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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 neighbours. 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 http://iraq.net 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!! Regards Aziz firstname.lastname@example.org --- Leila Kais-Heinrich <email@example.com> wrote: > 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 > > > -- > ----------------------------------------------------------------------- > This is a discussion list run by the Campaign > Against Sanctions on Iraq > For removal from list, email > firstname.lastname@example.org > Full archive and list instructions are available > from the CASI website: > http://welcome.to/casi > __________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Talk to your friends online with Yahoo! Messenger. http://im.yahoo.com -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi