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Dear Drew and All, 1) Refusal of oil-for-food programme 1991-1995 i) DESIGNED TO BE REFUSED See Sarah Graham-Brown's new book for authoritative (though incomplete) discussion of this topic. She reports an allegation that the offer of oil-for-food was designed to be refused, an allegation I think the evidence supports. a) Refusing money to Iraqi civilians Graham-Brown points out, inter alia, that the UN humanitarian experts' recommendation of $2.65bn oil sales over four months (ALL of which was to be used for humanitarian relief) was reduced by political pressure to $1.6bn every six months (of which one-third was to be used for compensation and UN expenses): 'In practice, the resolutions reduced the sum available for humanitarian aid to approximately $930 million over six months, from $2.65 billion over four months, as originally proposed. The oil revenuies were to be deposited in an escrow account directly controlled by the UN, not in the SOMO [Iraqi government] account as [UN humanitarian envoy Prince] Sadruddin [Aga Khan] had wanted... A further concern among UN officials was that an oil sale at the lower figure might cut off or severely limit international aid to Iraq, while the funds generated would not be sufficient to allow reconstruction. This would effectively defeat Sadruddin's argument that the country could afford to pay for itself. 'It seems likely that these less attractive conditions reduced the chances of Iraq accepting the resolution. According to an aid agency staff member involved in the discussions in Iraq, even by late July  "UN officials were convinced... that the US intention was to present Saddam Hussein with so unattractive a package that Iraq would reject it and thus take on the blame, at least in Western eyes, for continued civilian suffering."' [p.75] b) Mixing relief with UNSCOM and compensation 'Throughout the two years of stalemate over these [oil-for-food] resolutions, Western governments took the opportunity to turn continuing reports of civilian suffering back onto the Iraqi regime, arguing that it could alleviate suffering and chose not to do so... 'But this approach caused unease among many humanitarian observers who felt that the "package" deal offered under Resolutions 706 and 712 was one which it could have been anticipated Iraq would refuse. They argued that humanitarian needs should have been entirely separated from questions of compensation and payment for the work of UN weapons inspectors. The latter were issues for the Iraqi state alone, and civilians should not be penalised for a government decision to resist paying for these items... 'The mixing of humanitarian exemptions with matters such as compensation and enforcement activities of UNSCOM muddied the waters, allowing the Iraqi Government to object on other political or technical grounds. This made Western condemnation of its callousness less credible.' [p.77] ii) THE FOOD RATION It is important to remember that during this period the Iraqi government was distributing food to its civilian population. The rationing system that began in September 1990 was described by the Food and Agriculture Organisation in the following terms in 1995 (quotation taken from report reprinted in _The Children ARE Dying_, World View Forum/International Action Center, 1996): '... while the rationing system has forestalled the occurrence of any masive famine under conditions of critical food shortages and high food prices since the embargo, it has not checked malnutrition and morbidity in a large section of the population which is too poor to adequately supplement the rations. [This is unfortunately true also of oil-for-food]... The food basket supplied through the rationing system is a life-saving nutritional benefit which also represents a very substantial income subsidy to Iraqi households... So far the public rationing system has been performing efficiently, with negligible margins of omission or commission.' It is therefore untrue to say that the Iraqi government deliberately starved its people by rejecting oil-for-food between 1991 and 1995, though it is true that the food ration would have been enhanced by acceptance of oil-for-food. The whole case against sanctions, however, is derived from the fact that oil-for-food was, and is, incapable of overcoming the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, which requires (I) much larger revenues and credits than are available under oil-for-food; and (II) the reflation of the entire economy to provide jobs and purchasing power to families throughout Iraq. iii) THE INHERENT INADEQUACY OF OIL-FOR-FOOD It follows from the above analysis that the offer/rejection of oil-for-food during 1991-1995 are in themselves irrelevant to the question of _solving_ the humanitarian crisis. We have to get the framework of discussion right. If we are talking about marginal contributions to health/welfare/nutrition, then, okay, let's talk about the different offers and their rejections. If we are talking about actually stopping the starvation and disease, and restoring the economic and social rights enjoyed prior to 1990, then the central focus is the sanctions regime as a whole, and its appalling impact. iv) THE LION'S SHARE OF RESPONSIBILITY The question for those of us in the West, and in Britain and the US in particular, is what responsibility our governments have for the disaster in Iraq. An honest inquiry, I think, leads to the conclusion that London and Washington must take the lion's share of responsibility for this crime. Best, Milan Rai voices in the wilderness uk 12 Trinity Road, London N2 8JJ phone/fax: 0181 444 1605 internet: firstname.lastname@example.org -----Original Message----- From: Hamre, Drew <email@example.com> To: 'Iraq-CASI - Discussion' <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: 21 May 1999 16:12 Subject: The Years 1991-1995, the Refusal of Arab Aid, and Delays Ordering Protein Biscuits >> Does anyone have information which rebuts the following arguments for >> Saddam's complicity in the humanitarian disaster: >> (1) Saddam refused oil-for-food for five years >> (2) Saddam has recently refused Arab aid >> (3) Iraqi administrators have consistently delayed ordering protein >> biscuits permitted under oil-for-food >> >> Believe the issue with (1) had to do with Iraqi sovereignty and the >> relatively small amounts being tendered. (A collection of communications >> between the UN and Iraq for the period 1990-1996 is available as a UN >> 'Blue Book'; perhaps this would be helpful?) >> >> Apparently, (2) stems chiefly from a Barbara Crossette article in the >> NYTimes, which contained the assertion but few details. >> >> In the overall scheme of things, (3) is a relatively minor issue. >> However, it remains a sore point among OIP administrators and receives >> coverage as a result. >> >> Any information would be sincerely appreciated. >> >> Regards, >> Drew Hamre >Minneapolis, MN USA > > >-- >--------------------------------------------------------------------------- -- >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 > -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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