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Iraq Disputes Kuwaiti Borders, Lays Claim to Territory

January 15, 1999| From Times Wire Services

BAGHDAD — Iraq escalated tensions with Kuwait on Thursday, questioning the legitimacy of the emirate's borders and saying that parts of its "land and coasts" belong to Baghdad.

The harsh words from Deputy Prime Minister Tarik Aziz appeared to be part of a series of attacks against Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, which Baghdad blames for delaying an Arab League meeting on the Iraqi crisis.

Meanwhile, Pentagon officials Thursday said American warplanes again fired missiles at Iraqi surface-to-air missile centers in two separate confrontations in the "no-fly" zone over northern Iraq.

Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, traveling in Asia, today denied rumors that the U.S. is planning a bombing campaign at the end of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month that concludes next week.

In the dispute over Kuwait, Iraq has long claimed that its tiny neighbor was part of Iraq during the Ottoman Empire and was separated from the country by the British earlier this century. Kuwait says the claim is propaganda.

Standard histories say Kuwait's ruling family recognized a general Ottoman Turkish suzerainty over the area. Iraqis say Kuwait was subordinate to the Ottoman Turkish governorate at Basra, in today's southern Iraq. Kuwaitis say their city-state was autonomous.

Iraq invaded and annexed Kuwait in 1990. Its forces were driven out in 1991 by a U.S.-led coalition.

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