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]

[Iraq_L] : Guardian on Iraq Sanctions

The Guardian has been running special reports on Iraq
on Tuesday and today.. I have copied the more recent
articles below..  The piece by Peter Hain (UK Foriegn
Affairs Minister) is begging for a reply!!!

Link to Source: 

Nadia Hijab in Baghdad 
Wednesday March 8, 2000 

The road to Baghdad was completed just before the
1990-91 Gulf war. Today, not a scratch mars the
340-mile highway from the Jordanian border to the
capital of Iraq, a country which has been living under
sanctions for a decade. 
Baghdad is a sprawling, flat city. The absence of
high-rise buildings is partly explained by 20 years of
conflict (first with Iran, then with Britain, the
United States and their allies following the invasion
of Kuwait). 

The hotel balcony overlooks a landscape of green trees
and dun-coloured homes - and of United Nations flags
atop many buildings. 

The UN plays a complex role in this country: part
sanctions-manager, part provider of humanitarian aid
in an attempt to alleviate the consequences of the
sanctions for 22m Iraqis. 

Saddam, sanctions and suffering seem to be all the
news fit to print. Yet there are other stories, of
ordinary people getting on with life, of writers and
artists changing the shape of their world. 

It is not easy being an intellectual in Iraq. Many
writers have sold their libraries to survive. A street
in the Souq used to be full of antique books. It is
now occupied by stationery stores. It is not clear who
can afford the stationery - certainly not government
departments, where everyone carefully conserves and
uses the other side of printed pages. 

Close by, Al Mutannabi Street hosts an open-air book
market every Friday. Old books and magazines line the
pavements. You can see where the clock has stopped.
There are few books from the 1990s. 

But the sense of humour that helps Iraqis cope is
never far from the surface. 

Many personal libraries sold over the past decade
included books dedicated by authors to their friends.
Authors often stumble across signed copies of their
books on sale on Al Mutannabi Street, and then take
their friends to task. 

One Iraqi bought a large number of signed copies from
the market and organised an exhibition: "Books
Dedicated and Sold". 

There is a serious debate about development in Iraq.
At a workshop convened last month by the Beitul Hikma
thinktank, economists and social scientists discussed
the indices used by the UN's annual global human
development report, which measures progress and

In 1990, Iraq ranked 55th out of 130 countries on the
human development index (HDI). By 1995, it had slipped
to 106th, and by 1999 it had plummeted to 125th,
behind Bolivia, Mongolia, Egypt, and Gabon. 

According to the HDI, an Iraqi born in 1987 could
expect to live 65 years. But whereas neighbouring
Jordanians saw their life expectancy improve from 67
years in 1987 to 70 years in 1997, life expectancy in
Iraq dropped to 62.4. 

Whereas Jordan saw its literacy rate rise from 75% in
1985 to 87.2% in 1997, Iraq's dropped from 89% to 58%.

In the 1990 HDI, Iraq ranked three places above
Jordan. By 1999, it ranked 31 places below. 

A few days after the Beitul Hikma workshop, experts
from the planning commission discussed an Iraqi human
development report. 

But discussions in Iraq are regularly interrupted by
power cuts. The government provides power to Baghdadis
according to a strict rota - three hours on, six hours

In outlying areas and the provinces, the power cuts
are longer. People plan their lives according to the
rota - work, laundry, cooking, haircuts. A lucky few,
including UN staff, have generators. 

Soon, temperatures will soar to 50C (122F). During the
summer, few people sleep at night, and children get
sick. Repairs to the national grid proceed at a
snail's pace; more than 320m worth of contracts are
currently held up at the UN sanctions committee. 

Deprivation has made recycling a thriving business,
and families can earn a living collecting plastic and
glass. Women are particularly enterprising at devising
new ways to earn a living - becoming landscape
gardeners, caterers, taxi drivers, nursery managers or
wedding consultants. Apparently, people still want to
get married, and want to do things right. 

In fact, a few families can be spotted at one of the
restaurants beside the River Tigris. The scene is
unexpectedly serene: a few motorboats ply the Tigris
carrying customers from the restaurant; the girls'
hair streams out behind them. 

The Tigris is lower than ever because of the Turkish
dams upstream, according to every Iraqi who raises the
subject. They all do: the siege mentality has many
dimensions here. 

But the low waters provide an opportunity to repair
the riverbanks. The bridges damaged by bombing have
long since been rebuilt. 

Wednesday March 8, 2000 

Nearly 10 years on, Saddam Hussein is finally winning
the Gulf war. Western and Arab opinion, once united in
condemning and reversing his 1990 invasion of Kuwait,
now affords little support for the US-controlled,
UN-directed sanctions regime subsequently imposed on
The American and British governments find themselves
almost alone in defending a policy held responsible
for high infant mortality, the deaths of tens of
thousands of children and elderly people and, more
generally, for the impoverishment of most of Iraq's
23m people. The sanctions are officially justified as
the primary means of enforcing security council
resolutions, particularly the demand that Iraq scrap
its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons
programmes. But the inspections remain incomplete
after the UN team withdrew from Baghdad in December,
1998. An ensuing, large-scale Anglo-American attack
failed to persuade Saddam to change course. Despite a
new UN resolution, the inspectors have still not
returned. Meanwhile, the continuing US and British air
strikes in the northern and southern no-fly zones -
there have been 16 so far this year - have become a
paradoxical symbol of allied impotence. Like the
victims of sanctions, they are mercilessly exploited
by Saddam's propagandists. 

Ten years on, Saddam's envoys have succeeded in
destroying the security council consensus. France has
joined permanent members Russia and China in
undermining Anglo-American policy. Iraq is also making
steady advances in its return to the Arab and regional
fold. Last month it signed a trade deal with Turkey. A
Syrian interests section has opened in Baghdad and
there is talk of reopening the Iraqi-Syrian oil
pipeline shut since 1982. Leading Jordanians launch a
pan-Arab campaign to normalise relations; this week,
Baghdad's representatives will attend an Arab League
meeting in Beirut. Meanwhile, the open flouting of the
sanctions regime proceeds apace. Supplies, licit and
illicit, for Iraq's elite flow across the land
borders. Turkey is said to be illegally importing 1.1m
barrels of Iraqi oil. US naval commanders in the Gulf
report a sharp increase in Iraqi oil smuggling,
facilitated by the Russians and the Iranians. Rising
oil prices are another uncomfortable indicator of
Saddam's returning strength: Iraq, after all, has the
world's largest proven crude reserves after Saudi
Arabia. Saddam hopes to wield this power with a
vengeance one day. Some believe Washington's true
purpose is to deny him this weapon; it represents a
threat far more fearsome than any souped-up Scud. 

Saddam's success is also one of survival, measured
against the west's premature victory declaration in
1991 and its fierce but now waning determination to
depose him. The Clinton administration's attempts to
mobilise Iraqi opposition groups, and the CIA's covert
efforts to overthrow the Iraqi leader, have at best
been half-hearted. The US now seems to have almost
given up trying. In a broader sense, the policy of
"dual containment" of both Iraq and Iran has
unravelled. Despite continuing tough posturing from
its ambassador, Richard Holbrooke, the US has lost the
argument at the UN. The latest resolution proposes
progressively to ease sanctions after weapons
inspections are satisfactorily resumed for an initial
120 days. Iraq's flat refusal to accept these
conditions would at one time have quickly been
squashed. Now most countries seem to sympathise with
Baghdad. The new chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix,
may make a difference. But while technically
successful, the inspection process remains a political
minefield. Meanwhile, the recent resignation of Hans
von Sponeck, over the inadequacy of the UN's
oil-for-food programme for which he was responsible,
marked a new low. In vain do US and British officials
insist that it is Saddam who is responsible for his
people's agony. The finger of blame is pointed at

Ten years on, the struggle with Saddam has indeed
become the mother of all battles. But it is clear
that, infinitely difficult though it is, one more big
push to cut a sanctions-inspections deal with Iraq is
required. It is true that the unstated purpose of
sanctions was to punish, isolate, and ultimately bring
down Saddam. This policy has utterly and demonstrably
failed. The human cost has been, and is, horrendous.
Few believe it is morally justifiable. Even fewer
believe it will ever work. But it is also true that an
abandonment of the attempt to deny Iraq its weapons of
mass destruction would be grossly irresponsible,
surrendering the little leverage the outside world
still has. It would ensure that Saddam, sooner or
later, could again threaten his neighbours and perhaps
western Europe. It would be a gamble with the security
not only of the Middle East but of any part of the
world where "rogue" dictators roam. To drop sanctions
without conditions or fulfilment of security council
resolutions, as Baghdad insists, would be to shatter
the credibility of the UN and the ethos which has
underpinned intervention elsewhere. And it would
triumphantly secure Saddam at home, guaranteeing
perhaps an even more iniquitous oppression of Kurds,
Shia, and others who oppose him. His claims that there
are no more weapons to find simply cannot be taken at
face value. For Saddam is a murderous, reckless man,
in all probability a psychopath, who cares nothing for
others. Amid all the misery, that must not be

So: one more big push, one more effort to find a way.
Suspend the non-military sanctions now; have the
inspectors return simultaneously; maintain the no-fly
zones; watch carefully for dual-use technology
imports; then press hard at the end, say, of a
six-month trial period, for a settlement that will
last. It is possible that Saddam, sensing victory,
will reject even this. But we must try. It is time,
finally, to end this war. For at present, we have the
worst of all worlds. Saddam advances steadily and by
stealth, the UN is discredited, the west divided - and
the suffering goes on. 

Saddam plays politics with suffering 

Peter Hain MP, minister of state at the foreign
office, argues in support of the sanctions on Iraq 

Tuesday March 7, 2000 

Many people are angry about the suffering of the Iraqi
people. So am I. That is why we negotiated a new UN
Security Council resolution to help their plight.
Unfortunately, our critics have a blind spot about the
culprit. Saddam Hussein plunged into war with Iran
causing more than a million deaths, slaughtered
thousands of his own people for "disloyalty" and
invaded Kuwait. Because of the resolute action of the
international community - liberating Kuwait, sanctions
and the disarmament programme - Saddam has been unable
to threaten his neighbours in the 10 years since. The
lesson is clear.
No one (with one exception) could be immune to the
suffering of the Iraqi people. We have done our best
to relieve it. There is no limit on Iraqi oil sales to
pay for "oil for food". Iraq is the world's
second-biggest oil producer so more than $8bn a year
is available for foods, medicines, clean water,
electricity and educational material. There is no
block on Iraq ordering them.

"Oil for food" has been working for three years and
could have operated since 1991 had Saddam not blocked
it. The Iraqi people have never seen the full
benefits. Recently, the UN recommended that Iraq set
aside $91m for nutrition. The Iraqi regime allocated
only $24m. John Pilger's documentary on Carlton TV on
6 March showed harrowing pictures of Iraqi children in
a cancer ward. The doctors said they could not get the
drugs they need. This is a scandal. The fault lies
with the Iraqi government. They fail to order enough
medicines and fail to distribute them properly. Around
25% of medicines imported into Iraq lie in warehouses
waiting for the government to ship them to the
hospitals where they are needed.

Why? Because Saddam plays politics with suffering. He
believes that TV pictures of malnourished Iraqi
children serve his interests so he makes sure there
are plenty of malnourished children to film. In
northern Iraq, where Saddam's writ does not run, the
situation is much better.

What is the alternative that John Pilger, George
Galloway and others advocate? Abandon sanctions. Trust
Saddam to improve conditions for the people. Cross our
fingers as he smuggles in a new stock of weapons. And
wish the best of luck to the Kurds, the Shia and his

Of course sanctions are not a neat solution. I
remember apologists for apartheid arguing that
sanctions hit black South Africans. Did that make them
wrong? Like the Iraqi opponents of Saddam, they
supported sanctions despite the cost to themselves.
The truth is that the critics have no alternative
except one which would leave Saddam free to do as he
likes. That is a risk we cannot take.


 Immoral, ineffective and counterproductive 

The sanctions against Iraq must now be lifted, says
Victoria Brittain 

Tuesday March 7, 2000 

The UN economic sanctions programme against Iraq is
immoral, ineffective and counterproductive. After
nearly a decade in which half a million children have
been killed by sanctions it is time for Britain and
the US, the only supporters of the UN programme, to
admit this and lift the sanctions.
Three senior UN officials have resigned rather than
continue to work for a programme which one of them,
Denis Halliday, former coordinator of humanitarian
relief to Iraq, describes as a genocide which has
killed more than a million people. 

Sanctions have not hit the Iraqi leadership. They were
supposedly intended to shift Saddam Hussein from
power, but in fact have so ground down the society in
its isolation that he is actually less contested today
than at the end of the Gulf war. The US and Britain,
meanwhile, have made themselves into the enemies of
the Iraqi people and the Arab world in general. There
will be a future price to pay for this.

Under the UN's oil for food programme which allows
Iraq to sell a proportion of its oil to meet
humanitarian needs, 30% of the receipts go for
reparations, mainly to Kuwait, and around 10% to the
UN for the costs of administering the programme.
According to the UN's own officials Britain and the US
are the dominant players in the sanctions committee in
New York, where vital chemotherapy drugs, painkillers,
chlorine and equipment for rehabilitation of the
infrastructure are blocked or delayed over and over

Iraq gets less than 60% of the revenue from all oil
sales under the deal. Even if every cent were spent on
food and medicines, expenditure would not even
approach the pre-1990 level. And anyway, to spend all
the available money on food would be unrealistic when
the country has such a devastated physical and
educational infrastructure that power and sewage
plants may be more essential to health than actual

The gruelling sanctions programme is backed by almost
daily bombing by the US and Britain. This is to
intimidate the regime into allowing back UN weapons
inspectors. Even Scott Ritter, famously the American
hard man of the last UN weapons inspection team, says
now that Iraq has no capacity to manufacture weapons
of mass destruction. It is absurd to pretend that Iraq
is a threat to its neighbours when it is on its hands
and knees - while Saudi Arabia, Iran and Israel are
all armed to the teeth with weapons of mass


Iraq sanctions 

Derek Brown 
Tuesday March 7, 2000 

Iraq has suffered from an international trade embargo
for nearly 10 years. Why? 
The United Nations security council approved
Resolution 661 on August 6, 1990 - four days after
Iraqi troops invaded and annexed Kuwait. The United
States was even faster off the mark, imposing
unilateral sanctions within hours of the invasion.

What were the sanctions supposed to achieve? 

In the beginning, they were supposed to force a
peaceful end to the Kuwait crisis, as part of
Operation Desert Shield. That didn't work, so a US-led
coalition of allies mounted Operation Desert Storm in
early 1971, starting with air strikes and culminating
in a ground offensive, in the face of which the Iraqis

Why then are the sanctions still in place? 

After the liberation of Kuwait, the UN and the allies
wanted to ensure that Saddam would never again
threaten the peace of the region. In particular, they
wanted to deny him the weapons of mass destruction he
was known to crave. The sanctions were kept in place
to put pressure on the Baghdad regime to cooperate
with a UN team of international weapons inspectors,
known as Unscom.

Why did the allies not simply follow up their victory
in Kuwait by invading Iraq and toppling Saddam? 

They did invade but were halted by Washington, which
was afraid that oil-rich Iraq would disintegrate,
spreading instability throughout the Middle East.
Specifically, the west feared that the Kurdish
minority in the north and the Shia Muslims of the
south would secede, leaving a chaotic and rudderless
Iraqi rump state in Mesopotamia, the central region
between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

What did the people of Iraq want? 

They have never been asked. In the aftermath of the
Iraqi rout in Kuwait, rebellion flared in most of the
country's 18 provinces. It was brutally crushed by
Saddam's elite Republican Guard, which was allowed to
extricate itself from Desert Storm largely unscathed.

Have the sanctions worked? 

Hardly. The Unscom inspection project uncovered some
evidence of nuclear weapons research, but was
frustrated by lack of cooperation. It finally
stuttered to a halt in 1998, when Saddam refused to
allow inspectors access to his many palaces, most of
which have elaborate command-centre bunker systems.

So have the sanctions had any effect? 

Militarily, they have made it more difficult for the
battered Iraqi army to re-equip. Much greater, though,
has been their impact on the civilian population. The
economy has been shattered and agricultural output
badly disrupted. Malnutrition is endemic and medical
services have been eroded. The UN's own agencies admit
that up to 5,300 children are dying every month from
disease, malnutrition and related conditions. All
told, it is believed that 500,000 Iraqis have died
since 1991 as an indirect result of sanctions. Baghdad
puts the figure at 1.5m, or roughly 7.5% of the entire

How did the UN fail to foresee disaster on this scale?

>From the beginning, the embargo on exports to Iraq
excluded food, medical supplies and other goods deemed
essential by the UN's sanctions committee. What the
west did not anticipate was the extent of Saddam's
callous disregard for his own subjects.

Have there been attempts to ameliorate the suffering?

In 1996, the security council approved an oil-for-food
programme. This allowed Baghdad to export around 3bn
worth of oil twice a year to buy medicine and food.
But Saddam baulked at the conditions: he was required
to pay all his oil earnings into a UN account, and 30%
of the money was to be siphoned off in war reparations
and to cover UN costs.

How has the regime survived such a harsh embargo? 

By smuggling on a vast scale, mainly across the border
with Jordan which, as a staunch ally of the west and a
key player in the Middle East peace process, is
effectively immune from punitive action. The price of
oil has now soared to above 20 a barrel, providing an
even greater incentive for the smuggling activities of
Iraqi regime and private operators.

Are the continuing US-British air strikes on Iraq
connected with the sanctions? 

Indirectly. US Air Force and RAF patrols are supposed
to deny air space over the north and south of the
country to Saddam's depleted air force, to help
protect the hapless Kurdish and Shia minorities. Since
the apparently final collapse of the Unscom process in
1998, the patrols have regularly hit Iraqi air
defences and other military installations, but there
has been no attempt to disrupt or destroy the
country's oil industry, which enjoys the world's
second-biggest known reserves.

Useful links:

The Children of Iraq
Out There News
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Anti-sanctions campaigners:

International Action Centre Campaign Against Sanctions
Iraq and the Sanctions 





Do You Yahoo!?
Talk to your friends online with Yahoo! Messenger.
This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
For removal from list, email
Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]