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News for March 27-28

Section Seven

(1)Iraq's Aziz meets UN who quit over sanctions. BAGHDAD, March 27 (Reuters)
(2) Barbara Crossette and Iraq: Here She Goes Again
by Gilles d'Aymery (includes commentary by Drew Hamre :)
(4) U.S. places more holds even as it announces releasing
(5) US unblocks some Iraq contracts; $1.67 billion held. March 27 (Reuters)
(6)Kuwaiti minister wants U.N. envoy to visit Iraq. March 27 (Reuters)
(7)U.N. aid chief warns sanctions creating "lost generation” in Iraq. March
28. (AFP)
(8) Sanctions 'hitting Iraqi youth': Mr Von Sponeck says an entire
generation has been destroyed
March 27. BBC News.


:03/27/2000 12:24:00 ET
Iraq's Aziz meets UN who quit over sanctions

BAGHDAD, March 27 (Reuters) - Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz met on
Monday the U.N. relief coordinator in Iraq who is quitting in protest at the
plight of sanctions-battered Iraqis, the Iraqi News Agency reported.
INA said Aziz met Hans von Sponeck, the senior U.N. official in Iraq, and
discussed "views on the humanitarian programme in Iraq."
It said Aziz "appreciated the efforts of Mr Sponeck during the period he
spent in Iraq and his objective stances which he expressed during number of
President Saddam Hussein met Sponeck, a German career U.N. official, on
Sunday. He was the first Iraq-based U.N. official to meet the president
since the 1991 Gulf War.
Sponeck announced in February that he would leave his post on March 31 after
criticising what he called the failure of the U.N. oil-for-food programme
which is intended to offset the privations imposed on Iraqis by post-Gulf
War sanctions.
Jutta Burghardt, another German U.N. official who headed the World Food
Programme in Iraq, also announced her resignation in February on similar
Iraq has been under punishing U.N. sanctions since its 1990 invasion of
Kuwait, which was reversed by a U.S.-led multinational force in the Gulf
The sanctions can be eased only when Iraq's weapons of mass destruction have
been accounted for and scrapped. But U.N. arms inspectors have not been
allowed back into the country for more than a year.
Barbara Crossette and Iraq: Here She Goes Again
by Gilles d'Aymery

"Can a single reporter warp the perceptions of a nation?" asks Swans'
contributor, Drew Hamre.
Hamre continues: "The New York Times coverage of Iraq is chiefly in the
hands of their UN reporter, Barbara Crossette. And The New York Times is, in
turn, one of only four mainstream outlets that regularly covers this beat
(AP, Reuters, and the Washington Post being the others). Given the deserved
stature of The Times, and its vast reach through the syndicated market, the
damage caused by Ms. Crossette's repeated transgressions against
transparency, fairness, and simple honesty are incalculable."
"Following is an indictment of Ms. Crossette by the press watch
organization, FAIR, in an outstanding report by Seth Ackerman:"
"New York Times on Iraq Sanctions -- A case of journalistic malpractice
[Note: This report is very much worth reading.]
So, what is Barbara Crossette up to this time?
Crossette did not have much time for Kosovo this week, not out of
disinterest in the matter but out of one of the most cherished causes of The
New York Times, Iraq and the toppling of the Iraqi regime.
First, on March 23, she wrote 2,000 words to explain, in Expert Says Iraq
Got Bomb Data From U.S., that Iraqi students may have "combed U.S. libraries
for bomb-building information and Iraqi agents and scientists collected
valuable data at American scientific conferences." Darn, you would think
that only the Serbs can rival with Iraqi's duplicity! Suffice it to say, an
"expert" said it. And the expert is one Khidhir Hamza, a man who "held
several high-level jobs in Iraq before his defection in 1995." That the
article is filled with innuendoes is unimportant. What counts is the
headline....Iraq Got Bomb...
To make sure that the reader gets the drift, William Safire comes to the
rescue in an Op-Ed of the same day, Saddam's Sudan? There is a story going
around people in-the-know that suggests "North Korea offered to sell the
government of Sudan an entire factory for assembling scud missiles." Problem
is, Sudan is broke. Not a problem, people in-the-know suggest, as analyzed
by Safire, Iraq will finance the venture. So, here we go, with all the bad
guys on stage. Iraq, North Korea, Sudan and the Chinese-Russian-French
"cabal" (the French again, can't love them, can't hate them!) are conspiring
to destroy the free world, that is the good old United States of America.
Safire gets to no specific conclusion but he need not reach one. The readers
will. They skim over Barbara Crossette's headline and got to Saddam's Sudan?
Intrigued, they read the piece of conspiracy babble. Don't you always read
William Safire's columns anyway? I do - this is Safire after all. Suggestion
is enough.
Enough for what?
Barbara Crossette provides the beginning of an answer the next day, March
24, in Smuggling of Iraqi Oil Is Rising, U.N. is told. To help the reader
understand, the subhead reads, Iranian help is seen as sanctions are
violated. And, if the reader is not yet convinced, an article by Elaine
Sciolino, a new character in The Times' play, expands on Iraq Builds Base
for Rebels fighting Iran, U.S. Contends. And it adds, in a subhead, Oil
smuggling gives Baghdad money for terrorism, U.S. says.
These two articles are quite instructive as they demonstrate the work of the
U.S. administration on both fronts, that of Iraq and of Iran, trying to play
one against the other. Iraq appears to have increased the amount of oil it
smuggles, mainly through Iranian waters. The small quantity of smuggled oil
is not a hindrance for an oil market that could use more production so that
American consumers stop whining about the price of gasoline and heating oil.
The problem is that the smuggled oil brings revenues to the Iraqi government
outside the control of the U.N. which has dictated for the past ten years
how much oil Iraq can produce and the allocation of the proceeds. It's been
called the "oil for food" program, though it's a misnomer. Essentially, the
U.N. confiscates a substantial portion of the proceeds for its own
surveillance programs against Iraq and for financing the so-called
reparations for Kuwaiti private properties that were destroyed during the
Gulf war. So Iraq pays for the people that regulate Iraq, the very people
controlling what Iraq can import, the type of food and medicine it needs,
etc.. It's a very ingenious and Orwellian system. So, when Iraq smuggles oil
by trucks to Iran, Turkey and Jordan, and by small tankers through Iranian
waters, it tries to loosen the strangling knot placed by the International
Community around its sovereign neck. Having once worked in the oil business
I would not be surprised if the Iraqis and the Iranians were using a more
sophisticated scheme known as swaps. In that instance, Iraqi oil is sent to
Iran for Iranian domestic consumption and the equivalent in Iranian oil is
sold entirely legally on the international market. Iran gets a swapping fee
of say $5.00 a barrel and Iraq pockets the difference. This is really what
the U.S. Administration and its allies are desperately trying to foil, as
these proceeds have helped the Iraqi regime to survive the most drastic and
debilitating sanctions ever put in place against a single country by the
International Community. Then, one can understand the article written by
Elaine Sciolino, the zest of it being, how can we drive a wedge between Iraq
and Iran? After all, as a senior official of the administration is quoted as
saying: "This is a propaganda campaign."
But that's not the only reason for Barbara Crossette to write so profusely
with the assistance of Safire's conspiratorial rat-a-tat-tat. She is back
the next day, March 25 - that is for the third day in a row. In Annan
Exhorts U.N. Council on 'Oil for Food' Program, she describes the
predicament faced by the proponents of the Iraqi asphyxia until the end of
time or the toppling of the Iraqi regime, whichever comes first. According
to Crossette, U.N. Secretary Kofi Annan told the members of the Security
Council that "The humanitarian situation in Iraq poses a serious moral
dilemma for this organization." Annan: "The United Nations has always been
on the side of the vulnerable and the weak, and has always sought to relieve
suffering, yet here we are accused of causing suffering to an entire
population." Annan again: "We are in danger of losing the argument, or the
propaganda war - if we haven't already lost it - about who is responsible
for this situation, President Hussein or the United Nations." And the U.S.
administration is scrambling to put together a newly "improved" package to
put a more human face on the "oil for food" program.
And this is the second reason why Barbara Crossette is once again so
actively using her undeniable talent to write about Iraq and its wicked
regime, the very real Security Council meeting this coming week that will
decide once more to prolong the sanctions that are slowly and
surreptitiously (being far away from the cameras' eyes) exterminating the
Iraqi people.
Maybe one day Barbara Walters will ask Ms. Crossette, "Is it worth it?" And
Ms. Crossette will consult with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright for
the proper answer.
Note 1 - Read our February 25 article on the same subject, The Business of
Manipulation, From Baghdad to Belgrade.
Note 2 - Have you asked yourselves why the price of oil increased so
suddenly? This should be the object of a full commentary. But really, why
did Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Mexico (non-OPEC member), all U.S. Client
states, lead the charge to curtail production? Why did even Norway go along?
And why now, when the price had already gone over $20.00 a barrel and not
when the price was languishing at $11.00 a barrel? Perhaps you could turn
your attention to a region that has gone back below the radar screen,
namely, the Caucasus. Does the Baku, Azerbaijan - Cehlan, Turkey pipeline
ring a bell? Just think of it. I wish William Safire would focus his
conspiracy babble on that very fine subject!


The United States believes that allied air strikes against Iraq have set
back Baghdad's missile program by two years.

U.S. officials said that allied air attacks by U.S. and British warplanes
enforcing a no-fly zone in northern and southern Iraq have hampered
Baghdad's efforts to exploit the absence of United Nations weapons
inspectors. UN inspectors have not conducted work in Baghdad for nearly 18
months while Iraq has tried to restore its intermediate-range missile

Clinton administration officials said the allied air strikes will be more
effective than the return of any weak UN inspections regime in stopping
Baghdad's weapons of mass destruction program. Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein has opposed the resumption of UN inspections.

"We believe we set Iraq's ballistic missile programs back by one to two
years, degraded the infrastructure that Saddam used to conceal WMD programs
>from international exposure, and reduced the regime's ability to exercise
effective command and control over its forces," Alina L. Romanowski, deputy
assistant secretary of defense for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs,

03/27/2000 20:28:00 ET
U.S. places more holds even as it announces releasing

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Even as the United States announced it was  allowing
$100 million in equipment to go to Iraq through the U.N.  humanitarian
program, Washington tied up $7.6 million in new goods,  U.N. figures showed
The figures also showed that most of the equipment that  Washington released
on Friday included cranes, forklift trucks, car  batteries and refrigeration

The United States has tied up over $1 billion worth of goods in  the U.N.
sanctions committee arguing that it wants to make sure it  cannot be used
for military purposes.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and nearly every Security  Council
ambassador urged Washington to release the contracts at an  open meeting of
the Security Council on Friday so the equipment can  repair Iraq's decayed
electric, water, sanitation and oil  infrastructure.

Deputy U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham announced at that  meeting that
Washington was releasing 70 contracts worth over $100  million and was
conducting a review to see if there were ways to  speed up its approval for

The United States is also sponsoring a resolution to double the  amount of
spare parts Iraq can buy through the program that is  expected to be
approved this week.

But at the same time, Washington put on hold another seven  contracts worth
$7.6 million, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said  Monday, citing figures from
the U.N. oil-for-food program.

The U.N. humanitarian program allows Iraq to sell its oil to buy
humanitarian goods and equipment to repair its oil sector.

03/27/2000 13:55:00 ET
US unblocks some Iraq contracts; $1.67 billion held

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States, as promised, has lifted
objections to $111 million worth of contracts for Iraq but is still holding
up $1.67 billion in supplies for Baghdad, the United Nations said Monday.
Among those released were 26 contracts worth $15 million for oil spare parts
and equipment. Most of the remainder were for supplies in the humanitarian
sector, said U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard.
James Cunningham, the deputy U.S. permanent representative, announced Friday
that Washington would unblock more than $100 million worth of contracts as
part of its overall review of supplies reaching Iraq under a U.N.
humanitarian program.
But Eckhard said the United States had frozen another seven contracts on
Friday worth $7.6 million for a total of $1.67 billion in blocked contracts.
This was the first time the United Nations had released precise figures on
contracts Washington has frozen.
Britain runs a distant second place in putting about $140 million worth of
contracts "on hold," diplomats said. Some of them overlap with those the
United States has frozen.
At a Friday Security Council debate on Iraq, both friends and foes of the
United States criticized the large number of contracts Washington had
frozen, calling them "unacceptable" and "intolerable" and a danger to the
humanitarian program.
According to a December council resolution on Iraq, lists are being drawn up
of foodstuffs and some agricultural supplies that can be expedited to
Baghdad after checks by U.N. officials and without agreement by Security
Council members.
But some of the U.S.-blocked contracts will not be on the list and are for
infrastructure repairs for Iraq's aging electricity and water industries,
U.S. officials said.
The United States is also sponsoring a resolution that may be adopted
Tuesday and will allow Iraq to double the annual monies it can spend on oil
field equipment from $600 million to $1.2 billion.
But U.S. officials said they would still block spare parts that might be
used to further oil smuggling, which they say could reach $800 million this
Iraq has been barred from selling oil on the open market since sweeping U.N.
sanctions were imposed after its troops invaded Kuwait in August 1990. Most
of its oil revenues are placed in a U.N. escrow account, which pays
suppliers of goods Baghdad has ordered.
More than $6.7 billion worth of goods have arrived in Iraq since the U.N.
oil-for-food program began in December 1996 to ease the impact of the
sanctions. The embargoes cannot be suspended until Iraq has accounted for
its weapons of mass destruction programs.
03/27/2000 15:54:00 ET
Kuwaiti minister wants U.N. envoy to visit Iraq

UNITED NATIONS, March 27 (Reuters) - Kuwaiti deputy Prime Minister and
Defence Minister Sheikhh Salem al-Sabah said on Monday he hoped the U.N.
coordinator for missing Kuwaitis, retired Russian diplomat Yuli Vorontsov,
would be able to visit Iraq.
Speaking to reporters after seeing Security Council president Anwarul
Chowdhury of Bangladesh, he said he would also see Vorontsov to "put him in
the picture."
"We advise strongly that he should visit Kuwait and other places, Iraq
included," he said.
Vorontsov was Moscow's representative to the United Nations from 1990 to
1994, including the period of the Gulf war, and later served as ambassador
to Washington until early 1999.
He was appointed in February to the new post of U.N. coordinator for the
return of some 600 Kuwaitis and people of other nationalities missing since
Iraq's 1990 occupation of the emirate.
Sheikhh Salem said he did not know when Vorontsov might go to Baghdad, "but
we wish he will go to Iraq and Iraq would receive him," even though it had
called him "a puppet of America."
Vorontsov's post as U.N. coordinator for missing Kuwaitis and Kuwaiti
property was established under a Security Council adopted in December 1999
that also set up a new agency, called the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and
Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), to complete the scrapping of Iraq's weapons
of mass destruction.
U.N. weapons inspectors have not been allowed back into Iraq since
mid-December 1998, when they were withdrawn in advance of air strikes by the
United States and Britain for failing to cooperate with the U.N. arms teams.



U.N. aid chief warns sanctions creating "lost generation” in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AFP) — The international community is condemning an entire
generation of young Iraqis to a bleak and dangerous future under sanctions,
outgoing U.N. humanitarian aid chief Hans von Sponeck warned on Monday.
“I am very angry that it takes such a long time for failed policy to be
rectified,” said the German diplomat who has resigned in protest at the
sanctions in force since Iraq's August 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

“You can talk about an embargo generation, a generation of the refrigerator,
you can talk about a lost generation,” he said in an interview with AFP.
“The schools you go to show an appalling picture.”

Von Sponeck, who is to leave his post on Wednesday, said the school drop-out
rate had reached between 15 and 20 per cent, compared to almost zero before
the embargo.

The literacy rate has also slumped from 90 to 66 per cent, said von Sponeck,
who paid a farewell call on President Saddam Hussein on Sunday.

“The international community is playing a very dangerous game,” said the
veteran U.N. diplomat, warning of the damage to Iraq's children and their
future outlook on the world.

“It could translate into an anti-Western mentality, it could translate into
violence within Iraq, it could have all kinds of negative implications,” he

The 60-year-old German stressed that ordinary Iraqis were paying the price
for the battle of wills between Saddam and Washington, the strongest
opponent of an end to the sanctions.

“If then somebody comes and says the president is building palaces and a lot
of money goes into this, this is regrettable, no one here can force him to
change. Is that justification to continue depriving the young from their
rights?” he said.

Von Sponeck also dismissed charges by the United States, which had called
for his resignation, of having turned soft on the Iraqi regime.

“I am not a `useful idiot' for the Iraqis. I have my own position, my own
concerns, I do not always see eye-to-eye with the Iraqis. On the education
budget, for example, I negotiated hard to increase the funding.”


Monday, 27 March, 2000, 22:59 GMT 23:59 UK
Sanctions 'hitting Iraqi youth'

Mr Von Sponeck says an entire generation has been destroyed

The departing United Nations relief co-ordinator for Iraq, Hans von Sponeck,
says UN sanctions are condemning a whole generation of young Iraqis to a
bleak and dangerous future.
The German diplomat resigned last month in protest against the policy which
was introduced after the Gulf War.

Mr von Sponeck said he had given up hope of helping Iraqis

And he says the West shares responsibility with the Iraqi Government for a
humanitarian tragedy.
In an exclusive report from the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, on the price people
are paying for Saddam Hussein's leadership and sanctions regime, the BBC's
Middle East correspondent Jeremy Bowen spoke to Mr von Sponeck.
Mr von Sponeck, who has been with the UN for 32 years, says he is resigning
as its humanitarian co-ordinator in Iraq because he believes sanctions are
inhumane and ineffective.
He says allowing Iraq to sell oil for food and drugs is not enough.
"For one thing, there isn't enough money," Mr von Sponeck told the BBC.
Sanctions timeline
1990: Sanctions imposed on Iraq
1996: Iraq allowed to sell a limited amount of oil
1998: Iraq refuses to cooperate with weapons inspectors
1998-1999: US and UK launch bombing raids
"Even with the much-improved revenue that is available now, $2.9bn for six
months for a population of 23 million translates into $252 per person per
six months. That isn't enough."
Mr Von Sponeck also blames the UN sanctions committee for holding up too
much aid on the grounds that it might be used for making weapons of mass
At the moment 20% of the goods ordered are on hold.
He says the West shares the blame for the destruction of an entire Iraqi
That is the most formidable accusation against a sanction regime of this
kind - that you have put a generation and more into a refrigerator," he
Blunt instrument
"I have said before, you have frozen their capacities. You haven't allowed
them to develop. So, for them, it's too late."
Mr von Sponeck is scheduled to leave Iraq on Wednesday.
Other critics of the sanctions says they have created an 'Alice in
Wonderland' economy, in which a small class of people live well in Baghdad's
smart suburbs, making money by trading smuggled goods, while the vast
majority suffer.
Children are dying from diseases such as leukaemia because hospitals are
unable to provide adequate treatment.
Iraq, however, used to have Western standards of health care.
The UN childrens' agency Unicef says half a million Iraqi children have died
in the decade since sanctions were imposed.
According to our correspondent, attempts are being made to come up with
sanctions that target the government rather than the people.
But he says for the foreseeable future, sanctions are going to remain a
blunt instrument.

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