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Here are my initial thoughts on the 5 allegations from the US that the suffering in Iraq is 'not our fault', recently posted on the discussion list. > 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. It is difficult for us to verify what is currently being applied for, given that information from the UN Sanctions committee is only released by its members when they have a point to make - so we don't get anything resembling a rounded picture. However, the fifth Iraqi distribution plan (submitted 29/11/98; approved 11/12/98) certainly accounts for those items which Barbara Crosette in the recently-posted article claims that Iraq is not purchasing; in particular,the Iraqi government claims that it will be distributing high protein biscuits (para.5), cheese and whole milk (Table 3), and therapeutic milk for children (para.31) - thus indicating that it is to purchase them. I have not read any claims that Iraq has violated previous distribution plans by not ordering the relevant materials. In fact, as Denis Halliday argued in his comments of 23 September 1997 (whilst still in office), it was the delays in the processing of Iraqi applications that were preventing goods getting to the population. It was for this reason primarily that the ration dropped from the 10 items that were stated in the Distribution plan to only 4 items in November 1997. The Secretary-General has also expressed concern at the delays in the processing, approval and delivery of goods (90-day report of 5Sept97). I accept, though, that there are many goods that the Iraqi government has not applied for without propmpting from the UN. I think we shouldn't be too quick to blame the malevolence of the Iraqi government on this score; poor procurement management is inevitable when all decisions on what to import for a country of 22 million have to be made by a central authority many months in advance. In many ways, the fault lies with SCR986 para 8(a),which states that 'each export of goods is at the request of the Government of Iraq¹. By not giving any power to individual groups or organizations within Iraq to make requests for imports, the Security Council is setting up a highly centralised scheme under which humanitarian goods will inevitably remain unordered. > 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?) I'm wondering if it is actually the 3 northern governorates (ie the Kurdish controlled areas, out of central government control) that are exporting grain. The latest 180-day report from the Secretary-General (S/1998/1100) details that wheat production is the major farming activity in this region, and reports a 25% increase in yields, accompanied by a 26% reduction in costs. Since this is area is out of central government (due to the US-UK military incursion), if they KDP-PUK are exporting their grain, Saddam can hardly be blamed. In fact, in the government-controlled regions of Iraq, the Secretary-General reports that agriculture is in dire straits, with a severe shortage of tractors, combine harvesters, spare parts &c. These problems may be due to the Sanctions Committee; for example, the Iraqi government ordered pesticides under Phase III of the oil-for-food plan (early 1998), but due to delays in approval and contracting, they arrived too late for the 1998 cropping season. Anyway, since purchase of food from anywhere in Iraq contravenes SCR661, the US government should be making representations to the importing countries if it really had any information. > 3) Iraq's own acknowledgments that it cannot effectively distribute some > imported medicines. Undoubtably, there is congestion in warehouses. This may again be due to the lack of handling equipment and suitable operational transportation. In addition, the Secretary-General reports that some suppliers have failed to provide testing methodology and standard solutions; coupled with the inadequacy of inadequate facilities at testing laboratories, this has increased processing time from 2 to 3+half weeks (S/1998/1100, para.25) > 4) US official reports that Iraq has kept large supplies of food and > medicine in storehouses, refusing to distribute them to the needy This has been largely rejected by the UN observers in Iraq. Michael Stone, former head of UN Monitoring in Iraq, together with Denis Halliday and officials from the WHO in Iraq have all said that Iraq's distribution of food is efficient. > 5) reports that the government of Iraq has refused donations of > humanitarian goods from other countries True: Iraq is now refusing 'charity' (spuriously). -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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