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: can we trust Iraqi sources?

Hello Tim, Colin and others,
I agree with Tim: "People in Iraq are in a much better position to comment on the reality of sanctions than the most well-meaning people here". That leads us to the next point in the discussion. When we visited Iraq in july, the representative of UNICEF spoke frankly against sanctions, but said that it was up to anti-sanctions campaigners to put pressure on their governments. "UNICEF is not a political organisation" he said. One of the women in the group said that this meeting had convinced her more than any other meeting with an Iraqi official. Another Belgian-Iraqi woman who was with our delegation said that this was a racist remark. And frankly, I agreed with her. Why should we believe more the facts and figures of UNICEF than Iraqi figures? The presence of UNICEF in Iraq is totally unnecessary, if the sanctions were lifted. First UNICEF uses funds that could be better used in other third-world countries that are poorer and have no resources of their own. That makes two genocides. Second: UNICEF is in Iraq to relief the worst suffering, and is so also responsable for the prolongation of the sanctions that are caused by the mother-organisation, the UN. Because UNICEF is serving as an alibi to answer to criticism to sanctions. I can give a few examples of that: UNICEF helps to repair the sewage and sanitation systems in a number of projects. The government of IRAQ and the Iraqi people are perfectly capable of doing that on their own, but don't receive the necessary spare-parts because of the embargo and can't buy the spare-parts because there is no foreign currency. Another example is for instance the breast-feeding campaign that UNICEF wants to start in Iraq in an attempt to diminish the child-mortality. The UNICEF representative told us that the Iraqi government didn't want to cooperate on this fully. I asked Nasra Al-Sadoon, chief-editor of "Iraq daily" why, and she said that before 1990, there never has been a problem with breast-feeding in Iraq. The only problem, she said, is the embargo: poverty, malnutrition and stress with young mothers. She found this UNICEF-campaign a very cynical one. And I agreed. UNICEF wants to make the western public opinion believe that Iraq is not educating their mothers enough to breast-feed their babies, worse even: the Iraqi government don't want to cooperate with this program. When I heard the explanation of the Iraqi's, I understood. At the end UNICEF must drown in its own contradictions. Can I believe someone who tells us (privately) that his hands are tied, and doesn't want to speak out openly against the embargo?
No, I have more respect for Denis Halliday en Hans von Sponeck, who saw these contradictions and resigned. And that's why I find Iraqi figures plausible: because I've seen the efforts that the Iraqi government makes to prevent a whole nation from starvation, a rationing system that works perfectly, and the efforts to try to rebuild the country without help from outside. Iraq doesn't need charity. It needs a lifting of the embargo to rebuild its economy.
Dirk Adriaensens.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, December 16, 2001 4:31 AM
Subject: can we trust Iraqi sources?

Dear Dirk and others,
Dirk writes "The second article is an accusation of the Iraqi minister of Transport and Communications. This kind of articles appear often in the Iraqi press. I don't see why they shouldn't be trusted. Or am I wrong? This subject makes a good topic for a more profound discussion."
If plausible and can be coroborated then why not trust them? People in Iraq are in a much better position to comment on the reality of sanctions than the most well-meaning people here. And it's true that government and media lie a lot, but they sometimes tell the truth, especially when things are so awful already that no mileage is to be gained from exaggeration, eg. 11 Sept. in the US. Things are alot worse than that in Iraq, aren't they? I heard an interview with Tariq Aziz a while ago, in which he explained, wearily how sanctions were killing Iraqi children. Some anti-sanctions campaigners would say this kind of source lacks "credibility" and should not be used in campaigning. But Aziz was telling the truth. Instead of Unicef's words about sanctions "contributing" in some vague way to the deaths of children, which could be stretched to mean anything, he's pointing out the main fact, which is that we are killing children in cold blood. Political mass murder. I mean the data from the Unicef survey is really important, but as it ignores causation, it lends itself to self-interested interpretaions by noble crusaders like Blair and Bush. I have not read the Iraqi press, but I bet it's infinitely more accurate and honest about the effects of sanctions than our own. 
Best,   Tim

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]