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[casi] News, 25/10-1/11/02 (1)

News, 25/10-1/11/02 (1)


*  Iraq Denies Expelling Reporters
*  A Place of Tears
*  Bred in brutality, Saddam clings to power through bribery, intimidation
and the oil card
*  Iraqis leery of US role if Saddam goes
*  Iran blames Iraq for border fires
*  Iraq Most Spiritually Hungry Nation in Middle East
*  Baghdad wants media to monitor arms inspectors
*  Iraq's Major Contract for Power Generators Released from Hold
*  Iraqi Children Get Final Polio Shot
*  Saddam's shop of horrors
*  Iraq's Shiites Pledging Loyalty
*  Busting Sanctions - Nutrition in Iraq


Las Vegas Sun (from AP), 26th October

BAGHDAD, Iraq- Iraq on Saturday denied expelling any Western journalists and
said more reporters were expected to visit the country in coming days.

On Thursday, U.S. television networks, including CNN, ABC and NBC, said
President Saddam Hussein's government was expelling some foreign journalists
and warning of restrictive new rules for getting back into the country.

Eason Jordan, CNN's president of newsgathering, said the government was
upset about foreign reporting of a demonstration outside the Iraqi
Information Ministry in Baghdad by people upset that their imprisoned
relatives had not been released in Saddam's general amnesty.

In a statement Saturday, the Iraqi Press Center labeled reports of media
expulsions as "baseless."

Despite the Iraqi claims, CNN spokeswoman Edna Johnson said Saturday that
nothing has changed, and that its journalists have been asked to leave the
country by Monday.

Iraq issued one-week visas to about 500 foreign journalists to cover the
Oct. 15 presidential election, in which authorities said Saddam won a new
seven-year term with 100 percent of the votes.

Reporters were allowed to stay for another week, but the Iraqis announced
that no further extensions would be approved and journalists would have to
leave when their visas expired.

Most run out this weekend although the precise day varies depending on when
the journalist arrived, Iraqi authorities said.

Another group of reporters is expected to cover next week's Baghdad
International Trade Fair, the Press Center statement said.

by Michael Wolff
Counterpunch, 26th October

On the first morning of the Iraq Sanctions Challenge, after our meeting with
Dr. Hashimi, our delegation met in front of the Al-Rasheed hotel in downtown
Baghdad. We gathered our gear together and prepared to go to the place that
for many, including myself, was one of the most disturbing and emotionally
distressing parts of the ISC itinerary, a place that left nearly everyone in
tears--the Amarijah bomb shelter.

On February 13, 1991, at 4:00 in the morning, during the height of the U.S.
air war against Iraq, U.S. Stealth fighter-bombers dropped two laser-guided
2,000 pound bombs on a bomb shelter, killing hundreds of civilians and
evoking world-wide outrage. The U.S. military claimed there was a military
communications center under the shelter, but when a reporter asked to see
the evidence, the military refused to provide it.

When we arrived in front of the bomb shelter we were greeted by a large
number of Iraqi children from the surrounding community. They were playing
in the street when they had seen our bus pull up and they wanted to meet the
new visitors. I saw only a few adults and they were keeping their distance
from us. I was the last one out of the bus and by the time I got out, the
children were quietly standing in front of the entrance gate in a large
group and the delegates were standing around them, taking their pictures and
trying to communicate with them. One of the delegates in particular,
Jennifer Brigham, seemed to be interacting especially close with some of
these children. There was an interesting bond taking place between them that
was nice to see. I was immediately touched by a special beauty in these
children. I don't know if it was my imagination, but they seemed to glow.
Maybe it was all the attention they were getting. Possibly, it was my very
strong feelings for the children of Iraq. After all, I had traveled
thousands of miles to come to this place. It may have been my imagination,
but these were the most beautiful children I had ever seen. They seemed so
quiet and well-behaved--so innocent. There was something very special in
their glowing faces and benevolent smiles; I'll never forget them.

>From the outside, the bomb shelter appeared as a large, single story
blockhouse made from concrete. Our guide pointed out that the Iraqi
government had built forty-four of these shelters around the city. They were
designed to withstand a nuclear blast as well as chemical and biological
attack, but unfortunately for the women and children hiding inside, they
were no match for American ingenuity and "smart" technology. There is no
mistaking what these shelters were designed for. The Amariyah shelter was
located in a poor, working class neighborhood made up mostly of apartments.
There is a school across the street. There are no nearby military facilities
or installations. The U.S. military knew exactly what this structure was for
(they even admitted it) and they must have known that at 4:00 in the morning
the shelter would be packed with sleeping civilians. U.S. intelligence
specialists later admitted that, months before the attack, they consulted
with the designers and contractors who built the shelter so they could more
effectively penetrate its defenses. The attack was very successful with
devastating consequences for the little bodies inside. It is chilling to
think about what occurred in the shelter that morning.

As you follow the guide into the shelter, the first thing you notice is the
large, circular hole in the ceiling where the first bomb came through. You
see thick slabs of concrete and a grotesque tangle of twisted, steel bars
hanging down. A large pillar of sunlight penetrates through the gloom of the
ruined shelter. There is a huge crater in the concrete floor and you can see
the ripped open water pipes hanging from the ceiling. There are rows of 8x10
black and white photographs of the victims arranged along the blackened,
pockmarked walls. It looks like the photos have been arranged to show the
families together. For some of the victims, there were no photographs
available, so their names were written in Arabic in the space where a photo
would have been. With few exceptions, the photos are arranged in place to
show a young woman and a few children--one family. There are no adult males-
only young women with their children and siblings. There are old bouquets of
flowers covered with dust lying on the floor beneath some of the photos.

As you go through the tour, you look at a row of photos and move on with
tears in your eyes. You examine another row. The next group reveals two
young women; they look like sisters; there are five children. The next shows
a woman and a little boy--just a toddler. You stare at the pictures and you
see dreams that were destroyed in a violent instant. You see children that
never got to grow up and experience what life was all about--the joys of
marriage, or falling in love or graduating from the university. You see rows
and rows of these pictures and after awhile you can't even look at them
anymore. It just becomes too painful. You know that if you look at one more
picture, one more smiling face, you're going to start sobbing and you might
not be able to stop. I look around. Everybody has tears in their eyes. My
roommate, Wil, has lost his composure. He's hunched over crying with his
hands covering his face. A woman comes over and hugs him. People are taking
photographs. We ask the guide questions:

"How many people died here?" someone asks.

"Four-hundred and eight," she replies.

"Were there any survivors?"

"Fourteen--most were badly burned," she points to a vague handprint on the
wall. "This is where a survivor--a young boy--stood up after the blast and
touched the wall. He burned his hand from the heat...and then fell down over

I try to piece together exactly what has happened here. There is some
debate. I wonder if the guide has accurately translated our questions. I
spent some time conferring with some of the other delegates, and although
some people are going to question my version of the events, this is my
conclusion based on what the guide has told us along with a later follow-up

At 4:00 in the morning, most of the victims were probably sleeping. They
slept in bunk-beds stacked along the walls. The first 2000 pound bomb
carried a shaped charge that, according to Time magazine, "cut through 12
feet of reinforced concrete and exploded, peeling away the protective
cover." It left a large hole in the roof of the shelter and destroyed the
electrical system. The chaos inside the darkened shelter must have been
unimaginable. The bomb shelter doors were electronically controlled, so the
doors were sealed shut. The remaining survivors were trapped in the shelter.
There may have been a fire at this point. "Neighborhood residents heard
screams as people tried to get out of the shelter." There was nothing they
could do to help. Six minutes later, the second bomb traveled through the
hole made by the first bomb. "The explosion from the second bomb shattered
doors and windows in homes around the neighborhood." The screaming
immediately stopped.

The flash of the explosion was hot enough that we saw foot and handprints
seared on to the walls and ceiling. Human remains and clothing shreds hung
from the ceiling. Everything combustible--clothes, hair, blankets--caught on
fire. The heat from the ensuing fire caused the water in the underground
storage tank to boil. It expanded and spilled out from the ruptured water
pipes on the ceiling, spilling over the victims and flooding part of the top
floor with boiling water. The water ran down the stairs and flooded a small
portion of the basement with about two feet of water.

Because of the intense heat, it took nearly two hours for the rescuers to
open the doors to the shelter. A CNN camera crew was on hand to film the
rescue attempt. Although the American public saw a heavily-censored version
of the bombing, a reporter from the Columbia Journalism Review saw the
unedited version, and gave the following description:

"This reporter viewed the unedited Baghdad feeds...They showed scenes of
incredible carnage. Nearly all the bodies were charred into blackness; in
some cases the heat had been so great that entire limbs were burned off.
Among the corpses were those of at least six babies and ten children, most
of them so severely burned that their gender could not be determined. Rescue
workers collapsed in grief, dropping corpses; some rescuers vomited from the
stench of the still-smoldering bodies."

The television images were devastating. Riots and demonstrations broke out
around the world. The U.S. and Egyptian embassies in Jordan were surrounded
and attacked by stone throwing demonstrators. Western Journalists were
assaulted. The Pentagon's reaction spoke volumes:

"From the military point of view, nothing went wrong," Brigadier General
Richard Neil coldly and blandly stated at a news briefing in Saudi Arabia.
"The target was hit as designated." As far as the Pentagon was concerned, no
mistake had been made. They blew up a bomb shelter packed with sleeping
women and children. It was justified. No apology was ever made. That was the
end of it--period.

According to Time Magazine, the military "preparations for the strike on the
bunker began months before the bombs actually fell." The article claimed
that U.S. intelligence satellites had collected evidence, including radio
transmissions that showed that the Amarijah shelter was a military
communications facility. Conveniently, "missing from the accumulated
evidence were any photos of civilians entering the bunker..." The U.S.
military also refused to present any of this evidence when reporters asked
to see it. Personally, I find it impossible that any person could believe
the Pentagon's version of the event. The intelligence officials admitted to
planning the attack months in advance (even before they had any evidence
that the shelter was a communications center.) They pointed to a mountain of
evidence to back up their claim, and yet, despite all of this, and despite
the fact that the shelter had been under 24-hour surveillance, they missed
the fact that hundred of women and children had been going in and out of the
shelter during the air-war.

Three days after our original visit, a small group of us returned to
Amarijah to gather more facts and answer unanswered questions. During this
time, we thoroughly inspected and photographed the underground basement, and
found nothing to indicate a possible military usage. We saw an aid station
for the doctors and nurses, a dressing room, a water-tank room, a room for
the electrical generator, toilet facilities, but there was nothing else
there- absolutely nothing. I wondered what kind of communications center
could have been placed here. First of all, there was no extra room for such
a center--not unless the civilian facilities had been removed. Second of
all, what kind of communications center could have been here -an officer
with a transistor radio? What kind of transmissions could have been coming
from the basement? None of the photographs I've ever seen have indicated an
antennae or radio transmitter in the vicinity of the building, and even if
there was a communications center in the basement, it would have remained
intact because the basement of the shelter was completely untouched by the
blast. And yet the Pentagon claimed that "the target had been destroyed as
designated." The military simply killed all the women and children upstairs,
then claimed the mission was a success and never returned to bomb the site
again. The intelligence planners also had interior photographs and
blueprints of the entire shelter (you can download the photographs off the
internet) including the basement, and yet no effort was made to destroy the
basement, even though, this is where the Pentagon claimed the "command
center" was.

The only people who truly know what exactly took place and the motives
behind the bombing are the military planners who devised this attack. But,
there are obvious and glaring deficiencies in the Pentagon's official
version of events. Ultimately, the burden of proof lies with the Pentagon
since they are the ones responsible for carrying out this horrific bombing.
This issue could be clarified in a day, but the necessary information
remains classified.

Of all the things I saw during my visit to Iraq, the Amarijah bomb shelter
was the most troubling. It saddens me when I think about how all those
young, beautiful people were killed in such a wanton and senseless manner. I
think of the dreams that were smashed apart, the families that were
destroyed, the neighborhood that was devastated. It angers me when I think
that the people responsible for this despicable crime will probably never be
brought to justice.

After we finished examining the shelter, I walked back to the bus and saw a
group of children playing across the street. There were some adults and
several of the kids were chasing after a red ball, kicking it around. As I
watched them, I couldn't help but wonder what the future would hold for
them. I wondered if they had had relatives killed in the shelter. I wondered
if they would ever again be forced to experience the nightmare of U.S.
bombing and what had occurred here ten years ago. In a way, I felt
responsible for them. I watched them for a few minutes, wishing I had
brought a camera, then I joined the other delegates and climbed on to the

by Jere L. Bacharach
Seattle Times, 27th October

President Bush and al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden have one thing in common:
Both believe that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is an amoral, vicious,
dangerous man who cannot be trusted.

Both wish to see Saddam removed from power, although their visions of what
should follow are diametrically opposed. But how does Saddam himself see the
political and military world in which he lives, and what are the probable
acts he will take to retain his power?

Saddam is not some megalomaniac imperialist out to conquer the world or
destroy Western civilization, but he will use every tool in his arsenal to
stay in power. He is rational within the bounds of his value system and life
experiences, his understanding of Iraqi society and history, and his
willingness to use every resource available to him as dictator of Iraq.
Understanding Saddam's past acts aids us in predicting his future ones.

Born in 1937, Saddam was raised by a stepfather and an uncle. Both men
brutalized him, probably instilling in him his propensity to use violence.
In 1979, he consolidated his power, removed a relative from the Iraqi
presidency and made himself president of Iraq. Directly or indirectly,
Saddam has been at the center of the Iraqi government since 1968 and its
absolute dictator for over 23 years.

Every ruler of Iraq since Britain created the monarchy in the 1920s has
followed parallel policies, with Saddam being the most ruthless in carrying
them out. He believes that his predecessors failed because they were not
willing to maximize the resources available to them.

Saddam's primary source of support is his extended family, meaning a range
of individuals from his two sons, one of whom he almost killed, to people
from his hometown of Takrit. He believes in absolute control of the country
from Baghdad, permitting no regional or local autonomy. He favors through
appointments, favoritism and the threat of force the Sunni population of
central Iraq over the majority Shi'ites who live in the center and southern
parts of the country and the Kurds in the north.

Saddam controls other potential enemies by creating alliances cemented by
marriage ties, bribery, intimidation and murder. As an Iraqi nationalist,
Saddam demands total control over the Shatt al-Arab waterway (where the
Tigris and Euphrates rivers run together), contrary to Iranian claims, and
he rejects Kuwait's existence as an independent state. In the same vein he
rejects the right of Israel to exist.

Finally, he uses Iraq's most important resource, oil, to win foreign support
in the form of money, military equipment and material goods. Knowing these
priorities and the policies he follows to achieve them enables us to
understand his past acts and possibly predict future ones.

For most scholars, Saddam's two greatest errors were his invasions of Iran
in 1980 and his invasion of Kuwait in 1990. From Saddam's point of view,
they made sense.

In the first case, he felt that the new Islamic Republic of Iran was
actively trying to overthrow him. He also believed the Iranian military was
particularly weak; the opportunity to seize the whole Shatt al-Arab
presented itself; and he expected the Arab population of the oil-rich area
of southwest Iran, the area closest to Iraq, would welcome him as a fellow
Arab. He also felt that the U.S. had given him a green light, which was
reinforced during the decade-long Iran-Iraq war when the U.S. supplied Iraq
with critical secret data on Iranian military formations, and
representatives of the Reagan administration such as Dick Cheney and Donald
Rumsfield visited Iraq without denouncing Saddam's use of poison gas against
the Kurds.

By all accounts, this war ended with great losses to both sides. Saddam had
nothing to show for his invasion but large, outstanding debts to oil-rich
Arab states, a weakened infrastructure and a demoralized population.
However, he was able to develop a program of chemical and biological weapons
and lay the groundwork for a nuclear arsenal. The former has been used
against internal (Kurdish) and external (Iranian) enemies, while the latter
was meant to give him great prestige and allow him to appear as the nuclear
counterweight in the Arab world to Israel.

The second case was his invasion and occupation of Kuwait. Saddam's plans
for defending his position in Kuwait initially involved trying to divide the
anti-Iraq coalition through diplomatic means. If war broke out, he assumed
his troops would be able to kill significant numbers of American soldiers,
undermining domestic U.S. support for the war. When actual fighting began,
his priority was to attack Israel hoping that they would counterattack,
forcing the Arab states to support him rather than the American-led

None of his plans worked. But immediately following the war, he was able to
crush the American-encouraged uprising against him by Shi'ites in the south
and Kurds in the north and consolidate his dictatorial hold over central

This past decade has seen a complex game of cat and mouse during which
Saddam has done everything possible to thwart United Nations resolutions,
particularly inspections for weapons of mass destruction. Saddam worries
that open inspections will undermine his dictatorial authority and thus his
ability to intimidate his own population. His opposition to open-ended
searches of his presidential palaces includes his conviction that inspectors
would give the CIA and Israel's spy agency, the Mossad, data on his internal
security system and hiding places. In fact, some U.N. inspectors did share
data with the CIA and the Mossad.

When George W. Bush was elected president, Saddam assumed that American
action against him would only be a question of time. From Saddam's point of
view, his 1993 failed attempt to assassinate former President Bush during
the latter's visit to Kuwait guaranteed George W. would seek revenge. This
is what traditional Middle East families are expected to do. Saddam is also
convinced that nothing he does will make any difference in removing
restrictions on Iraq since he believes the single U.S. goal is his removal.
Therefore, he has been doing everything he can to subvert U.S. policy.

What are Saddam's present assumptions? He knows that the Kurds and the
Shi'ites are not militarily capable of marching against him. He also
believes that after their experiences in 1991 of being left unprotected by
the Americans, they will sit and wait. He also assumes that all Iraqis as
Arabs and nationalists will not want a long or obvious American occupation.

Before any fighting, Saddam will invite international media organizations to
Baghdad, while placing military units in highly populated areas. He will
then wait for the Arab and worldwide reaction to viewing large numbers of
Arab civilians being killed by U.S. and British bombs. Saddam also assumes
an attack on him will undermine the overall U.S. position in the region and
our war on terrorism because Arab and Muslim governments are not currently
supporting U.S. policy toward Iraq.

With war, Saddam will fire missiles at Israel, even if they only have
conventional warheads. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has made it clear
that he will retaliate if Israel is attacked, and Saddam is counting on it.
While Israeli participation in an anti-Saddam coalition will have little
military impact on Iraq, it will further isolate America from its Arab and
Muslim allies.

A second scenario for Saddam is that any Israeli military action against
Iraq may be used by the Hezbollah in southern Lebanon as a justification to
fire their thousands of rockets against Israel.

Finally, Saddam has always made his personal safety and survival his highest
priority. He uses doubles, never announces where he will be, and moves
constantly. He is assuming that any serious U.S. attempt to search for him
on the ground will cost many American lives. Our failure to capture the
Taliban leader Mullah Omar, let alone Osama bin Laden, encourages him.

Saddam is a man bred in brutality who, among other acts, is acquiring
weapons of mass destruction. At some point in the future, military action
against him may be necessary, but a U.S.-led war at this time or in the near
future will have major negative consequences.

Ignoring both humanitarian arguments and U.S. domestic issues, the U.S. has
failed to negate Saddam's advantages if war is undertaken. We have failed to
demonstrate that we have exhausted peaceful solutions, particularly through
the United Nations. We have failed to create a broad international
coalition, particularly among Arab and Muslim states. We have failed to
guarantee that Israel will withhold its military participation, which is
necessary if we are to retain Arab support. We have failed to articulate a
vision for a post Saddam Iraq that is meaningful to Iraqi Sunnis, Shi'ites
and Kurds as we seek their support.

Saddam learned from his mistakes in the Iraq-Iran war and from the aftermath
of his occupying Kuwait in 1990; we appear not to have understood the
multiple political and military reasons for our successes in Kuwait in 1991
and Afghanistan in 2001, and the necessity of having a long-term follow-up
peace strategy.

(Jere L. Bacharach, professor of Middle East history at the University of
Washington, is former director of the Henry M. Jackson School of
International Studies at the UW and former president of the Middle East
Studies Association.)

by Mark Matthews
Dawn, 28th October

WASHINGTON: If American forces topple Saddam Hussein and occupy Iraq, the
United States and its allies will take on responsibility for a population
severely weakened by two major wars, suppression of a post-Persian Gulf war
uprising , 12 years of United Nations imposed sanctions and Iraqi government

Over the past decade, Iraq's crippled economy, degraded water and sewer
systems, erratic food supplies and poor health care have contributed to
widespread poverty, disease and malnutrition, sharply increasing childhood
death rates, lowering levels of education and devastating a once-large
middle class.

In his speech to the nation on Oct 7, President Bush pledged that if war
comes, "the United States and our allies will help the Iraqi people rebuild
their economy and create the institutions of liberty in a unified Iraq at
peace with its neighbours."

The form an occupation would take is uncertain and would depend on the
amount of unrest in Iraq after a war, which other countries would
participate and how strong a role Iraqis would be ready to play in running
their country. But the leading role played by the United States in
maintaining harsh sanctions, drummed into the population of 23 million by
the Saddam government's propaganda, probably will make ordinary Iraqis
dubious about US intentions.

Iraqis have seen that sanctions "didn't hurt the regime; it hurt the regular
Iraqi," said Rahman al-Jebouri, spokesman for the Uprising Committee, an
anti-Saddam Iraqi exile group. A US pledge of liberation "is not going to
fly on the Iraqi street," he said. "They want to see that it's practical."

The sanctions, on top of the US refusal to back the popular anti-Saddam
uprising in 1991, have stirred anti-Americanism even among the many Iraqis
who want to be rid of Saddam's cruel rule, said Phebe Marr, a historian of
Iraq. "People are really unhappy with sanctions and want a return to
normalcy" she said.

By most available measures, conditions have improved in Iraq since the
United Nations eased sanctions by introducing the oil- for-food programme in
early 1997, allowing Iraq to sell oil and use some of the proceeds for food,
medicine and other humanitarian goods.

This year, the UN Security Council liberalized the sanctions further by
allowing the import of all non-military goods. But UN agencies operating in
the country continue to paint a bleak picture. In its latest report, the
UN's Office of the Iraq Programme notes a "high incidence of waterborne
diseases" caused by "the poor state of water and sanitation networks in the

Of a half-million children screened, 20 per cent were found to be
malnourished. Power blackouts continue, food rations remain short of
recommended levels of calories and protein, and the country still faces
shortages of medicines and vaccines.

Teachers earn $3 to $5 a month; doctors, $20 to $30 a month; and most of the
population is dependent on food handouts, said Carel De Rooy, the
Baghdad-based representative for UNICEF. Unable to get enough protein, more
than half of Iraq's women suffer from iron deficiency, and the result is
that one-fourth of babies are born underweight and vulnerable to disease, he

"We still are in a humanitarian crisis," De Rooy said.

With its immense oil wealth, Iraq enjoyed relatively high standards of
prosperity, health care and education well into the 1980s, when the
eight-year Iran-Iraq war began to take its toll on the population, causing
rising malnutrition, medicine shortages and the destruction of some health
and social facilities.

Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 prompted the Security Council to
impose a comprehensive economic embargo intended to block all trade with the
Iraqi government, exempting only medicine and humanitarian food aid.

Many thought that the sanctions, by cutting off oil revenue, would prompt
Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait or cause his government to crumble.

Iraq was particularly vulnerable to a trade embargo because it had allowed
its domestic agricultural sector to deteriorate and by 1990 was importing
about 70 per cent of its food. Food prices skyrocketed.

US and allied bombs during the 1991 gulf war compounded the hardship,
knocking out roads and bridges needed for internal trade and electrical
power stations that kept water treatment plants and sewer pumps operating.

More destruction occurred during the government's suppression of the
uprisings that occurred in the Kurdish north and the Shia south immediately
after the war.

By mid-1991, humanitarian groups were witnessing a surge in diseases such as
cholera, typhoid, dysentery and infectious hepatitis, as well as
malnutrition among many Iraqi children.

The next five years saw a bitter standoff between the Security Council and
Saddam's government.

Led by the United States, the council refused to lift sanctions as long as
Hussein failed to come clean on his weapons of mass destruction.

Through the 1990s, sanctions became a source of controversy. Critics
reported staggering death tolls that, on close scrutiny, seemed to draw
heavily on statistics supplied by the Iraqi government or data obtained with
its help. Independent information-gathering is extremely difficult in Iraq.

Supporters of sanctions denied that they were the cause of Iraqi hardships.
"Iraqis are indeed suffering, but not because of sanctions. The role of
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is the problem," Patrick Clawson of the
Washington Institute for Near East Policy wrote in February 2000.

While the debate raged, more accurate measurements of the human toll in Iraq
emerged. Two that have been widely accepted as the best available are an
extensive UNICEF survey of deaths among children and mothers, and an
analysis drawing on the UNICEF data by Richard Garfield, a public-health
expert at Columbia University.

Surveying 24,000 families across Iraq in 1999 and comparing the results with
those of earlier surveys, UNICEF reported that the infant death rate had
more than doubled since the late 1980s and that the death rate among
children younger than 5 had gone up nearly 2 1/2 times, from 56 per 1,000 to
131 per 1,000.

Iraq cooperated with the UNICEF survey, but the agency said it oversaw every
aspect, using female Iraqi medical doctors to conduct interviews.

Experts and Iraqi exiles have faulted the Iraqi government for, among other
things, poor management and favouritism in the distribution of aid supplies,
using money from oil sales for sophisticated medical equipment instead of
basic health care and supplying infant formula, which is often mixed with
contaminated water, instead of encouraging breast feeding.-Dawn/The Los
Angles Times/W.P/The Baltimore Sun News Service (c) The Washington Post.

by Jim Muir
BBC, 30th October

Iran has complained to Iraq about huge fires which are reported to be
burning large areas of the former marshland on the border between the two

A statement by the Iranian environmental protection agency said the fires
had begun more than two months ago, and were still burning now.

It said thick clouds of smoke were being pushed across the border by a south
westerly wind, and the resulting pollution was affecting people in many
towns and villages on the Iranian side.

It added that the development had been reported to the Iranian foreign
ministry, which had taken it up with the Iraqi Government.

Main mode of transport is a long, slim canoe, known as a mashuf.

Officials in south-west Iran have been quoted as blaming the Iraqi military
for starting the fires, speculating that it may have been a pre-emptive
move, aimed at driving out rebel Shia fighters in advance of a possible
American attack on Iraq.

The main Iraqi Shia opposition group, which is based in Iran, did not
believe that to be the case on this occasion.

But it pointed out that the fires would not have been possible had the
Baghdad government not dried out much of the marshes of south east Iraq by
huge drainage schemes in recent years.

The marshes were a globally important wetland, sustaining a huge volume of
wildlife, especially birds, as well as a unique way of life for the marsh
dwelling people.

The United Nations environment programme has said that about 90% of the
marshes have been destroyed, describing it as an environmental catastrophe
and a major loss to all humanity.

While Iraq has done most of the damage, part of the wetlands also straddle
the border into Iran.

The UN says the surviving portion there is less than half the size it was in
the 1970s, because of dam projects which have reduced the water flow into
the area.

It has called on the Iranian authorities to allocate sufficient water
resources to ensure the survival of a unique and fragile eco-system.

by Mark Ellis
Crosswalk, 30th October

ORANGE, CALIFORNIA (ANS) -- As President Bush rallies international support
for an effort to invade Iraq and disarm its current government, a dwindling
minority of Christians in Iraq wonder if the West has forgotten them, while
they enjoy freedoms that Christians in many other Middle Eastern countries
would envy.

"The evangelical churches in Iraq are as evangelical as any evangelical
church in America," says Norm Nelson, president and host of "Life At Its
Best," after returning from a recent Middle East trip. "They love Jesus
Christ and honor him and they worship in freedom," he says. "You can walk or
drive to church on Sunday and carry your Bible openly."

In the heart of Baghdad, Nelson found a vibrant church with a worship
atmosphere that was "deeply reverent, conducted with decorum and order."
With a membership numbering 400 families, their Sunday evening service "was
so packed that some were forced to stand in the back."

While their worship is free, there are some restrictions imposed by the
secular government, largely controlled by Sunni Arabs. "They are not free to
proselytize outside their church property," Nelson notes.

Still, the contrast could not be more striking with Saudi Arabia, one of the
United States' most important allies in the region. "Christians in Saudi
Arabia worship in conditions they refer to as 'the catacombs,'" Nelson says.
"They have to be secretive in Saudi Arabia," he says.

Many would be surprised to learn the Bible is so readily available in Iraq.
"I know two Bible organizations that distributed a half million New
Testaments to the government schools in Iraq, and the government of Iraq
allowed them to be distributed in the schools," Nelson says. "You can't do
that in the United States," he says.

"Christians in Iraq said, since the Koran was being distributed free of
charge to students, they felt the New Testament should be distributed in
schools," Nelson says. "The government of Iraq acquiesced and allowed it,"
he says. The Middle Eastern Bible Society and the Bible League supplied the
Bibles to the schools within the last three years.

"We have a colleague in Jordan who takes Arabic copies of the Life
Application Bible and distributes them to 18 cities and towns up and down
the Tigris River in Iraq," Nelson says. "When he takes Bibles to the Baghdad
book fair, the Bibles are the most popular book he takes," he says.

Nelson feels moved by the spiritual hunger in Iraq, also evidenced by
reports from a Christian radio network operating in Amman, Jordan. "They
found the most spiritually hungry country in the Middle East is Iraq," he
says. "They get more response from their Christian broadcasts in Arabic to
Iraq than from all the countries in the Middle East combined."

"When I go to Iraq the reaction is amazing because the Christians there feel
forgotten," Nelson says. Christians comprise less then two percent of the
population of Iraq, which is overwhelmingly Muslim. "They say, 'We thought
you forgot us.' They hunger for recognition and affirmation that American
Christians care about them."

Unfortunately, geopolitical considerations have blinded the eyes of many
believers in the West, Nelson believes. "Evangelical Christians have so
politicized their outlook on the Muslim world, that most of the time we
don't see the people of these countries with the eyes of Christ," he says.
"We see them in terms of the political objectives of the United States of
America, but not in terms of the priorities of Jesus Christ."

"We see the world with political eyes, not spiritual eyes," he adds.

Nelson also visited Afghanistan on his recent trip, and plans to return in
December with medical aid and school supplies. "All the schools lack almost
anything," Nelson says, including chalk, pencils, paper, textbooks, desks
and chairs. "The U.S. has promised a huge rebuilding effort," he says. "But
the money that's been promised has not been delivered in a timely fashion."

"The roads are just horrendous," Nelson says. "To travel from Kabul, the
largest city, to Kandahar, the second largest city, is a 16 hour trip," he
says. "It shouldn't take more than two or three hours. It's like driving in
a riverbed, because the road was bombed to smithereens."

Nelson visited a school in Afghanistan with 3000 students. "The building had
been totally trashed by the Taliban, but on the wall was a poster showing
Osama bin Laden holding an automatic weapon in his left hand and in his
right hand holding the world. He's standing in front of the smoking, flaming
World Trade Center. Underneath was a caption saying, 'The al-Qaida band took
a big forward step.'"

"When I looked at that I realized the Taliban influence is alive," Nelson
says. Because the school had limited building space, students were meeting
in 14 tents supplied by UNICEF. "If it wasn't for the United Nations, they
wouldn't have anyplace to meet in the 100 degree heat," he says.

"Where is the church in all of this," Nelson wonders. "Why hasn't the
western church provided the tents?" he asks. "My question is more to the
church than President Bush or the State Department."

Nelson believes our priorities are unbalanced. "Evangelical Christians spend
more dollars on weight reduction products than on missionary efforts," he
notes. "If we really care about that part of the world then we'll take the
gospel and express the love of Jesus Christ in tangible forms," he says.

"The children and students and teachers are wide open," he says. "They are
looking to us."

by Mona Ziade
Daily Star, Lebanon, 30th October

Iraq said Tuesday that it wants independent media and individuals to
accompany UN weapons experts when they resume their work in Iraq, but
Washington brushed off the move an attempt by Baghdad to set conditions on a
matter in which it should have no say.

The latest argument surfaced as France and the United States were locked in
behind-the scenes bargaining over a UN Security Council resolution on Iraqi
arms, and as Germany prepared to send Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer to
Washington to help cool tensions over Berlin's adamant refusal to join a
US-led military coalition against Iraq.

Iraq maintained that without the presence of neutral observers with the arms
inspectors, Washington would use the inspections as a pretext for war.

"We will not allow the inspectors to be the sole source (of information)
because we don't trust them," Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan said.

Baghdad wants "well-known and independent media and individuals to accompany
them but not to hinder their work."

"We want the inspectors to work clearly under light and I think this won't
annoy anyone but it would rather facilitate their task to look for weapons
of mass destruction," he said in remarks published by state media.

Ramadan said it was wrong to rely solely on the "head of any (inspection)
team who would send a report to the (UN) Security Council which would issue
a resolution (against Iraq) based on that report."

The White House rejected the demand.

"On the Iraqi call for observers for the inspectors, once again Iraq is
attaching conditions to something in which they should have no say," White
House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters. "No matter how meritorious the
group of journalists that Iraq might have in mind, the point is Iraq, having
said unconditional  inspectors are welcome, is now once again attaching


People's Daily, 30th October

Benefited from new procedures aimed at accelerating the release of items on
hold, Iraq will receive two power plant gas turbines valued at 80 million US
dollars, a UN office running the "oil-for-food" scheme announced Tuesday.

The newly approved contract has been on hold for nearly two years, the
office said in a weekly update.

Once installed and commissioned, the gas turbines will produce power for the
northern governorates of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, which will be reconnected
to the national electricity grid as partof an effort to increase the supply
of electricity to all three northern governorates, according to the office

Meanwhile, Baghdad's oil exports plunged from the previous week's record
high of 3.03 million barrels per day to 729,000 barrels in the week ending
Oct. 25, it reported.

With the average price of Iraqi crude at approximately 24.05 dollars per
barrel, the week's exports earned an estimated 123 million dollars.

Yahoo, 31st October

GENEVA (Reuters) - More than five million Iraqi children were vaccinated
against polio this week, completing an annual campaign aimed at eradicating
the crippling disease from the country by 2004, a major aid agency said on

The campaign begun in the spring aimed to give children under the age of
five in sanction-hit Iraq four separate doses of two "magic drops" of oral
vaccine, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent
Societies said.

"No new cases have been reported in the last two years and the country is
expected to reach the goal of complete eradication of polio in 2004," it
said in a statement.

More than 750 volunteers from its Iraqi member body, the Iraq Red Crescent
Society, took part in the latest drive. The World Health Organization hopes
to wipe out polio by 2005.

Iraq, under United Nations sanctions since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, says
more than 80,000 children under the age of five were among 180,000 people
who died last year from diseases blamed on the sanctions.

by Jeff Jacoby
Boston Globe, 31st October

AS A BOY, writes Kenneth Pollack in his masterful new book on Iraq, ''The
Threatening Storm,'' Saddam Hussein would heat an iron poker until it was
white-hot, then use it to impale cats and dogs. Years later, when he had
boys of his own, he would take them into prisons so they could watch - and
get used to - torture and executions. The Arab world is replete with
dictators, many of them ruthless. But for sheer unbridled cruelty, none of
them can touch Saddam. And for hellish and sadistic brutality, no other Arab
state - perhaps no other state in the world - can compare with what Saddam
has created in Iraq.

Writing in The New Republic recently, foreign correspondent Robert Kaplan
recalled the treatment meted out some years back to Robert Spurling, an
American technician working in Baghdad. Spurling ''had been taken away from
his wife and daughters at Saddam International Airport and tortured for four
months with electric shock, brass knuckles, and wooden bludgeons. His toes
were crushed and his toenails ripped out. He was kept in solitary
confinement on a starvation diet. Finally, American diplomats won his
release. Multiply his story by thousands, and you will have an idea what
Iraq is like to this day.''

Spurling was one of Saddam's luckier victims; he survived. Many thousands of
others have been executed outright or tortured to death - or forced to
witness the torture or murder of their loved ones.

In June, the BBC interviewed ''Kamal,'' a former Iraqi torturer now confined
in a Kurdish prison. ''If someone didn't break, they'd bring in the
family,'' Kamal said. ''They'd bring the son in front of his parents, who
were handcuffed or tied, and they'd start with simple tortures such as
cigarette burns, and then if his father didn't confess, they'd start using
more serious methods,'' such as slicing off one of the child's ears or
amputating a limb. ''They'd tell the father that they'd slaughter his son.
They'd bring a bayonet out. And if he didn't confess, they'd kill the

Horror in Saddam's Iraq takes endless forms. In 1987-88, Air Force
helicopters sprayed scores of Kurdish villages with a combination of
chemical weapons, including mustard gas, Sarin, and VX, a deadly nerve
agent. Scores of thousands of Kurds died horrible deaths. Of those who
survived, many were left blind or sterile or crippled with agonizing lung

But most of the Kurds slaughtered in that season of mass murder were not
gassed but rounded up and gunned down into mass graves. Those victims were
mostly men and boys, and their bodies have never been recovered.

In one village near Kirkuk, after the males were taken to be killed, the
women and small children were crammed into trucks and taken to a prison. One
survivor, Salma Aziz Baban, described the ordeal to journalist Jeffrey
Goldberg, who reported on Saddam's war against the Kurds in The New Yorker
in March.

More than 2,000 women and children were crammed into a room and given
nothing to eat. When someone starved to death, the Iraqi guards demanded
that the body be passed to them through an window in the door. Baban's
6-year-old son grew very sick. ''He knew he was dying. There was no medicine
or doctor. He started to cry so much.'' He died in his mother's lap.

''I was screaming and crying,'' she told Goldberg. ''We gave them the body.
It was passed outside, and the soldiers took it.''

Soon after, she pushed her way to the window to see if her child had been
taken for burial. She saw 20 dogs roaming in a field where the dead bodies
had been dumped. ''I looked outside and saw the legs and hands of my son in
the mouths of the dogs. The dogs were eating my son.''

Horror without end. Amnesty International once listed some 30 different
methods of torture used in Iraq. They ranted from burning to electric shock
to rape. Some governments go to great lengths to keep evidence of torture
secret. Saddam's government has often flaunted its tortures, leaving the
broken bodies of its victims in the street or returning them, mangled and
mutilated, to their families.

For the second time in a dozen years, the United States is preparing to go
to war against Iraq, this time with ''regime change'' as an explicit goal.
The case for military action is being made primarily in the name of
international law and stability: Iraq under Saddam egregiously violates UN
resolutions, attacks other countries without cause, aids terrorists, uses
and stockpiles biological and chemical weapons, actively pursues nuclear
weapons, and purposely creates environmental catastrophes.

Saddam has successfully resisted every form of outside pressure short of
war. Neither sanctions nor inspections nor missile strikes have subdued his
aggressiveness. His regime is profoundly dangerous and will grow even more
so if it is not destroyed.

All true. But let us not forget something equally true: Saddam has been an
unspeakable evil for the people of Iraq. In crushing him and his
dictatorship, we will be liberating the most cruelly enslaved nation on
earth and performing an act of nearly incalculable mercy.

by Matthew McAllester
Newsday, 31st October

Karbala, Iraq - In a folder on his desk, the chief cleric of the local
mosque named for the grandson of the prophet Muhammad keeps a stack of
photocopied religious rulings. Issued by leading Shiite clergymen, the
decrees - or fatwas - pledge Shiite loyalty to the Sunni dominated regime of
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and promise eternal damnation to any Muslim
who does not defend Iraq against a possible American invasion.

"There is no doubt that any kind of cooperation and help offered to enemies
and aggressors is a terrible sin and will be followed by shame and disgrace
and in life and death there will be all the tortures of hell," reads one,
issued recently by Iraq's foremost Shiite cleric, Ali Sistani. "Such a man
will face God at the day of judgment ... and there will be no mercy."

The timing of the fatwas is significant. Iraq's predominantly Sunni rulers
have been taking every step possible in recent weeks to create a sense of
loyalty among the country's disparate peoples. Few pose more of a threat to
the regime than the Shiite Muslim majority, who have been traditionally
excluded from positions of power and some of whom fought in a bloody
uprising against the government in the south of the country after the end of
the Gulf War in 1991.

American military planners are hoping the Shiites, and the Kurds to the
north, will again rise up in the event of a U.S. attack on Iraq. But in Iraq
itself, there are plenty of outward signs the Shiites will remain loyal to
the government. If this is the case, as some Western diplomats in Iraq and
Iraqi sources say, American troops could find themselves fighting against
the Shiite majority rather than with it.

"They don't see America as their savior from the regime," one Western
diplomat said. "Let's not forget the Shiites have an Iraqi identity. ... The
Shiites don't favor the U.S."

Having the public support of Shiite clerics like Sistani and Abdul Nasrulla,
the head clergyman at the sacred Imam Hussein mosque in Karbala and also a
member of Iraq's parliament, is a major boon to the regime as it preaches
unity among Sunnis and Shiites.

It is not clear, however, if declarations of Shiite loyalty are willingly
proffered. One Western diplomat said he thought the clerics had been ordered
by the government to issue the fatwas. "They were forced to do so," the
diplomat said. "They are afraid. If there are signs of resistance, they
would be hidden."

The clerics would have reason to be afraid. The Hussein regime executed many
Shiite clerics after the 1991 uprising failed. In Karbala, a city sacred to
Shiites, the bodies of Shiite rebels were hung at the city's sacred shrines,
a warning to any future dissidents.

Nasrulla denied the regime had demanded the show of loyalty but deflected
repeated questions about who initiated the sudden and almost simultaneous
flow of fatwas from the country's leading Shiite and Sunni clerics, all of
which say pretty much the same thing.

"Each cleric gave his own fatwa. The government didn't force them to issue
the fatwas ... .It was because of the American threat," he said.

In Karbala, a 90-minute drive south of Baghdad, pilgrims flock to Imam
Hussein Shrine. Hussein, one of the first Shiite leaders, is revered for his
martyrdom in hopeless battle against a vastly superior army of Sunni Muslims
in the 7th century. Shiites split from Sunni Islam over who was the rightful
successor to Muhammad. Although a minority in the Arab world, Shiites make
up about 65 percent of the Iraqi population.

In this city, where only 11 years ago thousands of Shiites took up arms
against the government, Shiites and Sunnis alike insisted that they were all
loyal Iraqis.

"Iraqis are sons of this country and have to stand shoulder to shoulder to
face the invader," said Mohammed Falah, 24, a builder from the southern city
of Basra, who was visiting shrines. "War has been imposed on us before and
we will defend our country."

Speaking in the presence of an Iraqi government official, who accompanied a
reporter to Karbala, Falah and others even denied that the Shiite population
in his hometown and elsewhere in Iraq had risen up against the government in
1991. "They were not Iraqis," Falah said. "They were not Shiites."

When told there were indeed Iraqi Shiite rebels demonstrably alive and well
in Britain and Iran, Falah said: "Some of them were cheated by foreigners
and later they understood the facts. Not one of them is against their
country now."

Mohammed Adhami, an Iraqi legislator and political scientist, said the
conflict in the south in 1991 was partly a result of Shiite-dominated Iran
stoking trouble. "It was not an uprising," Adhami said. "It was killing,
raping, destroying. It was just something to be done by illiterates, those
with no faith, maybe."

In fact, the Shiite and Kurdish rebels controlled about 60 percent of Iraq
at one point during the uprising. By its end, tens of thousands were dead.

Adhami noted that when the United States bombed Iraq in late 1998, there was
no further trouble in the south. "Nothing happened. And now," he said,
referring to a possible war with the United States, "nothing will happen."

Despite their outward confidence in the loyalty of the Shiite population,
Iraqi officials have been taking steps to make sure there is no repeat of
the uprising in the south, where the Shiite majority is strongest.

"They're concentrating on the southern part - that's their soft underbelly,"
one Western diplomat in Baghdad said. "They are taking measures to put off
internal fighting. They have entered into dialogue with the clans and given
them certain weapons, clans they have in the past ignored."

Hussein's recent placating of the Shiite population has precedents. In the
early 1970s, for example, his recruiting led to a majority of Shiites in the
ruling Baath Party, although most positions of power remained with Sunnis.
He has also given several Shiites senior positions, but most ministerial
posts remain held by Sunnis, who are about 20 percent of Iraq's population.

Even if Hussein has succeeded in quelling or seducing the Shiite people
inside Iraq, small Shiite opposition groups are still working to topple the
regime from outside the country. Previously reluctant to join forces with
the United States, especially after the American military did not provide
air support for the 1991 uprising, the Shiite groups are now talking with
the U.S. government about how to help defeat Hussein.

One leading opposition figure, Hamid al-Bayati, said recently the Shiite
groups do not favor an American invasion of Iraq, preferring to have Iraqis
topple the regime. When asked how he could hope for support from Shiites who
promise loyalty to the government, al-Bayati said he had heard such promises

"They used to say the same thing when Saddam invaded Kuwait," he said. "The
same people who said they would defend the regime rose up against the
regime. It could happen again this time, only worse because everyone's fed
up with the regime."

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 by Ramzi Kysia
Jordan Times, 31st October

Having spent almost 6 months in Iraq since 1999, it's impossible not to
notice an improvement in the nutritional status of Iraqi children. The
evidence is circumstantial and anecdotal, but still powerful. The food
ration distributed by the Iraqi government through the Oil-for-Food program
now provides over 2,400 kilocalories per person per day. At the hospitals
I've visited, particularly in Central and Northern Iraq, wasting diseases
such as kwashiorkor and marasmus are no longer pandemic. And while doctors
throughout Iraq continue to report shortages in essential medicines and
equipment, pediatric cancers have replaced malnutrition as their chief
complaint. Despite these improvements, and they are significant, UNICEF
continues to report that over 1 in 5 Iraqi children remain malnourished. Our
work isn't over yet.

There are several reasons why malnutrition has declined - almost all due to
busting sanctions. One reason is, fairly obviously, because more food is
available. In December 1999, the UN lifted the limit it had placed on Iraqi
oil sales through the Oil-for-Food program, and in early 2000 exempted food
from the security review process. This allowed Iraq to import more food,
more quickly, and distribute it to families in need. Of the $24.2 billion in
supplies Iraq has been allowed to import under the Oil-for-Food program to
date, almost $10 billion has arrived in just the last year - allowing the
Iraqi government to increase the food ration they provide to everyone in

The last two years have also brought good rainfall, ending the previous
drought in Iraq, and providing bumper crops. This not only increased the
supply of food available in local markets, but brought down prices as well,
allowing some families to supplement their ration at local markets. However,
the ration still represents the only source of food for a majority of
families, and, for many, their sole source of income as well. Sanctions
still prevent the Iraqi government from spending its own money within the
country. As a result, only dry goods, imported from outside the country, can
be included in the food ration. The increased ration still does not contain
any fresh fruits or vegetables, or animal protein.

Recent, illegal trade agreements between Iraq and its neighbors, and
increased smuggling, have also impacted nutrition by bringing more goods and
hard currency into the country. According to a September 2002 overview of
the nutritional status of Iraqi children, UNICEF reports that "[m]ajor
shifts in Security Council Resolutions and government of Iraq regional trade
policies are among the basic factors that have improved child malnutrition
in the South/Centre [of Iraq]."

Additionally, the Iraqi government, in conjunction with UNICEF, has built
2,800 Community Child Care Units (CCCUs), staffed by almost 13,000 Iraqi
volunteers, in order to provide nutritional assessment, counseling, and
therapy to children in need. These units now screen an average of 1.1
million children every year.

Without safe drinking water, children contract chronic diarrhea and are
unable to absorb nutrients, so improvements in essential civilian
infrastructures have also had an effect on malnutrition. Electricity is
necessary to run water and sanitation plants, and Iraq has reduced its
electrical deficit from 3000 megawatts in 1996 to 900 megawatts today. Iraq
has also been able to increase the availability of potable water in urban
areas to almost 2/3 of what it was in 1990. This has led to a reduction in
diarrhea cases among children under the age of 5. But it's not all good
news. According to the "Profile of Women and Children in Iraq (UNICEF, April
2002), "Diarrhea leading to death from dehydration and acute respiratory
infections together account for 70% of child mortality in Iraq. An Iraqi
child suffers an average of 14.4 diarrhea spells a year, an almost 4 fold
increase from the 1990 average of 3.8 episodes. During the same period,
typhoid fever increased from 2,240 to over 27,000 cases."

Despite repeated denials by every UN agency and NGO working in Iraq, the
U.S. continues to claim that the only reason people are suffering under
sanctions is because of their government. However repressive that government
may be, the programs Iraq has put in place to deal with malnutrition, and
the improvements that have resulted, should finally put to rest U.S.
allegations about Iraqi "interference" in the functioning of the
Oil-for-Food program.

Unfortunately, recent improvements are likely to be short-lived. There is
currently a multi billion dollar shortfall in the money available for the
Oil-for-Food program. In order to stem the "crumbling" of sanctions, the
U.S. has begun enforcing a policy on oil sales called "retroactive pricing."
Under this policy, purchasers of Iraqi oil are not allowed to know the price
of the oil they have bought for up to a month after they've received it.
Given the volatility of the oil market, this uncertainty has led to steep
declines in sales. According to the UN Development Program's June 2002 brief
for Iraq, "the Oil-for-Food Programme is increasingly facing a financial
crisis due to the substantial drop in revenues received from Iraqi oil
exports and to uncertainties regarding the pricing mechanism." If this
crisis isn't quickly reversed, the program will falter, and malnutrition
rates will again begin to rise.

The other major problem on the horizon is the war George Bush keeps
promising to deliver. If the U.S. bombs electrical plants, and water and
sewage treatment centers in Iraq, as was done during "Desert Storm," the
result is going to be even greater epidemics than Iraq is currently
suffering from. If civil war breaks out, or if the U.S. bombs roads, rail,
and all the bridges, as was done during "Desert Storm," the result will be
country-wide famine.

Iraq began food rationing prior to the Gulf War, when sanctions were first
imposed. The Iraqi government only accepted the restrictions on its
sovereignty imposed by the Oil-for Food program when it became clear in 1995
that internal stores were no longer able to meet the crisis caused by
sanctions. This distribution of food, to 24 million people on a monthly
basis for over 12 years, is one of the most massive, logistical operations
in world history. How well this program could work, during the middle of a
war and invasion, is not something we should want to discover.

If we care about the children of Iraq, then we need to stop this war from
happening. But, in the end, the only thing that will truly end Iraq's
humanitarian crisis, and put an end to malnutrition once and for all, is if
we stop the war that is already going on. Economic sanctions are intended to
damage economies and increase poverty. Increased poverty means increased
malnutrition. And - no matter how hard UNICEF, or the Iraqi government, or
anti sanctions activists try - there's no way around that.

[Ramzi Kysia is a Muslim-American peace activist, working with the Education
for Peace in Iraq Center ( He was co-coordinator of the
Voices in the Wilderness' ( Iraq Peace Team
( from August-October 2002 - a group of Americans
pledging to stay in Iraq before, during, and after any future U.S. attack.
The Iraq Peace Team can be reached at info@v]

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