he lashed out at the West for the global economic crisis. “Creation of worthless paper assets by using influence and control over the world’s economic centers constitutes the greatest abuse of history, and is considered a major contributor to global economic crisis,” he said.
But much of the speech was devoted to religion. Ahmadinejad hailed the imminent arrival of an “Ultimate Savior”. “God Almighty has promised us a man of kindness,” he declared. Ahmadinejad said the savior is “a man who loves people and loves absolute justice, a man who is a perfect human being and is named Imam Al-Mahdi, a man who will come in the company of Jesus Christ and the righteous”. The date of his coming is not known, but Ahmadinejad indicated that he felt the arrival would come quickly, telling delegates: “Now we can sense the sweet scent and the soulful breeze of the spring, a spring that has just begun.” Ahmadinejad’s speech received a smattering of applause and he acknowledged the acclaim with a wave before leaving the UN stage for the last time.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s new president yesterday hit out at Israel over its veiled threats to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities and the deadlock in the Middle East peace process. President Mohamed Morsi received a rousing ovation for his first speech to the 193-member UN General Assembly since becoming Egypt’s first civilian, democratically elected leader in June. Without specifically mentioning Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal, Morsi said the Middle East “no longer tolerates” any country’s refusal to join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty “especially if this is coupled with irresponsible policies or arbitrary threats.”
“The acceptance by the international community of the principle of pre-emptiveness or the attempt to legitimize it is in itself a serious matter and must be firmly confronted to avoid the prevalence of the law of the jungle,” Morsi said. He also put the Israel-Palestinian conflict ahead of the Syria war in the list of priorities he laid out before the General Assembly. “The first issue which the world must exert all its efforts in resolving, on the basis of justice and dignity, is the Palestinian cause,” Morsi said. He said that UN resolutions on the conflict had not been implemented and that Palestinians “must also taste the fruits of freedom and dignity” that other countries in the Arab region have won in the past year. “It is shameful that the free world accepts, regardless of the justifications provided, that a member of the international community continues to deny the rights of a nation that has been longing for decades for independence,” Morsi said. “It is also disgraceful that settlement activities continue on the territories of these people.”
Morsi also said he will not rest until the civil war in Syria is brought to an end. He called the fighting there, which opposition groups say has killed at least 30,000 people, the “tragedy of the age” and one that “we all must end”. And he invited all nations to join an effort to stop the bloodshed that began about 18 months ago when opposition figures rose up against President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. Egypt opposes foreign military intervention to stop the civil war in Syria and prefers an inclusive, negotiated settlement, Morsi said. “Egypt is committed to pursue the sincere efforts it has been exerting to put an end to the catastrophe in Syria within an Arab, regional and international framework,” he said. Such a solution should be “one that preserves the unity of this brotherly state, involves all factions of the Syrian people without racial, religious or sectarian discrimination and spares Syria the dangers of foreign military intervention that we oppose,” he said.
Morsi, a key figure in the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood, opened his remarks to the UN General Assembly by celebrating himself as Egypt’s first democratically elected leader who was swept into office after what he called a “great, peaceful revolution”. On another subject, Morsi condemned as an obscenity the video produced in the United States that denigrated Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He insisted that freedom of expression does not allow for attacks on any religion.
Morsi also condemned the violence that swept Muslim countries last week in reaction to the video. At least 51 people were killed, including the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans targeted in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. He appeared to have been responding to President Barack Obama’s General Assembly speech Tuesday in which the US leader again condemned the video but sternly defended the US Constitution’s guarantees of free speech. He said freedom of expression must be linked with responsibility, “especially when it comes with serious implications for international peace and stability”.
Another Arab leader making his first appearance at the UN General Assembly’s annual ministerial meeting after being swept into power by the Arab Spring revolutions was Yemen’s Hadi. He took office in February after more than a year of political turmoil and is now trying to steer his country’s democratic transition. Hadi called on the UN to grant membership to Palestine and support a transfer of power in Syria. “The only option for our brothers in Syria is to agree on an initiative … for peaceful change and transfer of power through ballot boxes,” he said.