Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Gulf War legacy flares as 'stingy' Kuwait puts the squeeze on Iraq

Oil-rich state demands billions from Baghdad as dispute over border rages

By Robert Fisk

But there is more – and it involves the ethnic balance in the two nations' populations. "Maybe 40 per cent of people in Kuwait are now Shia rather than Sunni Muslims and these people are now investing heavily in southern Iraq," the oil man said yesterday. "The Kuwaiti Shias are becoming 'Basra-ites' and vice versa. More and more Shia from the south of Iraq are becoming businessmen and trading with Kuwait. This causes a blurring of the border between the two countries, a feeling that the two economies are becoming linked. No wonder the Kuwaitis want to stand by the letter of the law."

There are some unpleasant precedents for the Kuwaitis. The crushing debt which the Treaty of Versailles heaped upon Germany was lesson enough; Germany's financial loss became Hitler's gain. Maybe the Kuwaitis should pull out some history books and ponder what Iraq will look like – and who its leader may be – in 20 years' time."

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