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FW: Iraq - 11 Years On




with thanks to Rick Rozoff of Stop Nato, for this. best, felicity a.

http://www.jordantimes.com/Wed/features/features2.htm

Jordan Times
January 16, 2002

Iraq ů 11 years on
By Dr. Omar Al Taher


IT HAS been exactly eleven years ago today since the
US and its allies launched their largest military
campaign since World War II with the ostensible aim of
ejecting Iraqi troops from Kuwait. This objective was
attained within 42 days of unrelenting aerial
bombardment, but Iraq has since been placed under a
sanctions regime designed to cripple it economically
and subdue it politically. Over those eleven long
years, over 600,000 Iraqi children have died as a
direct result of the sanctions. This prompted three
top UN officials, Dennis Halliday, Hans Von Sponeck
and Bolghardt, to resign in protest at what they
termed žthe slow and silent death of an entire
nationÓ; the UN has not known a rebellion like this in
its 55-year history.
Having visited Iraq lately, I couldn't help noticing
that the very fabric of Iraqi society is gradually
disintegrating. Mass migration from the country to
urban areas has transformed the once great and
prosperous cities of Baghdad and Basra into huge
shantytowns; corruption, prostitution and beggary are
commonplace. Eleven years of sanctions have eroded the
previously resilient and vibrant middle class,
rendering it destitute and helpless. The far-reaching
implications of the embargo are destined to continue
to impact Iraqis' lives for decades to come.

Almost everything is denied the people of Iraq,
including food, clothing and medicine. As far back as
1994, reports out of Iraq, compiled by Western
agencies, spoke of widespread chronic malnutrition and
death among young children; an unprecedented human
rights disaster. The result of this žcollateral
damageÓ, as US and British officials wish to call it,
is that over half a million Iraqi children under the
age of five have been killed; twice the number of
those killed by the two atomic bombs dropped on
Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

A quick glance at the list of items that Iraq is
denied reveals the absurdity and the ugly face of the
much-celebrated žnew world orderÓ. The list includes:
books, pencils, paper, soap, light bulbs, clean water,
anaesthetic, lifesaving drugs, X-ray machines and
films, heart and lungs machine, vaccines, firefighting
equipment, etc. The pretext is that such items have a
potential for military application. Frankly,
everything has the potential for dual usage, and one
is genuinely surprised that the list does not include
nails, which could be used in nail bombs, and Pepsi
bottles, which could be used for Molotov cocktail
bombs!

The effects of the embargo against Iraq stand as a
stark indictment of the Americans and the British and
everything they claim to stand for. One is inclined to
point to peoples, as opposed to governments, because
these two countries are supposed to be democratic and
free, governed by democratically elected officials who
are accountable to their respective electorates, i.e.,
decisions made by these officials are in essence the
decisions of their electorates. Their relationship is
likened to the relationship that exists between a
principal and an agent, which entails that the
principal cannot escape liability for the acts and
omissions of his agent.

By contrast, the Iraqis could in no way be blamed for
the policies of Saddam Hussein because, put simply,
the Iraqis never voted Saddam in office. Here lies the
difference between the West and Iraq. Punishing the
Iraqi people for Saddam's actions is akin to punishing
an innocent child for an offence committed by his
father. So much for Western fairness, equity and fair
play!

Experts on the Middle East fear that this state of
affairs is a recipe for disaster in so far as the
future of the Middle East is concerned. Historically,
Iraq has been a key player in the region, and it
logically follows that it would always have a crucial
role to play by virtue of the dictates of geopolitics.
US and British officials talk, day in and day out, of
a Middle East living in peace and harmony. What
harmony would be expected from a county that has been
singled out and placed under the most comprehensive
sanctions regime in modern history? The effects of
this genocidal war are likely to backfire, derailing
all what the US and its underling, the UK, are working
towards.

George Bush's and Tony Blair's sugar-coated speeches
that the žquarrel is not with the Iraqi people but
with the Iraqi leaderÓ is neither here nor there. The
resentment one senses in discussions with Iraqis is
directed towards the two countries and, by
implication, the two peoples, the Americans and the
British. The fear, which is shared by many who have
studied the Middle East, is that by antagonising and
humiliating an entire nation, the likelihood of
transforming every Iraqi into a Saddam is very much a
possibility, not to say a probability.

When confronted with the fact that over 4,000 Iraqi
children are dying every month due to the embargo,
Madeleine Albright, then US secretary of state,
retorted without a qualm: žWell, we think the price is
worth it.Ó Furthermore, on innumerable occasions, she
went on record stating that even if the UN Disarmament
Committee's report gave Iraq a clean bill of health,
the US position is not to lift the sanctions so long
as Saddam remained in power. This candour, which
borders on insolence, explains Iraq's non-cooperative
stance. The Iraqi leadership is aware that if all its
weaponry (from biological weapons to even hand
grenades) are accounted for and decommissioned, the
sanctions are there to stay. So, why cooperate?

One cannot help recalling the eerie words of James
Baker, former US secretary of state, during his
eleventh hour meeting in Geneva in January 1991 with
Tareq Aziz, the then Iraqi foreign minister, that Iraq
žrisks being relegated to a pre-industrial age statusÓ
if it doesn't pull out of Kuwait by Jan. 15. Well,
this objective was fulfilled with the ejection of
Iraqi troops from Kuwait on Feb. 28, 1991. Why does
the West continue its aggressive foreign policy
towards Iraq?

The answer lies in that following the collapse of the
Soviet Union ů the Arab world's traditional ally ů the
US resolved that the time was ripe to redraw the map
of the Middle East. The Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916
has outlived its validity, and the area was in need
for a new arrangement, this time to accommodate
Israel's long-term designs. Iraq, with its huge
potential and nationalist aspirations, regardless of
its government, was the stumbling block that needed to
be sorted out, so to speak. In an interview a couple
of years ago, Tareq Aziz stated that Iraq favours
military strikes to the status quo. After all, war is
governed by the Geneva Convention, while the silent
war that has been waged over the past eleven years,
which killed hundreds of thousands of civilians,
continues to go unnoticed and doesn't make news
headlines.

However, the pressing question remains: How many more
Iraqis need to perish before the American and the
British peoples react and put a stop to the atrocities
committed in their name?

The writer, a holder of a PhD degree in international
affairs and an LLB degree from the UK, is currently a
legal trainee at a law firm in Amman. He contributed
this article to The Jordan Times.





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