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RE: von Sponeck/Halliday statement on smart sanctions

Thank you, Milan, for sharing this article.  Where was it published?  (Has
it been published?)  It would be quite important to get this article
published  - as an op-ed piece - in papers in the US and UK.  In order to
submit it, information on its previous publication and its date are


-----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of Milan Rai
Sent: Saturday, June 09, 2001 12:28 PM
To: CASI list
Subject: von Sponeck/Halliday statement on smart sanctions

A 'New' Iraq Policy:
What About International Law and Compassion?
Hans von Sponeck and Denis Halliday

The conveyor belt theory that economic pressure will produce
political change has once again proved to be false. A change in
government has not taken place but the conditions of life facing civilian
Iraq is today are desperate, far worse than what senior UN officials
described already in 1991 as apocalyptic.

At the end of World War II, a Marshall Plan came to the rescue of a
civilian population in Germany devastated and traumatized by six
years of war. At the end of Operation Desert Storm in 1991
following the earlier Iran-Iraq war of eight years, Iraqis were
sentenced to the most comprehensive sanctions ever extended by the
international community to a country. Not surprising the human cost
for a decade of failure is horrendous.

Today Iraq has the dubious distinction of being the country with the
highest increase in child mortality during the period 1990-99 of all the
188 countries surveyed according to a UNICEF report released in
December 2000.

As two former Humanitarian Coordinators who have lived in Iraq for
lengthy periods and who have had the rare opportunity to see
conditions on the ground and interact with Iraqi officials and normal
citizens, we would like to express our deep apprehension over the
current UK/US proposals for a new international policy on Iraq.

What is proposed as an international road map for change seemingly
suggests a well-surfaced international highway to civilian recovery. The
brutal truth is that the road is full of potholes.

The US State Department and the British Foreign Office must be
aware that eventually the 'true story' will come out just as in the cases
of Chile and Vietnam. The tragedy is that it will come too late for
millions of Iraqis who will have died or become permanently disabled
by self-serving and dishonest policies of others.

Our first concern is that the international community and the Iraqi
authorities do whatever is in their power to allow the restoration of
genuine socio-economic normalcy and dignity of life in Iraq.

The proposals the UK has made to the UN Security Council will, as
presently foreseen, not lead at all to a betterment of the human
condition in Iraq. An enlarged 'green list' of items which can come
into the country more freely does not constitute a removal of
external restrictions on a normal civilian life! Only the full lifting of
economic embargo will contribute to this.

What is proposed at this point in fact amounts to a tightening of the
rope around the neck of the average Iraqi citizen. The question that
needs an answer is; how much does it cost to run a nation,
particularly a nation disabled by ten years of sanctions. Where should
resources come from for the maintenance of Iraqi roads, ports,
bridges and railways? What about money for the civil service, the
payment of teachers, or for the up-keep of hospitals and schools?

Sanction regulations do not permit any funding for such purposes.
Does this not put into perspective the amounts of money the Iraqi
government obtains in addition to the legal sale of oil?

The proposed 'civilian-friendly' new policy for Iraq is trying to
eliminate this source of revenue. If successful, it will deepen, not
lessen the suffering of the Iraqi people.

US and UK representatives at the UN Security Council argue that
their proposals are tantamount to lifting most, if not all, restrictions
on the import of civilian goods. Consequently, any continued suffering
by the Iraqi people will be on account of the Government in Baghdad.

This is not only false but malicious.

A genuine international contribution to ending the tragedy in Iraq will
only come when economic sanctions are lifted. The status of a hand-
out society will only end when Iraq's economic engine is running again
and when people have a chance to fend for themselves, rather than
waiting for the monthly food basket.

Without foreign investment of financial and human resources this will
not happen nor will it happen as long as the Iraqi oil revenue is
managed from outside.

The so-called 'new' sanction policy maintains the old bridgeheads of
the current sanction regime: the oil escrow account remains with the
UN, market-based foreign investment in Iraq will not be allowed and
an oil-for-food programme stays in the hands of the UN.

The smell is of diluted wine in the same restricted bottle. No
reasonable person will want to drink it and the Iraqi Government will
refuse to pay for it. For the Iraqi people with an immune system
which has all but disappeared, it will be fatal.

Ultimately, this circuitous approach in dealing with Iraq is based on
the pretension that Iraq still constitutes a military threat. The anti-Iraq
lobby has tried hard to suggest that major recent acts of terrorism
have an Iraq connection. No facts are offered. All this is designed to
justify a policy of punishment of a nation for having failed to get rid of
its leader.

Iraq today is no longer a military threat to anyone. Intelligence
agencies know this. All the conjectures about weapons of mass
destruction in Iraq lack evidence. An Iraq that at the height of its
military prowess in the war against Iran failed to win a clear victory is
not an Iraq that can be a danger after ten years of sanctions and seven
years of disarmament.

William Cohen was therefore right when he conveyed to incoming
President Bush on 10 January that "Iraq no longer poses a military
threat to its neighbours".

The new majority leader of the US House of Representatives, Tom
Daschle, in talking about the Middle East referred to the need for
compromise. We too, believe that there will be no progress in any
aspect of the Middle East peace process without compromise. This
includes Iraq.

The cornerstone of such compromise has to be that all parties accept
the principle of dialogue. The second round of talks between the UN
Secretary-General and an Iraqi delegation is an important step
towards a fuller dialogue with the UN Security Council.

The US/UK Governments have the position papers presented by the
then Iraqi Foreign Minister Al-Sahaf to Secretary-General Annan in
February. A full dialogue must begin with a substantive, not a political,
reaction by the UN Security Council to these papers. This would set
the stage for a review of all outstanding matters from missing POWs
to compensation payments and disarmament.

If there is an honest concern for the welfare of the Iraqi people, then
there must also be a sense of urgency in finding a humane way out of
the present political cul-de-sac. Let not hate but sympathy for a
human catastrophe be the guide for the next steps.

H.C. von Sponeck                                Denis L. Halliday
UN Humanitarian Coordinator     UN Humanitarian Coordinator
For Iraq                                        For Iraq
(1998-2000)                             (1997-1998)

                               Geneva/Dublin, 29 May 2001

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