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News for 13 to 20 March, 2000 Thanks very much to Ali Draper and Colin Rowat for supplying many of this week's news items. Sources: Reuters, AP, ArabicNews.com Headlines: * Annan presents a report to the UN Security Council on the situation in Iraq. * Iraq refuses to increase oil production in response to US demands. I have come across contradictory reports in this regard and decided to print the latest one. * Human Rights Group claims that 26 political prisoners have been executed in Iraq. * Pope criticises sanctions. * Russia in dispute with sanctions committee over illegal oil smuggling with Iraq. * Compensation paid out to claimants from Gulf War. Money comes from oil-for-food program. * NB: Albright states that support of Iraq against Iran was "regrettable". Surely we can use this? * An important article on the devastation of Iraqi poultry farms, mainly due to UN holds put on vaccines. * US/UK bombing. Iraq claims one civilian fatality. * Italian runner Papaluca Giuseppe launched a marathon in Amman to highlight the effects of sanctions. * Galloway criticises US/UK for blocking flight -- threatens legal action. * Iraq claims to shoot down unmanned Iranian plane. I included this, because there seems to have been an increase in tensions on the Iraq-Iran border over the last few weeks. * US congressional delegation, that visited Iraq last year, releases report condemning sanctions. Importantly, the report warned that a new generation of extremist Iraqi politicians has been created as a result of sanctions. ------------------------------ >From ArabicNews.com Annan reports on Iraq 3/20/2000 UN Secretary General Kofi Annan presented a report on the situation in Iraq to the UN Security Council, placing emphasis on streamlining the processes used in the oil-for-food agreement beyond simply increasing the amount of funds available within the program. The report earlier this month found on the oil industry that a group of experts assembled by Annan to report on the state of the Iraqi oil industry found that, "The decline in the condition of all sectors of the industry continues, and is accelerating in some cases." It said, "The ability of the Iraqi oil industry to sustain the current reduced production levels will be seriously compromised unless effective action is taken immediately to reverse the situation." The report added that current methods being used to obtain the oil could result in limiting the proportion of Iraq's total oil that can actually be obtained. "The inadequacy of the monetary value of the oil spare parts and equipment programme to sustain production operations is now self-evident," the report added, saying that when the level of the program was set, the assumption was that spare parts would be available more rapidly than has actually been the case. It also noted a lack of back-up equipment in refineries to replace any of the equipment in use. "Since sanctions were imposed against Iraq in 1990, the oil industry of Iraq has suffered seriously as a result of the absence of the required spare parts and equipment. Taking into account the production required for local consumption needs from 1991 to 1996 and production since late 1996 under the humanitarian programme, the Iraqi oil industry has produced some 5,000 million barrels of oil with virtually no investment in infrastructure repairs or maintenance. The result has been a massive decline in the condition, effectiveness and efficiency of that infrastructure, coupled with appalling safety conditions and significant environmental damage," the report said. The report also noted problems in the distribution of food and spare parts, saying, "Degraded discharge facilities and generally poor port conditions continue to contribute to the slow and inefficient offloading of necessary food basket items, particularly bulk foodstuffs and badly needed infrastructure spare parts and equipment." It proposed several ways of helping streamline the application, approval and distribution processes. In the area of health care in southern Iraq, Annan said there had been improvements, but he said he is still, "seriously concerned at key aspects in the provision of health care; improvements in neither the distribution of health care nor in the health infrastructure envisaged in my supplementary report have materialized. Erratic, the uncoordinated arrival of drugs to treat chronic disease has prevented the monthly requirements of all patients from being met, which may have contributed to the increase in deaths attributable to cardiac, diabetic, renal and liver disease reported by the Ministry of Health for the period from January to August 1999." He said the efforts to help the education sector had achieved "inadequate results." He recommended that attention be given to the quantities of items on hold, saying, "The effectiveness of the programme has suffered considerably, not only because of shortfalls in the funding level but also because of the very large number of applications placed on hold, in particular those concerning electricity, water and sanitation, transport and telecommunications, which impact all sectors. The total value of applications placed on hold as at 31 January was over $1.5 billion. A determined effort must be made by all parties concerned to collaborate effectively with a view to making further improvements in the implementation of the programme." The report called on the Security Council to improve its procedures to help expedite the approval of applications, better identify reasons for placing contracts on hold, and streamline the process for lifting the holds. ------------------------------ >From ArabicNews.com, 20 March, 2000 Iraq rejects call to increase petroleum production Iraqi Petroleum Minister Amir Mohammed Rashid asserted that Iraq still insists on its status and it will not increase its petroleum production and that it will not help the USA decrease international petroleum prices. ------------------ Sunday March 19 11:08 AM ET Group Claims Iraq Has Killed 26 CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Twenty-six political prisoners have been executed in two prisons near Baghdad, some of them after nine years in detention, a human rights group linked to an Iraqi opposition party said Sunday. The claim by the Center for Human Rights could not be independently confirmed. The Iraqi government does not comment on such allegations. The center, which is run by the Iraqi Communist Party, claimed in a statement that 14 Kurdish men were executed Dec. 1 by a firing squad for allegedly taking part in a Kurdish uprising in the aftermath of Iraq's defeat in the 1991 Gulf war. They had been in detention since 1991. It said eight people from al-Thawra district in Baghdad and four from the Shiite Muslim town of Amara were executed Dec. 7 for allegedly carrying out anti-government activities and for opposing President Saddam Hussein's regime, which is dominated by Sunni Muslims. Amara is 188 miles southeast of Baghdad. The first executions took place in the Makaseb detention center and prison, located in Makaseb village outside Baghdad, and the second ones in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad, the center said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press in Cairo. The statement gave the names of the 26 people as well as their home provinces. The Makaseb center, which was reportedly built last year, is run by officials who are personally selected by Saddam and are affiliated to the military intelligence, headed by his son, Qusai. Iraqi prisons, including Abu Ghraib, are overcrowded. The former minister of labor and social affairs, Abdel-Aziz Mohammed Saleh al-Sayegh, was sacked last June for saying that prison conditions were appalling. ------------------------------ Pope Blasts Iraq Sanctions as Patriarch Visits VATICAN CITY, March 18 (Reuters) - Pope John Paul on Saturday blasted U.N. sanctions on Iraq during a Holy Year ceremony attended by its Christian patriarch, Raphael Bidawid. "The sons and daughters of the Church in Iraq, and all the Iraqi people who are being so severely tried by the continuing international embargo, never cease to be present in my thoughts," the Pontiff said. "I assure all those who are suffering, especially the women, children and elderly, of my prayerful support." The Pope has often criticised the use of sanctions and said many Iraqis have died because of lack of medicines. Bidawid, patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, was to conduct a service in his church's eastern rite later on Saturday. The Pope had wanted to visit the Old Testament city of Ur, birthplace of the patriarch Abraham, in Iraq in February but was not allowed by the Baghdad government. It said the visit was not possible because of U.N. sanctions and the no-fly zone over the country. The Pope leaves on Monday for a six-day pilgrimage to Jordan, Israel and Palestinian-ruled areas to follow in the footsteps of Moses and Jesus. ------------------------------ Friday March 17, 4:27 pm Eastern Time Russia blocks action by U.N. Iraq sanctions body By Anthony Goodman UNITED NATIONS, March 17 (Reuters) - Objections by Russia on Friday prevented the U.N. Iraq sanctions committee from questioning Iran's U.N. mission about alleged smuggling of Iraqi gasoil through Iranian waters, committee sources said. At the prompting of the U.S., the committee proposed asking Iran for an explanation about alleged oil smuggling through its waters as it sought to counter Iraq's illicit oil trade, thought to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually. But Russia's representative objected, saying the committee should first be briefed about possible sanctions violations through northern Iraq, where there are allegations of oil smuggling into Turkey. Iraq has been the target of U.N. sanctions since its invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. The sanctions committee met behind closed doors to consider a letter from U.S. deputy U.N. representative James Cunningham alleging a steady increase in recent months in the illicit trade in Iraqi gasoil, a product of crude oil. He said this represented ``an annual source of uncontrolled revenue for Baghdad of approximately $500 million and a serious gap in the enforcement of U.N. sanctions against Iraq.'' ``The key to the smugglers' success has been their ability to use Iranian waters as they make their way through the Gulf,'' Cunningham said. This prevents a Multinational Interception Force (MIF) that inspects vessels suspected of sanctions-busting from taking action, since the force is authorized to operate only in international waters. ``Smugglers evade MIF enforcement action by transiting Iranian waters. If Iran were to meet its obligations to enforce U.N. resolutions against Iraq, the illicit trade would be severely disrupted,'' Cunningham wrote. Committee sources said that when a proposal was made for the committee to send a letter to Iran's U.N. mission informing it of the allegations and requesting an explanation, the Russian representative raised objections, calling for a briefing on sanctions violations in northern Iraq. RUSSIAN OBJECTIONS PREVENT AGREEMENT Such a briefing by the U.N. secretariat is likely next week, the sources said, when the committee is also due to be briefed by the coordinator of the MIF, U.S. Vice-Admiral Charles Moore. Russia's objections prevented agreement on sending a letter to the Iranian U.N. mission. The sanctions committee has the same membership as the 15-nation Security Council, where Russia is among the members most sympathetic to Iraq. Cunningham's note was accompanied by figures saying the market value of illicit Iraqi oil exports via the Gulf totaled $70 million in January this year. This marked a sharp increase over $44.4 million for December 1999, $39.2 million in November, $33.6 million in October and $26.7 million in September. Under the latest phase of an ``oil-for-food'' program that allows Iraq to sell oil to buy food, medicine and other necessities to help ease the effects of sanctions, Baghdad is permitted to sell unlimited quantities of oil. But those shipments are subject to careful U.N. monitoring and about one third of the proceeds are siphoned off to pay reparations and meet other costs stemming from the Gulf War. --------------------- Friday March 17 11:09 AM ET U.N. Pays $361.8M Gulf Compensation GENEVA (AP) - A U.N. panel overseeing compensation for losses caused by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait on Friday paid out nearly $362 million to affected countries, bringing total payments so far to $5.9 billion. The money goes to 60 government and three international organizations, which will distribute it to 74,442 individual claimants - foreign workers who lost money when they had to flee and others who suffered material damage in Kuwait. Jordan will receive the largest payment in the latest installment - $142 million - according to a U.N. Compensation Commission statement. Some $38 million will go to Kuwait and about $38 million to Bangladesh. Compensation awards approved by the 15-nation commission are paid using Iraqi oil sales approved by the U.N. Security Council. The commission has received 2.6 million compensation demands for a total of $240 billion from individuals, governments and corporations seeking to offset loss and damage caused by the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Processing the claims is expected to take several more years. ----------------------------- Friday March 17, 2:13 pm Eastern Time Extract from Reuters Article Extract from speech by Madelaine Albright: "As President Clinton has said, the United States must bear its fair share of responsibility for the problems that have arisen in U.S.-Iranian relations. Even in more recent years, aspects of U.S. policy toward Iraq during its conflict with Iran appear now to have been regrettably shortsighted, especially in light of our subsequent experiences with Saddam Hussein." --------------------------------- Thursday March 16 10:34 AM ET Saddam to Give Lebanon $10M in Oil BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - President Saddam Hussein is giving Lebanon $10 million worth of crude oil in a gesture that Iraq's state-run newspapers said is aimed at helping Lebanon's resistance against Israel. The newspapers said Thursday that Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council, the highest executive body in the country led by Saddam, offered the oil to ``enhance the steadfastness of the brotherly people of Lebanon as well as the families and fighters of the Lebanese national resistance.'' Arab states have rallied behind Lebanon since Israeli warplanes struck three power stations there Feb. 8, crippling them and causing widespread power outages. The raids were in retaliation for the death of seven Israel soldiers in southern Lebanon in guerrilla attacks. In a show of support, the 22-member Arab League moved its biannual foreign ministers' meeting to Beirut last weekend from Cairo, the gathering's original venue. Any oil shipment to Lebanon must first be approved by the United Nations, which monitors Iraqi oil exports as part of a deal under which Iraq is allowed to sell oil to buy food and other basic items. The deal is designed to ease off the impact of crippling U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq for invading Kuwait in 1990. ------------------------------- Wednesday March 15 3:37 PM ET Iraqi Poultry Farms Devastated By LEON BARKHO, Associated Press Writer BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The United Nations has freed contracts for the purchase of vaccines to fight diseases that have decimated poultry farms in Iraq, senior Iraqi and U.N. officials said Wednesday. The three contracts, approved two days ago, had been submitted by Iraq to the United Nations in July 1999, said Amir Khalil, director of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Iraq. While waiting for the approval of the contracts, Iraqi poultry farmers have lost up to 60 percent of their birds due to disease, Khalil said. Fadhil Jassim, an Iraqi agricultural official, said ``vital contracts'' for protein concentrates and lab equipment are still on hold. United Nations approval is required under trade sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The United States, and to a lesser extent Britain, have imposed delays on the bulk of such contracts, citing fears Iraq will divert goods for military purposes in the absence of U.N. weapons inspectors. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan criticized those practices in a recent report, saying holding up contracts undermined efforts to improve conditions for Iraqis living under sanctions. Jassim said he was receiving a flood of complaints from farmers on the ``brink of bankruptcy.'' Abboud Alwan was among droves of farmers waiting to see Jassim at his office Wednesday. ``May God curse America and Britain. They say they care for ordinary Iraqis like us but their blocking of contracts has ruined my life and that of scores of families working in my farm,'' Alwan said. Iraq had a factory that made the poultry vaccine, but it was disabled by U.N. weapons inspectors after Iraq admitted that it had been used to assist its biological weapons program. The government in coordination with the FAO has gotten thousands of Iraq's poultry farms up and running again in the past two years through subsidies and other incentives. -------------- Wednesday March 15 11:45 AM ET Iraq Claims Fatality in U.S. Attack By LEON BARKHO, Associated Press Writer BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - U.S. and British warplanes raided targets in southern Iraq, killing one civilian and injuring six others, the official Iraqi News Agency reported Wednesday. INA said the jets, coming from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, penetrated Iraqi airspace Tuesday and carried out 36 combat missions. The agency, quoting an unidentified air defense force spokesman, did not specify the nature of targets hit or their location. It said the planes flew over the provinces of Basra, Dhiqar, Muthana, Wasit, Najaf and Qadissiya. ``They attacked our civil and service installations, which resulted in the martyrdom of one of our civilians and the wounding of six others, among them a child,'' INA said. There was no immediate comment from U.S. or British officials. Wednesday's attack is the second reported incident with casualties by Iraq in less than a week. On Saturday, Iraq said the allied jets attacked targets in the south, injuring eight civilians. Iraq frequently reports civilian damage and casualties during the raids, which the allies say are mounted in retaliation against challenges by Iraqi anti-aircraft units. U.S. and British planes have been enforcing no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq since shortly after the 1991 Gulf War to protect Shiite Muslims and Kurds from attacks by the Iraqi armed forces. Iraq does not recognize the zones and began challenging the allied planes in December 1998. ----------------------- http://www.accessme.com/jordantimes/Wed/sports/sports1.htm 3/15 Sanctions-busting marathon starts from Amman By Oula Al Farawati AMMAN — In a bid to shed light on the suffering of the Iraqi people under nearly decade-old sanctions, Italian runner Papaluca Giuseppe launched his sanctions-busting marathon from Amman on Tuesday. Giuseppe joined several Jordanian runners in the first leg of the marathon, and will reach Baghdad running 1000 kilometres across the desert wearing shirts displaying slogans against the sanctions. “Politicians know what happens in Iraq, but ordinary people in Europe do not. This is why I want to draw attention to what happens there,” Giuseppe told a press conference before the start of the marathon called “Vivicitta” (Live City). “We've chosen this time to revoke the public opinion internationally and in Italy as well,” Claudio Cimino, who is accompanying Giuseppe said. “This initiative does not represent any political party and doesn't have anything to do with politics,” added Cimino, an architect who worked in Jordan to establish the Madaba School of Mosaics. The marathon is organised by the Italian Union Sport for All, the largest European sports association with 980,000 members, and “Bridge to Baghdad”, an Italian NGO engaged with securing humanitarian help to the Iraqis in agreement with the Iraqi Olympic Committee. The marathon is expected to take 25 days to complete in stages of 40 kilometres per day. The intention of the organisers is to take the opportunity of the 25-day run to promote an international media campaign focusing on the humanitarian conditions of the Iraqi people under the sanctions. The Bridge to Baghdad organisation is coordinating the first leg of the marathon (Amman-Baghdad) with Jordan's National Hall for the Defence of Iraq. Alongside the competitive run a non-competitive one will take place for 2km and several Italian runners will join Giuseppe in Baghdad in a local marathon in the sanctions-hit Iraqi capital. This year's Vivicita will take part in the 19 cities including Italy, Aalborg (Denmark), Banja Luka (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Baghdad (Iraq), Belgrade (Serbia), Budapest (Hungary), Lisbon (Portugal), Merka (Somalia), Nicosia (Cyprus), Nova Gorica (Slovenia), Piatra Neamt (Romania), Rouen (France), Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Seville (Spain), Tirana (Albania), Tuzla (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Volona (Albania), Viborg (Denmark), Zavidovici (Bosnia-Herzegovina). The Jordanian National Mobilisation Committee for the Defence of Iraq has recently organised a pencil campaign in defiance of the 10 year-old U.N. embargo and managed to collect around 3-and-half million pencils delivered to Iraq in a public motorcade. The committee is currently leading a petition with the aim of collecting signatures on three petitions to be presented to Arab Leaders, lower House Speaker Abdul Hadi Majali and to Jordanian Prime Minister Abdur Ra'uf S. Rawabdeh asking for an active move to get the sanctions on Iraq lifted. Iraq has been suffering under a nearly a decade of economic sanctions imposed on it after its invasion and occupation of Kuwait in 1990. According to the U.N., nearly one million Iraqis, mostly children, have died as a result of the sanctions. ----------------------- BAGHDAD, March 15 (Reuters) - British parliamentarian George Galloway has condemned Britain and the United States, which he believed to have blocked an aid flight to Iraq. Galloway also told reporters when he arrived in Iraq on Tuesday night that he would sue those responsible for blocking his bid to transport medicine to Iraq. "We have began legal action for compensation as a result of destroying the project," he said. He also criticised his government for asking permission from another country to fly aid to Iraq. "It's deeply humiliating for Britain to ask the United States for permission to fly to Iraq," he said. Galloway and eight companions traveled from Jordan to Baghdad on a visit "to express their solidarity with Iraqi people in facing up the unjust sanctions." Galloway had called off an aid flight from London last Wednesday, charging the United States with sabotaging his plans to fly medicine and journalists to sanctions-hit Baghdad. British officials denied the flight would have been blocked and said the United States also had assured Britain it would not stop it. Galloway has been a vocal campaigner against sanctions imposed on Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Also on the flight were to have been a former British airman shot down over Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War and a former U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq who resigned two years ago. Galloway said he had also planned to take doctors, journalists, dozens of elderly Iraqis and three terminally ill people who wanted to die in their own country. ------------------------ Wednesday March 15 5:36 AM ET Iraq Says it Shot Down Iran Plane BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraqi anti-aircraft defenses shot down an unmanned Iranian plane Wednesday, the official Iraqi News Agency reported. INA said the drone was downed early Wednesday close to the borders with Iran, but it did not specify the location. ``Our heroic air defenses and army units ... shot down the drone after violating our national skies,'' the agency said. Iran had no immediate reaction to the claim. It came one day after an Iraqi-based opposition group claimed that Iranian jets tried to bomb its military camp in Iraq but were driven off by air defense units. Iraq has declined comment on Tuesday's reported attack on the military camp run by the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen Khalq. Iran and Iraq fought an eight-year war that ended in 1988 with a U.N.-brokered cease-fire. Relations, however, remain tense. ------------------------- Tuesday March 14, 3:47 pm Eastern Time US delegation says sanctions draining Iraqi people By Patrick Connole WASHINGTON, March 14 (Reuters) - Congressional staffers who traveled to Iraq in 1999 released a scathing indictment of U.S.-sponsored U.N. sanctions on Tuesday, saying Iraq's people are being systematically damaged by their isolation from the outside world. The report seeks to build support in Congress for pending legislation to lift sanctions on Baghdad, which have been in place since 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait. After speaking with U.N. experts in Iraq, and through their own talks with regular Iraqis, the group said they learned of the severe drain being felt in the medical, economic and intellectual sectors of Iraqi society. ``The oil-for-food program funds are barely enough for Iraqis' urgent and immediate physical needs, with nothing made available for intellectual needs,'' the report said. ``The result is complete intellectual deprivation.'' One result of the isolation is seen in the younger political class in Iraq, which is emerging as even more extreme force than the current leadership class led by President Saddam Hussein and his Ba'ath Party, they said. ``It is from these younger Ba'ath figures that pressure on Saddam Hussein is emerging from the right, challenging his 'too accommodating' stance toward the U.N. and the West,'' it said. A U.N. program permitting Iraq to sell oil for food has been in place since 1996, but has been criticized, especially in recent months, as unworkable and inadequate to provide Iraqi civilians with an acceptable quality of life. The five staffers from offices of Democrat and independent House members, said their August 1999 trip was the first such congressional visit since shortly after the Gulf War in 1991. On the humanitarian front, the group was shocked at the deprivation they saw in the hospitals and medical centers. ``Ceiling tiles were falling down. The hospital we visited didn't have incubators or air conditioners ... in part due to sanctions,'' said delegation member Danielle LeClair. The United States and Britain have been criticized for putting ``holds'' on contracts for supplies and equipment purchased under the oil-for-food deal. As of Jan. 31, contracts worth $1.5 billion had been frozen, with more than $1 billion of that frozen by the United States, the U.N. said this week in a new report. On Monday U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan recommended the Security Council double funds for Iraq's oil equipment and for an increase in health supplies, criticizing Baghdad's priorities and the frozen contract practice. The U.S. delegation went to Iraq to study the humanitarian situation, the impact sanctions have had on the two nations' trade, and depleted uranium-related health problems resulting from Allied bombings during the Gulf War. Members were from the offices of Democratic Reps. Danny Davis of Illinois, Sam Gejdenson of Connecticut, Earl Hilliard of Alabama and Cynthia McKinney of Georgia, as well as from that of independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont. ---------------------------------- U.N. Chief Faults U.S., Britain for Iraqi Supply Delays By Colum Lynch Special to The Washington Post Tuesday , March 14, 2000 ; A14 UNITED NATIONS, March 13 –– In the draft of a report to be delivered to the U.N. Security Council this week, Secretary General Kofi Annan chides the United States and Britain for holding up more than $1.5 billion of humanitarian supplies for Iraq and calls for doubling the amount of money that Iraq is allowed to spend on its oil industry. The U.N.'s effort to ease the suffering of Iraq's 20 million people "has suffered considerably" as result of "holds" placed by the United States and Britain on numerous contracts in the oil-for-food program, which allows Iraq to sell oil and use the proceeds to buy humanitarian supplies under strict U.N. supervision, Annan wrote. The secretary general's 64-page assessment of Iraq's humanitarian needs also renews his previous request for the Security Council to allow Iraq to double the $300 million it spends every six months on repairs and spare parts in its oil sector, which he said would ensure that oil keeps flowing and providing revenue for food, medicine and the like. "I am very much concerned with the deteriorating condition of the oil industry of Iraq," wrote Annan, who sent a team of experts in January to inspect Baghdad's petroleum fields, pipelines and refineries. The team concluded that "the ability of the Iraqi oil industry to sustain current reduced production levels will be seriously compromised unless effective action is taken immediately," according to Annan's report. While the report directs its strongest criticism at the Security Council, where the United States frequently exercises its veto power, Annan also faulted President Saddam Hussein's government for spending too little of the money from oil sales on food for the population. He appealed to Baghdad to increase its daily food rations, improve the delivery of drugs for chronic illnesses, and establish supplementary feeding programs for those at high risk. Since the oil-for-food deal was negotiated in 1996, the Security Council has approved $9.3 billion worth of humanitarian purchases by Iraq. All of those contracts are exemptions to the international trade sanctions imposed on Iraq after its troops invaded Kuwait in 1990, sparking the Persian Gulf War. Annan's report comes less than a month after two senior U.N. humanitarian officials based in Baghdad resigned in protest over the devastating impact of the sanctions on ordinary Iraqis. It adds to the mounting pressure on the United States from some of its closest allies, including Britain and France, to demonstrate greater flexibility in approving contracts. The Clinton administration recently began an internal review of its policy in an effort to accelerate the approval of equipment that is used for legitimate purposes. But U.S. officials say their goal has been to block items with potential military use, particularly in the development of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. They charged that Saddam Hussein has spent the earnings from smuggled oil on palaces, liquor and luxuries for himself and his cronies. "About 85 to 90 percent of contracts get approved by the sanctions committee," a U.S. official said. "The only things that don't get through are the things that the Iraqis can use to make weapons." Annan reported that Iraq's oil, electricity, sanitation, transport and telecommunications sectors have been most severely harmed by the Security Council's foot-dragging. But he added that the council's sluggish approval of "dual use" contracts for forklifts, harbor dredges and other equipment required to repair Iraqi port facilities has hampered the U.N.'s ability to deliver food. "Poor port conditions continue to contribute to a slow and inefficient offloading of necessary food basket items," he said. "Outdated damaged equipment such as forklifts continues to jeopardize the safety and well-being of port personnel." ----------------------------- MP takes medicines to Iraq The Guardian; Manchester; Mar 13, 2000; Ewen Macaskill, Amman Full Text:Copyright Guardian Newspapers, Limited Mar 13, 2000 The Labour MP George Galloway flew into Jordan last night on the first stage of a journey to deliver medical supplies to Iraq to highlight the damaging impact of UN sanctions. He is to lead a convoy, including a refrigerated truck carrying pounds 115,000 worth of medical supplies, 1,000km (621 miles) across the desert to Baghdad. The main hurdle will be at the Iraqi border on Wednesday, when the convoy will have to undergo a search by UN representatives. An Iraqi government representative expressed concern that the medicine, which has to be kept refrigerated, might perish if taken out of storage for too long at the border. ---------------------- -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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