Foreign relations of Iraq

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This article is based on a report by the CIA and does not reflect the events of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq or foreign policies of occupying forces or subsequent governments.

Iraqi-Iranian relations have remained cool since the end of the Iraq-Iran War in 1988. Outstanding issues from that war, including prisoner of war exchanges and support of armed opposition parties operating in each other’s territory, remain to be solved.

Iraq’s relations with the Arab world have been extremely varied. Egypt broke relations with Iraq in 1977, following Iraq’s criticism of President Anwar Sadat’s peace initiatives with Israel. In 1978, Baghdad hosted an Arab League summit that condemned and ostracized Egypt for accepting the Camp David accords. However, Egypt’s strong material and diplomatic support for Iraq in the war with Iran led to warmer relations and numerous contacts between senior officials, despite the continued absence of ambassadorial-level representation. Since 1983, Iraq has repeatedly called for restoration of Egypt’s “natural role” among Arab countries. In January 1984, Iraq successfully led Arab efforts within the OIC to restore Egypt’s membership. However, Iraqi-Egyptian relations were broken in 1990 after Egypt joined the UN coalition that forced Iraq out of Kuwait. Relations have steadily improved in recent years, and Egypt is now one of Iraq’s main trade partners (formerly under the Oil-for-Food Programme).

Relations with Syria have been marred by traditional rivalry for pre-eminence in Arab affairs, allegations of involvement in each other’s internal politics, and disputes over the waters of Euphrates River, oil transit fees, and stances toward Israel. Syria broke relations after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 and joined other Arab countries in sending military forces to the coalition that forced Iraq out of Kuwait. Relations remained cool until Bashar al-Asad became President of Syria in 2000. Economic ties based on illicit oil smuggling have strengthened, but politically the relationship remains distant.

Iraq’s relations with Jordan have improved significantly since 1980, when Jordan declared its support for Iraq at the outset of the Iran-Iraq war. Jordan’s support for Iraq during the Persian Gulf War resulted in a further improvement of ties. Relations have cooled since the current King of Jordan took office in 2000, but remain good.

Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 resulted in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and most Persian Gulf states severing relations with Baghdad and joining the United Nations coalition that forced Iraqi forces out of Kuwait during the Persian Gulf War. Iraq’s refusal to implement UN Security Council Resolutions and continued threats toward Kuwait have resulted in relations remaining cool.

Iraq participated in the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948, 1967 and 1973, and traditionally has opposed all attempts to reach a peaceful settlement between Israel and the Arab States. Israel attacked Iraq’s nuclear research reactor under construction near Baghdad in July 1981. During the Iran-Iraq war, Iraq moderated its anti-Israel stance considerably. In August 1982 President Hussein stated to a visiting U.S. Congressman that “a secure state is necessary for both Israel and the Palestinians.” Iraq did not oppose then President Reagan’s September 1, 1982 Arab-Israeli peace initiative, and it supported the moderate Arab position at the Fez summit that same month. Iraq repeatedly stated that it would support whatever settlement is found acceptable by the Palestinians. However, after the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, Iraq reverted to more stridently anti-Israel statements. During the Persian Gulf War, Iraq fired Scud missiles at Israeli civilian targets in an attempt to divide the U.S. coalition, and, since the end of the Persian Gulf War, Iraq has embraced the most extreme Arab hardline anti-Israel position, including periodically calling for the total elimination of Israel.

Iraq belongs to the following international organizations: UN and some of its specialized agencies, including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); Nonaligned Movement; Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC); Arab League; Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC); Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC); Interpol; World Health Organization (WHO); G-19; G-77.

Disputes - international: Iran and Iraq restored diplomatic relations in 1990 but are still trying to work out written agreements settling outstanding disputes from their eight-year war concerning border demarcation, prisoners-of-war, and freedom of navigation and sovereignty over the Shatt al Arab waterway; in November 1994, Iraq formally accepted the UN-demarcated border with Kuwait which had been spelled out in Security Council Resolutions 687 (1991), 773 (1993), and 883 (1993); this formally ends earlier claims to Kuwait and to Bubiyan and Warbah islands although the government continues periodic rhetorical challenges; dispute over water development plans by Turkey for the Tigris and Euphrates rivers

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Foreign relations of Iraq

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