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Dear friends,

I include an article that calls for changing the sanctions policy, but has
a significant number of misleading statements (such as presenting the UN
has having loosened sanctions recently). Furthermore, the editorial, in
essence, calls for the the UN SC to treat Iraq like a colony. Furthermore,
the writer exercises a common western journalistic habit: presenting
Saddam as Iraq, as he does in his referral to the no-fly zone bombings as
" American and allied aircraft will continue to keep him bottled up."


April 14, 2000   

Shift Iraq's wealth to the people
TWENTY YEARS ago, Iraq was a proud, prosperous, oil-rich nation.

Today it is on its knees, brought there by Saddam Hussein's folly.

Its 22 million people are poor, hungry and desperate. Helping them survive 
Saddam's coarse violence is a moral imperative.

That's why the United Nations Security Council should pay close attention to 
a report next week from the International Peace Academy, a respected New 
York think tank, urging a ``smarter'' approach to making U.N. sanctions 

Canada's U.N. ambassador Bob Fowler should do what he can, as chair of the 
Security Council this month, to see that the study gets a full airing.

In Iraq's case the issue isn't so much whether or not to ``lift'' sanctions 
that have been dragging down the economy, though many principled, 
compassionate people argue for doing precisely that.

That debate has already been settled in the Iraqi people's favour. Sanctions 
have been greatly relaxed in recent months.

In fact Baghdad is now exporting almost as much oil as it did back in 1988 
before sanctions came into effect. It is importing even more food than back 

The problem for Iraqis is catch-up, after years of privation.

And the substantive policy issue confronting the Security Council is how to 
refocus the residual sanctions so that more of Iraq's wealth is tilted away 
>from Saddam, and toward the people.

Continued U.N. trusteeship isn't likely to please those who want to ``lift'' 
sanctions utterly, on emotional or moral grounds. It requires political 
energy, and will. But it would also better serve the Iraqi people.

That the Security Council has eased sanctions is a matter of public record.

During the week of April 1 to 7, Iraq exported 1.23 million barrels of oil a 
day. That's 450 million barrels a year.

At the going rate of $20 U.S. a barrel, Iraq's exports will net $9 billion 
this year. That could quickly rise to between $20 billion and $30 billion a 
year if oil prices stabilize in the $22-$28 range, and if Iraq's industry 
re-equips to boost production.

Back in 1988, before Saddam launched the Gulf War by invading Kuwait, oil 
exports were $11.7 billion.

It's the same story with food imports.

In 1988 Iraq imported $1.7 billion worth of foodstuffs. Today it's $1.8 
billion. That too will increase as oil exports grow.

There's no denying that U.N. sanctions did appalling damage between 1991 and 
1996, when Saddam refused the U.N.'s offer of a humanitarian oil-for-food 

Iraqis starved, died for lack of medicine and the country's infrastructure 

But U.N. humanitarian monitors today report that sufficient oil is being 
exported to provide basic food, medicine and other essentials, though not to 
restore Iraq's previous prosperity. The money goes into a U.N. account. 
Baghdad draws on it to import goods.

Can the sanctions be made ``smarter''? Yes.

Military sanctions are working well enough, and aren't likely to be eased. 
The Security Council yesterday okayed a new plan to send in weapons 
inspectors. But until Saddam lets them certify that he has destroyed his 
major weapons, the U.N. will continue to block his ability to import 
military goods. And American and allied aircraft will continue to keep him 
bottled up.

But economic sanctions could certainly stand a review.

Doing away with them might do more harm than good.

Right now, U.N. humanitarian monitors stationed in Iraq make sure that food, 
medicine and other goods under the oil-for-food program are delivered, as 
promised, to the people. If the U.N. were to lift sanctions and pull out the 
monitors, Saddam would be free once again to bankroll his regime, while 
neglecting the people.

The Security Council argues, persuasively enough, that continued trusteeship 
is vital.

That said, Canada should urge a smarter trusteeship, in line with the 
International Peace Academy's broad argument that sanctions need to be 
adapted to changing circumstances, rather than be engraved in stone.

Provided that Saddam continues to accept U.N. humanitarian monitors, Iraq 
should be allowed to sell as much oil as it can to raise living standards.

Iraq should be free as well to import as much machinery as it needs to 
upgrade its dilapidated oil industry and boost production. Current 
restrictions should be scrapped.

The U.N. should speed up processing Iraqi requests to dip into the oil 
account to buy food and oil equipment.

The U.N. should ease its demand that a third of Iraq's oil revenues be held 
back to pay for U.N. monitoring and Iraq's war reparations. This is 
needlessly harsh.
The U.N. should encourage Iraqi officials to improve conditions generally. 
Clean water, electricity, functioning hospitals and schools, passable roads, 
agriculture, public transit and other public services should qualify for 

And, of course, the U.N. should suspend sanctions the moment Saddam lets 
weapons inspectors back into the country and they certify that he no longer 
has weapons of mass destruction. That was the point of the sanctions in the 
first place.

But ``lifting'' sanctions unconditionally wouldn't be the quick fix to 
Iraq's suffering that some might hope. Nor would it enhance Mideast 

Saddam has twice launched wars against Iran and Kuwait that threatened 
millions, and cost a million lives. He should not be free to plunder his 
country's vast wealth to shore up his brutal regime and to rearm for war.

The Security Council can better serve Iraqis by keeping their oil under a 
generous trusteeship, and making it work for them.

Gordon Barthos' column appears Fridays.

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