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Since its independence in 1961, Kuwait maintained strong international relations with most countries, especially nations within the Arab world. Its vast oil reserves gives it a prominent voice in global economic forums and organizations like the OPEC.



Kuwait's troubled relationship with neighboring Iraq formed the core of its foreign policy from late 1980s onwards. Its first major foreign policy problem arose when Iraq claimed Kuwaiti territory. Iraq threatened invasion, but was dissuaded by the United Kingdom's ready response to the Amir's request for assistance. Kuwait presented its case before the United Nations and successfully preserved its sovereignty. UK forces were later withdrawn and replaced by troops from Arab League nations, which were withdrawn in 1963 at Kuwait's request.

On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded and occupied Kuwait. Largely through the efforts of King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia who was instrumental in obtaining the help of the U.S., a multinational coalition was assembled, and, under UN auspices, initiated military action against Iraq to liberate Kuwait. Arab states, especially the other five members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates), Egypt, and Syria, supported Kuwait by sending troops to fight with the coalition. Many European and East Asian states sent troops, equipment, and/or financial support.

After its liberation, Kuwait largely directed its diplomatic and cooperative efforts toward states that had participated in the multinational coalition. Notably, many of these states were given key roles in the reconstruction of Kuwait. Conversely, Kuwait's relations with nations that had supported Iraq, among them Jordan, Sudan, Yemen, and Cuba, have proved to be either strained or nonexistent.

Since the conclusion of the Gulf War, Kuwait has made efforts to secure allies throughout the world, particularly United Nations Security Council members. In addition to the United States, defense arrangements have been concluded with the United Kingdom, Russia, and France. Close ties to other key Arab members of the Gulf War coalition — Egypt and Syria — also have been sustained.

Kuwait's foreign policy has been dominated for some time by its economic dependence on oil and natural gas. As a developing nation, its various economies are insufficient to independently support it. As a result, Kuwait has directed considerable attention toward oil or natural gas related issues.

With the outbreak of the War on Iraq, Kuwait has taken a strongly pro-U.S. stance, having been the nation from which the war was actually launched. It supported the Coalition Provisional Authority, with particular stress upon strict border controls and adequate U.S. troop presence.

Kuwait is a member of the UN and some of its specialized and related agencies, including the World Bank (IBRD), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organization (WTO), General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT); African Development Bank (AFDB), Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD), Arab League, Arab Monetary Fund (AMF), Council of Arab Economic Unity (CAEU), Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Group of 77 (G-77), Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), INMARSAT, International Development Association (IDA), International Finance Corporation, International Fund for Agricultural Development, International Labour Organization (ILO), International Marine Organization, Interpol, IOC, Islamic Development Bank (IDB), League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (LORCS), Non-Aligned Movement, Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

International disputes

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; ownership of Qaruh and Umm al Maradim islands disputed by Saudi Arabia. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia continue negotiating a joint maritime boundary with Iran; no maritime boundary exists with Iraq in the Persian Gulf.

Middle East



On July 13, 2008, Kuwaiti lawmaker Jassem Al-Kharafi publicly accused the West of "provoking" Iran on the nuclear issue. In his interview with state-owned Kuwait TV, Al-Kharafi said, "What is happening is that there are provocative Western statements, and Iran responds in the same way... I believe that a matter this sensitive needs dialogue not escalation, and it shouldn't be dealt with as if Iran were one of America's states." [1]


Kuwaiti lawmaker Al-Ameeri opposes forgiving Iraq's debt. The debt, estimated at $16 billion, represents loans Kuwait made to Baghdad in the Saddam Hussein era, mostly during the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran war. Al-Ameeri argues that, "The debt owed by Iraq to Kuwait is the right of the Kuwaiti people and no one has the right to negotiate over them." Al-Ameeri believes that the Kuwaiti voices calling to forgive the debt and compensation "should not be heeded and they do not represent the Kuwaiti people." He further opposes the debt forgiveness because Iraq has considerable oil wealth and because the, "Kuwaiti people shed their blood" during the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. "The issue is a red line for Kuwait and no Kuwaiti will ever concede these loans," Al-Ameeri has been quoted as saying.[2]

On November 8, 2008, Kuwaiti lawmaker Al-Mulla proposed that Kuwait allow Iraq to back pay its debt to Kuwait in natural gas. The Arab Times quoted Al- Mulla as saying, "In this manner, Kuwait can take the loans back from Iraq and put an end to the shortage of fuel in its power stations." [3]

On April 25, 2007, Kuwaiti lawmaker Saleh Ashour called in a statement for reopening Kuwait's embassy in Baghdad and for strongly supporting the government in Baghdad. But Al-Ghanim said he believes that it was too early to reopen the Kuwaiti embassy in Baghdad and that this issue should wait until security situations improve.[4]


On December 28, 2008, Kuwaiti lawmakers Mikhled Al-Azmi, Musallam Al-Barrak, Marzouq Al-Ghanim, Jaaman Al-Harbash, Ahmad Al-Mulaifi, Mohammad Hayef Al-Mutairi, Ahmad Al-Saadoun, Nasser Al-Sane, and Waleed Al-Tabtabaie protested in front of the National Assembly building against the attacks by Israel on Gaza. Protesters burned Israeli flags, waved banners reading, "No to hunger, no to submission" and chanted "Allahu Akbar." Israel launched air strikes against Hamas in the Gaza Strip on December 26 after Hamas launched rockets into the Israeli town of Sderot following the expiration of a six-month ceasefire on December 18.[5]

On January 3, 2009, Nasser Al-Sane, Waleed Al-Tabtabaie, Adnan Abdulsamad, and other MPs protested in front of the National Assembly against the Israeli attacks on Gaza.[6]

After Friday prayers on January 8, 2009, Jamaan Al-Harbash and several other MPs again protested in front of the National Assembly urging Arab leaders to take a stronger stand against the Israeli attacks and open Rafah Crossing to end an embargo imposed by Israel on the residents of Gaza.[7]

Saudi Arabia

Although Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are strong allies and cooperate within OPEC and the GCC, Riyadh disputes Kuwait's ownership of the Qaruh and Umm al Maradim islands.[8]


As a member of the UN Security Council in 1990 and 1991, Yemen abstained on a number of resolutions concerning the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and voted against the "use of force resolution." Kuwait responded by canceling aid programs, cutting diplomatic contact, and expelling thousands of Yemeni workers.[9]



Date started: 1964

On November 6, 2006, the Kuwaiti parliament voted 22-15 to approve severing diplomatic ties with Denmark over the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy and spending about US$50 (€39.20) million to defend the prophet's image in the West. Both votes were nonbinding, meaning the Cabinet does not have to abide by them. Kuwaiti lawmaker Abdulsamad voted in favor of cutting diplomatic ties, saying, ""We have to cut diplomatic and commercial ties with Denmark...We don't have to eat Danish cheese."[10] Al-Rashid voted against cutting diplomatic ties, arguing that Muslims have to be positive and remember that it were some individuals, not governments, who insulted the Prophet Muhammad. Al-Rashid was quoted as saying, "We here in Kuwait curse Christians in many of our mosques, should those (Christian) countries boycott Kuwait?"[10] In February 2008, MP Abdullah Al-Roumi called for an end to Kuwait's Demark boycott and was quoted as saying, "No Muslim can accept this insult against the Prophet... It is a form of terrorism." [11][12]


Date started: 1964

Greece was one of the 34 member countries in the coalition which assisted in the liberation of Kuwait from Iraq in 1991 during the Gulf War. Greece also participated in the UNICOM mission to patrol the demilitarized zone along the Kuwait-Iraq border.[13]

Holy See

See Foreign relations of the Holy See


On 28 December 1991, Kuwait recognised the Russian Federation as the successor state to the Soviet Union.[14] Russia has an embassy in Kuwait City,[15] and Kuwait has an embassy in Moscow.[16] The current Ambassador of Russia to Kuwait is Alexander Kinshchak, who was appointed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on 28 January 2008,[17] and who presented his credentials to Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on 28 April 2008.[18] The current Ambassador of Kuwait to Russia is Nasser Haji Al-Muzayen, who presented his credentials to Vladimir Putin on 11 December 2007.[19]


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Turkey describes the current relations at "outstanding levels".[20] Bilateral trade between the two countries is around 275 Million dollars. The two countries have recently signed fifteen agreements for cooperation in tourism, health, environment, economy, commercial exchange and oil.[21]

Rest of world


Kuwait is India's second largest supplier of crude oil and non-oil bilateral trade was over one billion US dollars in 2008. In light of these close trade relations, the two countries have bound themselves to both a Mutual Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments (BIPA) agreement and a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA). In June 2006, Emir Al-Sabah visited India, and in April 2007 the two countries inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Labor, Employment and Manpower Development.[22]


After the end of the first Gulf War in 1991 Pakistani army engineers were involved in a programme of mine clearance in the country.[23] Kuwait was also the first country to send aid to isolated mountain villages in Kashmir after the quake of 2005,[24] also offering the largest amount of aid in the aftermath of the quake ($100m).[25]

People's Republic of China

China and Kuwait initiated diplomatic relations in 1971. In 2007, Kuwait exported $2.3 billion worth of goods to China ($2.1 billion of which was oil) and Kuwait imported $1.3 billion of goods from China.

In 2007, Kuwait supplied China with 95,000 barrels of oil per day, accounting for 2.6% of China's total crude oil imports. Saudi Arabia was China's top supplier with its shipments jumping 69.8 percent to 3.84 million tons (939,000 bpd), followed by Angola with 2.06 million tons (503,000 bpd), down 27.1 percent. Iran became third, with imports from the country shrinking 35.3 percent to 1.18 million tons (289,000 bpd). China is the world's second-biggest oil consumer after the US. Abdullatif Al-Houti, Managing Director of International Marketing at state-run Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC), told KUNA in October that Kuwait is on course for its China-bound crude oil export target of 500,000 bpd by 2015, but success will heavily depend on the Sino-Kuwaiti refinery project. The two countries have been in talks for the planned 300,000 bpd refinery in China's southern Guangdong Province. The complex is expected to be on-stream by 2012, but the joint venture still awaits approval from the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planning agency.[26][27]

United States

The United States opened a consulate in Kuwait in October 1951, which was elevated to embassy status at the time of Kuwait's independence 10 years later. The United States supports Kuwait's sovereignty, security, and independence, as well as its multilateral diplomatic efforts to build greater cooperation among the GCC countries.

Strategic cooperation between the United States and Kuwait increased in 1987 with the implementation of a maritime protection regime that ensured the freedom of navigation through the Persian Gulf for 11 Kuwaiti tankers that were reflagged with U.S. markings.

The U.S.-Kuwaiti strategic partnership intensified dramatically again after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. The United States spearheaded UN Security Council demands that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait and its authorization of the use of force, if necessary, to remove Iraqi forces from the occupied country. The United States also played a dominant role in the development of the multinational military operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm that liberated Kuwait. The U.S.-Kuwaiti relationship has remained strong in the post-Gulf War period. Kuwait and the United States worked on a daily basis to monitor and to enforce Iraq's compliance with UN Security Council resolutions, and Kuwait has also provided the main platform for Operation Iraqi Freedom since 2003.

Since Kuwait's liberation, the United States has provided military and defense technical assistance to Kuwait from both foreign military sales (FMS) and commercial sources. The U.S. Office of Military Cooperation in Kuwait is attached to the American embassy and manages the FMS program. There are currently over 100 open FMS contracts between the U.S. military and the Kuwait Ministry of Defense totaling $8.1 billion. Principal U.S. military systems currently purchased by the Kuwait Defense Forces are Patriot Missile systems, F-18 Hornet fighters, the M1A2 main battle tank, AH-64D Apache helicopter, and a major recapitalization of Kuwait's Navy with U.S. boats.

Kuwaiti attitudes toward American products have been favorable since the Gulf War. In 1993, Kuwait publicly announced abandonment of the secondary and tertiary aspects of the Arab boycott of Israel (those aspects affecting U.S. firms). The United States is currently Kuwait's largest supplier of goods and services, and Kuwait is the fifth-largest market in the Middle East. U.S. exports to Kuwait totaled $2.14 billion in 2006. Provided their prices are reasonable, U.S. firms have a competitive advantage in many areas requiring advanced technology, such as oil field equipment and services, electric power generation and distribution equipment, telecommunications gear, consumer goods, and military equipment.

Kuwait also is an important partner in the ongoing U.S.-led campaign against international terrorism, providing assistance in the military, diplomatic, and intelligence arenas and also supporting efforts to block financing of terrorist groups. In January 2005, Kuwait Security Services forces engaged in gun battles with local extremists, resulting in fatalities on both sides in the first such incident in Kuwait's history.

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Department of State (Background Notes).[15]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ [4]
  5. ^ [5]
  6. ^ [6]
  7. ^ [7]
  8. ^ []
  9. ^ [8]
  10. ^ a b [9]
  11. ^ Al-Roumi on boycotting Denmark
  12. ^ [10]
  13. ^ [11]
  14. ^ (Russian) "Российско-кувейтские отношения". Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Russia). 12 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-03.  
  15. ^ "Посольство в Эль-Кувейте". Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 2009-07-05.  
  16. ^ (Arabic) "سفارة دولة الكويت ( روسيا الاتحادية -موسكو )". Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Kuwait). Retrieved 2009-07-05.  
  17. ^ (Russian) "УКАЗ Президента РФ от 28.01.2008 N 102". Presidential Press and Information Office. Retrieved 2008-10-17.  
  18. ^ "H.H. Amir receives credentials of several ambassadors". Emir of Kuwait. 28 April 2008. Retrieved 2009-06-16.  
  19. ^ "Vladimir Putin accepted the credentials of the new ambassadors of several foreign countries.". The Kremlin, Moscow: Presidential Press and Information Office. 11 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-07.  
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ [12]
  23. ^ UN Iraq - Kuwait Observer Mission (UNIKOM)
  24. ^ Kuwait sends relief goods for villages
  25. ^ Race to save earthquake survivors - BBC News
  26. ^ [13]
  27. ^ [14]

See also


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