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Found this at the web-site of the Royal Institute of International Affairs. It's quite long (16 pages!!) but interesting, if you have not seen it before. > ******************** > IRAQ UNDER SANCTIONS: A REGIME DEFIANT > Volker Perthes > Middle East Programme > The Royal Institute of International Affairs: BRIEFING No. 40 February > 1998 > > In the early months of 1998, the outlook for relations between Iraq and > the West looked distinctly bleak. The crisis over UN inspections of Iraq's > potential to create weapons of mass destruction began in November 1997 > with the Iraqi government's attempt to control the make-up of the United > Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) inspection teams on the grounds that > the Anglo-American components of them were, in effect, spies came to a > head in February 1998 when the United States and Britain insisted on full, > unrestricted compliance with all UN sanctions under the threat of military > action. Even though Iraq reluctantly acquiesced in Western demands, little > thought appeared to be given in American and British planning to what the > consequence of such action would be on Iraqis themselves and on Iraqi > public opinion. > > It had been comfortably assumed by Western military planners and by > Anglo-American politicians that the 'weakening' of Iraq's military and > weapons development potential would eventually enable Iraqis to overthrow > the Saddam Hussein regime. This had, after all, been the implicit (and > occasionally explicit) objective of the two Western allies since the end > of the war against Iraq in 1991. Even the peaceful resolution of the > crisis at the end of February did not negate these objectives. The problem > with both these assumptions, however, is that they have ignored any > objective evaluation of Iraqi attitudes and beliefs after six years of an > intensive and all-encompassing sanctions regime which, according to Iraqi > and UN estimates, caused the deaths of up to one million people, half of > them children. > > Firsthand and detailed accounts of what has been happening inside Iraq > have been infrequent and rare. This briefing, however, attempts to fill > the gap. Even though it is based on fieldwork carried out a year ago, the > latest information from Iraq confirms that its analysis is still accurate > today. The picture that emerges is of an Iraq which, largely because of > the sanctions, is angry, vengeful and profoundly anti-Western in its > attitudes, whatever its population may think of the repressive regime that > controls the country. In the wake of the crisis at the start of 1998, such > attitudes have become even more profoundly entrenched, a development which > must raise questions about the wisdom of pursuing a policy that seems to > produce results consistently running counter to its objectives. > > The account given below is the first of several briefing papers we shall > produce dealing with the current situation in Iraq. Subsequent analyses > will look at the issue of the sanctions regime itself and of the nature of > a country which, even in its present attenuated state, is still pivotal in > the Arab Middle East. > > George Joffé > > Introduction > A summary > > Impressions from Baghdad, March 1997 > * 'Leave the past alone' > * 'Iraq as victim' > * 'We will be back' > * Iraq six years after the defeat > * Regime Stability > * Foreign relations > Versailles-Baghdad? The failures and risks of Western policy towards Iraq > * Continuity: regime and policy > * Revisionism in waiting > > Introduction > Over six years after the ceasefire in the war over Kuwait, Western policy > towards Iraq has clearly ended in a cul-de-sac. Saddam Hussein is still > Iraqi president and international sanctions have failed to attain their > goal of bringing about a change of regime. It may, therefore, now be the > time to consider new and more flexible policy options towards Iraq. Yet > information, particularly over the internal situation and the political > attitudes of the ruling elite, is scarce. This briefing is intended to > help correct that situation. After detailing impressions gained during a > trip to Baghdad in March 1997 , the paper focuses on Saddam Hussein's > Iraq - it does not deal with the Iraqi-Kurdish north of the country - and > also discusses how the central government in Baghdad could be handled in a > way that might enable Iraq to be reintegrated into the international > arena. > > A summary > Since its invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, there has been a wide-ranging > sanctions regime in operation against Iraq. This includes an embargo on > trade, the obligation for the regime to engage in complete disarmament in > the fields of unconventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction, > together with long-range missiles, and the imposition of reparations. > Against the expectations of many observers, these sanctions have not led > to a change of regime although they have weakened Iraq militarily and > economically. In fact, the Iraqi regime has recovered from the defeat in > Kuwait, has expanded its territorial sovereignty and the scope of its > foreign relations and has once again demonstrated its effective control > over most of its national territory. The anti-regime Iraqi opposition has > shown itself to be ineffective and the Kurdish parties and movements, of > whom so much was expected by the international community, have not been > able to put in place even the slightest element of any structure designed > to create a better, democratic Iraq in the northern part of the country. > At the same time, a collapse of the regime cannot be excluded - > particularly since it is so profoundly personalized that the sudden death > of the president would severely undermine the whole power structure. It is > at least as likely, however, that the regime and its leader will survive. > > Whether or not the peaceful reintegration of Iraq into its environment - > with or without Saddam Hussein - is possible, together with the creation > of a regional security system in the Gulf, is a question for which there > is as yet no clear or certain answer. At present it seems to be more the > case that a revisionist and vengeful attitude has developed within the > Iraqi regime, as a result of the sanctions, the embargo and the continuous > undermining of Iraqi sovereignty. This attitude will, therefore, also > influence the policies of any successor regime. In particular, an active > revisionist policy can be expected to be adopted by Baghdad if the > international community maintains a reactive policy aimed solely at > undermining it. A peaceful reintegration of Iraq into its regional > environment cannot be achieved without international support and, in > essence, European and international policy must be more creative towards > Iraq if this is to be achieved. This particularly means that the sanctions > regime needs to be moderated and specifically directed towards what must > be its primary objective - the prevention of renewed Iraqi aggression - > while, at the same time, preventing the long-term rupture of international > contacts with Iraqi society. > > Impressions from Baghdad, March 1997 > Since access to Iraq by air is prohibited under the sanctions regime, > Baghdad can only be reached by road, a distance of 900km from the > Jordanian capital, Amman. Roughly every 100km in Iraqi territory there is > a checkpoint operated by the saitara (literally 'domination' or > 'control'), one of the security services of the regime. What was striking > about these controls was the fact that the soldiers, who were generally > young, made a point of stopping us because they wanted to beg for bread > and other foodstuffs and occasionally for cigarettes. The regime clearly > cared little for the adequate victualling of its military, probably less > because of the embargo than because of the poor treatment generally meted > out to conscripts and simple soldiers in Iraq and elsewhere. Whether they > take their food from the population at large or exact it as tribute from > travellers is of no concern to the political leadership. > > To what extent the trade embargo imposed in 1990 really has caused poverty > and distress in Iraq is not easy to determine. At first sight there did > not appear to be a supply crisis in Baghdad, the capital. The markets were > full of fruit, vegetables, meat, bread and pastries; and imported goods, > particularly from Turkey and Jordan, were available. Prices, however, > reflected these origins and such goods were beyond the reach of average > income earners. The elite eats meat and drinks Scotch but most Iraqis, > particularly those unseen by the visitor, essentially have to live off > their official rations - flour, rice, tea, sugar, fat and lentils - which > satisfy only 40 per cent of calorific requirements. Food imported under > the UN-controlled oil-for-food programmes brings the level up to around 80 > per cent. > > Life and activity on the major shopping streets of Baghdad are not > significantly different from their counterparts in Damascus, Amman, Cairo > or Sana'a. Despite seven years of embargo, things seem relatively normal. > Nor is there an undue security presence; the number of policemen, soldiers > and not-so-secret policemen is significantly less than in many other Arab > towns. It is noteworthy that around half the chemist shops are closed and > that medical supplies in those shops that remain open are limited. Many > shops which sell luxury goods such as imported shoes or textiles or > made-up clothes clearly do little business - dusty shops and goods with > bored shopkeepers waiting for a customer to wander in exemplify the > problems. Products such as household and secretarial goods, wherever they > are available, appear to date from pre-embargo days. > > Baghdad is anything but attractive; there is no old city any more - the > older district is now made up of a few decayed roads and side streets > lined with buildings from the beginning of the century. Otherwise it has > been radically modernized. Through-roads with prefabricated blocks of > flats or massive official and government buildings dominate the urban > skyline - vast powerful structures which demonstrate the role of official > power, not aesthetics, and a sense of 'no-nonsense' architectural > pragmatism prevails. The fact that authority is concerned with commitment > and effectiveness, whether in the construction of roads and industry, or > in the conduct of war and policy, is continuously emphasized in this > country, and it also underpinned, directly or indirectly, the > conversations I participated in during my visit. A significant point of > criticism of the policies of other regional states, which was an > astonishing aspect of many of these conversations, was that they were not > serious. Thus Qatar manifested many positive political attitudes but its > policies were not serious; Syrians engaged in tactics but were not > strictly concerned with an improvement of relations with Iraq; Kuwaitis > had prevented, in particular, any pan-Arab improvements in the Arab League > through their lack of seriousness; Iranians were not serious enough about > their desire for normalization to counter the strained relationship with > Iraq. Iraq, on the other hand, as far as those who fashion or help to > fashion policy are concerned, intends to be appreciated as a state to be > taken seriously, not one to be trifled with. It sees itself as serious, > powerful, disciplined and, as observed by one commentator who wanted, as > it were, to excuse Iraq's use of force in foreign policy, 'occasionally a > little inclined to nervousness' - in short, almost Prussian in character. > > 'Leave the past alone' > Discussions with Iraqi officials reveal much about what the Iraqi > political class thinks and what is important to it. The very relaxed > approach to the recent past is striking, with a deep-seated feeling that > Iraq has been ill-treated by the world and a vast self-confidence that it > cannot be held down in the long term. Linked to this was the ever-ready > question of where Germany - the author's home country - would stand if > relations between Iraq and the West gradually improved. A similar question > would have arisen, no doubt, had the author been from another European > state. > > According to the head of the Arab desk in the Iraqi foreign ministry, a > friendly and experienced diplomat of the old school, it would be best if > Iraq and its neighbours could forget the past and open a new page in their > common history. Iraq, at least, was ready to do so. To forget would be > better than engaging in plain speaking as demanded by a few Arab states. > All Arab states, including Iraq, had committed errors. If the Kuwaitis > were to insist on it then, in effect, the whole history of the Gulf crisis > and the war should be discussed through the Arab League, and Iraq was > ready to do this. Then the Kuwaitis could say what they had to say, but > Iraq would not hold its own tongue; 'Only God does not err.' > > The desire to let bygones be bygones is a tried and tested way of avoiding > crucial questions. When asked about the use of chemical weapons against > specifically Kurdish populations during the so-called 'Anfal' campaign in > 1988, a young diplomat committed to improving relations with the West > asked me if we had not agreed that it was now a question of opening a new > page of history. And an official in the Presidential Office raised the > same objection to a sceptical suggestion that Iraq's willingness to > cooperate with the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) over the disarmament had > not been really as great as he claimed - certainly until 1995 - since Iraq > had concealed the existence of a biological weapons programme from the > Commission until then. His response was: 'But now we are cooperating fully > and that must count.' Until 1995 Hussein Kamel - the son-in-law of the > president, who fled to Jordan in August 1995 and was killed after his > return in 1996 - had been responsible for informing UNSCOM about Iraq's > armaments programmes and, as is well known, was thus to become the agent > blamed for this deception by Iraq. > > The search for a new starting point goes along with an individual and > occasionally wilful interpretation of recent history where it cannot be > ignored. In the propagandist vision of the regime, the Second Gulf War is > still branded as the 'Mother of all Battles' and I never once heard the > word 'defeat' during my his visit. George Bush, according to a recent > publication in an academic periodical of international affairs, was '... > forced in 1991 to declare a ceasefire through the heroic resistance of the > Iraqi people.'  And the dominant Iraqi claim, if not overriding > conviction, is that Iraq was not essentially an aggressor but much more > the victim of a staged American conspiracy. Iraq, explained Said Qasim > Hamoudi, the bureau chief for foreign affairs in the leadership of the > ruling Ba'ath party and member of the foreign affairs committee in > parliament, had never committed aggression against any of its neighbours, > neither against Kuwait in 1990, nor against Iran in 1980. No one denied > that Iraq was the first to use military force, but the aggressor was the > other side. There had been mistakes, of course, but the Kuwaitis basically > wanted to starve Iraq out through a policy of low oil prices which had > cost Baghdad $10 billion a year. Iraq had only laid claim to its > legitimate right of self-defence. Others like Kuwait, no less than Iran > ten years before, had to understand that Iraq would not let itself be > provoked or placed under economic pressure. And there had been no > organized plundering during the occupation of Kuwait, at least not from > the Iraqi side, Hamoudi explained. A few Iraqi officers who were > discovered plundering were executed. Nor had Iraq fired any oil fields - > that was done by US forces. > > 'Iraq as victim' > It was repeatedly stated that, whatever the failings of the past, Iraq had > nonetheless retreated from Kuwait as demanded by the United Nations > Security Council. As a result there was, in fact, no remaining > justification for punishing Baghdad or threatening Iraq's sovereignty and > independence. The international embargo that would remain in force at > least until the Security Council established that Iraq had met all the > disarmament demands made upon it was considered - not just by regime > officials - as a great injustice. Hardliners, such as the head of > department for Western Europe in the foreign ministry, talked of a > genocide which the West today actively or secretly sought. In any case, it > certainly had nothing to do with Kuwait if the embargo was maintained and > if the imports of food and medical supplies to which Iraq was entitled > under the oil-for-food provisions of Security Council Resolutions 986 > (1995) or 1111 (1997) were delayed for months. All was the result of the > West's hatred of Arabs. > > Private-sector representatives reacted differently but were hardly less > bitter. According to estimates made by the chambers of industry, Iraq's > private industrial sector was working with at best 10-15 per cent of its > capacity, owing to the shortage of spare parts, inputs and intermediary > products which had to be imported. It was simply scandalous, the general > secretary of the union of industrial chambers explained, that not one > catalogue of supplier firms had been authorized by the sanctions > committee. The president of the federation of chambers of commerce made > the political consequence clear. The young generation which had grown up > under the sanctions would not forget what the USA and the West had done to > them. What concerned him and his colleagues - traders and entrepreneurs - > was that it could well have been the case that before the last war and the > embargo they might have engaged in unambiguous 'remarks' about Saddam > Hussein - 'remarks' generally serves as a euphemistic description for > criticism or opposition positions - but these have gone today. Precisely > because of the intense coercion caused by the sanctions regime and Western > attitudes, all now stand behind the regime. The relationship between the > private sector and the regime had also improved because the embargo and > foreign currency crisis had led to the liberalization of the economy. The > state, the chamber of commerce president explained, was no longer > concerned with how a trader acquired a particular commodity or obtained > the foreign currency to purchase it, so commerce could now maintain its > own secrets. Indeed, in the most recent past, the regime had only been > concerned to ensure that traders simply brought food and other essential > goods into the country. > > Naturally there are some who see the link between the continued existence > of the regime and the maintenance of the embargo by the USA and the West. > But it is precisely this connection which is regarded as particularly > unjust and unbearable. The West, specifically through the strategies which > were and continue to be predicated upon the embargo as a means to weaken > and possibly encourage a change in the Iraqi regime, clearly > underestimated the strength of the attachment to sovereignty - almost, it > could be said, an obsession with it - within the Iraqi political and > intellectual elites. Iraq is a young nation-state and particularly > responds to the obligation, as a young nation forged above all in the > eight-year-long war with Iran, to protect the sovereignty of the state and > guard it against all forms of foreign control and influence. This has a > value for the political class which overwhelms other humanitarian or > political values. > > What has happened to Iraq, Salah al-Mukhtar, editor-in-chief of the daily > Al-Jumhuriyya explained, is not only extraordinary but unprecedented, in > that the UN has sought to place international law above the sovereignty of > a nation-state. Not only was this unacceptable to Iraq, it was in fact a > principle which would bring war in place of peace. Similar views were > expressed by foreign affairs committee member Hamoudi. Iraq accepted the > legitimate interests of every other state, including American interests in > oil, and was ready to cooperate with the USA. What could not be accepted - > and what would limit every attempt at cooperation - was America's attempt > to dominate Gulf oil at the cost of Iraqi rights there. > > It appeared to be particularly difficult for Iraqis to imagine that states > in the contemporary world could renounce the pursuit of crude power > politics and replace the unrestricted claim to sovereignty with other > principles. A young lecturer at the Mustansariya University in Baghdad - a > Kurd, as she explained, not without some sense of pride - asked why > Germans did not use their technical expertise to build nuclear weapons. It > was, after all, only a question of choice, not of means. I tried to > explain that Germany had consciously decided to renounce certain specific > military options, and, after the experiences of two world wars, favoured > economic, not military development. Yes, she replied, no doubt that made > sense given Germany's economic power, but would it still not be necessary > to translate economic into military power? Should not every state in the > world try to achieve this? > > 'We will be back' > Criticisms of the embargo and of the undermining of Iraqi sovereignty - > through the activities of UNSCOM, the Allied bans on flights in northern > and southern Iraq and the controls by UN inspectors on foodstuff > distribution under the oil-for-food resolutions - are mixed with an > apparently undented self-confidence (at least as far as the ruling elite > is concerned) that Iraq will withstand all of this and eventually the > Western world will realize that Iraq and its interests must be taken > seriously. In fact, the head of the department for Western Europe in the > foreign ministry claimed the embargo had strengthened Iraq's capacities. > In his view there was no doubt that this was the case in terms of morale > since if information was fabricated abroad in order to disparage the image > of Iraq and its president this strengthened domestic solidarity. But it > was also true in the technical sphere; much of what used to be imported - > he had in mind hospital beds as an example - was now produced domestically > because the embargo had blocked delivery of such goods. In fact the Iraqi > armaments industry now used part of its available capacity to manufacture > spare parts and technical products for civilian use. This did not mean, > however, that Iraq was now autarkic. It appeared that what had really been > strengthened was the determination to hang on. We are used to such things, > the president of the chamber of commerce explained, and the stamina to > survive longer remained, for 'ten years, if God wills. But some day we > will return.' > > Hamoudi, the party official and foreign policy expert, based this > conviction that Iraq would survive above all on geopolitical factors of > regional strategy. These would eventually be of greater weight than > America's political objective of weakening Iraq. In essence, as a central > state in the Gulf, Iraq and its interests could not be left out of the > West's calculations. A state which had survived a seven-year-long embargo > and could still function had to be given its appropriate significance: 'We > are not in Somalia here.' Iraq, he explained to my surprise, was an > element for stability, a regional power which could guarantee security in > the Gulf. Without Iraq, there would be no counterweight to Iran. In the > last analysis, the American military presence in the Gulf was no > substitute for Iraq's military strength; not only were American troops too > expensive, they could at best only protect the Gulf monarchies against > external, not internal, threat. Iraq had, after all, ensured that the > region should not fall into Khomeini's hands for eight years, from 1980 to > 1988. The current enforced demilitarization of Iraq endangered regional > stability 'because it produced imbalance. Iran can build up its chemical > and nuclear aggressive capacity but there is no longer an Iraqi > counterweight.' It would thus be in the interests of all, including the > USA, to remove the embargo and to avoid further weakening Iraq's military > power. Hamoudi's message to the West was clear - at the end of the day, > you will not be able to do without us! > > Finally, oil is perhaps the most important factor in Iraq's self-awareness > and perseverance. Iraqi officials are probably right when they claim that, > with its still unexploited oil fields, Iraq may have the largest oil > reserves in the world - greater even than those of Saudi Arabia. Europe in > particular, Salah al-Mukhtar believes, must be concerned lest Iraq and its > oil potential fall under US control. In effect Iraq was defending Europe's > independence by resisting the United States. Not only could Iraq in the > future satisfy European and Japanese demands for oil single-handedly by > specifically expanding its production capacity, but Europe would also find > it to be a partner which, unlike Saudi Arabia, could withstand pressure > from US trade policy. Clinton had been able to pressure the Saudis into > buying Boeings, rather than Airbuses: this would not work with Iraq. The > lifting of the embargo would, therefore, also be in Europe's interest. And > there was no doubt that regional states, particularly Turkey, wished to > see Iraq regain its status.. In his view only a strong, centralized Iraqi > state which controlled all its national territory could guarantee Turkey > border security - could, in effect, ensure that Turkey did not have to > anticipate 'terrorist problems' from Iraqi soil. > > Logically, a third issue attached itself to those mentioned above. If the > measures of punishment currently imposed on Iraq by the United Nations are > unjust and if Iraq, despite these injustices, one day recovers its > strength, then it will question again those matters in which it acquiesces > today under pressure, given its weakened state. Revisionist policies > therefore have to be expected. Naturally, Hamoudi explained in response to > questions, there was still a border problem with Iran. It was correct that > Tehran was offered the recognition of the thalweg - the line of greatest > depth - in the Shatt al-Arab as its border in 1990. Iran had always > considered the thalweg as the boundary line and the Iraqi leadership, in > order to gain Iran's support during the dispute with Kuwait, was ready to > make it clear that it would accept the Iranian position. This, however, > was, according to Hamoudi, an 'offer of the moment': Iran had never > accepted the offer so it was no longer valid. > > Self-evidently a problem also remained as far as Kuwait was concerned. In > Hamoudi's view, the Security Council, by establishing the border between > Iraq and Kuwait through Resolution 833, took from Iraq half of its narrow > access to the sea, effectively stealing twelve oil wells and moving > Kuwaiti territory 700 metres northwards. That demonstrated that the > Security Council could not properly establish bilateral borders. Although > the Iraqi regime accepted the Resolution and still enforced it, this was > only because of pressure and it never considered the border decision just. > It was thus not in Kuwait's interest to accept a border demarcation > imposed in such unusual circumstances and the Kuwaitis should be willing > to revise the special conditions for border definition in bilateral > negotiations. In any case Iraq had the right to make revisions to its > situation once the embargo was lifted. So one theme for revision would be > the border question with Kuwait, and reparations which were imposed on > Iraq were another: 'We will then claim reparations.' > > In any case - as many of the interviewees remarked - once the embargo has > ended and Iraq becomes once more master of its own fate, it will recall > those who helped 'during the aggression and the embargo' and those who > abandoned it. Germany, it was frequently stated, must consider whether it > really wanted to remain behind all other European states and even behind > the United States. One should realize that Baghdad was full of European > and American business representatives. In fact, as far as I was able to > establish, the claims concerning American business representatives were > slightly exaggerated! > > Iraq six years after the defeat > It is difficult, if not impossible, to draw up a clear analytical picture > of the internal state of Iraq and of the policies and plans of the regime, > or to give a prognosis for the future pattern of developments in Iraq. The > country's isolation, not solely but predominantly because of the embargo, > limits the flow of information. The secretiveness of the regime and the > often seemingly wilful disinformation provided by its opponents makes > matters worse. Comments in the international press are often > contradictory; information, particularly from frequently unidentified > opposition circles, is rarely reliable . As a result, the comments > which follow are largely based on impressionistic estimates and informed > supposition. > > Regime stability > The Iraqi regime is quite clearly more stable than its opponents had > expected and hoped. This emerges, not only from the self-awareness which > the Iraqi political and bureaucratic elite manifests in conversation, but > also in the political and military developments that have occurred in the > last two years. > > Thus the flight of Hussein Kamel, the son-in-law of Saddam Hussein and a > long-standing minister, in August 1995, which first appeared to be a > crisis for the regime, soon turned into an embarrassment for all those who > supported him. He did not succeed in gathering the exiled Iraqi opposition > behind him and he was never in a position to initiate a transfer of power > in Baghdad. The murder of Hussein Kamel and some of his relatives after > his frustrated return to Iraq hardly damaged the international reputation > of the Iraqi regime, and the local consequences have been difficult to > evaluate. Reports about differences within the presidential family have > increased since and should be considered to be generally correct, whatever > the accuracy of certain specific reports . There is, however, no doubt > that the regime has survived the Hussein Kamel crisis. In October 1995, > shortly after his flight into exile, the regime arranged a referendum over > the re-election of Saddam Hussein - less as a democratic event than as a > demonstration of continued organizational competence. > > It seems from this event that, since this crisis, Saddam Hussein has > depended less on the members of his own clan and has turned instead > towards the de facto single political party, the ruling Ba'ath party, and > that the influence of the president's own family has weakened while that > of the institutions of the regime has strengthened. > The anti-regime Iraqi opposition has demonstrated its ineffectiveness > during the six years since the end of the Gulf War. Specific groups, such > as the Damascus- > and Tehran-based Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq or the > Saudi- and American-backed Iraqi National Congress, are not willing to > cooperate with one another. The Kurdish parties and movements have not > succeeded, despite international support, in building effective democratic > institutions in the three northern Kurdish provinces and thus in making > the first step towards a better Iraq. > > The clearly exaggerated hopes born of a Kurdish national movement in a > powerfully idealized Western vision have been killed by open warfare in > which the PUK and the KDP, the two leading parties in Kurdistan, engaged > in the summer of 1996 and which flared up again in the autumn of 1997. The > KDP originally obtained the military support of the central regime in > Baghdad so that the latter was able to reassert its territorial > sovereignty over a significant part of Kurdistan, in particular the > hinterland of the Kurdish capital, Irbil - an event which it described as > the liberation of Irbil. > > The regime cannot prevent all armed attacks, even in Baghdad, as the > attempt against Uday in December 1996 demonstrated. The military continues > to be a critical factor in regime stability; thus its leadership relies > predominantly on particularly loyal groups recruited from the President's > own regional and tribal areas, such as the special Republican Guards, for > the security of the capital and for its own security. The Iraqi secret > services, it appears, had frustrated a CIA-supported attempt to organize a > military putsch in summer 1996  and a later attempt in 1997 was > countered by the execution of fourteen senior army officers. Fear of > greater threats to internal security, such as open revolts, clearly does > not exist. Popular support for the regime does not appear to be > significant but the population is more concerned with its daily bread than > with politics. Indifference, disgust and resignation clearly play a role > in this, as does fear: the regime has never concealed its brutality > towards opposition elements . At least some of those interested in > politics would like to see real political change but still support the > regime in its confrontation with the West, particularly over the embargo. > The dependence of the population on the regime and the state increased, of > course, during and because of the supply crisis caused by the embargo, and > this has had concomitant political consequences. The distribution of > essential foodstuffs, indeed of all products which come under the context > of the oil-for-food agreements, will only be achieved through the > state-run rationing and ration card system, and this will intensify > popular economic and political dependence on the regime. > > Foreign relations > Evidence from the domestic situation in Iraq suggests that the > self-confident stance of the regime against this background is well > founded despite there being few changes to the pattern of diplomatic > breaches in Iraq's regional and international environment. Iraq is still > isolated, but the isolation barrier has holes. > > This is particularly the case with relations with the Arab world. Public > opinion in general, in most Arab states except for Kuwait and Saudi > Arabia, is scandalized by the suffering of the Iraqi people; the demand > for the removal of sanctions is popular and even some Gulf leaders - the > most prominent being Sheikh Zayad, president of the United Arab Emirates - > have openly proposed that sanctions be ended. Relations with the UAE, > Qatar, Bahrain and Oman have been largely normalized; the same is true for > Morocco - all states which during the Gulf War were unambiguously on the > side of Kuwait. Saudi Arabia officially supports the Kuwaiti hard line - > Kuwait has repeatedly made it clear that a reconciliation with Saddam > Hussein's regime is out of the question - but maintains careful contacts > with Iraq and distanced itself cautiously but unmistakably from the rocket > attacks with which Washington reacted in September 1996 to the advance of > Iraqi forces into northern Iraq and the area of Kurdistan around Irbil. > Iraq's links with its western neighbour, Syria, have begun to improve > significantly, although normalization will not go very far while Damascus > holds on to its strategic partnership with Tehran . Links with Jordan, > which after the flight of Hussein Kamel had reached a low point in 1995/6, > are once again businesslike and friendly. Neither country could tolerate a > breach, for Jordan depends on the Iraqi market and on Iraqi oil supplies > for its survival, while Iraq needs Jordan as a window onto the world. > > Politically, Egypt has become the most important partner for Iraq. Cairo > has not officially restored the diplomatic relations which were broken off > in 1991 but maintains a diplomatic presence in Baghdad and behaves > regionally and internationally as the advocate of Iraq's reintegration > into the world community of states. At the same time the Egyptian > government has encouraged its private sector to strengthen relations and a > biannual exchange of industrial delegations has been established. The > Iraqi government has made it clear that it wishes to accord Egyptian goods > priority access to its market in future . Cairo can underline its > leadership role and overall responsibility in the Arab world through such > an active policy towards Iraq, including criticism of US attitudes in this > respect. Furthermore, Egypt supports the immediate neighbours of Iraq in > calling for the protection of the territorial integrity of the Iraqi state > so as to avoid any regional precedents, such as the creation of a Kurdish > state. Iraq today offers no threat to Egyptian security, although its > disintegration would be dangerous to Egyptian interests. Even Kuwait and > Iraq's non-Arab neighbour, Iran, both of which have always paid > considerable attention to Iraq's regional ambitions, have made it clear > that the territorial disintegration of Iraq would not be in their > interests either. The same is true for Turkey: Ankara is interested in an > extension of Iraqi oil exports since a large part of these exports - as > provided for in the oil-for-food agreements - will flow through the > pipeline across Turkey and will thus generate lucrative transit fees. > > Baghdad has, in effect, had a certain success in renewing its links with > the wider international environment. Officially, the oil-for-food > agreements are seen as the first step for Iraq towards the lifting of the > United Nations trade embargo. The political class knows very well that the > Security Council has only conceded on Resolutions 986 and 1111 in order to > maintain the embargo overall by mitigating its consequences on > humanitarian grounds and thus negating all criticism that holds the UN > responsible for the misery endured by the Iraqi population. The Iraqi > government needs to demonstrate to its domestic political audience that > its efforts in breaching Iraq's international isolation by breaking down > the trade embargo have been successful. > At the same time, international interests would like to ease the sanctions > regime, particularly the trade embargo. Russia and France head the list of > industrialized states that would like to normalize their relations with > Iraq and end the embargo, once UNSCOM has delivered a positive mission > report - something which it is not yet in a position to do. Paris, like > Moscow, is quite prepared to work with the existing Iraqi regime once the > conditions of the ceasefire have been substantially fulfilled. Both states > have substantial economic interests in Iraq: both have large financial > claims that must be serviced once Iraq is again able to achieve its full > oil export capacity, both are interested in investing in the Iraqi oil > sector and both expect a significant proportion of the opportunities > presented by the economic reconstruction of Iraq. In March 1997, the > Russian and Iraqi governments concluded an agreement whereby a group of > Russian companies will direct the development of an oil field in southern > Iraq and will share in the subsequent production. > > At least two French companies - Elf and Total - have made it clear that > they cannot sign similar contracts for two other fields until the > sanctions have been lifted. Yet French interest in renewing comprehensive > cooperation with Iraq has been demonstrated in several ways, in addition > to frequent trade delegations. The French cultural centre in Baghdad was > reopened in early 1997 and the French diplomatic presence there has been > assured by a well-established interests section, officially under the > Romanian flag. Unlike Washington, Paris tolerated without demur Iraqi > advances to Irbil, together with the effective extension of the central > government's territorial control. Indeed, France was particularly critical > of the American reprisal measures and withdrew its participation in > Operation Provide-Comfort - the no-fly zone which it had supported > alongside the USA, Britain and Turkey over northern Iraq in order to > protect the Kurds. > > Other European states have taken cautious steps towards normalization, > particularly through the return of their diplomats, high-profile > deliveries of aid, visits of trade delegations and the conclusion of > agreements for Iraqi oil deliveries under the oil-for-food agreements. > Significantly, Germany has held back from this. Bonn has not cut official > diplomatic relations with Baghdad but it withdrew all diplomatic personnel > long ago. > > * > Washington continues to argue that no accommodation can be made with > Saddam Hussein and shows a strong political will to maintain the embargo > as long as the current regime remains in power. Yet, the US position is > not, in fact, in line with the decisions of the Security Council; > Resolution 687 links the lifting of the embargo to the fulfilment of the > ceasefire conditions, particularly the requirements for elimination of > weapons of mass destruction, but not to a change of regime. The US > government has stated in somewhat vague terms that Iraq must be expected > to have unfriendly intentions towards its neighbours while the current > regime remains in power . It must therefore be expected that Washington > would apply its veto to the lifting of trade sanctions even if UNSCOM were > to decide that Iraq had fulfilled its disarmament requirements. Such a > veto would be difficult to defend internationally and could well lead to > an uncontrollable erosion of the sanctions regime. US policies are not > unambiguous, however. It may be the case that the USA, despite its > hard-line position, would like to hold an alternative option open. Five > American companies are among the first to buy oil from Iraq under the > oil-for-food agreement . > > Versailles-Baghdad? The failures and risks of Western policy towards Iraq > US-led Western policy has failed when measured against its declared goal > of bringing about a change of regime in Baghdad or of at least punishing > the existing regime. The elite has suffered least from sanctions, and the > regime itself has survived a tough seven-year trade embargo, has expanded > its territorial control and has built its regional and international links > anew. No alternative based in the opposition exists; the > internationally-supported Kurdish autonomy experiment in the north has > been destroyed by an intra-Kurdish conflict which cannot be resolved even > with American attempts at mediation. Western policy has been defined to a > large extent by its aspirations, above all the hope that Saddam Hussein > would be replaced one way or the other, rather than by realizable > objectives. There can be no other explanation for Washington's support in > 1995 for Hussein Kamel, a former collaborator within the intimate > leadership circle who went into self-imposed exile and who had been > responsible for the intensive rearming of Iraq after the Iran-Iraq war. Of > course, unsuccessful policies can often be sustained for want of better > alternatives, and this need not always be wrong . Nonetheless, the > failures and risks of such a policy must be clear to those who implement > it and they should always have an alternative end-game available - > something which has not been the case as far as Iraq is concerned. > > Continuity: regime and policy > The Iraqi regime has not changed in its structure or its character as a > result of its defeat in the Kuwait war or the continuing sanctions. > Massive reductions in its sovereignty - no-fly zones, foreign control of > its air space, embargo, arms restrictions, international monitoring of > research and production sites, control over permitted imports and exports, > international monitoring of foodstuffs distribution - have rendered Iraq > more vulnerable to external threat. As a result, domestic concerns over > its territorial integrity, together with regime fears of foreign plots and > the permanent feeling that foreign forces are continually striving to > marginalize, isolate, surround and dominate Iraq, have all strengthened. > Such threat perceptions existed before the Second Gulf War and played a > role in justifying the regime's propensity for the straightforward > application of force to domestic threats and to what in Iraqi eyes were > pre-emptive strikes against external dangers, as in the case of the > invasions of Iran and Kuwait.  Now they have become the means by which > new military options are sought, despite the sanctions regime. Baghdad is > clearly interested in acquiring rockets with a greater range than in the > past, even though these are currently banned  It is, in addition, > quite certain that Iraq is legally working on the development of > short-range (under 150km) rockets . The regime may not be popular but > a majority of the population seems to share the conviction that the > sanctions and the new boundary with Kuwait imposed by the Security Council > are injustices against which defensive measures must be taken. > > There are also few grounds to believe that the regime will change its > attitudes under existing conditions or that a successor regime would be > significantly more democratic or would develop a basically different > perception of Iraq's regional role. Most future scenarios implicitly or > explicitly assume that a new regime, if it is to succeed, must essentially > operate with and through the Ba'ath Party - the essential institutional > support for the current regime. It will probably also have to cooperate > with the presidential clan and certainly will need military and Republican > Guard support. Finally, a change of regime will most likely either lead to > the imposition of another repressive dictatorship over the whole territory > of the state or to chaos and civil war with unquantifiable regional > consequences . > > It is also significant that the West has no strategy for the situation > that would develop if the current regime should suddenly decide to embark > on a policy of compliance, with positive steps towards Kuwait and Saudi > Arabia, and, in particular, cooperation with UNSCOM in such a way that it > could confirm the completion of all disarmament requirements in its next > report. The trade embargo could then no longer be legitimized > internationally, nor could the no-fly zones in the north and south of > Iraq. The issue of who ruled in Baghdad and how this was done would also > revert to being an Iraqi internal affair. Arab states have already decided > to live with Saddam Hussein; the West would not be able to act > differently, given its desire for access to Iraqi oil and the Iraqi > domestic market in the future. The USA could prevent an official lifting > of the embargo in such circumstances by use of its veto and alone maintain > the policy of dual containment. It would, however, be increasingly > difficult to ensure international support for the isolation of Iraq and to > sustain a viable basic international consensus over the approach to be > adopted towards Baghdad. > > Revisionism in waiting > It is completely unclear whether - with or without Saddam Hussein - the > peaceful reintegration of Iraq into its regional environment can be > guaranteed or whether a regional security system can be created in the > Gulf, in the medium to long term. It is more significant in this respect > that, under the pressure of the sanctions, embargo and the sustained > erosion of Iraqi sovereignty, a revisionist and revanchist political > dialogue has emerged inside Iraq which, in the end, will significantly > influence the policies of any successor regime. > > The analogy with the political and psychological evolution in German > attitudes after the First World War - given that the Versailles peace > treaty was perceived at the time as a 'diktat' - is illuminating . As > with all analogies, of course, there are also significant differences. > Unlike the situation in Iraq, where in 1991 the insurrection of part of > the army and the population failed, there was a change in regime in > Germany after defeat in 1918. The political atmosphere in Germany became > revisionist as a result of the severe ceasefire and peace terms that were > imposed. Territorial revisionism has been an important element in Iraqi > policy formulation ever since the colonial boundary demarcation between > Iraq and Kuwait in 1923, and this is similar to the German case. The real > parallels, however, lie in the political reactions to international > sanctions in both cases. Germany, like Iraq today, was condemned to heavy > reparations, had to disarm, forfeited its sovereignty in the defence > field, lost part of its territory and had to accept reduced sovereignty > over the Rhineland. There is undoubtedly a 'Versailles complex' among > Iraqis today which consists of a widespread and deep-rooted perception > that Iraq has been unjustly treated, that it was not responsible for the > war , that the boundary relocation was an injustice and that the trade > embargo is a crime against the Iraqi people. The Iraqi army, it is sternly > asserted, remained 'undefeated in the field'. Official propaganda claims > that Iraq resisted the 'Aggression of the Thirty' (allied states) and > forced George Bush to agree to a ceasefire . This ideological complex > is strengthened as developing generations of Iraqis continue to be > isolated from external scientific, cultural and political influences > because of the isolation of the country as a whole. > > It is incontestable for Iraqis that the regime of Saddam Hussein was not > defeated. It is not surprising that Iraq seeks to evade the restrictions > on arms supplies and to recover its full sovereignty. The Iraqi government > only accepted the ceasefire conditions under the pressure of circumstances > and entered into cooperation with UNSCOM over the destruction of defence > programmes prohibited to it under duress. Thus the official recognition of > the new Kuwait-Iraq boundary imposed by the Security Council in 1994 was > treated as a capitulation; it was unavoidable, given the intense > international pressure, but would be subject to revision once > circumstances changed. For many, if not for the great majority of the > Iraqi population, Kuwait is still part of Iraq. > > Realistically, therefore, it must follow that the boundary question will > continue to be a source of conflict regardless of whether any new regime > is pro-Western or not. As other bilateral relations in the Gulf have > demonstrated, regional border conflicts have nothing to do with the > international orientations and alliances of the states involved. Any > future Iraqi successor regime will be weaker, initially at least, since it > must first build up a stable political, military and social alliance on > which it can rely. It will thus incline to populist rhetoric and will > certainly intensify a latent border conflict, if that will serve to close > domestic ranks. Targeted violations of other ceasefire conditions - no-fly > zones, if they are still in operation, verification regimes, import > restrictions and so forth - could also serve the same goals. In > particular, a revisionist or even a revanchist policy must be expected if > the international community continues to pursue an unrestricted policy of > rejection towards Iraq. In any case, the peaceful integration of Iraq into > its regional environment will not occur without international support. > > 1The visit took place within the context of a research project entitled > 'Regional policy and the development of a new Arabic-Middle Eastern > system' funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation. > > 2Editor (Salah al-Mukhtar), 'tada'iyat al-adwan al-amriki al-jadid 'ala > al-iraq' (The outcome of the latest American aggression against Iraq), in > Shu'un Siyasiyya (1996), 6-7, pp. 4-8 (p. 7) > > 3One of many examples which raise more questions than they answer is the > following. On 6 February 1997 Le Monde reported that three cousins of the > Iraqi president, including Lieutenant-General Maher Abed El Rachid, had > been placed under house arrest. On 4 March 1997, the Süddeutsche Zeitung > announced that, during an attempted attack on Qusay, the president's son, > the same person, General Maher Abed El Rachid, had been injured. Similar > contradictions dominated in the background and outcome of the attack on > the president's oldest son, Uday, who has been under medical care since > then, because he was seriously injured. See Barton Gellman, 'Saddam's clan > is reeling from blows and threats', International Herald Tribune, 11 > February 1997. > > 4Some sources claim that the attack on the president's son Uday was not, > as the regime itself claimed, to be blamed on Iranian agents, nor on > members of the anti-regime opposition, but to members of the president's > extended family who wanted to avenge the death of Hussein Kamel, in whose > murder Uday was claimed to be implicated. > > 5See Patrick Cockburn, 'The CIA; bungle in Baghdad', The Independent 11 > April 1997. > > 6 See particularly Samir al-Khalil, Republic of Fear: the Inside Story of > Saddam's Iraq, Hutchinson Radius, New York, 1990. > > 7A technical cooperation agreement between Damascus and Baghdad exists > with respect to the waters of the Euphrates, where both have similar > interests against those of Ankara. In June 1997, commercial relations were > re-established between Syria and Iraq, and Syria has officially demanded > that the UN consider it a transit country for Iraqi imports under the > oil-for-food resolution. > > 8 See SWB/ME, Weekly Economic Report 0475, 25 February 1997. > > 9In this context see particularly the speech of the US Secretary of State, > Madeleine Albright, 'Preserving principle and safeguarding stability: > United States policy toward Iraq', remarks at Georgetown University, > Washington DC, 26 March 1997. > > 10Coastal, Bayoil, Mobil, Chevron and Texaco (situation January 1998). > > 11 It would be interesting to ascertain how frequently states (or their > decision-makers) continue to follow policies if they have been shown to be > unsuccessful. This could happen because there appears to be no realistic > alternative or because such alternatives appear to be particularly risky, > or - and this could play a significant role in respect of Western policy > towards Iraq (and Iran) - because the relevant international actors whose > cooperation would be necessary for an alternative policy to be successful > cannot establish agreement over the 'right' strategy or 'better > alternatives'. Thus a sustained discussion has developed in Europe over > the failure (or at least the limited success) of the policy of 'critical > dialogue' while the US state department has come to realize that the > American policy of 'dual containment' has also been unsuccessful. (See Jim > Hoagland, 'As Europe looks "South", America watches a wider screen', > International Herald Tribune, 6 March 1997.) Nonetheless both the European > Union, at least till the Mykonos trial in April 1997, and the USA have > adhered to their original policies towards Iran and towards Iran and Iraq > respectively. > > 12 See May Chartouni-Dubarry, 'La "question iraqienne" ou l'histoire d'une > puissance contrariée', in Bassma Kodmani-Darwish and May Chartouni-Dubarry > (eds), Perceptions de sécurité et stratégies nationales au Moyen Orient, > Paris 1994, pp. 53-81. Institut Français des Relations Internationales. > > 13See Washington Post, 5 February 1997. > > 14See Report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the Special > Commission established by the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 9(b) > of Resolution 687 (1991), United Nations Security Council, S/1996/848, 11 > October 1997, p. 26. In February 1998, Iraq announced the successful > testing of a new short-range missile. > > 15 See Chartouni-Dubarry op. cit., pp. 80f. > > 16 This analogy has often been made. See Al-Ahram Centre for Political & > Strategic Studies, 'al-taqrir al-istratiji al-arabi (The Arabic Strategic > Report) 1991', Cairo, 1992 p. 259. See also Joffé, 'Iraq', p. 9. > > 17 Editor (Salah al-Mukhtar) 'Limadha shu'un siyasiyya?' in Shu'un > Siyasiyya, 1 January 1994, pp. 4-7. 'The Gulf War appeared to be a neutral > term ... but there is an attempt in fact to obscure the nature of the war > which was a criminal war and an offensive war. It is necessary therefore > to see it as Atlantic or American aggression ... terms such as "the mother > of battles", "aggression of the 30", "American zionist conspiracy" etc. > are the scientifically correct terms.' > > 18In this context see the interview with the Iraqi information minister, > Hamid Yusuf Hammadi, in al-Quds al-Arabi (14 March 1997) documented in > SWB/ME/2872, 20 March 1997. In this he states: 'We have not been defeated, > because defeat means surrender. As long as we offer resistance, we cannot > be considered defeated ... George Bush announced the ceasefire > unilaterally, claiming to have driven the Iraqi forces out of Kuwait. But > the Iraqi forces actually left in accordance with an agreement concluded > with the USSR ... Bush wanted to get to Baghdad, but he was defeated in > the region south of Basra ... the bombing and the withdrawal of the army > in Kuwait were not a defeat. Our entire losses during the war were less > than our losses in one average battle of the war with Iran.' > > Dr Volker Perthes is a researcher at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik > in Ebenhausen. His work includes Der Libanon nach dem Bürgerkreig, The > Political Economy of Syria under Assad, and (as editor) Syria in 2010: > Prospects of Socio-Economic Development. > > George Joffé is Deputy Director of the RIIA. > > The Royal Institute of International Affairs is an independent body which > promotes the rigorous study of international questions and does not > express opinions of its own. The opinions expressed in this publication > are the responsibility of the authors > > © Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1998.Briefing Papers > http://www.riia.org/. > > -- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Please do not send emails with attached files to the list *** Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html ***