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> I was reading an > article/editorial in the Toronto Star it talked > about how only southern Iraq > feels the pressure of the sanctions, while areas > like Baghdad are > flourishing, this is because the foreign aid isn't > distributed fairly. Hi Sarah, Thanks for your e-mail, and questions. Yes, different parts of the country clearly perform differently. In part this reflects historical imbalances - the southern governorates often being marginalised politically and economically. In part this reflects the current government's priorities: maintaining control of the capital city is a high priority in any goverment - Baghdad must be coddled if power is to be retained. This said, I have no idea to what extent the current differences reflect these two factors, and to what extent the Iraqi government uses "oil for food" resources and non-"oil for food" in coddling. While the UN in Iraq reports quite regularly, there is a strong belief that its ability to report - and what is then finally reported from New York - is constrained by the need for the Iraqi government to issue visas to its staff. Thus, while inequitable distribution of OFF resources has not been reported by the "humanitarian" agencies, one cannot conclude from this that it does not occur. A few brief notes: first, there is government spending outside of "oil for food". Smuggling allows a certain amount of revenue, and there are domestic taxes - although of what level, I do not know. Second, the resources being distributed under "oil for food" are not "foreign aid" in the typical sense. They are ordered and purchased by the Iraqi government, not by foreign donors. Further, as the Iraqi government pays large deductions on oil sales made under "oil for food", purchases under this mechanism are - however warranted - more expensive than are those outside of it. Finally, while there are regional disparities, I don't know that it's yet accurate to conclude that Baghdad is flourishing. My own experience of it is limited to two weeks in December 2000. It clearly wore the scars of deterioration. A "game" that I played by myself involved seeing how many standard elements were missing in a taxi: the absence of springs in the seat and the shattered windscreen one took for granted; the question was which of the rear view mirrors, the door handles, or other components were also defunct. This exercise can be repeated in any number of other environments (the biycle reflectors used in elevators, the absence of working toilet pull chains, etc.). Another "project" that I undertook was to find the luxurious parts of Baghdad. My motives for doing so were likely mixed: on the one hand, I told myself that I needed to see the contradictions here, rather than allowing myself to rest comfortably with a simplistic view of a uniformly poor society. On the other, I suspect that I wanted to sip coffee in a nice cafe on a nice street and watch nice looking people pass by - certainly a more pleasant experience than hopping the dirty puddles of Saddam City. I was surprised to discover that the luxurious commercial parts of Baghdad that I found were still pretty unimpressive. The commercial sections of Arasat Al-Hindiya and Mansour had nothing even on a Guatemala City, in either size of grandeur. So, yes, there are shops in Baghdad where one can buy suits and ties at international prices, or microwaves, N'Sync albums, etc. But there are also children and people working the streets, even in Baghdad. > If it is true then why doesn't any of the info > posted on the list deal with > the corruption of the IRaqi government, or whatever > is responsible for not distributing aid equally. This is a more difficult question for me to answer, as it deals with the views of all members of the list. My sense has been that views critical of the Iraqi government are certainly posted to this list. This said, what I think brings people to the list is a common concern that the policies of our governments are harming innocents. This does not in any way exonerate the Iraqi government of its role in this tragedy, but it does mean that we have tended to focus on what we regard as being, in some greater sense, "our responsibility". I hope that these thoughts help somewhat. Please do let me know if I can expand further on any of them. Best, ===== Colin Rowat 274 Vanderbilt Ave., #2 Brooklyn NY 11205 USA (m) 917 517 5840 (f) 707 221 3672 __________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Get personalized email addresses from Yahoo! Mail http://personal.mail.yahoo.com/ -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk