On November 5, 2023, the Marine Geology Department at the Marine Science Center at the University of Basra hosted a symposium on the current state of Iraqi marine waters. The symposium focused on the general situation of the Iraqi coastline and Khor Abdullah, as well as the changes that have occurred and are ongoing. The discussion also highlighted the legal implications and important international agreements governing the establishment of international maritime boundaries.
At the beginning of the symposium, Professor Dr. Shaker Ghaleb Ajeel, Director General of the Marine Sciences Center, in his speech, emphasized the crucial economic significance of Iraq's maritime region for various sectors, including maritime traffic, port operations, and oil exports. He highlighted the urgent need to identify and implement effective solutions to the ongoing maritime border issues that hinder Iraq's maritime activities and economic progress.
Then began a lecture by Assistant Professor Dr. Wisam Razzaq Muttashar, which addressed the introductory aspect of the importance and maritime divisions of the baseline (coast) of Iraq. He also touched on the natural and human influences that have affected and are still affecting the stability of the Iraqi coastline (baseline). The lecture concluded with a set of legal and technical questions that were directed to the lecturer, Professor Dr. Muhammad Thamer Al-Saadoun (symposium guest), an expert in international law. He is one of the important members in the committee of demarcating the Iraqi-Kuwaiti maritime borders. Dr. Muhammad Thamer explained the legal aspect of the maritime situation in Iraq and the possible solutions that Iraq could resort to in demarcating the borders and addressing the existing problems. After that, the audience was allowed to participate in the discussion and ask questions in order to enrich the symposium.
The symposium was honored by the attendance of the Marine Science Center staff and respected representatives from various governmental institutions, including the navy. Among the notable attendees were Marine Captain Samir Abd Ali, representing the General Company for Iraqi Ports, Major General Dr. Haider Omran Hassan, Assistant President of the Maritime Academy for Research, General Zain Al-Abidin Hassan Abdul Latif, serving as the Commander of the Coastal Border guards, in addition, Dr. Alaa Al-Badran, representing the Deputy Governor of Basrah, graced the symposium with his presence.
The symposium aimed to highlight the critical issues surrounding Iraq's territorial waters and maritime borders. It sought to raise awareness within academic and social communities regarding Iraq's maritime situation, better understanding of the legal and international considerations involved in maritime border demarcation.
A key recommendation emerging from the symposium was the potential establishment of a committee or advisory entity in Basrah Governorate. This committee would comprise academics, technicians, and legal experts specializing in marine sciences. Their task would be to investigate and propose appropriate solutions to the challenges facing Iraqi marine waters and their borders with neighboring countries.