Yemen Decides to Mediate in the prisoners’ issue between Iraq & Kuwait WILL YEMEN BRING THE BREAKTHROUGH [Archives:2001/36/Law & Diplomacy]

September 3 2001

Following the talks of last week between the Emir of Kuwait Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah and Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi, hopes increased in an active role of Yemen regarding the resolving of the prisoners’ issue between Iraq and Kuwait. Al-Qirbi, who carried a message from President Ali Abdullah Saleh expressing Yemen’s willingness to mediation efforts between Kuwait and Iraq, also expressed optimism regarding Yemen’s possible role in this dispute.
Following President Saleh meeting with Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadhan who visited Yemen two weeks ago, the president expressed his eagerness to bring views closer to set an effective agreement between the two sides to end this dispute once and for all.
However, Iraq’s proposal to set up an Arab League committee on the prisoners-of-war and those missing in action (MIA) since the 1991 Gulf War was also presented by Al-Qirbi to the Kuwaiti side, was rejected.
According to Kuwaiti sources, more than 600 of its and other countries’ nationals disappeared during the Iraqi occupation from August 1990 to February 1991, and says the MIA’s are still being held in Iraq. However, Iraq has been admitting taking prisoners but says it lost track of them during the Shiite uprising in southern Iraq, but maintained that more than 1,555 Iraqis have disappeared or are being held in Kuwait.
Yemen is believed to be the closest country who could resolve the issue and serve as a mediator especially that it had strengthened its relations with Kuwait and seems to have bypassed all the consequences of Yemen’s siding with Iraq during the Gulf War. This was evident specifically during the latest delegation visit of a number of Kuwaiti intellectuals who held a Kuwaiti Cultural Festival in Sanaa.
At the same time, Yemen maintained its strong relationship with Iraq, and confirmed this with the recent Iraqi Vice President’s visit to Yemen.
There have also been circulating news about a possible visit of President Saleh to Kuwait, which could be a breakthrough in Yemeni-Kuwaiti relationship since the 1990 Gulf War.
The visit has not been confirmed by official sources, even though there have been confirmation of an invitation extended to President Saleh to visit Kuwait.