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The following ran Tuesday in the Rocky Mountain News, the largest newspaper in Colorado and the fastest growing newspaper in the U.S.. The author - Holger Jensen - wears two hats: international editor and commentator; this is unusual -- many papers have a 'firewall' between editorial and news staffs -- but it's encouraging that he's so conversant with the nuts and bolts of sanctions. Still, wish he'd dragged his fingernails across the blackboard more loudly ... --- http://insidedenver.com/jensen/0208holge.shtml Tyrants fatten on sanctions while subjects slowly starve by Holger Jensen Rocky Mountain News February 8, 2000 New year, old problems. Navy Seals boarded a Russian tanker smuggling Iraqi oil out of the Persian Gulf, which explains how Saddam Hussein continues to enrich himself while his people suffer the effects of an economic embargo intended to topple him. The ship is now docked in Oman, where the oil will be sold to defray the costs of the intercept and Omani port fees. But the Russians will get their tanker back and Saddam will remain comfortably in power, his bank accounts hardly dented. Besides Russian tankers, ships flying many other flags help Saddam circumvent sanctions. By State Department count, 12,000 vessels have been intercepted by American and allied warships since the embargo was imposed in 1990, and about 700 were diverted when found to be carrying Iraqi oil. Turkey and Iran also help in the overland smuggling of Iraqi oil. Turkish tanker trucks openly cross the border of northern Iraq, right beneath the noses of U.S. pilots patrolling Iraq's "no fly" zones, but little is said about it because Turkey is a loyal NATO ally and heavily dependent on Iraqi oil and gas. Despite the intercepts, the State Department estimates that Iraq smuggles 100,000 barrels of oil daily over and above the $5.2 billion limit it is allowed to export every six months to buy food, medicine and other essentials. The value of the smuggled oil, at current prices, is more than $3 million a day. It's a safe bet that little of this is used to benefit the Iraqi people. Saddam's personal wealth is estimated at more than $6 billion, and he is sixth richest on Forbes' list of "Kings, Queens and Dictators." Since the Gulf War, Saddam has built more than 40 palaces and plush vacation resorts for himself, his family and friends. He has also rebuilt missile facilities destroyed by U.S. and British air raids in December 1998, and buildings that housed his chemical, biological and nuclear arms programs. Meanwhile, Baghdad's health ministry says there have been 1.2 million sanctions-related deaths over the past nine years, many of them children felled by inadequate nutrition, lack of medicines and other erosions in the health care system. The figures may be suspect, but the suffering is well-documented by nongovernmental aid agencies. The U.N. Security Council recently offered to lift sanctions within four months if Saddam cooperates with a new weapons inspection system headed by Hans Blix, formerly head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency. But Saddam, who kicked out all weapons inspectors in 1998, has again refused. Short of going to war there's no way to make him comply. And pressure is building from three of the Security Council's five permanent members -- Russia, China and France -- to lift sanctions without his compliance. Slobodan Milosevic is another foe whom sanctions have failed to dislodge. CIA Director George Tenet told the Senate Intelligence Committee last week the Yugoslav president's hold on power is "not seriously shaken." He controls the military, his inner circle remains "loyal, or at least cowed," and he has an "effective media machine." In just eight years Milosevic has started and lost four wars. His dreams of a "Greater Serbia" have led to a lesser Serbia, allied only with an increasingly hostile Montenegro in what's left of the rump Yugoslavia. He has cost the Serbian economy $50 billion in international sanctions and $30 billion in war damage, which the West won't repair until he is driven from office. Yugoslavia is now the poorest country in Europe. Poverty has doubled in the past year, with 64 percent of the population living on less than $30 a month. And more than half of all Serbian workers are unemployed. While the Milosevic-controlled news media blame "NATO aggression" for Serbia's economic woes, most Serbs blame Milosevic. But he survives by putting loyalists in charge of every level of government and rewarding them handsomely with business monopolies. The head of the national oil company is also chairman of the Serbian parliament. The prime minister heads an export-import company. And Milosevic himself skims off Serbia's thriving black market, which accounts for a third of the country's gross domestic product. Sanctions cannot dislodge dictators. <Holger Jensen is international editor. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. His column also appears on the Internet at http://www.RockyMountainNews.com/jensen/> -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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