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Lifting Sanctions on Iraq - dissident view

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.


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
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
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

 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
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
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
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
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

 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
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.
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
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?

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
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
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
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
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

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
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,
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
country. However, what has been happening in Kurdistan has not been
because the Region has not been visited and was beyond their

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
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
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
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
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
example of Halabja. How can all this brutal history be ignored by the
sanctionists?! If sanctions are lifted, without security guarantees, and
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
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

17. As experienced diplomats and economic development practitioners, UN
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
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
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
undoubtedly decrease to less than 75%.

 Are sufficient resources available to make a real difference in the
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.)
system worked well, so well that their distribution and accounting
mechanisms were
adopted by the UN and applied to food being distributed under the
program. When the GOI chooses to deliver, they can very well deliver

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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
implementing the
program in the CS. The GOI could, in effect, implement the program far
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
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,
FAO, WHO, and WFP. In the CS, some of these agencies play only an
(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
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
government has also provided substantial warehousing and other building
and security, telecommunication, and other support services.

 What happens when sanctions are eventually lifted?  Another very good

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
TIMES higher than current market rates. This seriously undermines the
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
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
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
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
destruction, disappearances, and violations of human rights, the living,
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
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
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
producers. Incomes are severely limited and people face higher prices on
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
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
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