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: Interview with Scott Ritter; 'breathing-space' for Iraq and UN reports

2 recent Guardian Articles on Iraq:

Ex-monitor says
UN tricked
Saddam to
prompt bombing 
Julian Borger in Washington
on Scott Ritter's claims over
why arms checks on Iraq
were ended 
Tuesday March 30, 1999 

Scott Ritter, the former United Nations weapons inspector most closely
identified with the aggressive investigation of Iraq's secret arsenal, has
accused the United States and Britain of sacrificing arms control in their
determination to destroy Saddam Hussein.
In an interview with the Guardian, Mr Ritter accused Richard Butler, the
chairman of the UN Special Commission on Iraq (Unscom), of permitting the
organisation to become a tool of US military strategy, deliberately
opening the way for the US-British air strikes against Iraq in December
which sealed Unscom's demise.
'Without Unscom you can't have lifting of sanctions [against Iraq], and
sanctions are the cornerstone of US policy to get rid of Saddam,' he said.
Belying his image as a macho ex-marine, Mr Ritter also denounced the
international embargo on Iraq as immoral and argued for a return to
dialogue with the rogue regime - arguments he lays out in his new book,
entitled Endgame, coming out this month in Britain.
During his six years as a weapons inspector, Mr Ritter was frequently
denounced by Baghdad as a US spy.  But he said he was involved in an
internal Unscom investigation in 1997 which found that the CIA was using
the UN agency as a cover to eavesdrop on the Iraqi military.
'I just took the results to Charles Duelfer [Unscom's deputy chairman].
But I was instructed to stop pursuing this. I said I understood but I
wrote a formal memo about it for the record,' Mr Ritter said.
He confirmed press reports that the CIA had sent in agents in the guise of
engineers to plant monitoring devices on Unscom equipment.
'I warned Richard Butler repeatedly about the dangers of allowing Unscom
to be used,' he said. 'But he was unwise enough to align inspections with
US policy... Butler became instrumental in organising Unscom's demise.'
As an inspector, Mr Ritter arranged surprise visits to buildings housing
the secret organisations responsible for hiding Saddam's chemical and
biological weapons. He advocated an aggressive and intrusive policy of
inspections backed with the threat of military force in the event of Iraqi
But he said that in the course of 1998 Unscom was told by the US to tone
down its investigations for fear of risking a military confrontation with
Iraq. That changed last December, Mr Ritter said, when Washington seemed
to be seeking a show-down.
President Clinton's domestic critics have accused him of timing Operation
Desert Fox to distract attention from the impeachment crisis. Mr Ritter
refused to comment on those allegations but he said Mr Butler collaborated
with the US national security adviser, Sandy Berger, to stage a
deliberately provocative Unscom visit to the Ba'ath party headquarters.
'The Iraqis allowed them [the inspectors] in with a four-man team.  Then
they wanted to go back in with 12 inspectors and the Iraqis said no, and
it all blew up in the press,' he said. 'Iraq is no boy scout.  But it
didn't do anything in December to justify Desert Fox.'
Mr Ritter said the event was orchestrated to establish a pretext for
military intervention and that Mr Butler exceeded his mandate by penning a
scathing indictment on Iraqi non-compliance rather than simply presenting
the facts.
Even as he delivered the report to the Security Council on December 16, US
and British warplanes were being launched. 'Before that, no one could say
Unscom was dead. It was still a viable entity. It was only after Richard
Butler corrupted the process and made Unscom the tool of US policy that
Unscom was destroyed.'
Mr Ritter suggested that the current policy of aggressive containment with
the frequent use of air strikes coupled with sanctions would not succeed
in toppling the Iraqi leader.
'The US and UK have put considerable resources into a coup, but Saddam has
shown himself to be relatively coup-proof,' he said.
Mr Ritter is even more scathing about economic sanctions, which he said
are causing the deaths of 5,000 Iraqi children per month. 'Saddam Hussein
is willing to parlay the suffering of his people for economic gain. And
we're a party to that,' he said.
In his book Mr Ritter wrote: 'The inherent inhumanity of economic
sanctions damages those who oppose [them]. As an American, I resent having
my national character stained this way.'
Mr Ritter now believes diplomatic re-engagement is the only feasible
remaining policy option. The former US intelligence major said formal
diplomatic ties should be made conditional on a new arms-monitoring regime
and formal Iraqi recognition of the border with Kuwait.

Clear skies give
Iraq a breathing space 
By David Sharrock, Middle East
Thursday April 1, 1999 

The skies above Iraq have been clear for almost two weeks, yet while Nato
warplanes employ almost identical bombing tactics against the Serbian
president Slobodan Milosevic as those used by the United States and
Britain to tame Saddam Hussein, the West's favourite bogeyman has not gone
away - he has just been given time out.
Last month, as the Rambouillet talks ground on, the US and British
bombardments of Iraq were steadily climbing the news agenda. There was
international alarm oabout a policy which seemed to have no justification.
But since March 19 not a single air raid has been carried out in the
no-fly zones imposed in May 1991 after the Gulf war by the US, Britain and
France in northern and southern Iraq.
US and British military spokesmen described the strikes as 'self-defence'
measures prompted by the Iraqi ground taking aim at allied aircraft. But
there were also indications that members of President Saddam's armed
forces were being told that staying loyal to the dictator was not a
healthy option.
Now all the indications suggest that the offensive is on the back burner
until the Balkans crisis is resolved.  Washington does not want to fight
two separate wars if it can be avoided.
Meanwhile, President Saddam has remained bellicose and defiant. Al Thawra,
an official Iraqi newspaper, called on Sunday for a united front against
the US and its 'imperialist' policies as Nato air strikes against
Yugoslavia entered the fifth day.
It came a day after a US official reportedly warned the Iraqis not to take
advantage of the Yugoslav crisis. Martin Indyk, the assistant secretary of
state, was quoted by the London-based al-Hayat newspaper as saying that
the US was capable of dealing with any Iraqi military threat.
'If Saddam believes that we do not have the ability to face any challenge
he might pose against us as we are involved in handling the crisis in
Kosovo, then he would be making a big mistake,' Mr Indyk said.
'We have big capabilities at the stage of operations in the Middle East
that are capable of facing any threats and will not be affected by what is
happening in Kosovo.'
In Baghdad, one theory was that the air patrols had been only suspended
for the Muslim pilgrimage season and the Eid al-Adha feast.  But the
holiday period ended on Tuesday and theattacks have not resumed.
The Americans, the British and the French - who have since pulled out -
said that the no-fly zones were needed to protect Kurds in the north and
Shi'ite Muslims in the south from Baghdad. They were not sanctioned by the
United Nations.
A reminder of what is at stake came yesterday when the UN Security Council
received three reports it had commissioned in February in an attempt to
restore coherence to its Iraq policy. Had the Kosovo crisis not
intervened, the reports would have been front-page news.
A humanitarian panel reports that Iraq has slipped from 'relative
affluence' before 1991 to 'massive poverty' and should be allowed to
receive foreign oil investments. It states that even if the stringent UN
sanctions are lifted it will take a long time for the economy to recover.
The UN oil-for-food programme was criticised as inadequate to remedy the
'dire' humanitarian situation, although Iraq was blamed for some problems
in the distribution of supplies, particularly medicines.
Iraq's infant mortality rate is now the highest in the world, and chronic
malnutrition affects a quarter of children under five. Only 41 per cent of
the population has regular access to clean water and 83 per cent of
schools need substantial repairs.
The UN Development Programme also calculates that it would cost $7 billion
to restore the power sector to its 1990 capacity.But the report does not
suggest that the the oil embargo imposed in 1990 should be lifted.
A second panel looked into the fate of 605 Kuwaitis and others who
disappeared during Iraq's occupation of Kuwait in 1990-91.
But the most controversial report is that of the Weapons of Mass
Destruction panel, which says that intrusive monitoring needs to resume in
Iraq and calls for a restructured UN Special Commission (Unscom), the
inspection organisation which left Baghdad on the eve of Operation Desert
Fox in December.
The 20-member panel reflect the split in the 15-member council between
Russia, France and China, who are sympathetic to Iraq, and the US and
Britain, who maintain a hard line.
What the Security Council will do with the conclusions of the three
technical reports is anyone's guess - they too are likely to wait until
Kosovo is stabilised.
Nor can President Saddam's response be predicted. The nightmare scenario
is that he will conclude that there is no longer any merit in working with
the UN humanitarian bodies still in Iraq and will expel them, jettisoning
the oil-for-food programme.
Such a gesture would only mean greater hardship for his people.
Governments already weary of the sanctions regime might then decide to
trade with Iraq again, an option unlikely to be acceptable in Washington
or London.
But for now everything, including the air raids, is on hold.

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]