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Raed Battah -- who has lost Iraqi family members due to sanctions -- wrote the following heart-felt piece for the most recent SpinTech. The article also includes useful points of rebuttal to the recent State Department briefing on Iraq. Regards, Drew Hamre Golden Valley, MN USA --- http://www.spintechmag.com/9910/rb1099.htm SpinTech: October 12, 1999 The Arab Holocaust by Raed Battah Well, it happened. I finally got the old, "If you don't like here then just leave." There I was, in the middle of one of many arbitrary "lift sanctions" appeals to none other than my own boss. She obviously missed the part when I talked about the 2,000,000 women, elderly, and children who have died silently in what I refer to as the "Arab Holocaust". To call itthatis risky, I know -- after all, the Jews lost 6,000,000 before they earned exclusive rights to that term. But now we have a fresh humanitarian catastrophe. Yet, between the most minuscule cracks in my defense of Iraq-- a defense that is designed to enlighten and educate -- some people still find opportunities to justify sanctions. Should've, could've, would've, is how some people usually begin, most often referring to what Iraqi President Saddam Hussein should have, could have, or would have done. This intellectually bankrupt process of thinking leaves these people in worse shape than if they knew absolutely nothing at all about the situation, because it allows their inhumanity to go unchecked. Ignorance is an even larger problem, and deception is the food for ignorance. I can only hold people accountable so much, since it is not their fault that they are not given the facts, rather they are given an imbecile's explanation of why the US does what it does. It is only practical to assume that complete idiots would believe that daily bombings of Kurds in the north and Shi'ites in the south somehow protects Kurds in the north and Shi'ites in the south. And yet our government trumpets those very convictions when they express to the press the necessity of "no-fly zones". The State Department's Lies Likewise, it is interesting to note that the State Department makes no hesitation in telling demonizing and refutable lies. For instance, two important examples should be noted. First, the State Department recently released a statement concerning Iraqi diversion of aide, specifically 250 tons of powdered milk, boxes of teats, and feeding bottles. It was timed quite appropriately to coincide with the convening of the UN General Assembly which met late in September and was to discuss the sanctions policy. The items were aboard a launch-sized Indian vessel called the Naurani. The US and its kept press feverishly attempted to bastardize the situation and make it look as though Iraq was selling vitally needed supplies. The truth, however, was that the boat contained 75 cartons of talcum powder, teats and feeding bottles of foreign origin, items which were purchased by a businessman, Tahsin Mahmud Rastam, and which failed to meet basic Iraqi product standard guidelines. The items were being shipped back to the United Arab Emirates because they were not good. This was confirmed by George Somerwill, Chief of Information of UNOCHI, who stated that, "At no time under the food-for-oil (a.k.a. 986) program were such products, as claimed by the US, purchased." A second and more crucial example of the shameless effort by the US to divert responsibility for the suffering which sanctions cause, is the almost immediate response to the recent Child and Infant Mortality Survey which was released in early August. The Clinton spin doctors immediately took advantage of American ignorance by saying that the survey showed, in those areas which Iraq has implemented only the minimum requirements of the 986 program, specifically the fifteen governorates of the center-south region, that infant mortality was more dramatic than in the north. The 986 program in the three northern governorates, Dohuk, Erbil, and Sulaimaniya, is both coordinated and implemented by the United Nations. The center-south contains 87% of the 22 million person population. 986 funds are distributed as follows: Gross 986 revenue over 1 year = $10.52 billion 30% to Kuwait = $3.156 billion(taken from center/souths 53% or $5.57 billion) 13% to 3 northern governorates (2.86 million people) run by U.N. = $1.36 billion 53% to Center/South (19.14 million people) run by GOI = $2.4196 billion(This is after the deduction of Kuwait's 30%) 1% to UNSCOM = $1 million 2% to UNOHCI = $210 million According to these numbers, provided by Farid Zarif, Assistant Coordinator at UNOHCI, the GNP per capita per day in the center/south is $.30. The north receives about $1.30 per person per day. This is about 375% of what the center/south receives. Zarif addressed a meeting with members, including myself, of the August delegation of the organization Voices in the Wilderness. He was one of many UN officials with whom we spoke and who expressed their concern and frustration with battling outside propaganda. Officials also expressed the nearly impossible job of implementing their six-month programs amidst constant US and UK denial, and delays of vital goods through the Sanctions Committee. US, UK delay aid Program 986 is operated in six month installments. This means that programs concerning food distribution, medical refurbishment, and educational advancement must be designed, executed, and evaluated within six months in order for the next program to develop. In most cases, these programs run grossly off pace due to the decay of a competent infrastructure, and the constant delays and denials of vitally needed products by the Sanctions Committee. Out of 500 orders for products aimed at revitalizing the social infrastructure, the US and UK have placed holds or denials on nearly 450. Do you see the beast emerging? Have you begun to turn your head in shame yet? Can you believe that it's happening all over again -- the lies, the killing, the inaction? What will you tell your children when they ask, "Why did you let them die?" James Rubin, State Department spokesman and devilish Albright protege, says that the Child Mortality Survey shows irrefutable proof that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is intentionally starving his own people by hoarding medicines and medical supplies in warehouses. That is a lie! The chief Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs in Iraq (and the 986 program), Hans Von Sponeck, believes quite the opposite. He says, "It is not -- I repeat, it is not, and you can check with my colleagues -- a premeditated act of withholding medicines from those who should have it. It is much more complex than that." He added, "In my mind I have no doubt in saying that there is no one person in the Ministry of Health or anywhere else in the Iraqi government who is deliberately trying to damage the health, or allowing children or others to die by deliberately not distributing medical supplies. That's just nonsense!" Could this be true? We are always told that the regime is monstrous and repressive. The truth is, that even under stringent UN sanctions, the Iraqi government is managing to provide, strictly on a GNP percentage basis, the most funds in the areas of education, medicine and general infrastructure than any other country in the region, and most others in the developed world. According to Von Sponeck, the problem is that the per capita income in Iraq is hovering around $180. That puts Iraq on the economic level of Chad, Niger and Haiti -- members of the Least Developed Country list. What is terribly ironic is that after literally dozens of remarks by the US State Department, specifically about Saddam's supposed attempts to squander vitally needed money, our Free (to the highest bidder) Press has not once divulged the truth to the American public. The truth being that Saddam Hussein doesn't see a penny of Iraq's oil revenues. Not one penny is available to him. Every penny is deposited into an escrow account in the Bank of Paris. It is the UN Sanctions committee that has virtually complete authority over the use of 986 funds. Don't forget this important point. Some facts about Iraq's situation just jump right out at an observer. Take for instance the comments of Semere Solomon, Assistant Coordinator of UNESCO in Baghdad. Mr. Solomon expressed in his own personal tone the crisis at hand. "The whole goddamned social and civilian infrastructure is rotting. I don't know what kind of generation we are creating. It is very humiliating. The Iraqis are a very noble people, with very noble ideas and cultures. I really appreciate their resilience and their steadfastness." These comments were likewise made to the members of the August delegation to Iraq. Resilience, steadfastness, compassion; these are the things which define my people. This is illustrated in Iraq's policy towards refugees. Prior to the Gulf War, displaced persons in Iraq, particularly Palestinians, Kurds, and Iranians were given refugee status or permitted to integrate fully into Iraqi society. The Iraqi government provided financial aid (70 dinar per month) to refugees. Although today this is less than five cents a month, prior the Gulf War it was the equivalent of $280 a month. Abid A. Mir, Senior Programme Coordination Officer for UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) told my Voices delegation, "The Iraqi government has done very well with the refugees. There's no question about it. It's a rich country -- it was a rich country -- and they had all the good will to take care of them. It's only after sanctions that they need our help." The facts are beginning to stack up to show Iraq as a fine nation. But the US is willingly to ferociously fight these facts with blinding propaganda and a press that is content with lies. As a journalism student, I always thought that the press was supposed to be a check on government. Take for instance the ongoing murders committed by our criminal pilots. (Yes, criminal.) They are bombing nearly every day, and every day the civilian price paid grows larger. Notable is the July attack on the southern Holy city of Najaf. Even several Western news sources, including AP, AFP, Reuters, and BBC reported the bombings, the funerals, and the pictures. What is painfully ironic is that, amidst all this exposure, Secretary of Defense William Cohen, the father of all liars in this administration, proclaimed that there was no proof of civilian casualties from the attack on Najaf. This statement confused me as I looked at the photographs from AP, Reuters, and BBC, of the funeral processions and the weeping mothers of those martyred. It was an unpleasant reminder that this pig could deny such murders just like he denied in March and April the bombing of Iraqi oil pipelines which are responsible for generating the revenues for its 986 humanitarian program. This too was verified by international journalist. But the news sources can't seem to find the relevance in these contradicting claims by a senior US official. He lied, the press caught him. How about some accountability? Depleted uranium used in Iraq It is very hard for me to continue; I want to stop because writing about my country's plight depresses me. But if I stop then I'll be leaving a lot out. I will briefly highlight some of the other nightmares that are a result of our mighty liberation of Kuwait. A key element in the liberation was our extensive use of toxic depleted uranium (DU) munitions. These pleasant, penetrating projectiles were quite a party for the soldiers in the battle ridden Iraqi desert. Our troops were never told of the potentially hazardous side effects of DU exposure. Nearly 300 tons of this earth-old, radioactive chemical were sprayed all over southern Iraq. Each DU-tipped round (about 18 inches long and 10 pounds) would create such heat upon impact that the uranium coating would transform into an aerosol mist. This mist contains radioactive particles that emit alpha rays. Iraqi Under-Secretary Minister of Health Dr. Showqi Marcos told our delegation, "Alpha rays radiate over time and cause mitosis of the cells. This mitosis leads to cancer." One of the more pleasant side effects of DU exposure is the high instances of congenital birth defects among Gulf War Veterans, both Iraqi and Coalition. These defects include babies born with no heads, no genitals, no faces, limbs grown together, webbed feet, and stunted limbs. At the Basra Children's Maternity Hospital, Dr. Jinan Galeb Hassan showed me and other Voices delegates album after album of horrifying deformities. One child was equated to a conglomeration of tumors. Should I stop there or tell you that a combination of drought, a high water table, and dilapidated water and sewage facilities, plus the refusal of vitally needed medicines and medical equipment by the Sanctions Committee, and the outright abandonment of the international scientific community, has snowballed into an almost irreversible health catastrophe? Oh God, I'm dying inside with these people! If only I could be a martyr for them would my efforts satisfy my guilt. My family in Iraq is dying! Uncle Jagoob, Uncle Elias, Aunt Hecina, Aunt Khemi, Cousin Behegia; they are all dead. I couldn't save them. And the rest of Iraq can't be far behind with living conditions as toxic as they are today. The Arab Holocaust: 2 million are dead. We cannot prevent it because it has already happened. All we can hope to do is stop it in the future to save our souls. -------- Raed Battah is a student at Eastern Kentucky University. Copyright 1999 Raed Battah. -- ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 ***