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"there is a lot to be said for relieving sanctions"

The following article and leader appear in todays Independent (4th
August 1998). The latest news is that the talks in Baghdad have collapsed
and Butler is leaving early. There's been speculation on the news that
this may be the start of a fresh "crisis".
Patrick Cockburn also had two very good articles on Saturday and Monday
which, due to computer problems I was unable to mail to the list. If I get
time I'll transcribe them by hand.
If anyone can make the fast/vigil (12 noon Sunday 9th August - 6 pm
Wednesday 12th August, opposite Downing street) who hasn't already signed
on please contact either myself (01865-276012) or David Polden (0171-607

Gabriel Carlyle
Magdalen College, Oxford.


Iraq on collision course
         with UN

         By Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad 

         Iraq moved closer to a confrontation with the
         United Nations yesterday when a senior Iraqi
         leader accused Richard Butler, head of the
         UN team looking for Iraqi weapons of mass
         destruction, of seeking to implement an
         American policy of continuing sanctions. 

         Tariq Aziz, the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister,
         who is in charge of the negotiations with Mr
         Butler, said the UN team "is back to its old
         games, to its old tricks, games of confusing
         the major issues and the minor issues". He
         denied that Iraq had any biological, chemical
         or nuclear weapons or the means to deliver

         After the first morning session with Mr
         Butler, the former Australian ambassador to
         the UN, Mr Aziz held an unprecedented
         briefing in Baghdad. He said that, despite
         strict monitoring of Iraq by the UN, Mr
         Butler's team had no evidence to show that
         Iraq still possessed non-conventional
         weapons. An Iraqi complaint is that the UN
         holds Iraq guilty unless it can prove its

         Iraq's sharp tone may mean that relations
         with the UN will move to a crisis faster than
         had been expected. Mr Butler produces his
         six-monthly report on Iraqi compliance with
         UN resolutions in October when Iraq has
         implied that it might end the whole
         inspection process if sanctions were not

         In a statement last week a meeting of the
         Iraqi leadership, chaired by President Saddam
         Hussein, said that this week's talks with Mr
         Butler would be decisive in deciding Iraqi
         policy. It asked why Iraq should submit to
         intrusive inspections and monitoring if the
         United States and Britain were determined to
         resist "taking any step whatsoever to alleviate
         and lift the embargo". 

         Mr Aziz made the same points yesterday,
         accusing the inspection team led by Mr
         Butler of procrastinating by giving undue
         attention to minor issues. It is not clear,
         however, if Iraq intends to stop co-operation
         with Mr Butler and whether it will do so

         As Mr Aziz and Mr Butler met, taxis arrived
         outside the Foreign Ministry each carrying a
         small wooden coffin on its roof rack said to
         contain an Iraqi baby which died as a result of
         sanctions. The taxis were accompanied by
         grieving, black clad women. 

         While the propaganda is cruel Unicef, the
         UN children's fund, says almost a third of
         Iraqi children suffer from malnutrition and in
         the Saddam Children's Hospital, the largest
         paediatric hospital in Baghdad, Dr Dhia
         al-Obaidi, the director and consultant
         paediatrician, said: "Before the war the
         mortality for children under five was 23 per
         thousand; now it is 120 per thousand." 

         If Iraq does throw out Mr Butler and declares
         it has fulfilled the terms of the cease-fire
         agreement of 1991 it is unclear what the UN
         Security Council could do. Use of armed
         force is unlikely to be effective in winning
         Iraqi compliance. There would also be
         international resistance to starving Iraq out. 


These Iraq talks are achieving nothing 

         The regular meetings between the United
         Nations weapons inspector, Richard Butler,
         and the Iraqi ministers have become an
         endless litany of polite hopes and practical
         hopelessness. Each time, Butler comes out
         saying that the inspectorate is close to
         completing its work and sanctions should
         soon be lifted. To which Tariq Aziz, the
         smooth-talking deputy leader, replies that
         sanctions are no longer justified, that Iraq has
         fully complied with the resolutions and that
         maintaining punitive measures is simply a
         plot by the Americans to keep Iraq on its

         There is more truth to this than America's
         allies, Britain in particular, may care to
         admit. The ritual in Baghdad is being played
         out at the expense of Iraq's ordinary citizens,
         as many as 2 million of whom have been
         brought to the edge of starvation by
         sanctions. America does want to bring
         Saddam Hussein down. His continued
         presence in the Middle East makes a mockery
         of its victory in the Gulf war and is
         increasingly embarrassing to its relations
         with the Arab world. The Arab Middle East
         is tired of a conflict that has all the
         appearances of a West-versus-East act of
         bullying and has made Saddam Hussein, one
         of its history's most vicious tyrants, appear as
         a victim. 

         For the more cynical, there is also a case for
         arguing that America, at this stage, does not
         want the complete collapse in oil prices that
         unrestrained increases in Iraqi exports would
         bring. It would damage terribly both
         American (and North Sea) oil producers at
         home, and Saudi Arabia and the other
         pro-Western regimes in the Gulf. The
         problem for America is that it does not know
         what to do. It can't seem to bring Saddam
         Hussein down, and yet it is loth to let him off
         the hook. Pressed by Congress, President
         Clinton has come up with a plan that spends
         $5m on promoting a "Free Iraq" Radio and
         another $5m on bolstering the exiled
         opposition. No one seriously believes that
         either will have much effect on a dictatorship
         that has used every outside pressure to
         increase its own power 

         Thus sanctions have become a gesture not of
         intent or of value - they may even make
         Hussein's hold over his country stronger, not
         weaker - but of lack of alternative. They
         should not be. If the object is really to topple
         the regime and reintroduce Iraq into the
         Middle Eastern fold, then there is a lot to be
         said for relieving sanctions and promoting
         the free trade of goods and ideas. these have
         had far more success in bringing down
         Communism than ever force has. Why not in
         the Middle East too? The time has come for a
         new strategy to cope with the Butcher of


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