Modern History and Politics -- Kuwait and Iraq: Historical Claims and Territorial Disputes, 2d Ed. by Richard Schofield

Article excerpt

Kuwait and Iraq: Historical Claims and Territorial Disputes, 2d ed., by Richard Schofield. London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1993. xv + 207 pages. Appends. to p. 215. Index to p. 226. L15.

One of the nagging loose ends left over from the 1991 Gulf War is the matter of the boundary between Iraq and Kuwait. The roots of the difficulty are very deep: they are tangled in British-Ottoman diplomacy, early Iraqi nationalism, the discovery and development of oil fields underlying the disputed area, the displacement of Britain by the United States as the "guardian of the Gulf," the end of the Cold War, and the rather surprising recent emergence of the United Nations as a factor to be reckoned with in Gulf affairs. All these and many subsidiary complications are reviewed in meticulous detail in the revised and expanded version of this study by Richard Schofield, a geographer and director of research at the Geopolitics and International Research Centre, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

But why, one may ask, in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War and the celebrated Security Council Resolution 687, establishing the limits of the frontier and providing for its demarcation, does the boundary problem still qualify as a "loose end"? First, because of continuing wariness in Washington and at the UN about Iraq's belated pledge (10 November 1994) to recognize Kuwait's independence and the boundary between the two countries. Second, because if history is any guide, no foreseeable successor government is likely to abandon what Iraqis universally regard as Iraq's just historic claims to adequate access to the waters of the Gulf. Third (and here Schofield's analysis breaks new ground), because of certain rather technical and problematic aspects of the terms of reference and mode of operations of the UN's Iraq-Kuwait Boundary Demarcation Commission (UNIKBDC).

This last consideration focuses on the process by which UNIKBDC has demarcated (i. …


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