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]

Re: Lifting Sanctions on Iraq - dissident view PART TWO

Lifting Sanctions on Iraq - a mainstream view

Sternberg attempts to argue 
(a) that the humanitarian crisis could be overcome even under 
sanctions, and 
(b) that the unconditional lifting of economic sanctions 
necessarily poses a threat to the security of the Kurds of Iraq. 
Neither argument stands up. Only the first issue is dealt with in this 
post. The second issue is dealt with in Part Three. I regret to say 
there is also a Part Four.

Milan Rai
Voices in the Wilderness UK

Sternberg argues, contrary to the expert consensus, that the 
humanitarian crisis could be resolved even under Oil for Food.
This is not just about reducing child mortality.
The need to reconstruct the public health infrastructure, 
restore family purchasing power, and revitalise the oil industry.
Particular reference to the electricity sector.
Details from the 1999 Special Topics survey.
The failure of smart sanctions to address these needs.
Summing up what Sternberg has to do.
Questions Sternberg has to answer.
The correct measure is income/expenditure against need, not against 
past spending.
>UNICEF 1999
How UNICEF defended the integrity of their figures (long quote).
Sternberg's is a mainstream view, both in substance and in form.

1. Just over three weeks ago, Alexander Sternberg, apparently a non-
Kurdish employee of the Kurdish Regional Government in Erbil, 
posted an essay to the CASI list. He protested against the ‘mono-
dimensional' nature of CASI's (excellent) website, and expressed his 
wish to ‘contribute to a lively debate that overcomes the cemented 
fronts visible' at the site. He has been responded to courteously by 
several contributors, but has not reappeared to ‘contribute to the 
lively debate' on the list.

2. Peter Brooke wrote recently, ‘So far, then, Mr Sternberg has done 
little to justify his case that Iraqi citizens (outside the areas of 
Kurdistan that interest him) are better off under Oil for Food than 
they would be if sanctions were lifted.' 

3. To be fair to Mr Sternberg, this is not the argument that I detect in 
his posting. His principal argument seems to be that all the citizens of 
Iraq, both inside and outside Kurdistan, could be enjoying a decent 
standard of living even under the current economic sanctions regime, 
through the oil-for-food programme.

4. In a separate posting, I have protested against Sternberg's 
denigration of Hans von Sponeck and Denis Halliday. The core of his 
criticism of the two former UN Humanitarian Coordinators appears 
to be that they should have focused their energies entirely on 
pressuring the Government of Iraq (GOI) to change its policies: ‘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.' (para 17)

5. The underlying assumption is that if the GOI had acted differently, 
the humanitarian crisis in Iraq could have been overcome, even under 
sanctions, using the resources of the oil-for-food programme. If this 
assumption does not hold, then it would not matter whether GOI 
performance improved radically. If it is impossible to overcome the 
humanitarian crisis under economic sanctions, if oil-for-food is 
inherently incapable of delivering social recovery in Iraq, then Halliday 
and von Sponeck were right to focus their attention on these larger 

6. Sternberg offers assertions, but precious little argument, on this 
vital matter:

‘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.' (para 14) There 
would be no humanitarian crisis if anti-sanctions activists had instead 
concentrated their efforts on pressurising the Iraqi government to 
improve its services to the Iraqi people.

‘Need Iraqis in any part of the country suffer? Absolutely, of course, 
not.' (para 3)
‘Are sanctions the real cause of the suffering of the Iraqi people? Of 
course not.' (para 6)

‘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... The 
higher child mortality figures are not a result of inadequate resource 
availability. The figures are a function of political will, leadership, and 
management.' (para 13)

This exhausts Sternberg's  argument on this score.

7. According to Sternberg, the ‘resources' required to overcome the 
humanitarian crisis are now, and always have been, available - even 
under sanctions, so long as the Government of Iraq was willing and 
able to operate the oil-for-food programme effectively.

8. Before proceeding, we should distinguish between two issues 
which have been conflated. The humanitarian crisis in Iraq has many 
aspects and dimensions. Child malnutrition and child mortality are 
two important aspects of that crisis, but they are not the only aspects. 
High rates of hunger and death among children under five are 
especially painful, but they are not the only forms of avoidable mass 
suffering caused by the sanctions in Iraq.

9. In March 1999, UN agencies operating in Iraq produced a 
document entitled ‘Special Topics on Social Conditions in Iraq: An 
Overview Submitted by the UN system to the Security Council Panel 
on Humanitarian Issues'. This document referred to psycho-social 
effects of the sanctions, and the effects of sanctions on women, the 
disabled, the elderly, refugees and the internally displaced. Emphasis 
was placed on the impact of growing poverty and destitution on the 
general population. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) also 
drew attention to the unprecedented effects on education: ‘The 
adults' literacy rate, 89% in 1985, dropped to 59% in 1995 (Source: 
Human Development Report, 1998).'

10. It might be, therefore, that the Government of Iraq could 
markedly improve the situation of children under five, within the 
constraints of the sanctions and oil-for-food, without being able 
necessarily to overcome the effects of mass poverty on the rest of 
Iraqi society. The humanitarian crisis might still continue, despite the 
protection of children from the worst effects.

11. To make his case that no Iraqis in any part of the country need 
suffer (para 3), Sternberg must establish both that child malnutrition 
and mortality could ‘rival those of the West,' (para 14) and that the 
rest of the population could be protected from the effects of 
sanctions by the policies of the Government of Iraq. 

12. No evidence is offered for either proposition in his posting.

13. There is an emerging consensus that overcoming the humanitarian 
crisis in Iraq will require three elements: 

a) the reconstruction of essential civilian infrastructure, including the 
electricity, sewage, sanitation, water purification, and national health 
b) the restoration of real family incomes through increased 
employment and the appreciation of the Iraqi Dinar;
c) massive investment in the Iraqi oil industry to ensure a steady and 
reliable source of foreign exchange to pay for reconstruction and to 
underpin the rest of the economy.

For example, a Foreign Office representative confirmed publicly at 
the CASI Conference in November 1999 that these were three key 
issues in resolving the humanitarian crisis. 

14. There is also a general understanding that the oil-for-food 
programme is incapable of providing the resources or dynamism 
required to reconstruct the public health infrastructure, to restore 
family purchasing power, or to re-establish the Iraqi oil industry. The 
Security Council's own Panel on Humanitarian Issues pointed out in 
March 1999 that Oil-for-Food was inherently incapable of solving the 
humanitarian crisis:

‘Regardless of the improvements that might be brought about in the 
implementation of the current humanitarian programme - in terms of 
approval procedures, better performance by the Iraqi Government, 
or funding levels - the magnitude of the humanitarian needs is such 
that they cannot be met within the context of the parameters set 
forth in resolution 986 (1995) [Oil-for-Food] and succeeding 
resolutions, in particular resolution 1153 (1998) [which expanded 
Oil-for-Food]. Nor was the programme intended to meet all the 
needs of the Iraqi people.' (S/1999/356, 30 March 1999)

However well oil-for-food operated, and however much the 
performance of the GOI might be improved - a crucial point for 
Sternberg's argument - the programme could not meet the 
extraordinary ‘magnitude of the humanitarian needs' in Iraq.

15. On the infrastructure issue, the respected Economist Intelligence 
Unit (a separate body from the Economist magazine) estimated on 8 
March 2000 that ‘Once sanctions are lifted, Iraq will have to 
undertake a reconstruction effort conservatively estimated at $50bn - 
100bn just for essential infrastructural utilities, from a GDP base 
which, even including the grey and black economies, is less than 
$13bn in nominal terms.' <>

Iraq's earnings from UN-monitored oil exports in the year 2000 were 
$13.9bn. (See <> for Basic Figures.) 
Under current procedures, 79 per cent of these revenues are made 
available for humanitarian purchases (the bulk of the rest goes on 
compensation for 1991 war damage claims, and a few per cent meet 
UN and bank expenses). That means roughly $11bn a year for 
humanitarian supplies. 

Roughly $2.62bn a year goes on food, food handling and health 
nutrition. $600m a year goes on medicines and medical equipment for 
the health sector, $200m on rehabilitation in the health sector. 
(Figures based on the Distribution Plan agreed between the UN and 
the GOI for Phase IX, the latter half of 2000.)

Roughly $500m goes on supporting agricultural production in Iraq 
including poultry production, to try to improve nutrition. Roughly 
$500m a year goes on education. Another $700m or so goes on 
housing. Iraq allocates $800m a year to telecommunications, which it 
argues are essential to coordinating and implementing the 
humanitarian programme. The UN and Iraq have agreed to make 
$1.2bn every year available to the oil industry for spare parts, 
rehabilitation and equipment. (Figures based on the Distribution Plan 
agreed between the UN and the GOI for Phase IX, the latter half of 

After immediate needs for food and health, then, there is less than 
$8bn a year available for other humanitarian purposes. Some of this 
must go on recurrent expenditure - on supplies for critical services 
such as water purification, power generation, education, and so on, 
which get used up and have to be replaced regularly. What is left is 
then available for capital investment in reconstruction. 

Compare this figure of significantly less than $8bn a year with the 
figure of $50bn - $100bn needed ‘just for essential infrastructural 
utilities.' There is clearly a massive gap between what oil-for-food can 
provide and what is needed in Iraq just for reconstruction. 

16. Deterioration continues in the vital electricity sector despite the 
priority the GOI has placed on this sector in successive Distribution 
Plans. In May 2001, the UN Secretary-General reported that despite 
the fact that rehabilitation and new generation projects had added 
296 megawatts of power to the system, ‘this was offset by units 
removed from service for routine maintenance as well as the 
decreasing capacities of other operating units due to deterioration.' 
‘As estimated by United Nations observers, the generation deficit at 
peak demand during the summer months in 2001 could be as high as 
3,294 megawatts (MW), a substantial increase from the estimated 
1,800 MW reported unofficially for the same period in 2000.' 

17. In February 1998, the Secretary-General wrote, ‘Under present 
conditions, the rate of deterioration will continue to increase and, 
with it, the threat of a complete breakdown of the network. The 
humanitarian consequences of such a development could potentially 
dwarf all other difficulties endured by the Iraqi people.'

18. In September 2000, the Secretary-General wrote, ‘Electricity 
supply throughout the network remains at risk through 
unforeseeable incidents. In August 2000, for example, the 
malfunctioning as a result of fire in the transmission lines at Mussaiyab 
Power Station resulted in the loss of 600 MW, which in turn 
increased power outages to 8 hours per day for consumers in 
Baghdad and up to 20 hours in other affected governorates. The 
entire electricity grid is in a precarious state and is in imminent danger 
of collapsing altogether should another incident of this type occur. As 
at 31 July 2000, 25 per cent of the electricity sector contracts 
submitted to the Security Council Committee were on hold. These 
holds represent the most critical components and spare parts, making 
much of the equipment already delivered under the programme 

19. Last summer, the national grid was in danger of total collapse. This 
summer, the deficit in power generation has been even greater than 
last summer. Total collapse of the power generation system ‘could 
potentially dwarf all other difficulties endured by the Iraqi people.'

The failure to allow foreign investment and foreign loans, the failure 
to allow Iraq free use of its foreign exchange earnings for non-military 
goods, and the holds imposed by the US and UK, have all placed the 
people of Iraq in a very dangerous situation.

20. In 1995, the Food and Agricultural Organisation concluded, ‘The 
solution [to the nutritional crisis] lies in adequate food supplies in the 
country, restoring the viability of the ID [Iraqi Dinar], and creating 
conditions for the people to acquire adequate purchasing power. But, 
these conditions can be fulfilled only if the economy can be put back 
in proper shape enabling it to draw on its own resources, and that 
clearly cannot occur as long as the embargo remains in force.' (UN 
Food and Agriculture Organisation, ‘Evaluation of Food and Nutrition 
Situation in Iraq', 1995)

21. Family purchasing power depends on the real income 
commanded by family members. It depends on having a job, and being 
paid a reasonable wage in money that means something. 

Unemployment and underemployment in Iraq is estimated to be high. 
The UN agencies' report to the Humanitarian Panel in March 1999 
had this to say on the subject: ‘Some non-official estimates refer to a 
rate of 20%, but this may be on the low side as there is an enormous 
hidden unemployment. According to estimates received from bilateral 
sources, the rate is probably about 50%, excluding black market 

UNDP continued on the subject of wages: ‘According to situation 
analyses made by UNICEF in 1998, the average public sector wage 
declined to the equivalent of $3-$5 per month. The minimum income 
required for a family of 5 is $100.' 

This decline in the real wage is in part due to the depreciation of the 
Iraqi Dinar, which is now worth less than 0.05 pence (0.07 cents). 
Before 1990, the ID was worth 2.00 pounds sterling ($3.00).
22. All these factors, employment, wages, and the value of the Iraqi 
Dinar, depend on the health of the economy as a whole. Which is 
why the Security Council's Humanitarian Panel concluded in March 
1999, ‘[T]he humanitarian situation in Iraq will continue to be a dire 
one in the absence of a sustained revival of the Iraqi economy'.

23. Under the so-called "smart sanctions" proposals Britain has put 
forward, Iraq would be permitted to import most civilian goods 
freely, presumably improving the efficiency of oil-for-food funded 
reconstruction (though the proposals do not address the issue of 
funding inadequacy, and do not permit foreign investment or loans).

24. However, while the draft resolution improves the situation in 
relation to infrastructure reconstruction, it does nothing for the issue 
of family purchasing power: ‘[T]he US plan will not revive Iraq's 
devastated economy while control over Iraq's oil revenues remains in 
the hands of the UN, and foreign investment and credits are still 
prohibited.' (Financial Times, 28 May 2001) 

25. ‘[A]lthough the country would be able to import more, it would 
still be denied the free movement of labour and capital that it 
desperately needs if it is at last to start picking itself up... Iraq needs 
massive investment to rebuild its industry, its power grids and its 
schools, and needs cash in hand to pay its engineers, doctors and 
teachers. None of this looks likely to happen under smart sanctions.' 
(Economist, 26 May 2001)

26. "‘It won't improve life for the ordinary Iraqi. It will be a dole, a 
handout to Iraq as a whole,' said an officer with a high-profile aid 
agency, who requested anonymity. ‘It will do nothing to tackle the real 
issue - how to stimulate the internal economy and allow civil society to 
come back.'" (Financial Times, 1 June 2001)

27. Returning to Sternberg's assertions, we should distinguish 
between his claims that child mortality rates could rival those of the 
West even under sanctions, and his claims for the other indicators of 
the humanitarian crisis.

A - Strong Claim: ‘The high child mortality figures are not a function 
of resource availability; the resources needed have always been 
available.' (para 13)
B - Strongest Possible Claim: ‘Need Iraqis in any part of the country 
suffer? Absolutely, of course, not.' (para 3)

28. It is possible, though unproven, that better performance by the 
Iraqi health services, more targeted health policies, and child-centred 
prioritization of available resources, could have brought child 
mortality down to pre-1990 levels exploiting the oil-for-food 
programme to its utmost. Dr Richard Garfield certainly believes that 
the child malnutrition and mortality rates could be significantly lower 
than they are at the moment if Iraq had managed to replicate the 
performance of Cuba under sanctions.

29. Sternberg offers no evidence to support his assertions regarding 
child mortality. Even if he were able to mount a credible case on this 
issue, however, he would still be a long way short of his Strongest 
Possible Claim. On this topic also, he offers no evidence.

30. If Sternberg wants his argument to be taken seriously, there are 
some gaps he needs to fill, and questions he needs to answer. They 
follow in the order in which they arise (paragraph numbers included).

<9. 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.> QUESTIONS: Who were these 
practitioners? What was it that amazed and pleased them?

<9. 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.> QUESTIONS: 
What are these ‘capacities'? What are the ‘constraints'? How are the 
capacities being expressed now?

<13. 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.> QUESTIONS: What are the ‘means and methods' and 
‘capabilities'? When have the capabilities been ‘proven' and by whom?

<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.> QUESTIONS: What resources are these? Are 
they the ‘capabilities' already alluded to? In para 9, it is said that there 
are ‘incredible capacities' in ‘both' the Centre/South and in Kurdistan, 
but now it appears that the capabilities in the Centre/South are even 
more ‘incredible' than in Iraqi Kurdistan. How can this be? 

<36. ... the CS has many more options than Kurdistan to apply in 
solving the problems of ALL the people of Iraq.> QUESTION: What 
‘options' are these?

31. Repeating over and over and over again that Baghdad has 
‘incredible capacities' for dealing with its problems does not by itself 
establish that the Government of Iraq is capable of reducing child 
mortality to Western levels through oil-for-food. Or, to take the 
strongest possible claim, that Baghdad could eliminate all suffering in 
the territory of the state, even under the sanctions regime. Sternberg 
says correctly (para 12) that too much criticism ‘is based on anecdotal 
information and on selected facts and statements used out of context.' 
His arguments seem to be based on anecdotal information (unnamed 
development workers' experiences in 1991, for example) and bald 
assertion (‘incredible capacities'). 

32. There are hardly any ‘selected facts used out of context' in 
Sternberg's argument, but there is one important red herring. 
Sternberg says, ‘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 
assuag[ing] the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people.' (para 21) He 
points out that at the moment ‘a record-setting 72% of Iraq's primary 
source of public wealth, oil, is designated solely for humanitarian use.' 
(para 3) (We may note in passing that oil revenues are actually 
'income', not 'wealth'.) From this he draws the conclusion, two 
sentences later, that no Iraqis ‘in any part of the country' need suffer - 
‘Absolutely, of course, not.' (para 3) 

33. The logical flaw in this argument can be illustrated in two ways. 
First the issue of proportion. Say the Government of Britain were 
placed under stringent controls by an outside power, and permitted a 
revenue of 10 pounds sterling a year, all of which was to be spent on 
the NHS. For the first time in Britain's history, 100% of British 
government spending would go on the health services, and nothing 
would be diverted to foreign military adventures, the building up of a 
nuclear arsenal, Millennium Domes, spin doctors, and so on. ‘Need 
Britons in any part of the country suffer? Absolutely, of course, not.'

34. Secondly, the absolute level of spending. Let us say that in 1939, 
London's budget for housing was 1 million pounds sterling a year, 25 
per cent of the total local government budget. Now what if in 1945 
the budget had been increased to 1.2 million pounds sterling a year, 
and now comprised 72 per cent of the budget? ‘Need Londoners in 
any part of the city suffer homelessness? Absolutely, of course, not.'

35. The correct measure is not the proportion of government 
revenues going to humanitarian purposes, or a historical comparison 
with past budgets, but a measurement of disposable income against 
public need. In a country still reeling from $232 billion worth of 
damage to infrastructure and civilian economic assets inflicted in 1991 
(reference at end of paragraph), the damage caused in the civil strife 
of 1991, and a decade-long economic shutdown, Iraq obviously needs 
greater revenues for humanitarian purposes than it did in 1990. 
Hence the Economist Intelligence Unit estimate that ‘Once sanctions 
are lifted, Iraq will have to undertake a reconstruction effort 
conservatively estimated at $50bn - 100bn just for essential 
infrastructural utilities'. <> 
[1991 damage estimate from Eric Hoskins, ‘The Humanitarian Impacts 
of Economic Sanctions and War in Iraq', in Thomas G Weiss, David 
Cortright, George Lopez and Larry Minear, Political Gain and Civilian 
Pain: Humanitarian Impacts of Economic Sanctions, Lanham: Rowman 
and Littlefield, 1997, p. 106]

36. Sternberg casts doubt on the validity of the UNICEF child 
mortality estimates of 1999. He notes that the estimates for children 
mortality in the Centre/South rose from 56 deaths per 1000 live 
births (over the period 1984-1989) to 131 deaths per live births 
(over the period 1994-1999). Sternberg remarks, ‘The figures for the 
CS are indeed bad, but could they really be THAT bad?!!' On the 
basis of his incredulity, but without any evidence to support his 
accusations, Sternberg suggests that the data collection process 
(supervised by UNICEF) was ‘tampered with'.

37. UNICEF have of course defended their survey. At the time of the 
release of the child mortality estimates (which have not been 
challenged by London or Washington), UNICEF released a Question 
and Answer briefing with the following paragraphs:

Q>How can UNICEF be sure that the results are accurate/reliable?
A>The large sample sizes - nearly 24,000 households randomly 
selected from all 
fifteen governorates in the south and center and 16,000 from the 
autonomous northern governorates - helps to ensure that the margin 
of error for 
child mortality in both surveys is low. Another important factor was 
that in the 
south and center of Iraq the survey interviewers were all women and 
all were 
medical doctors. In the northern governorates 80% of interviewers 
were female - 
each team had at least one female interviewer - and all interviewers 
trained health workers. UNICEF was also involved in all aspects of 
both surveys 
- from survey design through to data analysis. Specifically:

>>UNICEF had direct input to the design of the surveys - which are 
based on internationally respected household survey format - the 
DHS (Demographic and Health Survey) format; 
>>UNICEF was involved in the training of all survey supervisors; 
>>UNICEF conducted field visits to every governorate (major 
administrative unit in Iraq) while the survey was being conducted; 
>>UNICEF oversaw the process of data entry; 
>>UNICEF had full access to the hard copies of the interview records 
and the complete data sets for both surveys at all times.

Q>What checks have been made on the data?
A>Each questionnaire was first checked at the local level and then at 
governorate level by staff of the local statistical offices. This check was 
primarily to determine whether the randomly sampled households 
were correctly 
identified, visited and interviewed. Final editing and checking was done 
at the 
central level for completeness and consistency. A number of internal 
normally carried out for Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) 
were also 
completed for both surveys. The surveys and findings were also 
reviewed by a 
panel of experts in early July. This panel included senior personnel 
from DHS, 
Macro International, WHO and senior UNICEF officials from the 
Regional Office in 
Amman and New York Headquarters.

Q>Could the Government of Iraq have manipulated the data to give 
mortality figures?
A>If the Government had attempted to manipulate the data by 
influencing the 
survey interviewers to over-record the number of deaths or by 
manipulating the survey data on the computer, this would have been 
detected by 
analyzing the spread of births and deaths. The panel of experts who 
reviewed the 
survey methodology and results looked for this, but it was not found.

Q>How can UNICEF be sure that the survey interviewers didn't 
manipulate the 
A>Internal cross checking of data has not detected any manipulation 
of the 
results of this survey. UNICEF is satisfied that the interviewers were 
trained on how to administer the questionnaire. Answers in the 
were entered in ballpoint pen to avoid unwarranted changes in the 
answers. Any 
alterations made had to be signed by the survey collectors and their 
supervisors. Local supervisors and supervisors from Baghdad oversaw 

(This document was released publicly but subsequently withdrawn by 
UNICEF. It can be found on the CASI website 

38. Sternberg doubts the UNICEF estimates, particularly because he 
cannot believe that the 1994-1999 child mortality rates for 
Suleimaniyah (59) in significantly lower than that in Duhok (82) and 
Erbil (75) (the three governorates named comprising the Kurdish 
autonomous zone). (These are of course all death rates for children 
under the age of five, per 1000 live births.)

39. He also suggests that ‘urban child mortality figures are presumably 
lower than rural figures', but in the case of Suleimaniyah the overall 
figure is even lower than the regional urban figure. ‘As one would 
expect, the regional rural figure is higher (89)' than the regional 
urban figure (59). From this he concludes that ‘The study appears to 
be a regrettable case of "garbage-in garbage-out"'. 

40. The rational attitude to these surprising results would be to 
investigate the data collection process further, and to try to uncover 
possible explanations for the surprisingly low figures for Suleimaniyah, 
and rural Suleimaniyah in particular. It is hard to see how one can 
dismiss the child mortality estimates for South/Central Iraq on the 
basis that the estimates for one governorate in Northern Iraq 
(outside the control of the Iraqi Government) appear unlikely to a 
seasoned observer. This is another case of argument by assertion.

41. Alexander Sternberg's commitment to the Kurds of Iraq is not in 
question. However, his analysis of the humanitarian situation in Iraq 
(and his charges against Denis Halliday and other (unnamed) anti-
sanctions activists) cannot stand up until he replaces assertion with 
evidence, and disbelief with argument. He does not establish that the 
oil-for-food programme is capable of solving the humanitarian crisis, 
or even that the GOI is capable of reducing the level of child mortality 
to ‘Western' levels within the present framework. His argument that 
all suffering in Iraq is due to the malice and negligence of the 
Government of Iraq is not a ‘dissident' view, but thoroughly 
conventional both in its conclusions, and its poor standard of 

Milan Rai
Joint Coordinator, Voices in the Wilderness UK
29 Gensing Road, St Leonards on Sea East Sussex UK TN38 0HE
Phone/fax 0845 458 9571 local rate within UK
Phone/fax 44 1424 428 792 from outside UK
Pager 07623 746 462
Voices website

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]