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%%%%%% WRITE TO THE GUARDIAN: TAKE COOK TO TASK ! %%%%%%%%%%%% The following article by the foreign secretary appeared in the Guardian today (Friday 20th Feb.) It is followed by some comments of mine, sourced, mainly,from Geoff Simons book "The Scourging of Iraq" and the Iraq Action Coalition's web-site. Gabriel. %%%%%%%%%%%%%% SADDAM IS TO BLAME by ROBIN COOK %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% Kofi Annan arrives in Baghdad today. He carries with him all our hopes for peace. None of us wants to use force. We would gladly stand our military down if we could find a peaceful and workable agreement with Saddam Hussein. We are keeping the door to peace open as wide as possible for as long as we can. Maggie O'Kane told the story in yesterday's Guardian of Kena Azar, a six- month-old Iraqi boy suffering from a plague borne on a sand-fly. She used his sad story to argue that the sanctions regime on Iraq should be torn down. But the sanctions regime does not prevent medicines or food from getting to the Iraqi people. Imports of food and medicine have never been banned. In fact the reverse is true. Ever since sanctions were last imposed, Britain has led efforts to ensure that the impact on the Iraqi people was minimized, and that the impact on the regime maximized. In 1991 we tabled a UN Resolution allowing Iraq to sell oil in return for humanitarian supplies. It was Saddam who refused to implement it. We tried again later that year with another resolution. Again the UN adopted it and Saddam ignored it. In 1995 we tried again, passing oil-for-food Resolution 986. This allows Iraq to see $2 billion of oil every six months, and spend the proceeds not just on food and medicines, but also on water and sanitation equipment, and on tasks like mine clearance in agricultural areas. These are the things that could make a real difference to the lives of children like Kena. They have not done so, because Saddam has consistently blocked the UN's attempts to help his people. The Iraqi government rejected Resolution 986 for over a year. For months afterwards they prevented its implementation. And when they did sell oil, and got the proceeds to help the Iraqi people, Saddam used the money to lower by an equivalent amount his government's own welfare spending. Each family's ration of baby milk was actually reduced - and so canned baby milk is now piled up in Iraq's markets. The inescapable conclusion is that Saddam has no regard for the plight of his own own people. He has consistently rejected all the UN's attempts to help, and instead prefers to use their suffering as another tool in his vast propoganda strategy. He spends vast sums on his weapons programmes , diverting huge amounts into vast complexes like the Al Hakam plant, 18 square kilometers in size, which was found to be producing anthrax rather than the animal feed he had claimed. He has spent at least $1 billion on dozens of presidential palaces. He and his family live a life of luxury, in stark contrast to the avoidable misery of his own people. At the end of the Gulf War Saddam pledged to destroy his chemical and biological weapons, and to let UN inspectors verify this. For the past seven years he has systematically deceived and obstructed those inspectors, while continuing his efforts to rebuild an arsenal of weapons that could wipe out cities. Four out of five of their inspections have been blocked or delayed. Large quantities of the ingredients for chemical and biological weapons are still unaccounted for. If Saddam had fulfilled his pledges, then sanctions would have been lifted long ago. But his weapons programme matters far more to him than his people. Saddam Hussein's writ does not not run in Northern Iraq, and it is no accident that the people there are hugely better off. Not only do they have access to the food and medicine denied to the rest of the Iraqi people, but the international community has been able to work actively to help them. British Aid is able to work for the people directly, through British NGO's like Save the Children and the Mines Advisory Group. It is making a massive difference to their lives, from providing hospital equipment to rebuilding the villages Saddam tried to destroy. It is giving back to the people of Northern Iraq the chance to be healthy and self-sufficient. The contrast with the rest of the country could not be starker. A resolution drafted by Britain goes before the Security Council today, more than doubling the size of the oil-for-food programme from $2 billion to over $5 billion. It contains safeguards to make sure the extra money actually helps the Iraqi people. It could pay for the food and medicines that the Iraqi people need so badly. It could restore clean water and proper sanitation to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, restore electricity to their homes and help their farmers increase their output. If Saddam accepts the resolution, sad stories like that of Kena Azar can become part of Iraq's ragic history. If he does not, then the Iraqi people will know exactly who to blame. %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% Some comments: >"But the sanctions regime does not prevent medicine or food from getting >to the Iraqi people." FALSE. Here is a (partial) list of items for Iraq that have been vetoed by the UN sanctions committee: baby food (vetoed by the US representative on 7th September on the grounds that it might be consumed by adults) rice water purification chemicals medical swabs medical gauze medical syringes medical journals drugs for agina musteen cancer drug incubators catheters for babies NO cylinders for women in labour dialysis equipment other items that have been vetoed include: children's clothes school books shroud material pencils sanitary towels toilet paper. Only last week, two British activists who flew out to Jordan with bags containing antibiotics intended for the people of Iraq. They had informed the DTI as to the nature of the drugs involved and their intent. The Government confiscated the medicines. > "Imports of foods and medicines have never been banned" This may be technically true but is irrelevant. For starters the blockade has deprived Iraq of the *means* to buy food and medicines (through the sale of it's oil). Secondly the way in which the sanctions regime is set means that anyone who wishes to send goods into Iraq has to apply for a licence through the DTI. This application is then processed (the first source of delay) and then sent to the UN Iraq Sanctions Committee in New York. Any of the fifteen members that sit on the Committee can block or delay an application by requesting further information - a deliberate recipe for procrastination. The meetings of the Committee are held in closed session and at no fixed times. Decisions cannot be openly debated or questioned - Iraq is allowed no voice in these proceedings. The quickest decisions that result in approval take several months, others much longer. Thirdly, many pharmaceutical companies, often intimidated by Washington, refused to supply their products to Iraq, even when notional permission was granted by the Committee. In practice the (token) legal exemptions covering "supplies intended strictly for medical purposes" (Resolution 661) have been ignored. In one case over 50 separate consignments of medicines and thousands of tons of infant formula and milk powder, purchased by the Iraqi Government before August 1990, were held by Governments that refused to authorise shipment. > In 1991 we tabled a UN Resolution allowing Iraq to sell oil in return > for humanitarian supplies. This was Resolution 706 (15th August 1991) whose real purpose was to keep the embargo intact whilst providing a propaganda weapon that could be used to demonstrate the UN's humanitarian concern. In an unguarded moment a Bush administration official told the New York Times that Resolution 706 was "a good way to mantain the bulk of sanctions and not be on the wrong side of a potentially emotional issue" - the "potentially emotional issue" being the starvation of the Iraqi civilian population. Resolution 706 allowed for sales of Iraqi oil, subject to the approval by the Sanctions Committee, to produce revenues not to exceed 1.6 billion dollars which were to be paid into a UN-adminstered escrow account. Only a small proportion was used for Iraqi humanitarian purposes. The rest was used for various other purposes such as paying for UN activities. Were Iraq to have accepted the "trusteeship" entailed by the scheme it would have been left to the Sanctions Committee to allocate the realised sums for "humanitarian need" - the same committee that had denied Iraq access to disinfectants, sanitary towels and glue for school textbooks. Predictably rejected the offer. There followed Resolution 712 (19 September 1991) and 986 (14 April 1995). Only 40 percent of the proceeds of the "oil-for-food" deal (986) can be used to purchase medicine for the populations of central and southern Iraq. In November 1997 UNICEF stated that "there is no sign of improvement since Security Council Resolution 986 came into force". > He [Saddam] spends vast sums on his weapons programmes... Trident ? "Will work for food". > If Saddam had fulfilled his pledges, then sanctions would have been > lifted a long time ago. On 10 May 1991 Prime Minister John Major, in a speech to the Scottish Conservative Party Conference, declared that Britain would veto any UN attempt to weaken sanctions against Iraq "for so long as Saddam Hussein remains in power". He was echoed in this on 20 May 1991 by President Bush who stated that there would be no end to the trade embargo "as long as Saddam Hussein is in power". > " A Resolution goes before the Security Council today, more than >doubling the oil-for-food programme from $2 billion to over $5 billion. > It could pay for the food and medicines that the Iraqi people need so >badly. It could restore clean water and proper sanitation to hundreds of >thousands of Iraqis, restore electricity to their homes and help their >farmers increase their output. Dennis Halliday, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Iraq, stated on 12th January 1998 that Iraq would need in the neighbourhood of $30 billion/year to meet its current requirements for food, medicine and infrastructure. The UN's own agencies report that increasing the oil-for-food deal will allow Iraqis to increase their caloric intake to 60% of the average Americans - totally inadequate to meet the current needs of the Iraqi civilians. Who's to blame ? Brutal tyrant that he is it wasn't Saddam who targeted and destroyed Iraq's electric power stations, water treatment facilities, food processig plants, irrigation sites, sewage treatment plants, hospitals and clinics, telephone exchanges and perhaps as many as 20 000 homes, apartments and other dwellings. It also wasn't Saddam who left 40 tons of Uranium on the Gulf "war" battlefields. Enough, according to the Atomic Energy Authority, to cause "500,000 potential deaths". A 1993 FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Mission reported that Iraq was a country "whose economy has been devastated by the recent war and subsequent civil strife, but above all by the continued sanctions since August 1990, which have virtually paralyzed the whole economy and generated persistent deprivation, chronic hunger, endemic undernutrition, massive unemployment and widespread human suffering". These words remain true to this day and, as Mr Cook says, the Iraqi people know exactly who to blame. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html