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]

news for March 20


Nathan asked me to send this week's news to the list. In order not to send
an e-mail that may be too large for some mail readers, I'm breaking this
week's news into semi-daily sections. I hope that is okay.


(1) Iraqi paper warns Iran against attack on Iraq - March 20. Reuters
(2) Iraq donation to Lebanon must be lauded for what it is. Jordan Times.
(3) Iraqi Christians plea for papal help to find them new life in the West
By Lachlan Carmichael. AMMAN (AFP)
(4) Published on Monday, March 20, 2000 in the Austin American-Statesman
The Siege of Iraq. by G. Simon Harak
(5) Annan reports on Iraq. Arabic News. 3/20/2000
:03/20/2000 05:14:00 ET
Iraqi paper warns Iran against attack on Iraq

BAGHDAD, March 20 (Reuters) - Iraq's most influential newspaper on Monday
warned Iran against any attack on its territory and accused U.S. Secretary
of State Madeleine Albright of encouraging Tehran to commit "aggression"
against Baghdad.
"Our advice to Tehran is that it should avoid playing with fire," said
Babel, newspaper of President Saddam Hussein's eldest son Uday.
Tension between the two neighbours, at war from 1980 to 1988, has escalated
in the last few weeks over cross-border attacks by the Iraq-based Mujahideen
Khalq, the main exiled Iranian opposition group.
Baghdad said last week that its air defences had shot down a Iranian
reconnaissance drone near the border with Iran. The next day, Iran said the
Mujahideen had killed two of its soldiers in a clash near the Iraqi border.
The Mujahideen said their anti-aircraft systems last week repulsed an air
attack by Iran which analysts said was in reprisal for the group's earlier
mortar assault on a Tehran residential district near a Revolutionary Guards
Tehran regularly slams Iraq for harbouring the Mujahideen rebels, while
Baghdad accuses Iran of backing Iraqi Shi'ite Moslem dissidents.
Babel also said a recent speech by Albright in Prague was meant to
"encourage Tehran to expand its aggression against Iraq."
In a major overture to Iran, Albright said on Friday that Washington would
ease sanctions on non-oil Iranian exports and acknowledged
"short-sightedness" in some previous U.S. policies towards Iran.
She praised the development of democratic trends in Iran, and the country's
movement towards a more open society and a more flexible approach to the
Babel accused the United States of backing Iran in its war with Iraq and
said: "the American State Secretary's statement (on Iran) is silly and
distorting history."
Albright, in her speech on Friday, indicated U.S. regret at its support for
Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war, saying that "aspects of U.S. policy towards Iraq
during its conflict with Iran appear now to have been regrettably

Iraq donation to Lebanon must be lauded for what it is
Dr. Musa Keilani
IT WAS admirable to have a former Jordanian prime minister, known to be a
strong opponent of Saddam Hussein, applaud publicly the recent Iraqi stand
towards Lebanon. By international standards, a sum of $10 million worth of
oil may not be much. But not so when Iraq is the donor and Lebanon is the
recipient, and the assistance comes in the wake of an Arab meeting in
solidarity with Lebanon which came out strongly, vocally, but fell short of
concrete action to help that country in material terms.
Indeed, Saudi Arabia lived up to expectations when its crown prince visited
Lebanon early this month and announced aid and loans worth over $100 million
to help the country cope with the devastating effects of Israeli air raids
in punishment for its courage to stand up against occupation. A few other
Arab countries have made a bit of noise here and there about helping
Lebanon, but many observers are very sceptical if much of this promised aid
will reach Beirut. However, it is not the level of Arab aid to Lebanon that
is in focus here. It is the Iraqi gesture that deserves a closer look if
only to remind ourselves of recent events in our region.
It is easy to dismiss the Iraqi offer of oil as an act aimed at thumbing its
nose at the international sanctions imposed on Iraq. It could also be
construed as a tactic to secure Arab sympathy and another effort at
endearing itself to the Arab masses.
Quite simply, it can very well be a cheap trick at gaining popularity and
painting the U.S. as the villain (because the U.S. will definitely oppose
it). But those are the most obvious conclusions. It needs a closer review of
Iraq's track record in stepping in whenever needed to help fellow Arabs to
realise that there is more to Baghdad's gesture than simple theatrics.
Let us go back to the 1978 Arab summit held in Baghdad. It was during that
summit the Iraqi leadership highlighted that it was not simply enough to
express vocal support for the frontline parties with Israel — Jordan, Syria,
Lebanon and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) — but that they
needed material help to successfully withstand coercion and threats. It was
in realisation of the Iraqi drive to ensure that these frontline parties did
receive material aid that the summit decided to grant annual aid worth
several billion dollars to the four parties.
Of course, the issue of Iraq's support for Arab unity is very subjective,
given Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August, 1990. For some in the Arab World
and many elsewhere it might be news that one consistent theme in speeches
made by Ba'ath ideologues in the 70s was an emphasis on the need for an
“equitable distribution of Arab wealth among Arabs.” The party lamented the
waste of Arab oil wealth and called for better management of Arab
petrodollars. There is indeed a paradox in this because Iraq's actions did
not exactly match her words. However, for us in Jordan, Iraq has always been
a steady source of support. Indeed, it was not a one-sided affair. Iraq
needed Jordan as much as we needed Iraq during the difficult years of the
80s and 90s. But again, Iraq showed its sense of responsibility at yet
another Arab summit held in Baghdad in May 1990, a few months before the
invasion of Kuwait. At this summit, it was Iraq which reminded the Arab
leaders gathered in Baghdad of the difficulties that Jordan faced and forced
their hands to help the Kingdom. It was announced that Iraq, despite the
deep ruptures in its economy following the war with Iran and the heavy
burden of foreign debt, was granting Jordan $50 million in cash aid. As a
result, Jordan received a total of $235 million in Arab cash and kind
between May and August that year. We were expecting at least another $200
million before the end of the year. Irony struck again, because Iraq's
military adventure into Kuwait drew the curtains on those expectations. But
Iraq stepped in to help Jordan again. Today, we would find ourselves looking
for an extra half a billion dollars a year if Iraq were to demand the full
international price for the oil it supplies Jordan. Between 1990 and 1995,
there were several occasions that Iraq offered part of its resources to help
other Arabs, particularly the Palestinians. At one point, it offered to
donate oil worth $50 million to plug the hole in the budget of the United
Nations Relief and Works Agency. At another juncture, Iraq offered oil at
discount prices to the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) through Jordan.
Again, it is very easy to label all these gestures as politically motivated
with definite objectives. That may indeed be the case when seen from Western
eyes. But we in Jordan know slightly different, though nobody approves the
record of human rights violations. The former prime minister was both
objective and fair when he hailed the recent Iraqi humane move.
Iraqi Christians plea for papal help to find them new life in the West
By Lachlan Carmichael
AMMAN (AFP) — Hundreds of poor Iraqi Christians living in Jordan attended on
Sunday mass here on the eve of Pope John Paul II's visit, hoping he can help
them leave for the West and end the sanctions in their homeland.
Priests at the Latin Church in the Misdar neighbourhood of Amman urged
Jordan's Iraqi community to greet the Pope when he arrives on Monday and
attend a papal mass at a stadium on Tuesday.
Church officials said 10,000 Iraqis are expected to join 50,000-70,000
people at the Tuesday mass and give a letter to the Vatican urging the Pope
to pray for the end of nearly 10-year-old U.N. sanctions on Iraq.
But the 500 Iraqis attending Sunday mass had more immediate concerns.
They pleaded for the Vatican's help in obtaining visas to emigrate to
Australia, Canada, the United States and Europe, saying they were living a
hand-to-mouth existence in Jordan.
“It's very difficult to leave Jordan,” said Souad Ibrahim, who has been
stranded with her husband in Amman for the past seven years trying to join
her children in Australia.
“I want to leave. It's too expensive here. There's no work. It's not good
for food,” Ibrahim told AFP following the Sunday mass.
“Please can he (the Pope) do something for us?” she urged.
Other Iraqis, pale-faced and wearing their threadbare Sunday best, echoed
her appeal, saying there was no work here and they were relying on family
overseas to send them money.
The Pope arrives Monday in Jordan at the start of a historic six-day
pilgrimage to the Holy Land which will also take him to Israel and the
Palestinian territories.
Father Rif'at Bader, the official spokesman for the Latin Church during the
pope's visit, told AFP that Iraqi Christians here will give the Vatican
embassy in Amman a letter for the Pontiff.
“They will express their love for the Pope and urge him to pray with them
for an end to the sanctions,” he said.
On Feb. 23, the Pope launched his pilgrimage to the Holy Land with a
symbolic “spiritual” visit to the ancient Iraqi city of Ur via a special
service held at the Vatican.
The Pope had hoped to launch his trek in Tal Al Muqayyar, southern Iraq,
also known as Ur of the Chaldees and as the birthplace of Abraham, who is
honoured by Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike.
But he gave it up amid Iraqi security concerns because of continuing U.N.
sanctions and the Anglo-U.S. no-fly zones.
U.S. and British warplanes patrol no-fly zones over northern and southern
Iraq and bomb targets in both areas on an almost daily basis.
The United States and Britain opposed the visit, fearing Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein could use it for political advantage.
The United Nations imposed sanctions on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in

Published on Monday, March 20, 2000 in the Austin American-Statesman
The Siege of Iraq
by G. Simon Harak
Philosopher and author Michael Walzer called it "the oldest form of total
war." History attests to the horrors of the Roman siege of Jerusalem, the
Prussian siege of Paris, the Nazi siege of Leningrad. Sieges are designed to
inflict such horrible suffering on the civilian population that their will
to resist collapses. Or, to quote Walzer again, that the "fearful spectacle
of the civilian dead" will cause the government to surrender to the
besieger's demands.
As we begin the third Christian millennium, siege warfare is making a
comeback. Big time.
In the old days, we only used to be able to lay siege a city. Now, we can
inflict the horrors of besiegement to an entire country. Take the case of
Iraq. Like all good sieges, the siege of Iraq has several key elements.
The 1991 Gulf War bombing of Iraq laid the foundation. More than 60 percent
of the 88,500 tons of bombs (More bombs than the United States dropped on
all its enemy countries during World War II) were dropped on the cities and
villages of Iraq. U.S. planes specifically targeted the "infrastructure" of
Iraq, knocking out the electrical grid for the entire country.
Imagine what happens to a modern country when electricity is removed.
Premature babies and frail elderly people die, because incubators and life
support machines shut down. Sick people die, because medicines spoil in
ruined refrigerators. Always the weakest die first. That's the design of a
siege -- the "fearful spectacle." And then irrigation systems fail. Clean
water can't be provided, sewage systems break down. The city -- now the
whole country -- is flooded with disease-ridden water. Siege.
Then add the "sanctions." It means that Iraqi oil is off the market. Iraq
got about 95 percent of its foreign exchange from the sale of oil. So, after
all that bombing, take away 95 percent of their money. Nothing can be
repaired. The economy collapses. It's the "Great Depression" times 10, times
100. UNICEF has reported 500,000 children now dead as a direct result of the
sanctions. Imagine tens of thousands of grieving families.
Then add the "oil-for-food" program. If it worked perfectly, it would allot
each Iraqi about a dollar a day to exist on. But the besiegers can be clever
even then. Enter the veto.
Every contract under the "oil-for-food" deal has to be approved by a
committee. Any member of that committee can veto any contract for any
reason. The United States is a permanent member of that committee. And we
have exercised our veto more than 1,000 times in the past three years (next
is Britain with a paltry 120 vetoes). Sometimes we exercise a "straight"
veto. For example, we invariably veto spare parts to repair the water or
sewage systems; invariably veto spare parts for oil production. We sometimes
veto baby milk powder because it has phosphates, and that can be used for
bombs. We veto chlorine for water purification because it can be used for
chemical warfare. The same with many drugs.
But the really winning strategy is what the U.N. calls "the problem of
complementarity." We allow life support machines, then veto the computers
needed to run them. We allow dentists' chairs, then veto the compressors. We
allow insulin, then veto syringes.
Then finally, the bombing. We are now engaged in the longest bombing
campaign since the Vietnam War. The government admits to 30,000 sorties over
Iraq in 1999 alone. Imagine how you are going to explain the constant sonic
booming and air raid sirens to your child.
In fact, you don't have to imagine. You could go to Iraq with a delegation
of Voices in the Wilderness and see for yourself. Just be warned: We bring
medicine and toys to Iraqi children, and this is against U.S. law. And it's
punishable by up to $1 million in fines and 12 years in a federal prison.
Because you see, we are breaking the siege.
Think, "siege." Think of our "total war" against Iraq. Think of the fearful
spectacle of civilian dead. Then think, please, of those with whom history
will associate us. And about what kind of a world we are constructing for
our children. Harak has resigned his professorship in ethics at Fairfield
University in Connecticut to work full time against the siege of Iraq. He
will be speaking at 7 tonight at St. Austin's Catholic Church, Hecker Hall,
2026 Guadalupe St. For information, call 502-2488.Telephone number in
Baltimore, St. Mary's Parish: 410-435-5900
© Copyright 2000 Austin American-Statesman


Annan reports on Iraq
Iraq, Economics, 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

"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

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

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.

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]