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Re: Saddam's men use sanctions to secure their grip

During a presentation by Dennis Halliday last Thursday  (Feb. 18) in Los
Angeles, CA, USA, Dennis was specifically asked that question...about
the fair distribution of food in Iraq..... and he reported that even
before Mr. Bush's slaughter and destruction in Iraq, the Iraqi
government had initiated an equitable food distribution program in the
country, and that that system has continued. He stated that his hundreds
of UN inspectors found NO evidence of  mis-appropriation or diversion of
food and medicines as the war mongers, military aggressors and their
media agents would have us believe. 

Some of the most revealing information was regarding the "terror" and
abusive tactics utilized by the members of UNSCOM against the citizens
of Iraq, students in the schools...even against little kindergarden
children...nuns in a convent, etc., storming into areas and facilities
armed, masked and wearing "cowboy boots"; landing in helicopters in
school yards and roaring into occupied classrooms, destroying equipment
and books. Dennis confirmed the question by one member of the audience
who asked about UNSCOM searching women's persons, and even demanding the
right to exhume the body of a recently deceased nun.  It appears that
the Iraqis were far more  accuraate and honest about UNSCOM and their
tactics than the UN and our US government officials ever considered
being.  I'd accept the word of Dennis Halliday over that of members of
the corporate owned  and controlled media.

E.J. Coghill wrote:
> This Independent article is something I really should have sent out at the
> time, but it is still very relevant. It challenges the view that the
> distribution system in Iraq is fair, but actually gives ammunition to the
> anti-Sanctions argument: It shows how the the Iraqi people's dependence
> on the government for food has given the regime yet more leverage over
> them and added the fear of starvation to the other fears it uses to keep
> control. The article also mentions how the rationing system restricts
> movement, presumably making organization of opposition groups
> even more difficult.
>         Eleanor Coghill
> Independent Saturday 12 December - Richard Downes, Baghdad
> >From the top of the 11th-century spiral minaret of Samarra, the capital of
> Iraq in ancient times, the 50 children were easily visible and audible. On
> seeing a group of Westerners, they were urged into a chorus of 'Down, down
> USA!' by their teachers. 'We've been told foreigners are going to kill us.
> They'll bomb us from the air or starve us into submission. So we have to
> fight them,' said one of the teachers.
>         Within minutes the attendant appeared, asking for the foreigners'
> names and writing down the car registration number. Both teacher and
> attendant wore the tell-tale insignia of the ruling Baath Socialist Party.
>         In this Saddam City suburb every house and head of household is
> watched by party technocrats, often retired civil servnts earning a little
> extra bu informing on thier neighbours. Poverty and unemplyment have
> reached epidemic proportions and every institution is under strain.
> Crumbling schools report absenteeism rates of 30 per cent. Petty crime is
> ever-present. If there is to be a revolt against the ruling regime, it
> could well start here.
>         But any thought of dissent alarms Mahmood, a street vendor who has
> fallen on hard times, like most of his neighbours. "I have to pledge
> loyalty to the party. Any sign of disobedience and my monthly card would
> be taken away."
>         The card he speaks of entitles him to a ration of 9kg of rice, 2.5
> kg of flour and cooking oil, without which he could not survive. He has to
> collect the food on a specific day or lose his ration. He resents the
> power of his local official. "If there was a revolution, that guy would be
> chopped into a thousand pieces and thrown in to the river," he said,
> drawing his fingers across his throat. The rations were introduced to
> mitigate the worst effects of sanction, which have been in plce fo eight
> years. Outside the north, where the United Nations administers rationing,
> the long arm of the govenment reaches into the home of every citizen.
>         The govenment has renewed the oil-for-food programme, whereby Irqi
> oil is sold and the money used by UN agencies, in co-operation with
> Baghdad, to supply the basic ration. Since 1996 the regime has rebuilt its
> structure and reinforced its grip on vital institutions, say envoys in
> Baghdad.
>         Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan told the new UN humanitarian
> co-ordinator, Hans van Sponeck, that the government was keen to expand on
> the programme's success. "Both parties [UN and government] need to
> co-operate better, since the deal forms the basic pillar of this
> government's success," the Babil daily paper quoted Mr Ramadan as saying.
>         Despite all the noise created by the government over sanctions,
> the ruling elite has found the isolation caused by the embargo useful in
> keeping an eye on dissidents and intellectuals. Through the rationing
> system, people with "ideas" can be closely monitored.
>         "I could leave and get a job in a university in Egypt or Yemen or
> even in the West, but my family is here and they would suffer," said
> Barzan, an academic who relies on the government hand-out. "There might
> even be reprisals." His salary before the Gulf War was worth more than
> $5,000 a month., Now it barely covers the cost of transport. "I'm
> exhausted but I must carry on for the sake of my family."
>         Pointing to the house of the Baath organiser in his street, he
> said: "He knows everything about me. He knows what time I come home and
> what my family eat."
>         It is difficult for such an educated man to accept the attentions
> of a semi-literate party hack and he can take little comfort in academic
> pursuits when times are so hard. "I haven't seen an up-to-date journal for
> almost 10 years - just the rubbish produced by the Information Ministry.
> You can't build a Scud missile with a literary jounal. Why don't [UN
> sanctions officials] allow these journals in?" said Barzan, referring to
> the ban on dealings of any sort with Iraqi institutions. Under the
> embargo, exporting even The Beano to Iraq is illegal.
>         Regulations reinforce the dependency and the stranglehold of the
> regime. Moving around the country is no longer possible with the
> government controlling the food supply: rations are dispensed only at the
> home base of the head of the household.
>         At the crumbling 28th of April Shopping Centre, named after the
> revolution that brought President Saddam Hussein's party to power, cvil
> servants collect extra rations. They are rewarded with 10kg of rice,
> flour, soap and detergent. Outside, guards try vainly to prevent workers
> selling their extra rations. "I sell my rice and flour to the local baker.
> He shares the profit with me. It is a good arrangement," said a civil
> servant and Baath member who gave his name as Nabeel. "I have used the
> money to buy the car," he said, pointing to a jalopy, which provides yet
> more supplementary income. "I take all civil servants in my area to work
> ... We go home in the evening and they pay me every month." Like all party
> members, Nabeel regularly has to fill out a political-education diary on
> everyone he knows. It is a wide circle of colleagues at work, customers
> for his taxi service and clients for his rations. Sanctions have created
> the perfect opportunity for him both to prosper and to bolster the
> regime.
> "Some people complain about the hard life," he said. "But they don't
> complain in front of me."
> --
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