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'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 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ______________________________________________________ -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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