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* Iraq Assesses Humanitarian Program (Associated Press) * Iraq Says Allied Planes Kill 12 (Associated Press): US military says: "Ultimate responsibility lies with Saddam Hussein." * UN Council Still Far Apart on Iraq (Associated Press) * Iraqi troops attack southern Shiite villages (Nando Times) * Iraq Raises Gasoline Prices 33 Percent (Associated Press) ******************** Iraq Assesses Humanitarian Program By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press Writer, Thursday, May 13, 1999; 2:19 a.m. EDT UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The U.N. humanitarian program in Iraq has failed to relieve the suffering of the country's people, Iraq says in a report that calls for sanctions to be lifted. Iraq's foreign minister sent a 12-page assessment of the oil-for-food program Wednesday to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, saying that ending sanctions was the only answer since the program, started in 1996, was a failure. Iraq ``calls upon you to shoulder your responsibility by frankly announcing that the program has never, and will never, achieve the lifting of the great suffering of the Iraqi people,'' Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf wrote to Annan. ``The only logical solution is the lifting of the blockade without additional conditions,'' he concluded. Al-Sahhaf said the process for approving and delivering humanitarian goods to Iraq takes too long, and that the United States and Britain continue to block approval for equipment to repair Iraq's oil industry. The letter came after the U.N. humanitarian program itself concluded earlier this month that the program -- while delivering billions of dollars worth of food and medicine to Iraqis living under U.N. sanctions -- cannot meet the overwhelming needs of the people. The U.N. oil-for-food program allows Iraq to sell $5.26 billion worth of oil over six months to buy spare parts and food, medicine and other humanitarian aid for 22 million Iraqis suffering under sanctions imposed after Baghdad's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The sanctions bar Iraq from freely selling its oil on the open market, depriving it of its most valuable commodity. U.N. officials have stressed that the program was never intended to take care of all the needs of the Iraqis, and has faulted the Baghdad government of failing to implement it effectively. On Wednesday, the head of the program, Benon Sevan, said government warehouses were ``literally overflowing,'' with medicine that had been purchased through the program but not delivered. U.N. figures show that about $570 million worth of medicine and medical supplies had arrived in the past two years, but that only 48 percent had been distributed to clinics, hospitals and pharmacies. Al-Sahhaf acknowledged that medicines had been held up in warehouses, but he blamed the delay in distribution on New York. Some medicines can only be distributed with certain equipment, and when the equipment doesn't arrive, the medicine has to be stockpiled, he wrote. Under U.N. resolutions, the embargo cannot be lifted until U.N. weapons inspectors report Iraq has destroyed its banned weapons. ******************** Iraq Says Allied Planes Kill 12 Wednesday, May 12, 1999; 4:55 p.m. EDT BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- U.S. and British warplanes killed 12 civilians and destroyed livestock in a raid on northern Iraq Wednesday, the Iraqi armed forces said. The allied planes ``bombed shepherds' tents in the province of Nineveh,'' 250 miles north of Baghdad, the military said in a statement carried by the official Iraqi News Agency. A number of others were injured, the statement said. Along with the deaths, the attack killed 200 sheep and wrecked a vehicle and a combine harvester, it said. Earlier, the U.S. military said its planes had bombed Iraqi air-defense sites north and northwest of Mosul, a city in Nineveh province. In a statement from the southern Turkish air base of Incirlik, the U.S. military said its planes had acted in self-defense after being targeted by Iraqi radar and anti-aircraft artillery. In a separate statement, the U.S. military said initial damage assessment showed that one target was located near livestock. ``Every effort is taken to avoid any collateral damage to civilians and civilian property,'' the statement said. ``Ultimate responsibility, however, lies with (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein.'' The Iraqi agency quoted Nineveh governor Mohammed Abdel-Qader as saying that allied planes attacked the shepherds twice, the second time striking farmers who were trying to help the injured. Incirlik is home to U.S. and British fighter jets which enforce the no-fly zone over Iraq's north to protect the Kurdish minority there. Another no-fly zone protects the Shiite minority in southern Iraq. Baghdad does not recognize the zones created after the 1991 Gulf War, and has been challenging the planes almost daily since December. ******************** UN Council Still Far Apart on Iraq By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press Writer, Tuesday, May 11, 1999; 3:22 a.m. EDT UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Despite weeks of negotiations and warnings that inaction will only make matters worse, the Security Council appears to have made little headway in forging an agreement on a new policy towards Iraq. Since December's U.S.-British airstrikes, sporadic bombing of targets in Iraq has continued and Baghdad's goal of getting the council to lift the economic sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait is still a long way off. While some council members regularly express concern that Iraq's weapons programs are not being monitored -- and U.N. weapons inspectors are barred from returning to Baghdad -- major differences remain on how to resume oversight of Iraq's disarmament. Even a new position paper circulated last week by Canada has been largely dismissed by the United States and Russia -- the two countries most at odds over the issue, diplomats said. In an effort to get Iraqi support for renewed arms oversight, Russia, supported by France and China, has offered a resolution that would lift the U.N. oil embargo on Iraq once a system to monitor Iraq's weapons programs is in place. Washington remains adamant, however, that Iraq must be completely disarmed before the embargo is lifted. Iraq argues that its banned weapons have already been eliminated. A resolution from Britain and the Netherlands reflects the U.S. position, but includes improvements to the U.N. humanitarian program to help Iraqi civilians hurt by eight years of sanctions. U.S. officials say they still can't agree to that resolution. Both Russia and Britain have held extensive talks in recent days, and are expected to offer amended competing resolutions in the near future. In a sign of how far apart the two camps remain, the council isn't expected to formally discuss Iraq until May 21, the day U.N. officials are scheduled to brief members on the ``oil-for-food'' program that lets Iraq sell limited amounts of oil to buy humanitarian goods for its people. Russia's amended proposal is expected to suggest the possible suspension of sanctions, one diplomat said. Canada's position paper follows Russia's resolution by calling for foreign investment in Iraq once an arms monitoring system is operational. Canada also endorsed the recommendation of a disarmament panel set up by the Security Council to create a new U.N. arms inspection agency, continuing the work of the U.N. Special Commission, known as UNSCOM. UNSCOM has attempted since 1991 to account for and destroy Baghdad's weapons of mass destruction as a prerequisite for lifting U.N. sanctions. Diplomats are under pressure to make a decision soon. Celso Amorim, Brazil's U.N. ambassador, warned the Security Council last month that the absence of weapons inspectors ``was seen as substantially increasing the risk that Iraq might try to reconstitute its proscribed weapons programs.'' ******************** Iraqi troops reportedly attack southern Shiite villages May 11, 1999 12:14 p.m. EDT DAMASCUS, Syria - Government soldiers armed with tanks have attacked four villages in the marshes of a southern Iraqi province, an opposition group said Tuesday. The Iran-based Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq said many people were arrested during the Saturday offensive in Nasiriya, a predominantly Shiite Muslim city 200 miles south of Baghdad. It said several houses were destroyed by bombardment and the firing but the number of people killed or wounded has not been established yet. The statement was faxed to The Associated Press in Damascus. Nasiriya was the scene of heavy clashes between dissident Shiite Muslims and government troops in March after the Feb. 19 assassination of the supreme leader of Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority, Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sader, and his two sons in Najaf. Many Shiites believe the government was behind the killing. The government has accused its neighbor, predominantly Shiite Iran, of being behind the deaths in an effort to destabilize Iraq. Shiites are a majority in Iraq but have little political clout. The most important people in the government and the military - including President Saddam Hussein - belong to the Sunni sect of Islam. ******************** Iraq Raises Gas Prices 33 Percent By Leon Barkho, Associated Press Writer, Monday, May 10, 1999; 11:48 p.m. EDT BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- The Iraqi government has raised gasoline prices by at least 33 percent, the second increase in less than two months. Oil Ministry officials declined to say what prompted the latest hike, which went into effect Sunday. Filling up a car with high quality gasoline will now cost up to $1.25, half a government employee's average monthly salary of $2.50. The new rates, although considerable by Iraqi standards, are still low when compared with prices of essential commodities in the country. An egg in Baghdad costs 7 cents and a liter of bottled water, 75 cents. Many people survive by holding second jobs, getting money from relatives overseas and receiving subsidized food. Iraq has the second-largest proven oil reserves in the world after Saudi Arabia. Its refineries now produce 700,000 barrels per day and its domestic needs are estimated at 500,000 barrels a day, the government says. U.S. and British diplomats have accused Iraq of smuggling the excess oil and earning $200 million per month outside its U.N.-approved oil-for-food deal. Iraqi oil officials deny the charges. The last time the government raised gasoline prices was in early March, when the prices of most products, including lubricants and kerosene, were more than doubled. Iraq, which has been under U.N. trade sanctions since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, can sell a limited quantity of oil to buy humanitarian goods. It is nearing a record in U.N.-approved oil sales, exporting 14.4 million barrels of oil last week, the United Nations humanitarian program said Monday. Exports ran at an average of slightly more than 2 million barrels per day between May 1 and May 7, at an average price of $14.44 per barrel, said John Mills, spokesman for the U.N. Office of the Iraq Program. In the six months that ended Nov. 15, Iraq generated slightly more than $3 billion in oil sales, the highest total since the program began but well under the $5 billion allowed. Revenues have been lifted by an increase in Iraq's daily exports and a sharp hike in global oil prices that followed the March agreement by major oil exporting countries to cut production. ******************** -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html