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]
For introduction: I have been working for more than 36 years with the Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan. Presently, since 1992, I am one of the only two expatriate -non-Kurdish - employees of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil and councellor to the KRG-Representation to Germany in Berlin. I have build my home in one of the villages rather far away from the big cities in Kurdistan in a small village on the bank of the Zab river. I have recently had the chance to browse the website of CASI, and read and compare and check. I was appalled by the mono-dimensional nature of the site. This inspired me to write the paper that follows. I would wish that I can contribute to a lively debate that overcomes the cemented fronts visible at CASI's website. LIFTING SANCTIONS ON IRAQ: CENTER-SOUTH vs. KURDISTAN According to the Office of the Spokesman for the UN Secretary General (OSSG), under Article 41 of the UN Charter, the Security Council may call upon Member States to apply measures not involving the use of armed force in order to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such measures are commonly referred to as sanctions. The Security Council has invoked Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter to impose sanctions in fifteen cases. Iraq is one of those cases. Are Iraqis suffering under sanctions? Yes. 1. First and foremost, there can be no doubt that under UN sanctions ordinary Iraqis have been suffering inordinately. This human tragedy is of great concern to Iraqis everywhere throughout the country, in northern Iraq (Kurdistan) as well as in the center-south (CS). Iraqis in one part have friends and relatives in the other part. Notably, there are some 800,000 Kurds in Baghdad, and more live in Kirkuk, Mosul, and elsewhere in the country. More than one million live in areas under Baghdad control, outside Iraqi Kurdistan. Iraqis are decent people, and no decent resident of Iraqi Kurdistan glories in the apparent advantage they may have over their brothers and sisters in the CS. All Iraqis suffer under sanctions, no matter where they live. Some suffer more than others. In comparing the situation in CS and Kurdistan let's try to "get real", try to step back and take an objective view, and try not to be easily influenced by the sanitized and biased rhetoric and writings of those with an agenda who believe it necessary to protect their personal and/or organizational interests. Need Iraqis suffer so much under sanctions? No. 2. Kurdistan does receive a higher per capita share of SCR-986 resources, but arguably, its access to additional resources to support public services is far less than the resources available to the CS. If Iraqis living in Iraqi Kurdistan under sanctions are better off than Iraqis living in the CS under sanctions, it needn't be so. There is no reason why the situation in the CS could not be brought up to the same, or above, the level of the situation in Iraqi Kurdistan. There is no reason why both regions could not be better off together. Both have access to substantial resources. Quite arguably, the CS has access to more resources than does Kurdistan. Most definitely, however, the CS has more options and opportunities, in addition to substantial resources, to improve the human condition for all Iraqis, not only in the CS but in Kurdistan as well. Resources are available from more than Iraq's substantial public oil wealth being controlled by the international community through the United Nations under the SCR- 986 (oil-for-food) Program. It's a matter of choice of how to apply the substantial resources available. Right choices bring right results. 3. In any case, and more importantly, never before in the history of Iraq has such a high amount of the country's public wealth been dedicated solely to humanitarian goods and services. Before the events of 1990-91 most of Iraq's public wealth was allocated to non-humanitarian and non-productive endeavors, most notably the military and other security organizations. Before the events of 1990-91, LESS THEN 25% of Iraq's public wealth was dedicated to non-military or non-security services. Today, more resources are being earned than even before the events of 1990-91. This is a fact that should be widely known, but surprisingly isn't. Most notably, a record-setting 72% of Iraq's primary source of public wealth, oil, is designated solely for humanitarian use. An additional 2.2% is designated for the United Nations to manage and monitor the application of these resources. Thus, an astonishing nearly 75% of Iraq's oil wealth under the oil-for-food program is dedicated to "ordinary" Iraqis. More public and private wealth is also available. Need Iraqis in any part of the country suffer? Absolutely, of course, not. Will lifting sanctions improve the lives of Iraqis? For some, yes. For some, no. 4. Lifting sanctions (presumably to pre-1990 conditions) is too simplistic - a bogus, almost magical solution to the suffering of the Iraqi people. The shortsighted proponents of lifting sanctions do not see, or deliberately choose not to see, the crucial importance of the adverse consequences of doing so. They do not realize that many Iraqis actually fear the lifting of sanctions. The humanitarian goods and services many Iraqis receive under sanctions would be stopped, or taken away. Certainly, and most importantly, their personal security would be more seriously jeopardized than it is today. Many in Iraqi Kurdistan fear that the ravages of the Anfal would be eventually reinitiated. If sanctions are unconditionally lifted, many more than those currently struggling, and even risking their lives, to leave the country would seek to migrate. The victims of the past would become, again, the victims of the future. Are the proponents of lifting sanctions prepared for this eventuality? 5. Proponents of lifting sanctions incredibly state, "the direct cause of the suffering is much less relevant than ascertaining what can be done to prevent it". Oh really?!! What kind of gibberish is this? Shouldn't the solution, what could and should be done about the problem, be derived from the CAUSE of the problem? (The proponents must be living on another planet. What is their real agenda? Who funds them anyway?) Are sanctions the real cause of the suffering of the Iraqi people? Of course not. 6. Children are indeed starving and dying under sanctions. But why is this happening when it need not? What is the real story? First, let's examine how apparent facts are used to promote a hurtful agenda. Let's look at those child mortality figures so often blindly used to support the argument for lifting sanctions. The often-cited 1999 UNICEF study states that in 1990 the child mortality rate in Kurdistan was 80 per 1,000 live births, and in the CS it was 56. Pause a simple moment and take a clear look at these two figures. Certainly, these figures reflect the extensive neglect that Kurdistan was subjected to even before the sanctions began. Sanctions did not cause the difference back then. Obviously, those who controlled Iraq's public oil wealth neither adequately nor equitably applied it. Most importantly, there is absolutely no reason to expect that such treatment would change if sanctions were to be unconditionally lifted. 7. The UNICEF study points out that in 1999 the child mortality rate significantly rose in the CS from 56 to 131, and in Kurdistan it slightly decreased, from 80 to 72. The figures for the CS are indeed bad, but could they really be THAT bad?!! Both the CS and Kurdistan were subjected to the effects of sanctions. Kurdistan was also subjected to an additional embargo imposed on it by the CS. Might the data collection process have been tampered with? The study may have been professionally done as far as the methodology is concerned, but these results are very suspect, especially when in the CS the data collection process could very well have been manipulated. Quite noticeably, relatively severe restrictions on journalists were lifted to allow them to visit the CS soon after the study was released. They observed exactly what the Baghdad regime wanted them to observe to back up the study's conclusions. 8. The study results are further suspect because the 1999 child mortality rate for Suleimaniyah (59) is significantly lower than the rates for Duhok (82) and Erbil (75). The general impression was that living conditions were noticeably better in Duhok and Erbil compared to Suleimaniyah and, thus, the child mortality rates would be expected to be either about the same in all three governorates, or at least better in Duhok and Erbil. Further, usually urban child mortality figures are presumably lower than rural figures. But, the overall Suleimaniyah figure (59) is even lower than the regional urban figure (68). As one would expect, the regional rural figure is higher (89). The study appears to be a regrettable case of "garbage-in garbage-out", meaning that if you process bad data by a good method you get bad information. With all the resources available, should the child mortality figures be so high? No. 9. Let's look at CAPACITIES. Iraq has incredible capacities, both in the CS and in Kurdistan. Many foreign relief and development workers who arrived in Iraq in 1991-92 easily observed this. (Compared to the situation today, back then the GOI - Government of Iraq - was remarkably open to visitors.) Many foreign relief and development practitioners with more than a decade of field experience in Asia and Africa were amazed and pleased with what they observed. Though the application of those capacities today is currently under some constraint, the capacities do exist and they are finding increasingly more and more expression everyday. What needs to be done can be done, could be done. 10. The constraints did not inhibit substantial reconstruction projects in the CS from being completed in record time. Even during the past decade UNDER SANCTIONS, there are many solid examples of accomplishment. The rebuilding of war-destroyed public facilities throughout the country following the events of 1991 is one obvious, tangible demonstration of what Iraqis can do for themselves, by themselves, with their own resources. Destroyed bridges in Baghdad were completely reconstructed during the short period many relief workers were there. Even a much more difficult suspension bridge was completed within a few short years. From tangled ruins and piles of debris, factories and refineries were resurrected in weeks to seemingly full functioning facilities. It was almost miraculous. 11. Much of the criticism of the effects of sanctions on the CS ignores the enormous capacities inherent in Iraq. The criticism also ignores Iraq's colossal wealth in both its land resources and in its human resources. A simple tour around the country would convince anyone of average intelligence of this fact. This applies to both the CS and Kurdistan. 12. Too much of the criticism is based on anecdotal information and on selected facts and statements used out of context without the benefit of on-the-ground visits to the Kurdistan region. Visitors are restricted by the Baghdad authorities and neighboring countries from entering Kurdistan. (But they are not restricted once they are inside the Kurdistan Region; they are free to go anywhere and talk with anyone, without minders.) Many critics who have visited only Baghdad and a few other places in the CS shepherded by Iraqi minders misleadingly speak with authority about the whole country. However, what has been happening in Kurdistan has not been noticed because the Region has not been visited and was beyond their observation. 13. This is all to say that "IF" the GOI decided to develop and implement a policy to reduce child mortality to pre-1991 levels, it could have been done, and would have been done well, in a systematic and credible manner. The GOI knows very well and has in its tool box the means and methods to drastically bring down child mortality figures in an appropriate and effective manner to levels that would rival those in the West. The capabilities to do this readily exist in Iraq, and they are proven. The high child mortality figures are not a function of resource availability; the resources needed have always been available. Iraq does not belong to the third world. The higher child mortality figures are not a result of inadequate resource availability. The figures are a function of political will, leadership, and management. What are the adverse consequences of lifting sanctions? A lot. 14. Governments opposing sanctions to pursue their own narrow national interests, and individuals pursuing a mono-dimensional sanctions-lifting goal, no matter how well meaning, have done a great disservice to the Iraqi people. They have offered credibility and leverage to what is regarded as the most reckless, ruthless, and bloody regime in the world today. Look at the documented history of events prior to 1991. Look at the documented history over the past decade SINCE the 1991 events. IN ESSENCE: NO DIFFERENCE, NO CHANGE. If these same governments and NGOs dedicated as much time and effort to trying to move the GOI to do for its people what any responsible and responsive government should or would do, ordinary Iraqis would be living much different - unarguably better - lives today. Far fewer children would have starved and died and the child mortality figures would rival those of the West. Because of its enormous human and material wealth and inherent productive capacities, Iraq would have become a completely different country than it is today if governments and NGOs moved the GOI to do what really needed to be done. The fact that governments and NGOs neglected to do this, or failed in their efforts to do so, raises a number of questions. 15. Iraqi Kurdistan, where some 5,000 communities once flourished, is a land where nearly 4,000 were systematically destroyed and hundreds of thousands of living, breathing people were displaced. (Today's quasi-autonomous region of some 40,000 square kilometers, about half the area of Iraq where Kurds predominate, is about the same size as Switzerland, half the size of Jordan, four times the size of Lebanon, and larger than Albania, Armenia, or The Netherlands. The region's population of more than 3.5 million is about the same as that of Ireland, New Zealand, Armenia, and Albania.) How can this well documented history not be so widely known? Many of the destroyed communities were small villages, but there were also towns of more than 50,000 that were completely decimated. Chemical, perhaps even biological, weapons were used all across the region, from northern Duhok Governorate down to the most infamous example of Halabja. How can all this brutal history be ignored by the anti- sanctionists?! If sanctions are lifted, without security guarantees, and without guarantees of a fair share of Iraq's public wealth, it could happen all over again. The real people involved in the sanctions - the living, breathing people of Iraqi Kurdistan - have no doubts about this. This uncertainty and fear they always live with. They know they cannot rely on general declarations of protection and support. Their history of neglect and betrayal by the world community is long and profound. They have little reason to anticipate the future to be any different. 16. The events of 1990-91 allowed thousands of families to return to their original homelands and to rebuild their communities. But in many areas, especially along the border with Iran, millions of landmines have been laid that threaten the lives of those who return to reconstruct and resettle in their original homes. And more landmines have been placed inland near former Iraqi military installations. Many landmine victims are women and children working in their fields, gathering firewood, and shepherding their flocks of sheep and goats. Mine awareness education, demarcation of minefields, and demining, a painfully slow process, have been implemented by NGOs since 1992, and by the UN under the oil-for-food program since 1997. Lifting sanctions would be expected to halt these critically important activities. Why did senior humanitarian officials resign over the sanctions? Good question. 17. As experienced diplomats and economic development practitioners, UN Humanitarian Coordinators Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck failed to apply the capacities within their reach - their personal qualifications, experience, talents, wits, their energy - and to muster the support of the world community through the United Nations, to bear on the GOI to do what it should do in the humanitarian interests of its people. As international civil servants and diplomats, the situation called for their unrelenting leadership in negotiating and persuading the GOI to act in a manner that better served ALL the people of Iraq. What is diplomacy all about anyway? Their mandate had nothing to do with national interests. It was all about serving the humanitarian interests of the Iraqi people. So is, or should be, the mandate of the GOI. With the same, identical, unarguable interests, at some point in time they should have come to terms. It would certainly not have been easy but Halliday and von Sponeck should have exhausted themselves in trying. They had formidable resources at their command available within the UN system to make a real difference. Further, enormous capacities existed within the GOI, and more than sufficient resources were available in Iraq itself. Perhaps Halliday and von Sponeck were incapable of exerting the leadership that was critically needed. Obviously, they were not motivated to try. In any case, Halliday and von Sponeck failed to provide that leadership and, instead, chose to blame the system they were assigned to serve. Given their personal qualities and their broad and lengthy professional qualifications and experience, one can only wonder in bewilderment about their real agendas. To resign, supposedly on principle, at the tail end of long careers, begs the question even further. 18. In arguing for lifting sanctions, Halliday needs to do his homework much better. Just last month he said, "There is no other way to address the problems of the Iraqi people but to give 100 per cent of the oil revenues back to Iraq and allow Iraq to invest that money in agriculture, health care and education, to rebuild the infrastructure, water systems, sewerage systems, electric power, and rebuild its capacity to produce oil and so on. That is the only solution to the crisis." The fact is that what he asserts needs to happen is actually happening. Yes, it could happen better and faster, but it is indeed happening. In any case, though 100% is not being made available, the nearly 75% allocated to the Iraqi people throughout the country under the oil-for-food program is higher than any amount in the history of Iraq that has been made available for humanitarian goods and services. If sanctions were to be lifted unconditionally, the amount of public wealth available for humanitarian goods and services would undoubtedly decrease to less than 75%. Are sufficient resources available to make a real difference in the human condition? Of course. 19. Let's look at Iraq's ACCESS TO RESOURCES. First, the oil-for-food program was never intended to replace GOI resources that were being spent prior to the start of the program in 1997. The program was intended to supplement, not replace, what the GOI had been spending all along. Few realize that before the program began the GOI had an ongoing free-food rationing system in the CS for every resident, but not for the residents of Iraqi Kurdistan. (In late 1991, the GOI withdrew its administration from Iraqi Kurdistan and separated the region from the rest of the country.) The GOI system worked well, so well that their distribution and accounting mechanisms were adopted by the UN and applied to food being distributed under the oil-for-food program. When the GOI chooses to deliver, they can very well deliver indeed. 20. Arguably, the CS has much higher access to resources than Kurdistan. The GOI controls all energy resources and the waters of both major rivers that pass through the country. The CS always had more options and opportunities than Kurdistan to address the needs of the people. In addition to Iraq's enormous oil wealth, the GOI completely controls the political-economic environment in Iraq. Indeed, the GOI has always been free to develop and implement policies that would effectively benefit the people, all the people, throughout the whole country. 21. Access to resources has always been readily available. The na´ve proponents of lifting sanctions overlook the fact that an oil-for-food program was offered in 1991, nearly ten years ago, under SCR-706 and SCR-712, which the GOI rejected. If these resolutions were implemented, far fewer Iraqis would have suffered to the extent that they have. SCR-986, the current oil-for-food program was passed by the UN Security Council in April 1995. At first it was rejected by the GOI, and then finally accepted in May 1996. (But the oil did not begin to flow until December 1996 and the first goods, food, did not arrive until March 1997.) The world needed and wanted Iraqi oil, and the Iraqi people needed the world's goods. There were, thus, neither internal nor external obstacles to satisfying the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people. But six years passed before the world got Iraqi oil and the Iraqi people began to get a better deal. In the history of Iraq, notably even before sanctions were imposed, there has never been so much in absolute value, never such a high percentage of public revenue, dedicated solely to assuage the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people. Where were the governments and NGOs that promote the lifting of sanctions during those six years when they were needed to move the GOI to better serve their people? Why is Iraqi Kurdistan seemingly better off? Good question. 22. Many of those calling for the lifting of sanctions still do not realize and appreciate that it is the GOI, not the UN that is responsible for the procurement of bulk food and medicines for the WHOLE country, even for Kurdistan. The GOI decides what to buy and who to buy it from. In theory, the GOI could decide under the oil-for-food program to provide steak and eggs for breakfast to every resident every day. In any case, the system works such that based on its population, each governorate (province) receives an equitable share of food and medicine. The GOI procures the food and medicine - they negotiate and sign the contracts, not the UN - and they send Kurdistan its share. While there is widespread criticism of food quality, though SCR-986 food is tested and what is distributed is declared fit for human consumption, the distribution process is monitored by the UN and works quite well. This means that every resident in the country, in both the CS and Kurdistan, receives the same kind and amount of food and has access to the same medicines. Then why is the CS supposedly so much worse off? It shouldn't be. 23. Interestingly, the UNICEF representative in Baghdad did not credit the UN presence in Kurdistan as contributing to the better situation in Kurdistan. She cited the heavy presence of humanitarian agencies PRIOR to the start of the oil-for-food program in 1997. She also lamely credits the progress in Kurdistan to the availability of a "cash component", the use of oil-for-food resources to cover some implementation costs. First, this is an uninformed opinion; it is not an established fact. While the presence of humanitarian agencies was important and always welcomed, this factor unlikely explains the significant difference in the child mortality rates between the CS (131) and Kurdistan (72), especially in view of the fact that the CS had a food rationing system before the oil-for-food program began and Kurdistan did not. True, there was some food distributed in Kurdistan prior to SCR-986 by WFP and a few NGOs, but this was limited in quantity, variety, and nutritional value, and made available to only a limited number of vulnerable persons, and often NOT on a regular basis. 24. Regarding the cash component, this is a highly questionable factor in explaining the worse situation in the CS compared to Kurdistan. This suggestion ignores the fact that the CS had resources unavailable to Kurdistan that it could have applied to support SCR-986 implementation. But instead, it chose to apply them to other things. The CS had the resources and the decisionmaking capacity, and the technical and managerial skills to substantially reduce child mortality. It is readily apparent that UNICEF's (and other UN agencies) delicate relationship with the GOI has been replete with intimidation and discouragement in dealing with the issue in a forthright manner. 25. Regarding the border with Kurdistan being "more porous", give us a break! What planet do the proponents of lifting sanctions live on? The sanctions have been just as well enforced against Kurdistan as they have been anywhere else in Iraq. The proponents of lifting sanctions seem to be ignorant of the fact that prior to the start of SCR-986 in 1997 the GOI imposed an additional embargo on Kurdistan that severely restricted the availability of essential commodities including food, and notably cooking and heating fuels, especially since most families' incomes were inadequate to meet basic expenses during winter months when fuel costs skyrocketed. Even today, in a fuel rich country, the supply of essential fuels from the CS to Kurdistan is severely limited in quantity and of higher cost. This one-of-many important and obvious facts seems to have been lost on the anti-sanctionists. 26. All of Iraq's borders are porous: Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, in addition to Turkey. The CS also has sea access; goods are imported from the Gulf States. The UN buys laser printer and photocopier cartridges and vehicle spare parts from the local market that are imported by the CS. High-grade motor oils are available from Saudi Arabia. Most anything is available including new vehicles and office phone systems from Japan, the latest in personal computers from Dubai, digital TV receivers from Korea, Sony Playstations and peanut butter from the United States, food products from Singapore, building materials from Spain, beers from everywhere, and most anything from anywhere including Israel and Kuwait. Much of what's available in Kurdistan comes up from the CS, not from Turkey. And much of what comes from Turkey goes to the CS, not to Kurdistan. It is wrong to attribute the situation in Kurdistan being better than in the CS because more goods are imported through Turkey and Iran. Both the CS and Kurdistan comprise Iraq. But because the CS is a much larger market, it has more access to goods from more sources than Kurdistan. Does UN management make a difference? Yes, to some extent. 27. The UN is responsible for managing the SCR-986 program in Iraqi Kurdistan ON BEHALF OF THE GOVERNMENT OF IRAQ. The GOI is responsible for implementing the program in the CS. The GOI could, in effect, implement the program far more effectively and efficiently than the UN. They have proven capabilities. (The UN bureaucracy appears non-correctable. It is extremely cumbersome and in much need of radical reform and upgrading.) But the GOI does not apply their capabilities as they could and should. 28. Let's look at the UN OPERATIONS credited with implementing SCR-986 in Kurdistan. There are twelve UN Agencies operating in Kurdistan. Two, UNOHCI and UNGCI, are service agencies; UNOHCI tries to play a coordination role and UNGCI (UN Guards) provides a security service to UN agencies. UNGCI is not funded by SCR-986 because the GOI does not allow it. Neither is UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, funded by SCR- 986. Both UNGCI and UNHCR are funded from donated funds from other sources in the international community. The other nine UN agencies implement SCR-986 in Kurdistan, not in the CS: UNCHS (Habitat), UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNOPS, ITU, FAO, WHO, and WFP. In the CS, some of these agencies play only an observation (monitoring) role. 29. For each of the UN agencies in Kurdistan this is their largest program in the whole world. For the UN in Iraq alone, the total resources UN agencies are responsible for overseeing is higher than the resources of the whole UN system in the rest of the world. SCR-986 is an enormous program that the UN is not capable of handling to the level of professionalism that is needed. There is no shortage of funds to cover UN expenses in engaging the best expertise in the world to do what needs to be done. In addition to the 13% allocated for humanitarian goods and services for Kurdistan, an additional 2.2% is available solely to cover UN operational costs in all of Iraq. To date, this amounts to approximately $800 million! This is such an enormous amount that in the earliest phases, when oil sales were much lower than what they have become today, the UN failed to spend $54 million. This amount was returned and used solely in the CS. 30. Prior to the events of 1990-91, Iraq had arguably the best public service structure in the Middle East. After the events, the structure remained in place, including in Kurdistan. Many of the same staff operating in the civil service structure back then are still operating in the same structure today. It is these thousands of civil service staff in the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) who provide the services that support the UN's efforts to make the implementation of SCR-986 in Kurdistan so much better than in the CS. UN agencies are virtually totally dependent on the regional and local authorities and their staff for the implementation of SCR-986. Not only has the KRG fully cooperated with UN agencies in the implementation of SCR-986, but the government has also provided substantial warehousing and other building facilities, and security, telecommunication, and other support services. What happens when sanctions are eventually lifted? Another very good question. 31. Though the UN is short term and the existing governing structure is long term, the UN has adopted policies and procedures that undermine the structure of the regional and local authorities. The authorities are not sufficiently consulted in the analyses and planning of project development and implementation. There are three universities in the region, but they are rarely consulted in research and analysis to support SCR-986 planning and policymaking. UN agencies tend to perform as if the regional and local authorities need not exist. Most strikingly, UN agencies are damaging the structure by hiring away civil service staff at, according to one UN report, salaries TEN TO FIFTY TIMES higher than current market rates. This seriously undermines the local authorities' resource base and their capacity to intervene at the policy, technical, and executive levels. What will happen to public services when SCR-986 is eventually terminated and UN agencies leave the scene? 32. The na´ve proponents of lifting sanctions are obviously ignorant of the fact that the establishment of the KRG followed the abandonment of the region by deliberate and voluntary withdrawal of the GOI civil administration in October 1991. The GOI was not pushed out. The 3.5 million people of Iraqi Kurdistan were left to care for and govern themselves. Kurdistan faced a militarized separation as if it was a separate, and adversarial, state. Notably, the GOI imposed an internal embargo that disconnected Kurdistan from the national electricity network, stopped monthly food rations (before SCR-986), caused incalculable financial losses when the 25-dinar currency note was summarily cancelled in May 1993, prevented high school graduates from attending universities outside the region, blocked the supply of vital heating and cooking fuels, prohibited the infirm from seeking specialized medical treatment elsewhere in the country, and stopped salaries and pensions of tens of thousands of active civil servants and retired government employees. This is Kurdistan's POST-1991 experience under sanctions! Coupled with the pre-1991 history of widespread community displacement, destruction, disappearances, and violations of human rights, the living, breathing people of Iraqi Kurdistan have strong reason to view their future as uncertain and to feel extremely insecure. Have NGOs made a difference? Yes, but limited. 33. Professor Garfield's article (New York Times, 13 September 1999) is inaccurate and misleading. Kurdistan's borders, as mentioned above, are no more porous than CS borders, perhaps even less so. Goods in Kurdistan from Syria do not arrive from Syria, but from the CS. The impact of NGOs has been important but the extent of their contribution has been limited. There are not 34 NGOs, but fewer than half this number, and their impact has been greatly diminished due to limited funding, especially since SCR-986 began in 1997. There are fewer NGOs in the CS because the GOI imposes conditions that are unacceptable to them, and because funding is severely limited. 34. Garfield talks of, "A good faith effort to meet basic needs in Iraq would create a better basis to negotiate an end to the Iraq conflict". Who is he trying to joke with? Let's get real here. Like the others who promote lifting sanctions without sufficiently considering the adverse consequences of doing so, this is an uninformed opinion that excels in na´vetÚ. He appears to not know the well-documented history of the region pre- and post-1991 as one of rampant displacement, disappearance, destruction, and disrupted lives. When the history of bad faith is sufficiently appreciated, the question of good faith does not arise. Do the people in Iraqi Kurdistan have more access to food produced locally? No. 35. FAO's statement that the nutritional situation in Kurdistan started to improve in 1994 prior to SCR-986 should not be taken at face value. Their report points out that Kurdistan has 9% of the land area and nearly 50% of the productive arable land. Let's look at this a little closer. How does this translate into better nutrition? Most of Kurdistan's population lives in urban areas, not in rural farming communities, and thus does not have direct access to locally produced food. Thus, most are not food producers. Incomes are severely limited and people face higher prices on essential goods, like cooking and heating fuels, than in the CS. The report does not highlight the destructive provision of free wheat flour under SCR-986 that, coupled with the recent drought, has actually caused a REDUCTION in food production in recent years and a lowering of farm income. What's the conclusion? 36. The na´ve proponents of lifting sanctions, those who do not sufficiently consider the adverse consequences of doing so, try to find reasons for Kurdistan being better off than the CS in selected tangible details such as porous borders and more cash availability. They shy away from examining the more important intangible causes. The fact is that enormous resources are available for the whole country, in both the CS and Kurdistan. The difference lies not in resource AVAILABILITY. The difference lies in resource APPLICABILITY. And applicability is a function of political will, leadership, and management. That's the real difference between the CS and Kurdistan. How else could you explain the difference when the CS has many more options than Kurdistan to apply in solving the problems of ALL the people of Iraq? Na´ve proponents of lifting sanctions could be more helpful to the Iraqi people if they cease trying to find justification in factors that support a regime that behaves in a manner so harmful to its own people. 37. This may all be academic in a couple of months anyway, but this doesn't mean we should relax. So-called smart sanctions are under development that are likely to take the steam out of the na´ve proponents' arguments and result, hopefully, in improving the economic situation for more and more Iraqis (it's already happening) while offering incentives to neighboring countries to effectively enforce a revision in the sanctions regime. Today's sanctions are, in effect, destined to soon become the non-sanctions of tomorrow. Though the system won't be perfect, and there will be leakage, a substantial amount of Iraq's public revenue will likely remain under the control of the international community operating through the UN. Iraq is a country of checkpoints but, in a twist, checkpoints are likely to be established outside the country to inspect GOI imports. The theory sounds good but, of course, the living, breathing people of Iraqi Kurdistan are much more interested in its practical application. We shall see. Alexander Sternberg May/July 2001 -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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