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]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Smuggling, Contradictions, Evidence, and the US State Department

The US State Department (through spokespersons or reports) commonly submits the following 
explanation for generally why  economic sanctions must continue and specifically why proceeds from 
Iraqi oil sales should go into a UN controlled escrow account:

1) The Iraqi regime covertly re-sells oil and goods intended for the suffering populace
2) Regime smuggling is frequent and pervasive
3) Such smuggling is a primary example of resource management structured for personal enrichment 
rather than responsible distribution to the public
4) The government's smuggling demonstrates unreliability, illegality, and imperviousness to the 
public's welfare
5) Government smuggling proves that the regime can't be trusted with the capital resultant from 
Iraqi oil exports
6) Therefore, the escrow arrangement is still imperative

The Iraqi government's past and current egregious human rights violations suggest that it is 
capable of economic selfishness during a time of such tremendous suffering.  And it is possible 
that smuggling and re-selling is rampant.  

However, the State Department goes well beyond speculation and ends up in confirmation.  The State 
Department's 13 September 1999 Report claims that "Iraq is actually exporting food" and re-selling 
baby milk to "markets throughout the Gulf" (U.S. State Department, "Saddam Hussein's Iraq," pg. 4). 
 But there are no statistics or charts documenting widespread smuggling.  The only specificity 
focuses on "the recently diverted M/V MINIMARE," "baby milk sold to the Iraqi regime," and the fact 
that "Kuwaiti authorities recently seized a shipment." (Ibid.)  If true, several incidents do not 
pervasive make.  There was neither elaboration on the baby milk, nor a link made between the 
alleged smuggling and the Iraqi government.  

And yet based on that documentary train the State Department declares that "Saddam Hussein's 
priorities are clear. If given control of Iraq's resources, Saddam Hussein would.....not improve 
the lot of the Iraqi people. There is ample proof that lifting sanctions would offer the Iraqi 
people no relief from neglect at the hands of their government." (Ibid.)

The evidence presented by the State Department does not support the argument that follows it.  
Furthermore, James Rubin recently made a statement that contradicts the State Department line on 

"Q:  On that, do you believe that the leakage by smuggling of oil is sufficient so that they don't 
need the Oil for Food money?

MR. RUBIN:  No.  On the contrary, the Oil for Food numbers are much, much higher.  We have seen an 
up-tick in that.  For much of 1998, it was around 50,000 barrels a day, and recently we've seen an 
up-tick to some 100,000 barrels a day.  That is, illegal, illicit oil exports.

But even with that leakage, this is still the most comprehensive and tightest sanctions regime in 
history.  Saddam Hussein continually seeks to get around it and continually seeks to get it lifted. 
 So we believe it's very clear that it continues to sting despite this leakage." 

(Source: Iraq ListServ, Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State, 
"Excerpt: State Department Briefing, February 10, 2000 State Department Spokesman James Rubin"-see 
also: “Policies and Statements”:

The above is not a defense of the Iraqi government.  Murder, torture, chemical weapons use, 
residential razing, and religious and political repression and persecution does not beget critical 
defense. And this is not a claim that the Iraqi government IS DEFINATELY NOT smuggling and 
re-selling on a large scale.  Rather, it is an attempt to document the State Department's 
evidential bareness and contradictory conclusions that it continues to utilize to justify a policy 
element is economically ruinous and, from a humanitarian perspective, horribly detrimental.

With regards,

Nathaniel Hurd
Boston, USA
FREE! The World's Best Email Address
Reserve your name now at

This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
For removal from list, email
Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]