New Kuwaiti Port Risks Affecting Iraq’s Faw Grand Port Project
|May 9, 2011||Filled under Iraq Daily News|
Iraqis in general and Basra residents in particular cast doubts on the project of building up a Kuwaiti port near Iraqi waters.
Kuwait announced the project on April 1. Iraqis warn however of the project’s effect on Iraq’s dream to build the Faw Grand Port that will hopefully open an eastern Asian gate into Europe and the Mediterranean.
A new water crisis adds up to the land borders crisis from which the countries are suffering since 1990. Naval experts believe Mubarak Al Kabir Port project which Kuwait decided to build on Boubyan Island is a “provocation” to Iraq which is trying hard to normalize relations with Kuwait that hindered somehow the country’s removal from Chapter VII.
The project is an intended plan from the part of Kuwait to undermine Iraq’s economy and make of the Faw Grand port a useless project, experts argued adding that Mubarak’s port risks of impeding navigation in the gulf.
Warnings against the “provocative” project
“Kuwait does not need to turn one of its biggest islands to a port. It has major trade ports namely Al Shuwaikh, Al Shuaiba, Al Jaliaa and Al Ahmadi. This project is aimed to damage Iraq”, naval expert captain Kazem Finjan argued.
“Mubarak Al Kabir’s port project which is due to be built on Kuwaiti Boubyan’s island is only one kilometer away from Faw District, 100 km southern Basra, where Iraq plans to construct its biggest port”, Finjan said adding that Kuwait’s project is “a provocation to Iraq”.
Captain Kazem Finjan who is the former assistant of Iraq’ ports company general director believes Kuwait’s project aims to sap the Faw Grand Pert project and prevent Iraq from opening up towards the sea since the new port cuts off the only maritime passage leading to Um Qasr and Khor Al Zubair ports, he continued.
“Kuwait has started construction works on Bobyan Island that is located on the facing side of Faw’s Grand port” he added.
“Iraq has lost wide surfaces of its regional waters while its maritime borders have been drawn back due to the consecutive governments’ generous concessions”, he said.
“Iraq’s coasts have drawn back to 57 kilometers while Kuwait’s coasts extend to about 500 kilometers after the Arab Gulf was referred till the year 1916 as the Great Basra Gulf”, Finjan uttered.
The Iraqi naval expert warns that the Kuwaiti project will definitely affect Iraq’s continental shelf surface which has not been agreed upon yet, he concluded calling on Iraq’s government and political parties to take a firm stand against the Kuwaiti project.
“Mubarak Al Kabir” project makes of Kuwait a world trade center
Kuwait believes the project of Mubarak port which the start of construction was announced on April 6, 2011 exactly one year after Iraq declared its plan to build up Faw Grand Port is “a national strategic project”.
Kuwaiti deputy Prime Minister for economic affairs Ahmad Al Fahed affirmed that the project which will be built by the Korean Hyundai company will be an echo friendly project. The project bears within major benchmarks and meet the Kuwaiti people’s aspirations who long hoped to build an efficient and strategic port which will make of Kuwait a financial and trade center in the region and the world, he said.
The project will be developed on four stages which the last ends in 2016. The project includes large docks for containers, tens of harbors, a free trade zone, a residential complex and railways linking between the two ends of the island. The first stage costs 305 million Kuwaiti Dinar. The number of docks will be expanded with the development of other stages while the containers storage station will be expanded as well to reach 2.5 million containers a year.
Strategic Iraqi researchers utter concerns that Mubarak Al Kabir Project might negatively affect Al Faw Grand Port Project. However they held Iraq responsible because it delayed the implementation of the project.
Director of Persian Gulf Studies Centre in the University of Basra Dr. Jassem Ghali Roumi told Alsumarianews that the fact that Kuwait is establishing a port in Bubyan city near Al Faw cost will bring Al Faw Grand Port Project to failure before the implementation thereof.
“There will be no use from building the port if another Kuwaiti big port exist nearby”, Roumi said. “Iraq is responsible for that he said since it the fact that it delayed the implementation of Faw Grant Port Project encouraged Kuwait to build its own port”, he added.
The suggestions of Director of Persian Gulf Studies Centre seem to be realistic. In fact, Iraq has been talking about Faw Grand Port Project since 2005 and didn’t lay the foundation for the project till April 2010. However, since that day nothing was added to the site. The foundation stone is in fact a milestone carrying the name of the port and the foundation date and it is still standing alone in the middle of a deserted area with no sign that any project is taking place in that region.
On papers Faw Grand Port Project is extraordinary and huge with a lot of stunning details introduced by the Ministry of Transportation such as a wharf for containers as long as 3900 meters and another one of 2000 meters in addition to a square for containers with an area of more than a million square meters. The port also includes another multifunctional square with an area of 600000 square meters. The port space is of 99 million tones yearly while its cost is of 4.4 billion Euros.
The Ministry of Transportation blueprints show that the port enjoys a railroad that connects the Persian Gulf thru the Iraqi ports with the north of the European continent thru Turkey, a project named “the dry canal”. Experts say that the port would change the map of naval transportation in the Middle East and it would boost Iraq’s economic situation.
New Problems with Kuwait might erupt
Local officials in Basra say that that building Mubarak Al Kabir port may cause new conflicts between Iraq and Kuwait and called Baghdad to take action in order to contain a crisis looming in the horizon.
Basra Province Council Deputy President Ahmad Al Saliti told Alsumarianews that Basra citizens contest building the Kuwaiti port at its current location because it harms the interests of Iraq and called the Kuwaiti government to cooperate with its Iraqi counterpart regarding the project to avoid further complications between the two countries.
Saliti, a renowned cleric in the Province said that Iraqi want the best for Kuwaitis. However, the Kuwaiti government shall not expand its ambitions by harming the interests of the Iraqi people. He also stressed that Iraqis refuse allowing anybody to take their rights or seize their land.
Basra Senates Council enclosing dozens of Tribes Sheikhs and leaders issued a statement in which it denounced the project.
The Council’s Deputy President Mohammad Al Zidawi told Alsumarianews he is surprised that the Iraqi government did not take any action to halt Kuweit’s attempt to narrow Iraq naval outlets and called the government to take action fast thru diplomatic means.
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