Monday, July 07, 2008

Iraq's debt to Kuwait should be forgiven

Iraq's remainder of the UN-imposed $53 billion in compensation claims to Kuwait should be forgiven. Saddam Hussein made the decision to invade Kuwait. Most Iraqis did not want to go to war with Kuwait. I think it is ridiculous to force Iraq, a cash-poor war-torn country whose citizens suffered through 12 years of sanctions while Saddam got richer and stronger, to pay billions of dollars to Kuwait, an oil-rich country. Kuwait's population is just 3 million, and it was the 11th largest oil producer in the world in 2006. Kuwait was able to rebuild quickly after the 1991 war and produce 2 million barrels of oil a day by 1994 - in that article I found this interesting:

"The rebuilding phase is over," said Nader Sultan, the deputy chairman and managing director of the state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation. "The new phase for the next five to 10 years is looking for growth markets."

Yet Kuwait's growth strategy has been influenced by the Gulf war. Twenty years after nationalizing its oil business and defiantly vowing to make its own way, Kuwait is once again looking to work closely with the West's big oil corporations. Pragmatism prevails in Kuwait these days, and that means viewing the oil companies as useful sources of capital, technology and skills. After the war, Kuwait also recognizes that there might be security benefits from partnerships with Western oil companies.

Architects and engineers are at work now on blue prints for a petrochemical plant costing nearly $2 billion that will be built and operated jointly with Union Carbide, and the Government has contracted with British Petroleum and Chevron for help with exploration, drilling and training of Kuwaiti technicians.

It made me wonder how many US troops have been in Kuwait since 1991. Certainly US troops were in Kuwait in large numbers prior to the invasion of Iraq. Yet we haven't heard of suicide bombings or market bombings in Kuwait City. No attacks on Kuwaiti security forces. Maybe this is the worst part: many insurgents who fight in Iraq grew up in Kuwait. It's like the Jordanian who lived all his life within 15 miles of the Palestinian border, and to fight the infidel invader (ostensibly) he travels hundreds of miles and ends up mass murdering Iraqis.

Furthermore, Iraq has suffered through cruel sanctions and another war since the war of 1991. The damage inflicted on Iraq since 1991 has been much greater than the damage inflicted on Kuwait during the six months it was occupied by Iraq. Iraq has already paid reparations totaling $19 billion by 2005. Iraq still owes about $28 billion. The UN should make the move (because Kuwait apparently won't) to forgive Iraq's debt to Kuwait. It is only fair, in my opinion, given that Saddam and his henchmen killed any Iraqi who refused to serve in their army. It seems wrong to impose this debt on Iraq.

PS: I just deleted this part of the post: "Kuwait's government won't even recognize Iraq's new government, yet they demand reparation payments from Iraq." Iraq and Kuwait restored diplomatic relations in 2004! Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is still considering restoring diplomatic ties with Iraq.

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