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]

URL for yesterday's State Department briefing on Iraq

If the U.S. State Department feels compelled to launch a major publicity
offensive to further defame that most infamous of dictators, Saddam Hussein,
then perhaps all is not going well for its policies of spin and sanctions.

A transcript of yesterday's briefing by James Rubin and Martin Indyk has
been posted here:  (If
anyone knows the web address of the underlying report, could they please
post as well?)   Coverage of the briefing can be found here:
> The Los Angeles Times
> The Washington Post
> Reuters
> AP
> The New York Times (story below)

The report deserves an emphatic rebuttal, such as the following from Ali
Abunimah (from Rania Masri:

Drew Hamre
Golden Valley, MN USA

From: Ali Abunimah <>

September 14, 1999

It is the nature of governments to try to turn truth into fiction and
fiction into truth. Despite the countless independent studies, testimonies
and reports about the effect of UN sanctions on the people of Iraq, the
United States has embarked on a new and sinister campaign of misinformation
about Iraq.

The recent UNICEF report showing a doubling of child mortality was among the
most mild. Not only do these reports all paint a consistent picture about
the condition of the Iraqi people, but they trace the mechanisms through
which sanctions kill: there are not only insufficient supplies of food and
medicine, but the infrastructure that would allow proper distribution has
collapsed. Lack of spare parts for refrigerated trucks in a country where
summer temperatures routinely reach 120 F, often means that food supplies
that do exist cannot be moved. Destroyed sewage plants and lack of chemical
agents to purify water mean that the vast majority of Iraqis do not have
access to clean water. 

Hospitals lack chlorine for basic hygiene and nearly no new medical
equipment has been imported for nearly ten years. The US administration,
that professes such a concern for the rights of women in the world turns a
blind eye to the UN reported statistic that 31 percent of Iraqi women-- 1 in
3 -- now die in child birth. UNICEF also reported that in 1990, an Iraqi
child with diarrhoea had a 1 in 600 chance of dying. By 1996, that risk had
increased to 1 in 50. A child with pneumonia had a 1 in 60 chance
of dying. Today it is 1 in 8.

These are a few of the mechanisms of death. UN agencies consistently report
that but for the monthly ration provided  regularly and fairly to Iraqi
citizens by the government, most Iraqis could not survive the siege. 

It is hard to to know whether we should attribute it to sheer malice or
sheer stupidity that the United States is now engaging in a crude propaganda
effort to deny what they entire world can now see. But it is only by denying
the genocide that is occurring in Iraq that the United States can continue
to seek consent for its policy of holding ordinary Iraqis hostage 

It is also ironic that the State Department should profess such concern for
Iraqis allegedly having their homes bulldozed by the Iraqi government. Would
that Israeli  bulldozers raised such indignation in Washington.

And finally consider this: if it is true as the United States insists that
(a) Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi elite are living it up and are completely
unaffected by sanctions and; (b) that the Iraqi people are suffering no ill
effects from sanctions, then what pray tell are the sanctions for? If they
don;t actually do anything, then why not lift them?

The only purpose of sanctions is to 'put pressure' on the Iraqi government
by killing and harming ordinary Iraqis. This is the moral equivalent of
carpet bombing. 

Ali Abunimah

The New York Times
September 14, 1999

As Iraqis Starve, U.S. Asserts, Their Leaders Live in Luxury


WASHINGTON -- The United States, which is seeking to force a new weapons
inspection program on Iraq, said Monday that it had new evidence showing
that President Saddam Hussein had spent money to build a sprawling amusement
park to entertain his political followers instead of feeding hungry Iraqis. 

In a report intended to convince other governments to retain tough economic
sanctions on Iraq, the State Department said the entertainment complex was
detected in aerial photographs. The declassified photographs also
substantiated reports that Hussein had recently bulldozed villages where
anti-government protests had taken place. 

The photographs, the report said, showed that the Iraqi government had built
a lakeside village resort near Baghdad -- including an amusement park,
sports stadiums and special hospitals -- for use by members of his political

"Despite its claims that the people of Iraq are dying due to a lack of food
and medicine, Saddam Hussein doesn't hesitate to spend hundreds of millions
of dollars for the entertainment of Baath party officials and cadres," said
James P. Rubin, the department's spokesman. 

Department officials would not say if the photographs were taken by
satellite or by spy plane. 

The report was released two days before a meeting in London in which the
United States and Britain will try to persuade government representatives
from China, France and Russia to support a resolution in the U.N. Security
Council to renew international weapons inspections on Iraq. 

The resolution would create a new agency to replace the so-called U.N.
Special Commission, or Unscom, which conducted weapons inspections until it
was thrown out of Iraq last year, prompting a fierce American-led bombing
campaign. The Chinese, French and Russians have resisted new sanctions on

For years, Baghdad has insisted that economic sanctions imposed on the
country after the 1991 Persian Gulf war have resulted in malnutrition and a
shortage of basic medicines. The sanctions were supposed to remain in place
until Iraq proved that it had dismantled its means to make chemical,
biological and nuclear weapons. 

But the State Department said that shortages of food and medicine were the
fault of the Iraqi government, which has stockpiled food and medicine
purchased under a U.N. oil-for-food program instead of distributing it
properly. And billions of dollars made available to Iraq to buy food and
medicine under the program have gone unspent. 

"The government has failed to distribute about 50 percent of the medicine,
about 60 percent of the supplies for clean water and agriculture and 40
percent for education," Rubin said. "So what we see here is a situation
where Saddam Hussein is clearly not allowing the food, medicine and water to
be distributed that would improve the lot of the Iraqi people. 

"The fact is that in Iraq, Saddam Hussein controls everything," Rubin
continued. "He decides who gets what and he has decided to deprive the Iraqi
people of many basic requirements while providing luxuries -- and their very
own Ferris wheel -- to a small clique of regime supporters." 


This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To be removed/added, email, NOT
the whole list. Please do not sent emails with attached files to the list
*** Archived at ***

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]