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]

letters to/from Cook

Hi there

These are two pages I'm going to be adding to my website. I recieved the
letter from Cook today. I thought you guys might be interested in
responding to Cook (you'll notice he doesn't answer any of the specific
questions I ask, but gives very general answers).

There's more at
At the moment I'm updating every couple of days. If anyone wants to link
to my site, please do. I'd also like some suggestions for links to
include in my site.

Happy reading

Title: Letters
Ronan's Website                                                                                               

The following are two letters written to Stephen Byers MP concerning Iraq (note - I'm not sure if these are the final drafts, but if they differ from the letters I sent it is only by a few words). As well as these two letters, I wrote a short letter to Byers asking for details about the DTI blocking vaccines from going into Iraq. 
4 Osborne Place
NE12 9EY
Stephen Byers
7 Palmersville
Great Lime Road
Forest Hall
NE12 9HN

Dear Mr Byers

As you advised me at the constituency surgery, I have put my questions to the Foreign Secretary into writing. Thank you for agreeing to pass these questions on.

According to several reports, British and US delegates to the UN blocked 15 medical contracts intended for Iraq on January 14th, despite UN officials in New York and Baghdad having checked that the contracts were for humanitarian purposes only.  I wish to learn, firstly, what reasons were given by UK and US delegates for blocking these contracts and, secondly, why the New York and Baghdad officials were overridden.

On a related matter, I have searched the FCO website, but can find no reference to Hans Von Sponeck’s resignation as Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, and little attempt to address his concerns.  I have seen US press releases which describe Mr. Von Sponeck as a ‘misguided’ individual, and which dismiss his concerns out of hand with the usual rhetoric. (I refer in particular to a press release given by James Rubin on behalf of the US State Dept. on 29th February)

I would like to see a statement from the Foreign Secretary answering the concerns of Hans von Sponeck. The International Development Committee in its report regarding sanctions shares his concerns, at least in part. Like myself, the Committee is ‘concerned that the Government has published insufficient information to allow for an informed debate on international sanctions policy’.  A statement concerning Mr. Von Sponeck’s resignation would be a step towards addressing this.

Yours sincerely,

Ronan T Dodds

7 Palmersville
NE12 9HN

Dear Mr Byers

I hope you will accept my apologies for asking you to forward another letter to the Foreign Secretary, for the second time in the space of a few days, but I consider this matter to be of importance.

On March 6th, The Guardian newspaper carried a story about the banning of George Galloway’s flight to Iraq.  I am concerned about the accusations made by the Foreign Office, namely that the mission was a “Saddam Hussein publicity stunt”.

Admittedly, I know little about Mr. Galloway and the Mariam Appeal organisation, but even so, I believe the Foreign Office has misunderstood, and misrepresented, their position.  A Foreign Office source is quoted as saying “If this was a genuine mercy mission, as opposed to a Saddam Hussein publicity stunt, then nine-tenths of the plane would be filled with medical and other humanitarian supplies. Instead we have the entire cabin filled with hangers-on when all the space could be used for equipment to help the people of Iraq.”

I would like to explain my main reason for saying that the FCO has misunderstood the point of the mission.  Firstly, it is assumed that the ‘humanitarian’ nature of the mission is confined to merely taking medical supplies to Iraq. This is not so. What is of prime importance is that the suffering of the Iraqi people is put onto the media agenda, and that people at grass-roots level are educated about Iraq.  The FCO is, justifiably, concerned about propaganda from Baghdad.  People like myself are equally concerned about UK and US propaganda.  The first step towards solving this is to create a dialogue between the Government and anti-sanctions lobbyists, which can best be achieved by open debate in the media. The passengers, who were taking up valuable space on the flight, can bring back an even more valuable insight into the situation in Iraq.  They can encourage debate and awareness among their communities, church groups, youth groups and so on.  Once the suffering in Iraq is widely known about, many people will want to send aid missions, which will be more substantial than the one in question. I suspect, also, that many people will start to question the morality of UK policy on Iraq, and many will think that this episode was an attempt to prevent that questioning.

To say the flight was a publicity stunt would, in my view, be an accurate assessment.  To say that it is a “Saddam Hussein” publicity stunt is only accurate if you see no distinction between the people of Iraq and the Government of Iraq.  If you believe that Mr Galloway is a tool of Iraqi propaganda, and therefore an enemy of Britain, will he lose membership to the Labour party?  Or will his dissent be kept quiet, because you are aware that if the truth was widely known, there would be public outcry?

I hope you will consider these points carefully.

Yours, with best wishes,

Ronan Dodds

Reply from Robin Cook
This reply was recieved from the Foreign Secretary on (28/3/00)

There have been  visitors to this site
Sign Guestbook

View Guestbook

Ronan's Website
Title: Replies from Robin Cook
Ronan's Website                                                                                              

This is a letter to Stephen Byers from Robin Cook, Foreign Secretary, in reply to my letters concerning Iraq (The 2nd last paragraph is garbled, but I thought I'd keep it as it was in the original rather than edit it). For the original letters, click here.  Letter was recieved on 28/03/00.

21 March 2000

Foreign & Commonwealth Office
London SW1A 2AH


Dear Stephen

Thank you for your letter of 8 March enclosing enclosing three from your constituent, Ronan T Dodds, of 4 Osborne Place, Palmersville, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Mr Dodds expresses concern about UK holds on humanitarian goods.  The UK is constantly reviewing the contracts it has on hold in the UN Sanctions Committee.  Holds are kept to an absolute minimum.  We have approved over 98% of all "oil for food" contracts.  Most holds we put on are because we require further information about the goods or their intended use/destination, or because the goods are dual use and we need assurances that their end-use will be bona fide.  These holds are lifted when the information or assurances are provided.  Security Council Resolution 1284, the comprehensive resolution on Iraq initiated by the UK and adopted by the Security Council last December, should ensure contracts are processed even more quickly than before. Better monitoring inside Iraq would also help.

We will not apologise for rigorously examining all contracts. We do this to uphold provisions laid down in Security Council Resolutions designed to ensure that Iraq does not acquire prohibited goods.

Mr Dodds asks for our view on the resignation of Hans von Sponeck. The UN programme is a unique and complex programme worth billions of pounds.  Administering it is a huge task, particularly when the government of Iraq does little to help and much to obstruct the UN's efforts.  It is a job for an experienced and dedicated administrator committed to making the most of the humanitarian programme in the interests of the Iraqi people.  In our view, Mr von Sponeck was not the right man for the job.  From very early on he made clear that he did not agree with the decision of the UN Security Council and he chose to focus his efforts on the campaign against sanctions rather than the implementation of the UN programme.

George Galloway's planned flight to Baghdad was not blocked.  We made an application for the flight to the UN Sanctions Committee on Mr Galloway's behalf.  The Committee approved the flight on 8 March.  We had earlier expressed concern about the number of passengers Mr Galloway was intending to take (207) and advised him that the Sanctions Committee was unlikely to approve the flight unless numbers were reduced.  Mr Galloway reduced the number of passengers to 29.

The FCO response intends to issue its response the International Development Committee report on sanctions in April.

It take it you will be seeking a response from the DTI on Mr Dodds's enquiry about yellow fever and diptheria vaccines.

Yours sincerely

Robin Cook

There have been  visitors to this site
Sign Guestbook

View Guestbook

Ronan's Website

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]