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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: http://www.newsunlimited.co.uk/Iraq/ 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 poverty. 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 off. 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 Iraq. 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 them. 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 forgotten. 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 neighbours. 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 again. 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 medicines. 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 destruction. ---------------------------------------- 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 fled. 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 population. 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. http://im.yahoo.com -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi