The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: End Sanctions Proposals

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

> 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.
To be removed/added, email, NOT the
whole list. Archived at

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]