After recognizing improved Iraq-Kuwait relations, the U.N. Security Council on Thursday unanimously voted to ease sanctions against Baghdad.
Sanctions were imposed on Iraq after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in the 1990’s. The embargo on Iraq fell under Chapter VII of the U.N. charter.
“This is a historic, jubilant day, all Iraqis should celebrate. It is the day when Iraqis have retained their sovereignty. The day when they are liberated from punishments, isolation,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told Al Arabiya.
Chapter VII of the charter allows the U.N. Security Council to use military force against any country that threatens another state. However, Iraq is still not sanctions-free, it has now been placed under Chapter VI in the U.N. charter, which doesn’t impose military force.
“The seventh chapter has become history. Now, Iraq and Kuwait as governments and people have to concentrate on the present time and future.”
He said the historic decision came through despite the complex situation inside Iraq, adding the foreign ministry worked to convince the Iraqi parliament to pass through certain laws showing its commitment to obtaining an exit from Chapter VII.
“We also negotiated with each member of the U.N. security council, country by country.”
Iraq still needs to return missing property, national treasures and archives, as well as reparations for the invasion, in order to be embargo-free.
Iraq still owes around $11 billion to Kuwait. In total, Iraq was ordered by the U.N. to pay the Gulf country just over $52 billion. The debt is expected to be fully paid off by 2015.
Zebari thanked Kuwait for its “support and assistance” and vowed to increase cooperation with the country.
“All the negative aspects of relations between the two countries have become another page of the past and we shall focus on the present and the future,” he was quoted saying by AFP.
The resolution adopted Thursday calls on the Iraqi government to continue searching for more than 600 missing Kuwaitis and looted property but no longer allows for the measures to be enforced militarily.
Meanwhile, Iraq found the remains of 236 missing Kuwaitis.
While Kuwait giving the go-ahead to build Mubarak port close to Iraq’s Umm Qasr harbor infuriated Baghdad in 2011, general relations between the two countries improved.
Regular flights between Baghdad and Kuwait resumed after more than two decades hiatus this year. Also, Kuwait’s Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak al-Sabah went on a surprise one-day visit to Baghdad this month in a key sign of the thaw.