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]

Iraq supplement, 21-27/1/01


*  Ten Years after the Gulf War [Naive and apparently innocent article ­
Œthe 'Arab solution for an Arab problem' advocated by Egypt failed because
of the differences of opinion among Arab countries on Iraq's invasion to
Kuwait¹ ­ which ends up naively invoking SC resolution 687 which calls for
the removal of ALL weapons of mass destruction from the Middle East, not
just Iraqi ones]
*  Baghdad booms as Saddam turns sanctions into gold [ΠThe road from the
Jordanian capital of Amman may be crowded, bumpy and narrow, but once across
the border, and past a recent statue of a sword-wielding Saddam on a rearing
horse flanked by four flaring Scuds, you hurtle along a new six-lane
motorway complete with laybys and picnic spots.¹]
*  Baghdad wolf woos Arab fold [Surprisingly moderate article from Ha¹aretz
in which an ŒAmerican diplomat¹ argues convincingly that Israel has nothing
to fear from Iraq. Is he going to keep his job?]
*  West Must Answer Saddam's Threat [and, by way of contrast, a hysterical
piece from the New York Daily News which suiggests that the US has
everything to fear from Iraqi factories capable of manufacturing chlorine]

by Harun ur Rashid
Daily Star (Bangladesh)

TEN years have passed since the first missile of the Gulf War was launched
on Iraq on January 17, 1991. Former US President George Bush, Sr. was able
to form a coalition of 29 countries including many Arab countries (Egypt,
Syria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, the UAE, and Kuwait) to
expel Iraq from Kuwait.

Iraq invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990, and on August 8, it declared the
annexation of Kuwait as Iraq's 19th province. Egypt called upon Iraq to
withdraw its forces from Kuwait and the 'Arab solution for an Arab problem'
advocated by Egypt failed because of the differences of opinion among Arab
countries on Iraq's invasion to Kuwait.

After the establishment of the UN in 1945 following the Second World War,
Iraqi invasion appears to be the first instance where a member of the UN
attacked and occupied another member of the UN. Under the UN Charter the
attack was considered as illegal and the UN Security Council was deeply
involved how to address the situation. If it was allowed to pass, the UN's
credibility was to be lost for good as its predecessor the League of the
Nations 'died' while it remained silent when Italy attacked Ethiopia in

The US-led coalition forces continued to conduct air strikes for several
weeks on Iraqi positions before the ground forces crossed the Saudi border
on February 24 and advanced rapidly into Kuwait. On February 26, Iraq
ordered its forces to withdraw from Kuwait. On 27 February President Bush,
Sr. declared that Kuwait had been liberated and announced cease-fire on
February 28. The people of Kuwait had their sovereignty returned to them.

There is a view that the US-led coalition did not press its advantage to
topple the Iraqi leader from power in 1991 because of the wider
ramifications it might spawn on the region. A view prevails that if Iraq was
destabilised without any credible leader then the whole region, specially
the neighbouring countries, could undergo unpredictable political change.
Furthermore the UN Security Council had a limited purpose and authorised
US-led coalition forces to expel Iraq from Kuwait and not to topple the
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

After the cease-fire the UN Security Council had adopted resolutions to
which Iraq had to agree. The resolutions required Iraq to remove all weapons
of mass destruction -biological, chemical and nuclear. The UN inspection
team continued its inspections in Iraq and many sites of weapons of
mass-destruction had been reportedly destroyed. But not all of them had been
demolished, according to the then inspection team leader.

When an Australian diplomat Richard Butler took over as the Chief of the UN
Special Commission in 1997 from his Swedish colleague (he was appointed as
Swedish Ambassador to Washington), his relations with Iraqi government fell
through and Iraq refused to allow the UN inspectors to visit the site. Iraq
alleged that Butler (Iraq called him a mad dog) was acting on behalf of the
US and not representing the UN as Iraq alleged that many of the UN
inspectors were found to be "spies" of the US. In December 1998, Britain and
the US bombarded Iraq for its refusal of the entry of the UN team in Iraq.

Since then the UN inspectors could not enter Iraq, although Butler is gone
and under its new terms the UN appointed the former head of the United
Nations International Atomic Energy Agency Hans Blix (a former Swedish
lawyer and Foreign Minister). Iraq's case appears to be simple. It has
complied with the UN resolutions and there is no need for UN inspectors in
Iraq and economic sanctions should be withdrawn.

The Security Council permanent members of the UN appear to be divided
sharply in their views as to whether the economic sanctions on Iraq should
continue or not (sanctions were first imposed on Iraq in August 1990 by the
UN Security Council). The US and Britain are reported to be of the view that
unless Iraq allows the UN inspection team to visit the suspected sites of
weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in terms of the UN resolution, the
sanctions will continue. While China and Russia are reported not to endorse
this position. France appears to be in the middle.

Meanwhile the economic sanctions on Iraq continue to bring misery and
deprivation to the Iraqi people. The innumerable deaths of the children in
Iraq because of lack of medicine and nutritious food appear to continue to
shock the international community.

The World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
reported that the sanctions had virtually paralysed the whole economy and
generated persistent chronic hunger, massive unemployment and wide spread
human suffering. The middle class of Iraq has reportedly disappeared from
the society. Two UN humanitarian co-ordinators under the oil-for-food
programme (Denis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck) resigned in protest at the
adverse effects of the sanctions on the Iraqi people.

The UN Security Council is in a dilemma. Firstly the UN sanctions have
created a negative image and are not hurting the ruling Iraqi elite.
Secondly, some of the European countries are keen to enter into commercial
business with Iraq. Thirdly, in an environment of oil shortage Iraq's oil
appears to be of great interest to the West. Russian and French planes had
landed into Iraq with humanitarian goods. A few Arab countries seem to be
interested to bring back Iraq into its fold and Iraq attended for the first
time the meeting of the Arab League recently.

Iraq's leader Saddam Hussein claims to his people that Iraq had won the Gulf
War. It is argued to his people that his contemporary heads of
state/government have all disappeared from the political scene (Bush Sr.,
Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev). Bush's successor President Clinton
has also gone after 8 eight years in the White House but he remains in

Media reports indicated that there had been several coup attempts against
the Iraqi leader and the Iraqi opposition reportedly financed by the US
remained divisive and ineffective. The Iraqi regime continued its public
works programme and re-built the infrastructures in the country. The display
of its arms and weapons on 17 January 2001 in Baghdad by President Saddam
Hussein was a show of strength and demonstrates that it had recouped
substantially its loss from the war.

The new US administration which appears to be committed to military
intervention only where US interests are involved now has 68 conflicts to
choose from according to the US National Defence Council Foundation - a
non-partisan think-tank created in 1978.

It appears that the new US Secretary of State General Colin Powell will be
directing his attention to Iraq. After all he was responsible for the
strategy that defeated the Iraqi army in the Gulf War. He said last December
soon after his nomination that he would work to "re energise" sanctions
against Baghdad and was prepared to "confront him". In the new environment
of global politics as reflected in the Security Council, how far he will be
successful is a matter of conjecture.

There is a view that while Israel has reportedly been in possession of
nuclear weapons and until Palestine issue is resolved in the Middle East,
perfunctory sanctions against Iraq are expected to fail. Some of the
countries in West Asia wish to match Israel in weapons of mass destruction.
Until the West balances its disarmament policy between Israel and the Arabs,
the imposition of UN sanctions is likely to face a credibility gap in the
international community.

Furthermore, the Security Council resolution 687 of 1991 (paragraph 14) did
not refer only to Iraq's disarmament but to the goal of establishing a
Middle East zone free from weapons of mass destruction. The Security Council
should look into why and how the sanctions do not work in Iraq and how can
they establish the region free from weapons of mass destruction including in
Iraq and Israel.

Past experience illustrates that slamming of sanctions, unless co-ordinated
and imposed by all countries, do not work. The Secretary General of the UN
reportedly was doubtful of the efficacy of the present regime of UN
sanctions. It seems that it is an appropriate time to change the direction
of UN economic sanctions to be effective.

Ten years after the Gulf War, the region remains in discord and volatile.
The UN inspection team cannot undertake its work in Iraq since December
1998. The UN Security Council does not know what to do with Iraq. Iraqi
leader is seen firmly seated in power in Baghdad. Many European and Arab
countries have re-opened their bilateral contacts with Iraq. This is a
situation that some members of the Security Council hardly imagined to occur
in Iraq after a decade.

One can perhaps lay blame on the shortsighted policy on Iraq pursued by some
of the permanent members of the Security Council. It appears that they are
in neglect of achieving the goal pursuant to 687 of the Security Council
resolution, i.e. disarmament of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle
East and not in Iraq only.

The author, a Barrister, is former Bangladesh Ambassador to [this was left
blank in the original ­ PB],6903,425913,00.html

by Jason Burke
Observer, Sunday January 21, 2001

Khalil Al-Suhail has a problem. If he opens his restaurant too early it
fills up with Western businessmen and he cannot seat the local officials
whose influence he needs to keep the place open. But if he raises the fake
drawbridge of the Castello - Baghdad's latest fashionable nightspot - too
late in the evening the staff will not get the tips they have come to expect
and they are likely to mutiny.

But al-Suhail knows it is not much of a problem. Jammed in the road outside
the four month-old fake fort are rows of Mercedes, BMWs and Japanese 4x4s.
Most of his tables have been booked for days. 'I've been in worse situations
in the last 10 years,' he says. He smiles and crosses his arms and his
silver watchstrap reflects the neon that glares from the false battlements

He is not alone in his high spirits. From the nouveaux riches sampling the
Castello's châteaubriand to the beggars who have barely tasted meat in a
decade, everyone in Baghdad agrees that things are looking up. Once, the
city's streets were full of rubble and stank of sewage, rotting rubbish,
violence and fear. Now - as the trade embargo imposed after the Iraqi
invasion of Kuwait moves into its 11th year - they are full of traffic,
brightly lit shops and consumer goods. There are still spots of appalling
misery and deprivation, but everyone says things are changing, that the
worst is over, that they have survived.

In fact, they have done more than survive. Baghdad is now a city where
$35,000 cars are bought within minutes of being driven into showrooms, where
women in leopardskin coats and miniskirts go to the National Theatre to
watch the latest avant-garde plays, where you can get a PlayStation2 without
waiting, where the cafés are full until late and markets open around the

Baghdad is also a city that is proud: proud of having survived the
sanctions, proud of having survived three bouts of bombing by US and British
planes, and proud, above all, of the man whose heavy, jowly features are on
a wall in every office and classroom, on a corner on every street, on
20ft-high posters, placards and banners, on book covers, newspapers and

Last Wednesday - the anniversary of the start of the air war in the Gulf -
Saddam Hussein, now 63, received a 21-gun salute and addressed the nation on
television. He spoke of the great victory won in the Umm al-Marrik (Mother
of all Battles) against the 650,000-strong allied forces 10 years ago. The
victory, he said, was continuing and growing. The Iraqi people, and the Arab
and the Islamic worlds, could expect further greatness in the years to come.

Saddam's satisfaction is understandable. Ten years ago he was a pariah.
Defeated militarily and diplomatically, his economy was in tatters and his
hold on power looked shaky. Now everything is different.

The 500-mile-long road from Jordan to Baghdad cuts across one of the
bleakest, hottest deserts in the world. Only when you reach the Euphrates,
after 10 hours of driving, does green begin to spatter the dirty, blasted
monotony of sand and rock. But, though long, it is a surprisingly easy
drive. The road from the Jordanian capital of Amman may be crowded, bumpy
and narrow, but once across the border, and past a recent statue of a sword
wielding Saddam on a rearing horse flanked by four flaring Scuds, you hurtle
along a new six-lane motorway complete with laybys and picnic spots.

On the old road that still runs parallel, a stream of trucks and tankers
rumbles west. They are carrying oil, dates, grain and dozens of other
products out of Iraq and out of the United Nations- imposed embargo. Soon
the sanctions-busters will not even need a road. Two or three times a week
flights take off from Amman for Baghdad - again a contravention of the UN
resolutions. Similar flights, all supposedly banned under the sanctions, are
planned from Egypt and, it is reported, from Moscow.

There have already been flights into the newly re-opened Baghdad airport
from almost every Gulf state. There have been planes from France, Italy and,
indirectly, America and the UK.

The marbled lobbies of the five-star hotels in the capital are now packed
with businessmen fighting over lucrative contracts. Two months ago 1,450
firms from 30 countries laid out their wares at a trade fair. Ironically,
the US company SmithKline Beecham was selling its drugs at an exhibition
last week to combat 'depression/anxiety, panic and obsessive compulsive

At a government level, Iraq has signed new commercial agreements with
Turkey, Russia and Libya. There have been secret negotiations with the
Syrians, themselves suspected of receiving huge quantities of smuggled oil
by rail in recent months. Last week the details of a huge, new trade treaty
were being thrashed out with Cairo.

Even British companies have been negotiating with the regime. One consortium
recently opened an office in Jordan - as close as they can get without
breaking the embargo - so they are well-placed when the nation with the
second biggest oil reserves in the world officially opens for business once

'The sanctions are crumbling,' said Professor Humam al-Shamaa, a key
government economic consultant. 'They are becoming a joke.' Few, even in
Whitehall and Washington, can honestly disagree with him. For four years
after the Gulf War the Iraqi people suffered terribly. Many across Iraq,
particularly in the south, are suffering still. UN reports suggest hundreds
of thousands, particularly the young and old, died as a result of the
embargo. Five years ago Saddam agreed to a deal that allowed him to sell oil
as long as the earnings, placed in a UN-administered account in New York,
were used to buy food and medicine. Much of the cash is soaked up by
payments to the UN and war reparations to Kuwait. Red tape, and alleged
wilful hindrance, have meant that shortages, particularly of drugs, are

The result has been serious damage to the country's health. And though the
dying children in Iraq's hospitals are cynically exploited by a wealthy
regime to impress visiting journalists, in many cases the UN supervisory
system has failed. Permission to import equipment used to treat cancers -
for fear of use in weapons programmes - is denied. But it is those weapons -
and Saddam's unwillingness to reveal their details - that are at the root of
the problem. If, the British and American governments say, Saddam allows
international inspectors to check he is no longer able to make nuclear,
chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, then the sanctions will
be lifted. They have hinted that the 'no fly zones' in the south and north
will be ended too. But while the rest of the world is aiding the collapse of
sanctions, Saddam has little incentive to make concessions.

One Western diplomat told The Observer : 'The British and the Americans have
painted themselves into a corner. They can't lift the sanctions, because it
will hand Saddam a major victory. But the system is collapsing anyway.
Either way they'll end up looking like fools - and stupid, vindictive
[fools] at that.'

Before Khalil al-Suhail invested in his restaurant he did some market
research. 'Soon I knew I'd be fine,' he said. 'I knew I could rely on
"embargo gold".'

The harsh truth is that the sanctions, in addition to inflicting suffering
on millions, made many very rich. Uday, Saddam's psychotic eldest son, has
run the bulk of the regime's oil smuggling operation and made his father one
of the richest men in the world. Sources estimate the dictator's wealth at
more than £3 billion.

Through contracts and franchises handed out to associates, a wider circle of
loyalists has made a fortune. Thousands of young Iraqi entrepreneurs have
taken advantage of the distortions in demand and distribution caused by the
sanctions - almost always with a nudge and a wink and a pay-off to the
regime. The rationing system maintained under the 'Food for Oil' programme
has allowed big farmers to make huge sums selling grain and other
commodities. And the huge reconstruction projects - such as the motorways -
have made many more rich.

Support for Saddam among the majority of Iraqis - despite his well-known
brutality - is in no way diminished.

The al-Hashemi family are the sort of people Western planners hoped would
oppose Saddam. Intellectual, politi cised, educated (and even with vital
military connections), they remember 'the good days' before the wars and the

'We have suffered a lot in the last 20 years,' says Mohammed, now a
government servant whose $25 monthly salary, added to the government food
rations, just about keeps a decent standard of living for his five-strong

He is scathing about the 'profiteers' and 'merchants of war' who now
comprise Baghdad's elite. But he says - and given that he only agreed to
meet in secrecy (his name has been changed) he is probably telling the truth
- he is now a supporter of the President. 'As the grip has tightened on our
country more and more, we have got closer and closer to our leader. He is
now the embodiment of the spirit of our nation and we are proud of him.'

Such support is unlikely to erode soon. For a decade Iraqi schoolchildren
have learnt about the great victory of Saddam over the vicious,
Muslim-hating, neo-colonialist West. In recent months Saddam's prestige has
been boosted by his outspoken support for the four-month old Palestinian

At Friday prayers last week at the 700-year-old shrine of Sheikh Abdul
Qadeer al-Gilani in old Baghdad a packed congregation heard a sermon
condemning to hell those who stood by and allowed their fellow Muslims to be
harmed. It was a sideswipe both at those who ignored the Palestinians and
those who have failed to support Iraq. Afterwards the imam, Sheikh Afif,
told The Observer that the Iraqi people had showed 'the patience of Job' in
their suffering.

He recited an Iraqi proverb. 'A journey of a thousand miles starts with just
one step,' he said. 'We started directly after the American and British
aggression. Now our thousand miles are nearly travelled. Our victory is
nearly complete.'

by Zvi Bar'el
Ha'aretz, 25th January

Iraq has good relations with three regional states that have full diplomatic
relations with Israel - Turkey, Jordan and Egypt. It champions the
Palestinians, who are conducting peace negotiations with Israel. Coupled
with growing international moves to end sanctions against Iraq, all of this
raises a question - how serious are Saddam Hussein's threats against Israel,
and how much help Iraq would be likely to give Syria in any military
confrontation with Israel?

"Even aside from questions of ability, Syria is not in a position now where
it would want to start a war," said an American diplomat familiar with the
situation in Syria. "Syria has refrained from giving Israel any excuse to
attack, and we are convinced its recent military maneuvers relate to a
defensive plan should Israel attack.

"Syria is in the middle of a cautious process of internal change. This is
mainly focused on its economic structure and on adopting a more open
approach to opposition groups that are willing to accept government red
lines. In our opinion Syria also does not want to turn Lebanon into an
Israeli battlefield again - or, more accurately, we are seeing signs Syria
wants to renew diplomatic negotiations.

On the possibility of an independent military initiative from Iraq, the
diplomat said: "We've become used to the fact you can expect anything from
Iraq ... But you must remember, even when he invaded Kuwait, Saddam thought
he was operating within an Arab consensus - or at least that he could
mobilize such a consensus. Furthermore, he could have interpreted America's
lack of determined action as confirmation, or at least tacit consent, that
if Iraq invaded Kuwait, the Americans wouldn't get involved.

"Iraq cannot deceive itself today on the Arab consensus against war with
Israel, or the determined stand of its friends in Europe that support the
peace process. This consensus was evident at the Arab summit, when only
Yemen backed Iraq's call for a jihad against Israel."

"Furthermore, Iraq is now making every effort to return to the Arab fold. It
renewed diplomatic relations with Egypt last month, and its vice president
visited Egypt last week for the first time in 10 years. It has excellent
relations with Jordan, to which it sells subsidized oil, and for which it is
the principal export market.

"Last week, Turkey appointed an ambassador to Iraq, and the two governments
have announced plans to connect their countries with a rail link and resume
the flow of oil. Meetings with Iranian officials are frequent. Even Kuwait
has called for helping the Iraqi people.

"The Syrian commercial office that opened in Baghdad this week is one more
sign of normalizing ties with Damascus. Iraq saying Syria will be an outlet
for its oil also signifies a change in their formerly hostile relations.
Syria has said it will not violate sanctions against Iraq, but the UN
sanctions committee is unlikely to refuse Damascus permission to serve as a
conduit for Iraqi oil. In any case the entire sanctions policy is likely to
be reevaluated soon.

New York Daily News, 26th January

All Americans have the constitutional right to assume that a President's
first duty is to protect the nation from foreign attack ‹ and to keep them
alert to danger.

But the Clinton-Gore administration kept from the public the fact that it
had strong evidence Saddam Hussein had rebuilt another string of factories.
These happen to be the very factories that American pilots had destroyed to
prevent attacks by coordinated groups of foreign terrorists, Iraqi
scientists and bomb specialists.

It was only on Jan. 12, eight days before the inauguration of President
Bush, that the outgoing administration made public a bare-bones defense
estimate that Iraq had rebuilt its weapons plant structure and might already
be turning out the makings of handy-sized chemical and bacteriological
weapons. These are the weapons most likely to be delivered into the U.S.,
Israel and other particular enemies of Iraq.

"Made public" is an ironic phrase for what happened. The public was too busy
with preparations for the inauguration and with football. So was the press,
except for a couple of New York Times reporters in Washington who prevented
the story from being blacked out.

How long had Bill Clinton known about the rebuilt plants and Iraq's progress
in death manufacturing? What were his plans to deal with the sharpened
threat to the U.S.? Surely, he had some. Why did the Clintonian top
hierarchy, from the President on down, withhold the information about the
rebuilt plants? Was it out of a belief that Americans are cowardly
muttonheads unable to face a crisis and more likely to vote for the
opposition if they heard about it during a campaign? As it was, the
presidential campaign was almost as empty of discussion of foreign affairs
as a first-grade seminar.

Did the Clinton administration inform members of the United Nations Security
Council? Most council members who voted for international inspection of
Saddam's work on weapons of mass destruction passively accepted his decision
to kick out all the inspectors. For almost three years, he has been free to
make all the weapons he wants. More and more nations are racing away from
the U.S. and toward Iraq to buy billons of dollars of his oil, above the
sanction quotas set by the UN until he reveals all his weaponry.

America is not popular at the UN. Money and Saddam are, even though this is
the same fellow who captured Kuwait, threatened to occupy Saudi Arabia and
sought the domination of all Muslim countries. The U.S. stopped him by
winning the Gulf War ‹ however quickly it threw away the peace by letting
him keep his life, army and reign.

For years, the danger from Saddam was that without inspections, he would
achieve weapons of mass destruction. Already attainable for the Iraqis is
the production of small, devastating packages of horror that can be planted
by small groups of men led by terrorists like Osama Bin Laden, the Saudi
billionaire whose money and abode in Afghanistan seem to make him immune
from the U.S.

Bin Laden had a good time at his son's wedding recently. But Western
anti-terrorists think he had a far better time when the World Trade Center
was bombed because he had a hand in it ‹ or intends to when New York is hit
again. Over to you, President Bush.

If Bush is to have credibility as an international figure, he has to act to
protect American security. He must tell the UN that Saddam must immediately
let the inspectors return with renewed authority to find all his war plants.
If Saddam refuses, the UN should send an international air corps to wipe the
plants out again. If the UN refuses, the U.S. should do it alone.

Bush should reinvigorate the sanctions that once were the box that contained
Saddam. Then the President should put some muscle ‹ arms, money, status ‹
behind the rebel movement against Saddam. A few dollars and a lot of words
won't do.

And the U.S. should deduct the cost of doing all this from any aid, loans or
other help that flows from America to one-time allies that now side with
Saddam. They won't like it. But maybe in time they will take a little
pleasure from having had even an unwilling role in helping escort the
marauding tyrant into the only abode where he will remain safe, his grave.

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]