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* New UN Report (Kofi Annan) on oil-for-food: dismal performance - only half of the $540 million worth of drugs and medical supplies delivered to Iraq since 1996 have reached hospitals and clinics (Associated Press) * Panel examines Iraqi disarmament: council remains deeply divided on policy, and "It is likely to take weeks, if not months, for council members to agree on key issues such as the lifting of sanctions" (Associated Press) * Iraq to ban imports from US and Britain under the oil-for-food programme (Associated Press) * Iraq Dilemma Erodes Annan's Bond With U.S. (Washington Post) [fairly lengthy article about Annan's relationship with the US and their differences over Iraq policy] ******************** Iraq Humanitarian Program Assessed By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press Writer Tuesday, February 23, 1999; 9:05 p.m. EST UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Secretary-General Kofi Annan presented a bleak report Tuesday on the humanitarian situation in Iraq, saying bureaucratic delays and low oil prices were preventing Iraqis from getting the food and medicine they need. Chief among Annan's concerns is that medicine imported through the U.N. oil-for-food program is languishing in Iraqi warehouses. The secretary-general's report to the Security Council also said malnutrition among infants and children under five remains at ``unacceptably high levels.'' The oil-for-food program allows Baghdad to buy humanitarian goods to care for its people suffering under U.N. sanctions imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. Only half of the $540 million worth of drugs and medical supplies delivered to Iraq since the program was launched in 1996 have reached hospitals and clinics, the report said. Even though child malnutrition is unacceptably high, the Iraqi government has contracted for only $1.7 million worth of high-protein biscuits for pregnant women out of a total allocation of $8 million, according to the report. And Baghdad has submitted contracts for only 260 tons of infant milk, even though the United Nations has approved deliveries of 1,500 tons, the report said. With pressure to lift or ease economic sanctions imposed on Iraq in 1990 rising, the Security Council has formed a special panel to make recommendations on improving the humanitarian situation in the country. The panel is scheduled to meet March 1-2. Still, even Annan seemed to acknowledge that significantly upgrading the oil-for-food program is out of his hands. ``The most serious issue facing the implementation of the program at present is the growing shortfall in revenues,'' the secretary-general said. ``Regrettably, there seems little scope for optimism in regard to oil revenues in the immediate future.'' The United Nations began oil-for-food in 1996 in an effort to counter the devastating effects of sanctions on Iraqis, particularly children. Iraq is allowed to sell $5.2 billion in oil over six months, but low oil prices mean that it will probably only generate $3.1 billion by May, the report said. Since one-third of every oil-for-food dollar goes into a fund to compensate Gulf War victims, only about $2 billion is left for humanitarian aid. ******************** Panel Examines Iraqi Disarmament By Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press Writer, Tuesday, February 23, 1999; 10:44 p.m. EST UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- An international panel of experts met for the first time Tuesday to take a fresh look at ways to complete the disarmament of Iraq, which has been stymied for the last six months. With a stack of technical reports in front of them, the 20-member panel opened four days of meetings, which will start by assessing the state of the eight-year U.N. effort to rid Iraq of its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and long-range missiles. ``I'm very hopeful ... that the panel will be able to have a fresh look at this dossier and enable the Security Council to take the policy decisions,'' Brazil's U.N. Ambassador Celso Amorim, the panel's chair, said before the closed-door meeting started. The council, however, remains deeply divided on what that policy should be. It is likely to take weeks, if not months, for council members to agree on key issues such as the lifting of sanctions against Iraq, the future of the U.N. Special Commission, which is charged with overseeing Iraq's disarmament, and the best way to ensure that Baghdad doesn't resume building banned weapons. The council agreed Jan. 30 to create three panels as a first modest step to breaking the diplomatic impasse that followed U.S. and British airstrikes on Iraq in mid-December. After the strikes, Iraq refused to allow inspectors from the Special Committee, known as UNSCOM, to return. On the disarmament panel's first day, officials from UNSCOM and the International Atomic Energy Agency described how their experts have tried to verify that Iraq isn't rebuilding banned weapons and how that monitoring can continue in the future, Amorim said at the end of the meeting. The panels are expected to make recommendations by April 15 on reestablishing an effective disarmament program, on improving the humanitarian situation in Iraq, and on what to do about looted property and hundreds of people who disappeared after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The humanitarian panel will meet March 1-2 and the Kuwait panel on March 3-4. Diplomats said the disarmament panel would reconvene March 22. Iraq says it is disarmed and demands the oil embargo be lifted immediately. U.N. weapons inspectors say Iraq still has to provide more information about its weapons programs before they can give Baghdad a clean bill of health. UNSCOM has 12 members on the panel, but its chairman, Richard Butler, is not among them. Russia and China have demanded his ouster. The panel also includes experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the U.N. undersecretary-general for disarmament, Jayantha Dhanapala. ******************** Iraq to ban imports from U.S., Britain under U.N. deal February 23, 1999, Web posted at: 8:40 AM EST (1340 GMT) BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraq plans to halt all purchases from the United States, Japan, Britain and Switzerland under the U.N. approved oil-for-food program, a government newspaper reported Tuesday. The al-Ittehad weekly said the government has prepared a list of 33 countries that could supply Iraq food, medicines and other humanitarian goods. The list includes Saudi Arabia, which has in the past angered Baghdad by abetting U.S. and British airstrikes against Iraq. Japan also fell out of favor with Iraq for supporting America and Britain in their military policy toward Iraq. It is not clear why Iraq wants to ban Swiss imports. Iraq had said in the past that it prefers to deal with countries that support its demand for lifting the sanctions. A U.N. spokesman said Iraq is free to deal with any country it wants. "Iraq has signed many contracts with American companies in the past despite conflicts and they can choose countries they want to buy products from," said Onukaba A. Oja, a spokesman for the oil-for-food program in Baghdad. The program initially allowed Iraq to sell $2.2 billion worth of oil every six months and the amount was later raised to $5.2 billion. But a U.N. statement said that even though the latest, fifth phase that began in December 1998 is about to reach the halfway point, Iraq has been able to export only $1.3 billion worth oil. Iraq blames the low revenue on the slump in world oil prices and the dilapidated state of its oil wells. ******************** Iraq Dilemma Erodes Annan's Bond With U.S. By John M. Goshko, Washington Post Staff Writer, Tuesday, February 23, 1999; Page A13 UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 22—The Clinton administration plucked Kofi Annan from the ranks of U.N. career diplomats and steered him into the job of secretary general primarily in hopes of gaining a forceful advocate for reforming U.N. bureaucracy. But as Annan approaches the halfway mark of his five-year term, his reputation has become tied instead to his differences with the United States over how to deal with President Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Although Annan serves a constituency of 185 member states, the political and financial support of the United States is so important to giving the United Nations relevance in world affairs that the secretary general cannot afford to ignore what is on Washington's mind. At present, that is Iraq, where Clinton administration officials seem fixated on eliminating what they see as the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. But Annan-backed by what increasingly seems to be a majority sentiment among other U.N. members-has moved farther and farther from the administration in judging how best that can be done. "Managing the ties with the United States always has been one of the secretary general's most important jobs, and this split on an issue of such centrality to American interests shows how precarious the U.S. relationship is with the United Nations," said John R. Bolton, who served as assistant secretary of state for U.N. affairs in the Bush administration. "We're not talking here about conservative Republicans who always have been skeptical of Annan. We're talking about the vast difference traveled by the Clinton administration from a man with whom it originally had an identification closer than that between Washington and any previous secretary general." No one expected it to be that way when Annan moved to the top job here in 1997. But in the past year, what to do about Iraq has overwhelmed just about everything else on the world body's agenda. Inevitably, frustrations generated by the failure to find an answer have caused the relationship between Annan and the United States to go into free fall. Despite the chill, Annan still has more entree than his predecessors. Where past U.S. administrations dealt with U.N. leaders through their ambassadors here or second-rank State Department officials, Annan talks frequently, sometimes two or three times a week, to Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and national security adviser Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger. Annan plans to be in Washington Tuesday and Wednesday, giving a speech at Georgetown University on peacekeeping, meeting with House and Senate majority and minority leaders, seeing Berger and attending a White House dinner for President Jerry Rawlings of Ghana, his homeland. Still, sources say, these exchanges appear limited to non-Iraq issues, such as the crisis in Kosovo. On the central issue of Iraq, it is clear that beneath the surface politeness, there no longer is much trust between the White House and Annan's executive suite on the 38th floor of the U.N. secretariat building. That is in marked contrast to the situation last February, when Annan electrified the world with an 11th-hour intervention in a dispute that saw Iraq blocking arms inspections and the United States threatening to attack. With the blessing of the Clinton administration, which realized belatedly that it had little domestic or international backing for military strikes, Annan flew to Baghdad and convinced the Iraqis to cooperate in exchange for some largely cosmetic restrictions on the inspectors. The situation has gone steadily downhill ever since, not the least because of Washington's air strikes last December. Annan's thinking, as he has described it to intimates in recent months, is that Baghdad's unyielding opposition to intrusive U.N. inspections inevitably will prevent the world from learning whether Iraq is fully disarmed. He believes a realistic fallback is to concentrate on ensuring that Iraq has disarmed sufficiently to no longer pose a danger to its Persian Gulf neighbors and that it is unlikely to produce new weapons of mass destruction. To make that possible, Annan advocates lifting the U.N. embargo in place since Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 and taking other steps to end Iraq's decade-long isolation in exchange for cooperation with a more limited, less confrontational inspection system. With this view, Annan is in step with most U.N. members, including permanent Security Council members France, China and Russia. Annan, a Ghanaian educated at Macalester College in Minnesota and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, spent most of his adult life climbing the rungs of the U.N. career bureaucracy. As secretary general, he started out much as U.S. officials had hoped and was in line with the administration's goals of improving the United Nations' sagging image on Capitol Hill. During his first year and a half, he concentrated on institutional reform and trying to win the confidence of suspicious congressional Republicans who blocked payment of more than $1 billion in U.S. back dues. He was keenly disappointed when antiabortion Republicans tied payment to President Clinton's acceptance of restrictions on how U.S. aid money is used in overseas family planning programs. The president refused to go along, the dues remain unpaid and the United Nations continues to teeter on the edge of bankruptcy. "Kofi feels that he kept his end of the bargain by pursuing reform and then was met with bad faith from all sides in Washington," one senior aide said. Nevertheless, he has continued to heed the admonition to be "more secretary than general." In that light, he put a lot of effort into streamlining the top-heavy and unwieldly U.N. bureaucracy. That involved some personnel cuts-although fewer than congressional Republicans called for-but his main emphasis was on reorganizing the secretariat into a cabinet-style system intended to promote clearer lines of authority and quicker responses to events. That has encountered opposition from some members who see the reforms as a threat to their patronage and priorities. Generally, though, his reform efforts have been given good grades by most U.N. diplomats. Some add that an even more enduring part of his legacy may rest in some of the more intangible things he has done. In particular, they cite his appointment or support for the election of women to important U.N. positions-among them Louise Frechette of Canada as deputy secretary general, Mary Robinson of Ireland as U.N. high commissioner for human rights and Gro Harlem Brundtland of Norway as head of the World Health Organization-as establishing a strong female presence in the top ranks of the formerly male-dominated bureaucracy. Less impressive is the balance sheet on U.N. work in major crises during his tenure. That is, first and foremost, the fault of the most powerful U.N. organ, the 15-nation Security Council, where intractable policy differences among the five permanent members with veto powers -- the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain-have paralyzed the council to the point where it is unable to agree on anything but marginal and noncontroversial subjects. Where most global flashpoints are concerned, the United Nations casts little or no shadow. This dichotomy is particularly evident, for example, in Annan's home continent of Africa, where his calls for the United Nations to take a leading role in helping African nations realize long-frustrated hopes of modernization have run up against increasingly bloody and pervasive civil wars. It is the same in other areas of tension, from Kosovo to Cambodia. That is one reason Iraq looms so large in the U.N. scheme of things. It is the only active hot spot where the United Nations still has a chance to demonstrate that it can confront and defuse a threat to international peace. And for Annan, it could well be the last chance to show that he can play a leading role in the effort. But first Annan and Washington have to smooth over such nasty rifts as the one caused by recent leaks that the United States had been using the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM), created by the Security Council to oversee Iraqi disarmament, as a cover for gathering intelligence to further its campaign against Saddam Hussein. Although Annan categorically denied any knowledge or responsibility for the leaks, they are known to have come from his advisers, as furious U.S. officials were quick to point out during attempts to assert that U.S. intelligence help to UNSCOM had been intended primarily to aid the search for prohibited weapons. For his part, Annan has adopted a strategy of hugging the background. There seems no chance for movement on Iraq, he says, until the council finds a way to bridge the chasm between U.S. insistence on a continued hard line and the Russian, French and Chinese advocacy of ending intrusive inspections and easing sanctions. Annan also has dodged discussion of his problem with Washington, refusing to talk about it or blandly waving it aside as he did recently in an interview with Irish TV. "I have solid and good relations with the U.S. government and the U.S. authorities," he said. "And I'm not too worried about what the press is saying." His one effort to meet the issue head-on came last month in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations. Although he did not mention the differences over Iraq directly, he asked pointedly: "By what standard does one measure the words or the deeds of a secretary general? By that of a head of government or a minister of foreign affairs? Surely not, for their duty is prescribed by the interest of their state, and their state alone. . . . They are the servants only of their cause and not of the 185 member states that make up the United Nations." ******************** -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email firstname.lastname@example.org, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html