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From: email@example.com http://www.dawn.com/2000/02/18/ed.htm Politics of sanctions MERCIFULLY, men and women of conscience are still around who are willing to protest against some of remorseless policies and actions of the big powers. The resignations of two UN officials in Iraq, namely the head of the World Food Programme in Baghdad and the UN humanitarian aid coordinator, earlier this week clearly demonstrate the sense of horror at the consequences of the UN's (read American and British) sanctions policy vis-a-vis Iraq. There is no questioning the two officials' contention that UN Security Council resolution 1284 cannot be implemented. Thus Iraq will be further denied the humanitarian assistance it is entitled to and will be wronged without any legal or moral justification. Hence their resignations. Another of their colleagues had resigned on the same grounds two years ago. The fact is that the sanctions policy against Iraq is now no more than a display of brute force by the United States against a small Third World country. Admittedly, when sanctions were first imposed in 1990, Iraq needed to be tamed. Its invasion and annexation of Kuwait was an unmitigated act of aggression which violated all norms of international law. The need of the hour was to get Baghdad to vacate the occupied territory and to defang it. This was accomplished successfully shortly thereafter. Then why the prolongation of the senseless sanctions with the unreasonable demands which seem to be unending? Evidently, Iraq has emerged as an issue of prestige for Washington which has made no secret of its goal of toppling Saddam Hussein and installing a more pliable ruler in his place in Baghdad. That would explain why the sanctions were not lifted in spite of all-clear reports by the United Nations Commission on Disarmament (UNSCOM). In the process, the people of Iraq have suffered untold miseries. The oil-for-food programme, which allowed Baghdad to export a specified quantum of oil and buy food and medicines in exchange under a rigidly regulated mechanism, has not really alleviated the sufferings of the people. Some statistics tell their own tale. Life expectancy fell from 66 years in 1993 to 58 in 1997. Infant mortality rose from 37 per 1,000 live births in 1989 to 97 in 1997. Maternal mortality rate increased from 50 per 100,000 in 1989 to 117 in 1997. Average per capita salary dropped from $335 in 1988 to $24 in 1999. All this testifies to the fact that it is the people of Iraq who have had to bear the brunt of the UN sanctions. They should not be held responsible for the sins of their rulers. But that is precisely what is being done. The new UN resolution which sets up UNMOVIC, a new agency to monitor Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, also raised the ceiling on Baghdad's oil exports. But this is not expected to make much of a difference. Iraq's oil production capacity is limited given the restrictions on imports of spare parts. Besides, its trade is tightly regulated. Of the $22 billion Iraq could earn from its oil exports in the last three years it could spend only five billion dollars on food and medicines. The rest went into a war reparation fund, UN financing of its operation in Iraq and an escrow account in New York. But what is more significant is that the sanctions are being violated. In some cases for every legitimate consignment there are 200 embargo-busting cargoes. The problem with this under-the-table dealing is that only the Iraqi elites are benefiting from these. While the president's palace has been spruced up and luxury goods abound in shops, the common masses of Iraq continue to be the worst sufferers. It is not clear what the Americans hope to achieve by relentlessly pushing for sanctions and disarmament of Iraq. They have been unable to unseat Saddam Hussein, or bring him to his knees. With other Third World countries' sympathies quietly swinging towards Iraq, it is the US which will find itself isolated in the long run. Meanwhile, the people of Iraq will continue to pay the price for the policy of vindictiveness that the Americans have adopted towards Iraq. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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