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End Sanctions Proposals

'Analysis: Time to End Iraq Sanctions?' is the title of an article on
BBC Online today. Although the humanitarian question is largely
side-stepped, the title is significant. BBC recognises "the political
advantage of the western powers" in lifting the export ceiling, and
suggests that the US and Britain might attempt to squeeze the issue of
government oil smuggling for all that it is worth. Arabic News reports
that the French have not presented a 'plan' as such. Allen Dejame, the
French UN Rep., was rather airing "general views to establish new
relations with Iraq". Arabic News also says that the French and Russian
Foreign Ministers agree (primarily?) on the "need to alleviate the
suffering of the Iraqi people".

Associated Press writes that more proposals are expected today, but
interestingly describes the Washington initiative as "focused purely on
the humanitarian side". Washington has apparently proposed granting
automatic approval to food and medicine contracts, improving contract
approval for oil industry spare parts (will this mean other kinds of
"spare parts" too?), and allowing Iraq to "borrow" against the UN. The
Washington proposal also envisages reinforcement of UN activity in Iraq,
to ensure distribution of supplies (all of this firmly hedged about with
the usual clauses concerning WMD).

The US has apparently expressed "concern" that the sanctions had "caused
immense suffering", but stressed that Saddam and his regime were "mostly
to blame" (is this an admission of even partial culpability?), using the
following arguments:
1) Iraq's failure to submit contracts for humanitarian goods
2) reports that Iraq was actually exporting grain rather than selling it
domestically (has anyone found out anything new on this question since
it was last discussed on this list?)
3) Iraq's own acknowledgments that it cannot effectively distribute some
imported medicines.
4) US official reports that Iraq has kept large supplies of food and
medicine in storehouses, refusing to distribute them to the needy
5) reports that the government of Iraq has refused donations of
humanitarian goods from other countries
The US State Department are also raising strong objections to
"leapfrogging" the requirements of UN Security Council resolutions.
Astounding in the light of their own performance (but no surprises). 

Despite all the incipient wranglings, the fact that this rethink is
taking place is a strong sign: of POLITICAL recognition that the
sanctions have severely damaged the Iraqi people.


Harriet Griffin
Research Scientist
Environmental Change Unit
University of Oxford
5 South Parks Road
Oxford OX1 3UB
United Kingdom

Phone: ++ 44 (0)1865 281210
Fax:  ++ 44 (0) 1865 281202

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