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> In the discussion in Parliament just following the attacks on Iraq last > month, George Galloway made the point that the allowances for Iraq to > import necessities under the Food-for-Oil programme (or is it the other > way round?) weren't enough to alleviate the great hardship in the country. > > Either Robin Cook or the Prime Minister replied that Iraq was, anyway, > still exporting food products. Hearing this claim I looked at www.un.org/Depts/oip/reports/180day4.html, the UN Office of the Iraq Programme's 180 day review of the oil-for-food deal (19/11/98). It has two sections on the progress of Iraqi agriculture, one in "central and south" Iraq, the other in Iraqi Kurdistan (the northern three governates). The report is divided this way as these two regions are administratively separate, with Baghdad having no sway over the north. The review discusses agriculture, noting that it is still in a dire strait in the centre and south of the country but seems to be improving in the north. The report does not mention smuggling of food. I say "smuggling" as, under the oil-for-food deals there is no provision made for Iraq to legally export anything other than carefully regulated petroleum sales. It is reported in newspapers that oil smuggling has been occurring and that this has enriched the regime. The US claims that the Basra oil refinery that it bombed was involved in such operations. While I cannot claim further knowledge it seems that it would make more sense to smuggle oil than food; perhaps, though, with the low price of oil food has become more profitable. If you had the time please do write to the FCO asking them about the claim. ASK FOR SOURCES! Over the past year and a half that I have been following this issue I have seen the FCO repeatedly make unsourced claims that, upon some investigation, turn out to have very dubious origins; the "palaces" story was one of these. This is not to say that expensive palaces have not been constructed, merely that the FCO was using this information nonsensically: as palace components could not be imported under oil-for-food they could not be hindering it; if the components were smuggled in they would not be hindering oil-for-food either as they would be purchased out of non oil-for-food funds. I am not sure whether the FCO actually believes its claims or whether it is merely hoping to maintain a smokescreen around its position, hoping that most people will not probe it. Colin Rowat King's College Cambridge CB2 1ST tel: +44 (0)468 056 984 England fax: +44 (0)1223 335 219 -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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