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Re: Fact finding

Dear Leila, 

You are very good at asking questions requiring
lengthy answers. Here his my take on your questions:
Iraqi Opposition: There are over 70 organisations.
Some are large and with followers inside Iraq and some
exist only in the 3 main centres of Iraqi exiles and
refugees (Syria, UK, USA). The numbers are large
because of the mosaic nature of Iraqi society and to
some extent due to the active influence of Iraq's
The majority of parties and movements are anti
sanctions.  A good number in fact regard sanctions of 
higher priority to a change of regime. In other words
they find the sanctions are more cruel than the
regime. They also argue that this is what the people
inside Iraq desperately want. There is also a small
number (sometimes important) organisations who are
either for the continuation of the sanctions, or hold
a passive position toward it. It would be fair to say
that in general these are the US backed organisations.
Iraqis have a nick name for these, the Armani suite
brigade:-)).  These organisations would argue that
sanctions weaken the regime and keeps it busy. Another
argument is that Iraq is likely to disintegrate into
disorder if the regime is changed, hence working
towards agreeing a form of democracy (constitution,
etc) is by far a more pressing priority than the
sanctions. Again in general, organisations who want
the sanctions to continue do not publicise their stand
overtly. They do it through omission. Iraq's tragedy
is multidimensional, ordinary people are being let
down by a hostile West, a harsh government and
unhelpful opposition!  

If you like to tap into what the opposition says, one
good resource is   where you can find
a long list of links to most opposition parties.
Whilst you are there have a look at the Public BBS for
current hot issues amongst Iraqis of all persuasions.
It is interesting albeit sometimes low level!

Funds for Palaces: First of all, you'll have to
remember that Iraq's economy is destroyed. Hence by
our perception of value of money, things are very
cheap. Therefore,  anything purchased locally with
local currency costs very little. The question of the
need for these palaces apart, they are built with
local resources, hence cheap to build. You can
yourself have a 30 bedroom little cottage for under
$50,000. The real question is where larger amounts of
money is coming from. It was not until 1996 that the
oil for food programme came into being, yet there was
in place a ration card system (later adopted by the UN
Food Programme) since 1991. Hence the regime fed the
people (I say this in fairness to the regime, even
though I oppose it) for 5 years, at a time when the
sanctions were tighter than now and most certainly
with little outside help either from other countries
or humanitarian organisations. I believe the sources
of finance are many. 1) Small amounts of smuggling of
refined oil through Turkey and Iran (USA sanctioned).
2) Iraqi government, ruling party, and ruling family
secret funds kept around the world prior to the
sanctions. 3) A privatisation programme of public
companies (Iraq was a central economy). 4) Remittances
from (probably 3 million) exiles and refugees. 5)
Clandestine export of treasures (notably historic
artefacts). In addition there is very small scale
pilfering from items bought under the food for oil
programme (no more than you expect in any other third
world country). The Americans were claiming last year
that Iraqi officials were receiving back handers from
companies in return for awarding them contracts. I
personally believe this is private enterprise (as
happens elsewhere in the Middle East). 

The startling conclusion to all this is that the
ruling elite in Iraq is not affected by the sanctions,
yet the drain due to deaths on the child population
continues, as per the expressed wishes of the
international community through the UN!! 

--- Leila Kais-Heinrich <>
> Thank you all very much for your help with my recent
> questions.
> There are two more points on which I ask for your
> support:
> 1.) What is the standpoint of the Iraqi opposition
> towards the
> sanctions? I am aware that there are very many
> opposition groups, but if
> anybody knows of any reactions at all, I would be
> very grateful for any
> such information. My aim is to verify that the
> sanctions are not helpful
> in weakening the Iraqi leadership.
> 2.) Time and again, I am confronted with the
> argument that the Iraqi
> government is withholding funds intended for food
> and medication from
> its people, building palaces instead. I am aware
> that there is no
> evidence that could demonstrate that the Iraqi
> leadership was
> withholding funds from the “oil for food program”,
> but, in order to
> oppose such statements in a qualified manner, could
> anybody tell me
> where the Iraqi government actually receives the
> money for the palaces
> that have apparently been built since 1990 from?
> I thank you all once again for your help.
> Leila Kais
> --
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