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Dear Mr. Sternberg and List, Thanks to Alexander Sternberg and the New York Times for these thoughts on the marketing problems the Kurds (?) are facing in northern Iraq. "With no government in Baghdad", says the NYT headline, there could be "serious difficulties". So what his employers, the Kurds, need is "diesel and a market", Mr. Sternberg points out. Should CASI remedy this problem? I don't think so. The survival problems of ordinary Iraqis is of greater importance - regrettable as the diesel shortage may be. And I am talking about people who don't know where their next meal is coming from; about people who are dying for lack of drugs, sanitation, and medical equipment; and about people who lost their loved ones in the USUK bombing and shooting raids. As to the lost market: what chutzpah! "In the past", says Mr. Sternberg, "diesel was readily available... and the "Iraqi government" was the market". So it was. But I seem to remember that Kurdish factions have long taken an active part in removing this "Iraqi government" - bankrolled and armed to the hilt by the CIA. The Kurds also lobbied vociferously for this illegal war - the "taking out of Saddam", to use the sickening euphemism. The Kurds also took part in the illegal invasion. And with the Kurds' connivance, Saddam 'has been taken out' - or rather, tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians and conscripts have been killed. Iraq is now occupied by USUK - the 'taking-out-forces'. So the best place for Mr. Sternberg to air his grievances would be the CIA, the Kurds protectors, or the occupiers themselves. My own feelings about this problem are best expressed in Rhett's memorable words: "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." Mr. Sternberg himself was an avid lobbyist for this war - and for maintaining the sanctions. For example, on January 12, 2003 he posted and warmly recommended the outpourings of Johann Hari - bright young journalist of the year. ("Why do we need evidence..." by Johann Hari, The Independent (UK), January 10, 2003) Mr. Sternberg even (gently) rebuked Peter Brooks for not including this warmongering diatribe in his news collection: "Unless I did not look carefully enough, I have not seen the following opinion by Johann Hall that appeared in the Independent two days ago in Peter Brooks greatly help- and resourceful News..." Anyway Mr. Sternberg, you, the Kurds, Johann and all the rest got what you want: "Saddam Hussein has been taken out", ie, Iraq has been destroyed, invaded, and occupied by a herd of insensitive louts. But perhaps _you_ are capable of some sensitivity. If so, please don't trample on the feelings of those who still care - about human life, justice, and the values of humanism. Your posting: Harvest time: occupier vs. occupied -- please fd to casi" was such a trampling - it had elephant proportions (sorry, elephants, no slight intended). The subject line itself is misleading: "occupier vs. occupied". By "occupier", I thought you meant the (illegal) foreign occupiers of Iraq. Stupid me! You are talking about the Arab Iraqis who are now in the Kurds's way. In fact, I am not even sure I got the gist of your musings - apart from the missing diesel and market. But it's the bits and pieces I find insensitive: You, - a war proponent and sanctions proponent - inform CASI members about the plight of Iraqis! To wit, this astonishing news: "This free food distribution needs to be continued. 60% of the population is dependent on wheat flour and 9 other items provided free under the oil-for-food program. Incomes are so low that without this free food these 60% would not be able to feed themselves if the program stopped." I think many CASI members could tell _you_ a thing or two about the sanctions regime. You also bemoan outstanding salaries for government servants. Why should you care? After all, you now got the situation you asked for. Or did it never occur to you that there would be mayhem? Then there are these cryptic comments: "There are Arabs and there are Arabs. There are Kurds and there are Kurds. In 'old' liberated Iraqi Kurdistan, occupier-Arabs left and Kurds, and Assyrians, returned to the lands they were earlier forced from." It seems unreasonable to talk about "occupier-Arabs". However illegitimate the existence of Arab-Iraqis in the North may have been, they themselves did not invade and displace Kurds, I believe. As it stands now, the Kurds are forcefully removing Arab Iraqis from their homes. They don't even give them the to take their possessions. You may agree with these measures, but you can't whitewash this brutality of this 'ethnic cleansing' with facile phrases, such as "ethical system": "When a third party intervenes, the prevailing ethical system is upset and the occupier sees an opportunity and advantage to maintain what others strongly believe to be a wrong and unfair status quo." If you and the Kurds believe that burning down Arab homes and making people homeless will correct an "unfair status quo", you are entitled to your view. But I doubt very much that fighting Kurdish factions who have in the past slaughtered fellow Kurds have a clear appreciation of 'right' or 'fair'. And who is the intervening "third party"? USUK? Who are the "others [who] strongly believe..."? The Kurds? <Aside:> Whatever this "prevailing ethical system" is, you should tell the Canadians and Americans about it. This "right-of-return" that you insist "strongly prevails" would make it much easier for Native Indians to regain rights to the land they were forcefully displaced from by the US and Canadian (ie, British) governments. The Indians are currently fighting these land claims in the courts, and you should hear the howls of protest from the white usurpers. Not fair! Not fair! And the Indians don't even want to displace anyone; they just want to get their rights. So the whole of Canada and the US is illegally occupied territory. And going by your analogy, we must then talk about occupier-Canadians and occupier-Americans. Fair is fair, n'est pas? <End> Equally cryptic is this comment: "Stifling the right-of-return in a manner perceived to maintain the status quo is just not on. The occupiers know who they are. The occupied know who they are. The fault line is clear. Pressure is building that could be released through earthquakes or through harmonic tremors, to use volcanology terms." I don't know what gives you the right to decide what "is just not on", Mr. Sternberg. Nor do I catch your implications. If you mean the Kurds are now entitled to take revenge and justice in their own hands - as they have been doing - you are free to express your moral values. But I still feel you should discuss this issue with the occupiers of Iraq, the Bush league. I don't see what CASI can or should do about it. Elga Sutter ------------Original Message------------ From: Ax.Sternberg@t-online.de (Alexander Sternberg) Subject: [casi] [Fwd: Harvest time: occupier vs. occupied -- please fd to casi] Date: Thu, 15 May 2003 18:17:50 +0200 [...] As I have no access from this account to casi, please fd from my home account. Alexander Sternberg Wheat and barley are the main crops of northern Iraq. Harvesting begins now. Farmers have their tractors, trucks, and combine-harvesters ready to roll. They need only two things: diesel and a market. In the past, in this oil-rich country, diesel was readily available, and cheaper than water. The Iraqi government was the market, it set the price and bought it all. More than a million metric tons of wheat is expected to be produced this year. Today, diesel is unavailable, and the market no longer exists. The oil-for-food program provides 9 kilograms of wheat flour per person per month to all 24 million citizens (the Iraqi government claimed 27 million). This amounts to about 250,000 metric tons of wheat grain per month. This free food distribution needs to be continued. 60% of the population is dependent on wheat flour and 9 other items provided free under the oil-for-food program. Incomes are so low that without this free food these 60% would not be able to feed themselves if the program stopped. The situation is compounded by salaries not being paid to government servants including the hundreds of thousands who were in the Iraqi military. During recent decades many farmers were forced off their lands by the ex-regime. Others were brought in to occupy and use these lands. The farmers who were involuntarily displaced are returning and reclaiming their lands. In many cases, this has gone as smooth as possible. In 1991, it went as smooth as possible with no external intervention. There is no reason to expect it would not go smoothly this time. External intervention could be the cause of the process not proceeding naturally and as smooth as possible under the circumstances. There is an ethical system in operation that apparently is not receiving the respect and support that is due. The occupied knows he has the right-of-return and is prepared to exercise that right, perhaps one way or another. The occupier knows the occupied has the force of his right in his favor, and the local ethical system obliges him to honor it. When a third party intervenes, the prevailing ethical system is upset and the occupier sees an opportunity and advantage to maintain what others strongly believe to be a wrong and unfair status quo. Because the right-of-return strongly prevails, the consequence of third party intervention could very well be conflict with violence, burning of crops, or worse. Arabs who have traditionally always had the right to their lands remain in their places, among the Kurds they grew up with years ago who have recently returned. Many occupier-Arabs have left. There are Arabs and there are Arabs. There are Kurds and there are Kurds. In 'old' liberated Iraqi Kurdistan, occupier-Arabs left and Kurds, and Assyrians, returned to the lands they were earlier forced from. I've asked a number of people and they all confirm that in 1991 no Arabs were harmed, there was no conflict, the Arabs knew they were occupiers and had no right to remain. They left. What's very interesting is that in 1991 there were pro-regime Kurds who left their lands in 'old' liberated Iraqi Kurdistan because they felt threatened by anti-regime Kurds. Now that the regime no longer exists, however, in recent weeks there has been a reconciliation process in motion based on the prevailing ethical system. Those pro-regime Kurds are exercising their right- of-return. The Kurds who have been occupying and using their lands since 1991 know they are occupiers and do not have the right to remain. They will vacate. Another example? There's an Assyrian village from where the villagers fled to pro-regime Mosul years ago. Since 1991 some Kurdish families occupied their village and used their lands. A few years ago the Assyrian villagers came back and reclaimed their properties. The Kurds left. This occurred in a predominantly Kurdish area. Third party intervention into prevailing environments could generate undesirable and avoidable consequences. Yes, there are probably cases where third party intervention may be helpful. But this would be on a case-by-case exceptional basis, and done carefully in close consultation with the local powers-that-be who have far more experience in dealing with such situations. A third party could help to reaffirm among all concerned the principles to be followed in adjudicating exceptional cases, serving as a facilitator and catalyst, but only where needed. Stifling the right-of-return in a manner perceived to maintain the status quo is just not on. The occupiers know who they are. The occupied know who they are. The fault line is clear. Pressure is building that could be released through earthquakes or through harmonic tremors, to use volcanology terms. (This terminology is a function of where I come from, but I believe it very aptly fits the situation here.) _______________________________ Ashley Gilbertson/Aurora, for The New York TImes With no government in Baghdad, the wheat and barley harvest in northern Iraq could face serious difficulties. May 12, 2003 The New York Times Ahead of Harvest, Farm Fears Grow By SABRINA TAVERNISE MOSUL, Iraq, May 11 The sound of clicking prayer beads made a worried tick in the landowners' hands. Just nine days remained before the barley harvest here in northern Iraq. The farmers and landowners some of this region's biggest had gathered to talk crops. Their concern is that with no government in Baghdad, a looted central bank, fuel in short supply and ethnic land disputes flaring, the harvest will face serious difficulties. Timing is crucial. Just one week of delays, and the barley will begin to rot in the fields. On Monday, farmers from the north are to meet with American officers to discuss the problem. "We expect failures," said Abdul Aziz Nejefi, in the guest room of his large two-family house on the outskirts of Mosul. "We've never had this situation before. There is no government." The Mosul region produces half of this country's wheat and barley. In the past, the central government in Baghdad would set a price at which it would buy the grain and pay the farmers for what they grew. Now as harvest time approaches, local officials here say they are not sure the central bank has the 150 billion Iraqi dinars about $75 million to pay the farmers. "Everything is unnatural," said Azeldin Muhammad, director of agriculture in Mosul's local administration, who expects a record crop this year. "The receiving centers are not ready. The banks are not ready. All this will put us and the farmers in a very difficult situation." American military forces are working on the problem. Brig. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley of the 101st Airborne Division based in Mosul said arrangements for the money were "in the works." Chaos at the central bank has meant long delays in cashing checks, even those from the Iraqi Ministry of Finance. Food stored in warehouses here was distributed over the weekend for the first time since the start of the war a serious delay caused by holdups with a ministry check. But the farmers in the room today were skeptical. They questioned officials' reassurances that the eight million gallons of diesel fuel needed for the harvest had indeed been set aside. "So far it's just promises," said Mr. Nejifi's son Osama. "In reality, it has not yet been provided." Mr. Nejifi is well off. His family has owned wheat and barley fields since 1630, when his relatives came with Ottoman conquerors to occupy the area now known as Iraq. Three of his nine children live abroad. His son Osama works with him in the grain business. Another has a Ph.D. from Oxford in agricultural engineering. Large farms were broken up during nationalization in 1971. The government made a rule that no farmer could own more than 250 hectares, or nearly 618 acres. At that time, Mr. Nejifi lost most of his land. The new ruling class the Baath Party gradually gained privileges as well, and some big farms were restored. Mr. Nejifi said he hated the Baath Party. His vast holdings, however, hint at some accommodation with the government. In fields just east of Mosul, in a village called Shakuli, a poorer farmer had a different problem. His son was crossing one of the family's wheat fields with a herd of sheep when a land mine exploded, killing some sheep and wounding the young man. The farmer, Ibrahim Haddi Gabrail, said he was afraid to gather his crops. His son is convalescing. Shakuli is typical of villages in northern Iraq. About 2,000 people live in small mud huts surrounded by sweeping, treeless plains. Villagers get water from an irrigation system. Incongruously, men play pool on a billiard table set in the dust just outside the village. Gas for cooking has not been available since the war. Electricity is sporadic, but then it always had been. "I wanted to bake bread this morning for my family," said Hassin Rashid, a village woman dressed in black, but there was no gas or wood to start the stove. "Please help me." Perhaps the most emotional complication for the harvest is the farmland dispute between the Arabs and the Kurds. Under Saddam Hussein, the government drove Kurds from their northern homes and settled Arabs there, fanning ethnic tensions. Now many Kurds are returning to their former land, ejecting Arabs who have been planting crops. Mr. Aziz said about 10 percent of the land was contested. He worries that fleeing Arabs may begin torching fields. Firefighting teams are down to a bare minimum. Many engines were looted. Of 46 vehicles, only 12 remain. General Freakley is intervening in many of the conflicts. "We are going to derive a solution for landowners versus those who were farming," he said in an interview over the weekend in the government building in downtown Mosul. It will be "some percentage decision 50-50 would be the bare minimum for the farmer." Despite the dark side of the story of the returning Kurds, there are bright spots. Twenty days ago, a stout Kurdish farmer had an ecstatic homecoming, to the fields from which he was evicted in 1986. The Arabs were already gone when the farmer, Hammad Amin Marool Bais, arrived and pounded his tent into a strip of farmland. Nearby is a small cemetery where his great-great-grandfather is buried. "It was like my birthday," he said, gesturing broadly with his hands, the wind hissing in the wheat and barley around him. Mr. Bais refused to work in the city, continuing to herd his goat and sheep on the outskirts of Erbil, about 50 miles away, and selling yogurt at the farmers' market. Back in Mr. Nejifi's home, the farmers had moved to the garden for coffee, but the worrying subject of the harvest resurfaced. "Mosul is known as the breadbasket of Iraq," said Abdul Satar al-Gulami, one of the landowners. If the harvest is bad, that will no longer be the case. "It would just be Mosul." _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk