The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
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CASI's Colin Rowat had another piece appear in last week's Economist ...
Jan 31 2002
Sanctions and Iraq
SIR The Iraqi regime has clearly made its survival a higher priority than it has made enhancement of national well being ("Unfinished business", December 8th). Still, I challenge you to substantiate the charge that the Iraqi government has purposely exacerbated the humanitarian crisis by "refusing to order medicines and food Iraqi children need". The Iraqi regime regards the food ration as the main carrot in its arsenal of carrots and sticks, and subsidised it out of its "own" funds for six years before "oil for food" began.
The charge also misunderstands the nature of Iraq's humanitarian crisis. Tun Myat, the UN's humanitarian co-ordinator, explained recently that the "biggest killer of children is not lack of food or medicine but of water and sanitation." More basically, you misread the UN's sanctions-reform proposals. The most recent Security Council resolution makes no further demands on Iraq's neighbours, nor will it "minimise collateral damage to the civilian economy." The reformed sanctions will still prevent non-oil exports and most financial transactions, including the foreign investment that Iraq desperately needs. As the largest constraint on Iraq's humanitarian situation is probably income, the new proposals may not, in fact, lead to much humanitarian improvement.