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Re: 2 items on bombed pipeline; George Alagiah article on Sanctions

(Harriet- feel free to edit if necessary)

Iraq is claiming that the U.S. planes have bombed a vital oil pipeline
used in the Oil-for-food deal, causing the flow of oil to be cut off.
Below is a Reuters article and an item from the BBC website.
        Worth reading is the Independent article on the effects of the 
sanctions, written by George Alagiah, which questions whether there is any 
point in supporting the ration system when any benefits are undermined by
'a socially delibilitating sanctions regime.' It also undermines the
claims that the food distribution system is unfair and that the lack of
food is due to food being exported from Iraq. He also cites a recent case
of intellectual sanctions- the British Library refusing to send a copy of
James Joyce's Ulysses and considers the damaging  long-term effects on
education and the society as a whole: 
REUTERS:World Headlines Sunday February 28 2:28 PM ET 

Iraq Says U.S. Bombs Oil Pipeline, Exports Suspended

BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) - A senior Iraqi official said U.S. planes bombed
a pipeline used by Iraq to export oil via Turkey Sunday, cutting off the
flow of oil.

``The attack resulted in the stoppage of crude oil pumping through the
Iraqi-Turkish pipeline. The pumping has not been recommenced until this
moment,'' Faleh al-Khayat, director-general of planning and studies at the
Iraqi Oil Ministry, told a news conference.

Khayat said one oil worker was killed in the attack on a pipeline control
system Sunday afternoon.

Earlier a military spokesman said three people, including a three-year-old
child, were killed when Western planes attacked civilian targets and
villages in northern Iraq Sunday afternoon.

The pipeline from oilfields in northern Iraq to the Turkish Mediterranean
port of Ceyhan carries the bulk of Iraq's oil exports under a so-called
oil-for-food deal with the United Nations.

Oil Minister Amir Muhammed Rasheed told a news conference earlier Sunday
that Iraq was exporting 2.1 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude under
the deal and that Iraq would be able to increase its exports to more than
2.5 million bpd if spare parts bought by Baghdad under the U.N. program
arrived in the country. 

BBC : Sunday, February 28, 1999 Published at 20:10 GMT 

US war planes have bombed a vital Iraqi pipeline used to export oil to
Turkey, according to Iraqi officials. 

They say the flow of oil has been cut off. The pipeline runs from Kirkuk
oilfield, in northern Iraq, to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. 

Iraq says one person died in the attack and another three
were killed near the town of Mosul, 250 miles north of the capital

An Iraqi spokesman said the man killed at the pipeline was an Iraqi, who
worked with the UN oil-for-food programme. 

Under the oil-for-food deal Iraq is allowed to export some oil in order to
buy essential supplies for its people. 

There has been no independent confirmation of either an attack on the
pipeline or any casualties. 

An American military spokesman said planes had attacked sites in the Mosul
area after coming under Iraqi anti-aircraft fire. 

He said missiles and bombs were targeted at an Iraqi air defence
headquarters and a radio relay site. 

Three air-to-ground missiles, three laser-guided bombs, and five
precision-guided bombs were fired at an Iraqi air defence headquarters, a
radio relay site and a surface-to-air missile battery, the spokesman said. 


The Independent On Sunday  28.2.99
George Alagiah - Starvation: the West's weapon of mass destruction
against Iraq

Up to 6,000 Iraqis are dying of malnutrition and disease every month as a
result of sanctions. Saddam and his cronies are unaffected, of course 

IN PRIDE of place, as you enter the United Nations offices in Baghdad, is
a display cabinet. It contains a bag of wheat, some congealed cooking oil,
bars of soap and several other household items. It is not necessarily what
the UN intends, but this pathetic collection of goods will long be
remembered by Iraqis as an enduring symbol of the international
community's involvement in their blighted country. It is the monthly

But despite the ration, Iraqis have been dying by the thousands in the
years since the 1991 confrontation. The number of civilians killed by
high-tech bombs is dwarfed by the far greater total who have fallen victim
to a much more ancient scourge - malnutrition and disease. Figures vary
according to who you ask - Iraqi figures tend to be much higher than
others - but even the most conservative observers agree that as many as
300,000 people may have died since 1991. 

Some of them are asking whether there is any point in the international
community supporting the food ration system, which it does through the UN,
while, at the same time, undermining any benefits the ration might have by
imposing a socially debilitating sanctions regime. 

Western politicians suggest that if people are dying it is because
President Saddam Hussein is manipulating the process. In December Tony
Blair stated the British position: "Let us be clear," he told the House of
Commons, "the Iraqi authorities can import as much food as they need. If
there are nutritional problems in Iraq, they are not the result of
sanctions. Let us not forget that Iraq is continuing to export food to her

UN officials intimately concerned with both the distribution of food and
the imposition of sanctions are unable to make sense of Mr Blair's
assertion. "It's possible Iraq is exporting some food products, but it is
simplistic to suggest that that is the reason children are dying," said
one official at the UN humanitarian office in Baghdad. 

Dennis Halladay, who was in charge of the organisation's humanitarian work
until last year, has no doubt that sanctions kill. "After eight years in
Iraq," he said, "we've got to classify sanctions as a form of warfare,
given that they are producing 5,000 to 6,000 Iraqi deaths per month." 

A London-based Iraqi lawyer, here to organise some aid to local hospitals,
put it like this: "America and Britain keep talking about weapons of mass
destruction. Well, that is exactly what sanctions are. They fit the
definition: they kill by the thousands and they do not discriminate
between civilian and military." 

Although Iraq is allowed to sell $5.2bn (3.25bn) worth of oil every six
months under the international supervised oil-for-food programme, it has
never been able to reach this target, because the industry is in such a
shambolic state after nearly a decade of sanctions. In any case, the
collapse in oil prices means that the number of barrels Iraq would have to
pump out of the ground slips further out of reach. 

From what money it does earn - about $2bn every six months - Iraq pays
compensation to Kuwait and funds the UN operation itself. What's left
amounts to about $200 per person for six months. Out of this Iraq has to
buy food and medicine and fund infrastructural maintenance. 

There is little evidence to support the contention that the Iraqi regime -
which distributes the food imported by the UN - is subverting the process.
The UN has some 400 food monitors across the country, whose task is to
ensure that the food is dispensed with "efficiency, adequacy and
equitably". They say the Iraqi government, corrupt though it may be in
other respects, runs an exemplary distribution process. "We monitor the
distribution of food, so if people are saying there's something amiss then
they are pointing the finger at us, and I resent that," said one UN

The food ration is supposed to be 2,200 calories a day. "It's enough to
keep you alive," said another official, "but that's all. And a lot of the
time we don't even meet the calorific target." The food basket does not
include meat, fish or eggs, which Iraqis have to buy on the open market.
But under sanctions prices have soared and the dinar has crashed. Paid
employment has disappeared, and Baghdad is full of second-hand markets
where families sell their most cherished possessions to earn some money.
Even a teacher with over 10 years' experience earns little more than 10 a

Sanctions have made the spread of disease much more likely. Sanitation is
the key: UN health workers say, for example, that the water that leaves
the country's main treatment plants is clean, but by the time it reaches
the outer suburbs and rural areas it has been contaminated. The
maintenance backlog is as long as money is short. Iraq, which once boasted
some of the best social infrastructure in the world, let alone the Middle
East, is now closer to the Third World in much of its provision. 

Ever since the UN started to import flour for the food ration local wheat
prices have collapsed, undermining the local food economy. So farmers have
switched their attention to neighbouring markets; Syria and Iran have both
benefited. Presumably these are the food exports that Tony Blair referred
to, but it is merely the market at work - another example of the way
sanctions have an unintended impact. 

Not everyone suffers. Loyal servants of the ruling Ba'ath party remain
largely immune, and some Iraqis even prosper. Those who profit from
sanctions-busting and corruption can be seen any Friday at one of the many
fashionable restaurants in Baghdad, or attending a fashion show at the Al
Rasheed hotel. This new elite, which is a cousin to the old
politico-military one, has brought a different, yet equally corrosive,
dimension to life in Iraq. 

There is no room for Iraqis such as a colleague of mine, one of the
sanest, most civilised people I know. Recently he wrote to the British
Library, asking for extracts from James Joyce's Ulysses. He sent the
necessary photocopying vouchers, carefully saved from his days as a
student in Britain in the 1980s. The library replied: "I regret to inform
you that we cannot process these requests because of trade sanctions that
have been imposed on your country by our Government." 

Whether this is what sanctions are intended to achieve - presumably to
promote reform - is questionable. It may already be too late. Ten years is
very nearly an educational cycle; the great universities of
Al-Mustansiriya and Baghdad are shadows of what they once were, and a
whole generation is close to losing the prospect of a decent education. 

We should not be surprised in the future if this generation, the victims
of the sanctions years, jobless and rootless, turn to a violent expression
of their contempt for the West. 

 George Alagiah is a BBC World Affairs correspondent. 

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