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]
Oil-for-food -- the humanitarian exception to the UN embargo of Iraq -- was not implemented until five years after the Gulf War. The humanitarian consequences of the delay are being felt to this day, and the question inevitably arises ... "Who's to blame?" Following are excerpts from a) Human Rights Watch and b) former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali's book concerning the early years of the embargo. They offer no simple answer to the question of blame, other than making it clear -- it takes two to tango. Regards, Drew Hamre Golden Valley, MN USA --- Footnote 9 of HRW's "Explanatory Memorandum" on Iraq (see <http://www.hrw.org/press/2000/01/iraq-memo.htm>): "9. Report to the Secretary-General on Humanitarian Needs in Iraq by a Mission led by Sadruddin Aga Khan, Executive Delegate of the Secretary-General, 15 July 1991. The report estimated that it would cost $22 billion to restore Iraq's key sectors--power, water, sanitation, food, health, and oil--to pre-war levels, and proposed a limited UN-controlled sale of Iraqi oil to fund a portion of the country's humanitarian needs. Sadruddin Aga Khan suggested a sum of $6.9 billion for the first year, with an initial four-month sale of $2.65 billion (one-third plus start-up costs). After several weeks of debate in July 1991, Resolutions 706 and 712 were adopted in August and September allowing Iraq to sell $1.6 billion over six months, with thirty percent to go to the UN Compensation Fund and about four percent for UN expenses in Iraq, including UNSCOM, leaving $930 million for humanitarian imports over six months, compared to the $2.6 billion over four months proposed in the report. The Council resisted efforts of the secretary-general to raise the six-month allotment to $2.4 billion. The other major discrepancy between the report and the resolutions concerned the account in which the sums would be deposited: Sadruddin proposed a special account within the Iraqi State Oil and Marketing Organization, which would be open to Security Council scrutiny and from which payments could be made only for Council-approved humanitarian imports, while the resolutions specified a UN-controlled account. Yet another issue of contention was the question of in-country monitoring of the distribution of the imported commodities. Iraq never accepted the terms of the two resolutions, although intermittent negotiations continued until late 1993." --- Former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali's memoirs, "Unvanquished" (Random House, N.Y., 1999) [P.24; Four weeks after BBG took office, the Security Council met with heads of state participating]: "Presiden Bush was specific. He made two demands: No normalization with Iraq was possible as long as Saddam Hussein remained in power. (The second concerned Libya.) ... The American president's demands worried me, because Iraq and Libya would expect me, as an Arab, to understand their point of view, while the United States would expect me to follow its lead in pressuring these 'pariah' states." [P. 208-9, on the genesis of oil for food and the 'contradictory character of sanctions']: "From this point on (the passing of SCR 712 on Sep-18, 1991), 'Oil for Food' became the story of my own quixotic attempt to obtain Iraq's approval of this program. The Iraqi people, not Saddam Hussein's regime, were the ones suffering under sanctions. ... There was virtually no international interest in the concept of oil for food. The impetus for it, such as there was, came mainly from the UN. Saddam Hussein seemed to care nothing at all for the welfare of the poorest Iraqi people; his attitude toward negotiations would shift back and forth according to his own shadowy instincts for self-preservation or self-aggrandizement." "... The first negotiations took place in January 1992. But Iraq reversed its decision to participate in the second round. The Security Council deplored this action and declared that the government of Baghdad must assume entire responsibility for the humanitariam problems of its civilian population. In another U-turn, Iraq came back to the table in the spring of 1992, but the talks went nowhere. Again we confronted the fundamentally contradictory character of sanctions: the innocent population suffers greatly but the oppressive regime feels little or nothing, while the process only deepens its control over the people." [P. 209, on Saddam Hussein]: "Whenever I saw Saddam Hussein, he was in uniform. All his ministers wore uniforms too, and saluted him in a military way. When I asked why, I was told that Iraq was in a state of war. Saddam thrived on the tension created by his claims that Iraq was perpetually threatened by an array of enemies, a claim he used to justify the exceptional powers he assumed under a state of continuing miitary emergency." "... Some speculated that Saddam was playing this game (negotiating oil-for-food) as a way to manipulate the world oil market. This was not implausible. Whenver the oil-for-food talks were reported to go well, the world market price of oil fell in anticipation of Iraqi oil coming onto the market; when Saddam Hussein broke off talks, the price of oil rose ... I did not, however, accept this theory. Saddam Hussein thinks of himself as a romantic hero confronting the forces of evil. He is totally isolated and shielded from hard information about world affairs." [P. 220, on the resumption of negotiations]: "Considering the worsening food and health situation of the Iraqi people, in April 1995 the Security Council prepared to adopt Resolution 986, which would allow Iraq to sell $2 billion in oil every six months in exchange for $1.3 billion worth of food, medicine, and humanitarian supplies. (Tariq Aziz) objected to the resolution because it focused on Iraq's northern provinces, which constitute Kurdistan, and because it would require most of the oil be exported via ... Turkey. 'Look', I said to Tariq Aziz, 'in eight months the American election year begins. If you don't accept this resolution, we will not return to this issue until the end of 1996 if President Clinton is elected or even a year beyond that if he is not elected.' ... I knew the decision would be made by Saddam Hussein. I knew that Iraq had a greater goal: to prevent any international supervision of the production of Iraqi oil and obtain ... the end of the embargo. Resolution 986 was passed unanimously on April 14, 1995. The next day, Baghdad announced its refusal to accept it. Oil for food collapsed again. (BBG tries to resurrect negotiations with Saddam's brother.) 'Agree to negotiate', I said. ... Why delay? Once the election year starts, Washington will not want to show flexibility toward Iraq by signing such an agreement.'" [P. 259, the homestretch]: "... on January 7 (1996) I was given a message from Tariq Aziz: If I invited Iraq to negotiate the 'Oil for Food' formula, Iraq would respond positively. Nothing is simple when it comes to Iraq ... Off and on the talks went through March and April until the Iraqi delegation accepted the mention of Resolution 986 in a memorandum of understanding with the UN that would incorporate a new oil-for-food plan. Then came difficulties with the Americans and the British (who wanted to preview the plan before the other members of the Council). I told (Iraqi) Ambassador) al-Anbari that it would be in Iraq's best interest for me to pass the proposed plan to the United States and Britain, because these two 'difficult delegations' were sure to block 'Oil for Food' if dissatisfied with the text. Al Anbari protested energetically, fearing the United States wanted to restart the negotitations from scratch ..." [P. 267; Regarding U.S. political concerns (in 1996) over the timing of sanctions' end]: "But the United States did not want 'Oil-for-Food' to take place near the time of the presidential elections. The administration feared that the Republicans might cite certain language in the memorandum of understanding as evidence that Clinton had made concessions to Saddam Hussein. That is why the American delegation attached so much importance to form, to sentences, and to any terms that could be interpreted as restoring sovereignty to Iraq. ... I asked our spokewoman to speak of a humanitarian victory that transcended the politics and perceptions of either side." "... In early June al-Anbari submitted a plan for the distribution of the humanitarian supplies. ... Madeleine Albright immediately denounced it, accusing Iraq of trying to 'drive trucks through loopholes.' Iraq, she said was twisting a program to provide food and medicine into one that would include telephone switching equipment and computers. Why this attack? We had just concluded the agreement. ... Why would the U.S. denounce a resolution it had voted for and a memorandum of understanding it had practically drafted itself?" -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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