Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have called upon Iraq to take immediate measures to address the negative repercussions of its Federal Supreme Court’s decision regarding the Khor Abdullah agreement with Kuwait.
On September 4, the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court annulled the law ratifying a 2012 agreement between Iraq and Kuwait on the Khor Abdullah strait in the Arabian Gulf, which regulated maritime navigation on the crucial waterway. Last Friday, Kuwait lodged a formal protest with Iraq.
The agreement to regulate navigation in Khor Abdullah was approved by the Iraqi Parliament under Law No. 42 of 2013 and by the Kuwaiti National Assembly under Law No. 4 of 2013.
Additionally, Kuwait’s foreign minister discussed the Iraqi court’s decision with US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf in New York.
The Ministerial Council of GCC Foreign Ministers held a coordination meeting on the sidelines of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Sunday.
Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah briefed his GCC counterparts on the implications of the Iraqi court’s ruling.
The ministerial council urged Iraq “to take serious and immediate steps to address the negative consequences” of the ruling.
In a statement, the council also said that the ruling included inaccurate historical details regarding the 2012 agreement.
The council stressed that these developments do not serve relations with the GCC countries and violate international charters, treaties and agreements, including UN Security Council Resolution 833.
The meeting between Kuwait’s top diplomat and Leaf touched on bilateral ties and cooperation between Kuwait and the US, as well as discussing the Khor Abdullah dispute.
“The Iraqi government must first work to calm tensions with Kuwait by sending an official message stating that the annulment of the ratification of the agreement by the Federal Court, for reasons related to the legal authority of the voting process, does not affect the agreement signed between the two governments,” Iraqi academic and researcher Dr. Yahya Al-Kubisi told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Furthermore, Al-Kubisi urged the Iraqi government to engage in bilateral discussions with Kuwait to amend the clauses that have been used as a pretext to oppose the agreement.
Legal expert Ali Tamimi, in remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, explained that the decision of the Federal Supreme Court was based on the premise that the Iraqi constitution requires a specific legislative law for voting on significant agreements, including border demarcation, with a two-thirds majority of parliamentary members.
“The court’s decision of unconstitutionality of the vote does not mean the cancellation of the agreement as much as it implies its suspension until a law requiring a two-thirds majority vote is legislated,” said Tamimi.