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Hi all, The following is the text to a letter that I have sent to a number of UK newspapers that reported on Britain's proposal on sanctions yesterday. Yours, Colin Rowat ________________________________________________________ Dear Editor, In March the UN Security Council panel on the humanitarian situation in Iraq reported that "the gravity of the humanitarian situation of the Iraqi people is indisputable and cannot be overstated". Iraq had "experienced a shift from relative affluence to massive poverty" and that, in "marked contrast to the prevailing situation prior to 1990-91 [before sanctions], the infant mortality rates in Iraq today are among the highest in the world ... chronic malnutrition affects every fourth child under five". Last April Unicef reported that Iraqi hospitals were experiencing 90,000 more deaths a year (including 40,000 children under five) than they had before sanctions (an underestimate, they feared, as reported deaths terminate food rations). This is about twice the daily death count that we now suspect may be due to Serb massacres in Kosovo since March; further, while Iraq has ten times Kosovo's population, Iraq's quiet deaths have been going on for almost nine years. On top of this tragedy the FAO reported last month that Iraq is now experiencing its worst drought since at least 1930. Between one and two thirds of the wheat and barley crop in an already weakened agricultural sector may be lost. It is in this context that Britain's proposed resolution to the Security Council (17/6/99) must be seen. While touted as a significant turnaround for the UK, the proposal (which has been circulating for some months) seems little different from the original 1990 sanctions formula: hold the Iraqi people ransom to pressure a dictator to disarm himself (if we believe Security Council Resolutions; US and UK officials have repeatedly made statements to the contrary, explaining that sanctions will not be lifted while Saddam is in power). Since the onset of US/UK bombing last December this formula has left us with sanctions but no weapons inspections. Nine years and hundreds of thousands of deaths later, returning to this formula is not obviously wise. March's UN humanitarian panel report made a number of recommendations which might lead to "incremental improvements" in the humanitarian situation in Iraq. As the "securing of additional finance" was of "paramount importance" the panel made recommendations to that end, including the temporary suspension of the 30% of oil revenue that Iraq pays into a compensation fund. Britain's proposed resolution is less generous, maintaining the compensation fund payments and delaying the possibility of foreign investment in the Iraqi oil industry. Its lifting of the cap on oil sales (recommended by the humanitarian panel) will not improve matters as Iraq is currently unable to meet even its existing cap. The main alternative, the French proposal, differs by lifting non-military sanctions as soon as Iraq "cooperates" with inspectors. This shifts the focus from the US/UK interest in documenting Iraq's past weapons development to preventing future weapons development and use. Obviously, preventing development is easier with complete historical knowledge, the old formula. In the end, though, it is use that matters and the Gulf War demonstrated that deterrence is possible: Iraq's non- conventional arsenal, then much larger than now, was not used as it was clear that retaliation would be massive. So we are faced with a choice: the British approach, apparently similar to the approach since 1990 or the French approach (supported by Russia and China). The latter may take more of a risk with Iraq's weapons but offers more hope for longsuffering Iraqis. In doing, it is also more likely to reduce a real threat to regional security: the hatred festering in Iraq. Yours, Colin Rowat Coordinator, Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Cambridge 393 King's College Cambridge CB2 1ST (0468) 056 984 fax: (01223) 335 219 References Humanitarian panel report: Annex II of S/1999/356 (30 March, 1999) www.un.org/Depts/oip/panelrep.htm Unicef report: Situation Analysis of Children and Women in Iraq - 1997 (April, 1998) FAO Report: Adverse Effect of the Drought on Domestic Food Production During 1998/1999 in Iraq (May, 1999) -- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email firstname.lastname@example.org, NOT the whole list. Please do not sent emails with attached files to the list *** Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html ***