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News for 13 to 20 March, 2000

News for 13 to 20 March, 2000

Thanks very much to Ali Draper and Colin Rowat for supplying many of this
week's news items.
Sources: Reuters, AP,


*       Annan presents a report to the UN Security Council on the situation in

*       Iraq refuses to increase oil production in response to US demands. I have
come across contradictory reports in this regard and decided to print the
latest one.

*       Human Rights Group claims that 26 political prisoners have been executed
in Iraq.

*       Pope criticises sanctions.

*       Russia in dispute with sanctions committee over illegal oil smuggling with

*       Compensation paid out to claimants from Gulf War. Money comes from
oil-for-food program.

*       NB: Albright states that support of Iraq against Iran was "regrettable".
Surely we can use this?

*       An important article on the devastation of Iraqi poultry farms, mainly due
to UN holds put on vaccines.

*       US/UK bombing. Iraq claims one civilian fatality.

*       Italian runner Papaluca Giuseppe launched a marathon in Amman to highlight
the effects of sanctions.

*       Galloway criticises US/UK for blocking flight -- threatens legal action.

*       Iraq claims to shoot down unmanned Iranian plane. I included this, because
there seems to have been an increase in tensions on the Iraq-Iran border
over the last few weeks.

*       US congressional delegation, that visited Iraq last year, releases report
condemning sanctions. Importantly, the report warned that a new generation
of extremist Iraqi politicians has been created as a result of sanctions.

Annan reports on Iraq 3/20/2000

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan presented a report on the
situation in Iraq to the UN Security Council, placing emphasis
on streamlining the processes used in the oil-for-food
agreement beyond simply increasing the amount of funds
available within the program.

The report earlier this month found on the oil industry that a
group of experts assembled by Annan to report on the state of
the Iraqi oil industry found that, "The decline in the condition of
all sectors of the industry continues, and is accelerating in some
cases." It said, "The ability of the Iraqi oil industry to sustain the
current reduced production levels will be seriously
compromised unless effective action is taken immediately to
reverse the situation."

The report added that current methods being used to obtain
the oil could result in limiting the proportion of Iraq's total oil
that can actually be obtained.

"The inadequacy of the monetary value of the oil spare parts
and equipment programme to sustain production operations is
now self-evident," the report added, saying that when the level
of the program was set, the assumption was that spare parts
would be available more rapidly than has actually been the

It also noted a lack of back-up equipment in refineries to
replace any of the equipment in use.

"Since sanctions were imposed against Iraq in 1990, the oil
industry of Iraq has suffered seriously as a result of the absence
of the required spare parts and equipment. Taking into account
the production required for local consumption needs from
1991 to 1996 and production since late 1996 under the
humanitarian programme, the Iraqi oil industry has produced
some 5,000 million barrels of oil with virtually no investment in
infrastructure repairs or maintenance. The result has been a
massive decline in the condition, effectiveness and efficiency of
that infrastructure, coupled with appalling safety conditions and
significant environmental damage," the report said.

The report also noted problems in the distribution of food and
spare parts, saying, "Degraded discharge facilities and
generally poor port conditions continue to contribute to the
slow and inefficient offloading of necessary food basket items,
particularly bulk foodstuffs and badly needed infrastructure
spare parts and equipment." It proposed several ways of
helping streamline the application, approval and distribution

In the area of health care in southern Iraq, Annan said there
had been improvements, but he said he is still, "seriously
concerned at key aspects in the provision of health care;
improvements in neither the distribution of health care nor in the
health infrastructure envisaged in my supplementary report
have materialized. Erratic, the uncoordinated arrival of drugs to
treat chronic disease has prevented the monthly requirements
of all patients from being met, which may have contributed to
the increase in deaths attributable to cardiac, diabetic, renal
and liver disease reported by the Ministry of Health for the
period from January to August 1999."

He said the efforts to help the education sector had achieved
"inadequate results."

He recommended that attention be given to the quantities of
items on hold, saying, "The effectiveness of the programme has
suffered considerably, not only because of shortfalls in the
funding level but also because of the very large number of
applications placed on hold, in particular those concerning
electricity, water and sanitation, transport and
telecommunications, which impact all sectors. The total value
of applications placed on hold as at 31 January was over $1.5
billion. A determined effort must be made by all parties
concerned to collaborate effectively with a view to making
further improvements in the implementation of the programme."

The report called on the Security Council to improve its
procedures to help expedite the approval of applications,
better identify reasons for placing contracts on hold, and
streamline the process for lifting the holds.

>From, 20 March, 2000

Iraq rejects call to increase petroleum production

Iraqi Petroleum Minister Amir Mohammed
Rashid asserted that Iraq still insists on its
status and it will not increase its petroleum
production and that it will not help the
USA decrease international petroleum


Sunday March 19 11:08 AM ET

 Group Claims Iraq Has Killed 26

 CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Twenty-six political prisoners have been executed in
two prisons near Baghdad, some of them after nine years in detention, a
human rights
 group linked to an Iraqi opposition party said Sunday.

 The claim by the Center for Human Rights could not be independently
confirmed. The Iraqi government does not comment on such allegations.

 The center, which is run by the Iraqi Communist Party, claimed in a
statement that 14 Kurdish men were executed Dec. 1 by a firing squad for
allegedly taking part
 in a Kurdish uprising in the aftermath of Iraq's defeat in the 1991 Gulf
war. They had been in detention since 1991.

 It said eight people from al-Thawra district in Baghdad and four from the
Shiite Muslim town of Amara were executed Dec. 7 for allegedly carrying out
 anti-government activities and for opposing President Saddam Hussein's
regime, which is dominated by Sunni Muslims. Amara is 188 miles southeast of

 The first executions took place in the Makaseb detention center and prison,
located in Makaseb village outside Baghdad, and the second ones in the
 Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad, the center said in a statement faxed to
The Associated Press in Cairo.

 The statement gave the names of the 26 people as well as their home

 The Makaseb center, which was reportedly built last year, is run by
officials who are personally selected by Saddam and are affiliated to the
military intelligence,
 headed by his son, Qusai.

 Iraqi prisons, including Abu Ghraib, are overcrowded. The former minister
of labor and social affairs, Abdel-Aziz Mohammed Saleh al-Sayegh, was sacked
 June for saying that prison conditions were appalling.


Pope Blasts Iraq Sanctions as Patriarch Visits

VATICAN CITY, March 18 (Reuters) - Pope John Paul on
Saturday blasted U.N. sanctions on Iraq during a Holy
Year ceremony attended by its Christian patriarch,
Raphael Bidawid.

"The sons and daughters of the Church in Iraq, and all
the Iraqi people who are being so severely tried by
the continuing international embargo, never cease to
be present in my thoughts," the Pontiff said.

"I assure all those who are suffering, especially the
women, children and elderly, of my prayerful support."

The Pope has often criticised the use of sanctions and
said many Iraqis have died because of lack of

Bidawid, patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church,
was to conduct a service in his church's eastern rite
later on Saturday.

The Pope had wanted to visit the Old Testament city of
Ur, birthplace of the patriarch Abraham, in Iraq in
February but was not allowed by the Baghdad

It said the visit was not possible because of U.N.
sanctions and the no-fly zone over the country.

The Pope leaves on Monday for a six-day pilgrimage to
Jordan, Israel and Palestinian-ruled areas to follow
in the footsteps of Moses and Jesus.

Friday March 17, 4:27 pm Eastern Time

Russia blocks action by U.N. Iraq sanctions body

By Anthony Goodman

UNITED NATIONS, March 17 (Reuters) - Objections by Russia on Friday
prevented the U.N. Iraq sanctions committee from
questioning Iran's U.N. mission about alleged smuggling of Iraqi gasoil
through Iranian waters, committee sources said.

At the prompting of the U.S., the committee proposed asking Iran for an
explanation about alleged oil smuggling through its
waters as it sought to counter Iraq's illicit oil trade, thought to be worth
hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

But Russia's representative objected, saying the committee should first be
briefed about possible sanctions violations through northern Iraq, where
there are
allegations of oil smuggling into Turkey.

Iraq has been the target of U.N. sanctions since its invasion of Kuwait in
August 1990.

The sanctions committee met behind closed doors to consider a letter from
U.S. deputy U.N. representative James Cunningham alleging a steady increase
in recent
months in the illicit trade in Iraqi gasoil, a product of crude oil.

He said this represented ``an annual source of uncontrolled revenue for
Baghdad of approximately $500 million and a serious gap in the enforcement
of U.N.
sanctions against Iraq.''

``The key to the smugglers' success has been their ability to use Iranian
waters as they make their way through the Gulf,'' Cunningham said.

This prevents a Multinational Interception Force (MIF) that inspects vessels
suspected of sanctions-busting from taking action, since the force is
authorized to
operate only in international waters.

``Smugglers evade MIF enforcement action by transiting Iranian waters. If
Iran were to meet its obligations to enforce U.N. resolutions against Iraq,
the illicit trade
would be severely disrupted,'' Cunningham wrote.

Committee sources said that when a proposal was made for the committee to
send a letter to Iran's U.N. mission informing it of the allegations and
requesting an
explanation, the Russian representative raised objections, calling for a
briefing on sanctions violations in northern Iraq.


Such a briefing by the U.N. secretariat is likely next week, the sources
said, when the committee is also due to be briefed by the coordinator of the
Vice-Admiral Charles Moore.

Russia's objections prevented agreement on sending a letter to the Iranian
U.N. mission.

The sanctions committee has the same membership as the 15-nation Security
Council, where Russia is among the members most sympathetic to Iraq.

Cunningham's note was accompanied by figures saying the market value of
illicit Iraqi oil exports via the Gulf totaled $70 million in January this

This marked a sharp increase over $44.4 million for December 1999, $39.2
million in November, $33.6 million in October and $26.7 million in

Under the latest phase of an ``oil-for-food'' program that allows Iraq to
sell oil to buy food, medicine and other necessities to help ease the
effects of sanctions,
Baghdad is permitted to sell unlimited quantities of oil.

But those shipments are subject to careful U.N. monitoring and about one
third of the proceeds are siphoned off to pay reparations and meet other
costs stemming
from the Gulf War.
Friday March 17 11:09 AM ET

 U.N. Pays $361.8M Gulf Compensation

 GENEVA (AP) - A U.N. panel overseeing compensation for losses caused by
Iraq's invasion of Kuwait on Friday paid out nearly $362 million to affected
 countries, bringing total payments so far to $5.9 billion.

 The money goes to 60 government and three international organizations,
which will distribute it to 74,442 individual claimants - foreign workers
who lost money
 when they had to flee and others who suffered material damage in Kuwait.

 Jordan will receive the largest payment in the latest installment - $142
million - according to a U.N. Compensation Commission statement. Some $38
million will
 go to Kuwait and about $38 million to Bangladesh.

 Compensation awards approved by the 15-nation commission are paid using
Iraqi oil sales approved by the U.N. Security Council.

 The commission has received 2.6 million compensation demands for a total of
$240 billion from individuals, governments and corporations seeking to
offset loss
 and damage caused by the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

 Processing the claims is expected to take several more years.
Friday March 17, 2:13 pm Eastern Time
Extract from Reuters Article
Extract from speech by Madelaine Albright:
"As President Clinton has said, the United States must bear its fair share
of responsibility for the problems that have arisen in U.S.-Iranian
relations. Even in more
recent years, aspects of U.S. policy toward Iraq during its conflict with
Iran appear now to have been regrettably shortsighted, especially in light
of our subsequent
experiences with Saddam Hussein."
Thursday March 16 10:34 AM ET

 Saddam to Give Lebanon $10M in Oil

 BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - President Saddam Hussein is giving Lebanon $10 million
worth of crude oil in a gesture that Iraq's state-run newspapers said is
aimed at
 helping Lebanon's resistance against Israel.

 The newspapers said Thursday that Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council, the
highest executive body in the country led by Saddam, offered the oil to
 the steadfastness of the brotherly people of Lebanon as well as the
families and fighters of the Lebanese national resistance.''

 Arab states have rallied behind Lebanon since Israeli warplanes struck
three power stations there Feb. 8, crippling them and causing widespread
power outages.
 The raids were in retaliation for the death of seven Israel soldiers in
southern Lebanon in guerrilla attacks.

 In a show of support, the 22-member Arab League moved its biannual foreign
ministers' meeting to Beirut last weekend from Cairo, the gathering's
original venue.

 Any oil shipment to Lebanon must first be approved by the United Nations,
which monitors Iraqi oil exports as part of a deal under which Iraq is
allowed to sell oil
 to buy food and other basic items. The deal is designed to ease off the
impact of crippling U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq for invading Kuwait in
Wednesday March 15 3:37 PM ET

Iraqi Poultry Farms Devastated

By LEON BARKHO, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The United Nations has freed contracts for the purchase
of vaccines to fight diseases that have decimated
poultry farms in Iraq, senior Iraqi and U.N. officials said Wednesday.

The three contracts, approved two days ago, had been submitted by Iraq to
the United Nations in July 1999, said Amir Khalil, director
of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in Iraq.

While waiting for the approval of the contracts, Iraqi poultry farmers have
lost up to 60 percent of their birds due to disease, Khalil said.

Fadhil Jassim, an Iraqi agricultural official, said ``vital contracts'' for
protein concentrates and lab equipment are still on hold.

United Nations approval is required under trade sanctions imposed on Iraq
after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The United States, and to a lesser extent
have imposed delays on the bulk of such contracts, citing fears Iraq will
divert goods for military purposes in the absence of U.N. weapons

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan criticized those practices in a recent
report, saying holding up contracts undermined efforts to improve conditions
for Iraqis
living under sanctions.

Jassim said he was receiving a flood of complaints from farmers on the
``brink of bankruptcy.''

Abboud Alwan was among droves of farmers waiting to see Jassim at his office

 ``May God curse America and Britain. They say they care for ordinary Iraqis
like us but their blocking of contracts has ruined my life and that of
scores of families
working in my farm,'' Alwan said.

Iraq had a factory that made the poultry vaccine, but it was disabled by
U.N. weapons inspectors after Iraq admitted that it had been used to assist
its biological
weapons program.

The government in coordination with the FAO has gotten thousands of Iraq's
poultry farms up and running again in the past two years through subsidies
and other
Wednesday March 15 11:45 AM ET

Iraq Claims Fatality in U.S. Attack

By LEON BARKHO, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - U.S. and British warplanes raided targets in southern
Iraq, killing one civilian and injuring six others, the official Iraqi News
reported Wednesday.

INA said the jets, coming from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, penetrated Iraqi
airspace Tuesday and carried out 36 combat missions.

The agency, quoting an unidentified air defense force spokesman, did not
specify the nature of targets hit or their location. It said the planes flew
over the provinces
of Basra, Dhiqar, Muthana, Wasit, Najaf and Qadissiya.

``They attacked our civil and service installations, which resulted in the
martyrdom of one of our civilians and the wounding of six others, among them
a child,'' INA

There was no immediate comment from U.S. or British officials.

Wednesday's attack is the second reported incident with casualties by Iraq
in less than a week. On Saturday, Iraq said the allied jets attacked targets
in the south,
injuring eight civilians.

Iraq frequently reports civilian damage and casualties during the raids,
which the allies say are mounted in retaliation against challenges by Iraqi
anti-aircraft units.

U.S. and British planes have been enforcing no-fly zones in northern and
southern Iraq since shortly after the 1991 Gulf War to protect Shiite
Muslims and Kurds
from attacks by the Iraqi armed forces.

Iraq does not recognize the zones and began challenging the allied planes in
December 1998.
Sanctions-busting marathon starts from Amman
By Oula Al Farawati
AMMAN — In a bid to shed light on the suffering of the Iraqi people under
nearly decade-old sanctions, Italian runner Papaluca Giuseppe launched his
sanctions-busting marathon from Amman on Tuesday.
Giuseppe joined several Jordanian runners in the first leg of the marathon,
and will reach Baghdad running 1000 kilometres across the desert wearing
shirts displaying slogans against the sanctions.
“Politicians know what happens in Iraq, but ordinary people in Europe do
not. This is why I want to draw attention to what happens there,” Giuseppe
told a press conference before the start of the marathon called “Vivicitta”
(Live City).
“We've chosen this time to revoke the public opinion internationally and in
Italy as well,” Claudio Cimino, who is accompanying Giuseppe said.
“This initiative does not represent any political party and doesn't have
anything to do with politics,” added Cimino, an architect who worked in
Jordan to establish the Madaba School of Mosaics.
The marathon is organised by the Italian Union Sport for All, the largest
European sports association with 980,000 members, and “Bridge to Baghdad”,
an Italian NGO engaged with securing humanitarian help to the Iraqis in
agreement with the Iraqi Olympic Committee.
The marathon is expected to take 25 days to complete in stages of 40
kilometres per day.
The intention of the organisers is to take the opportunity of the 25-day run
to promote an international media campaign focusing on the humanitarian
conditions of the Iraqi people under the sanctions.
The Bridge to Baghdad organisation is coordinating the first leg of the
marathon (Amman-Baghdad) with Jordan's National Hall for the Defence of
Alongside the competitive run a non-competitive one will take place for 2km
and several Italian runners will join Giuseppe in Baghdad in a local
marathon in the sanctions-hit Iraqi capital.
This year's Vivicita will take part in the 19 cities including Italy,
Aalborg (Denmark), Banja Luka (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Baghdad (Iraq), Belgrade
(Serbia), Budapest (Hungary), Lisbon (Portugal), Merka (Somalia), Nicosia
(Cyprus), Nova Gorica (Slovenia), Piatra Neamt (Romania), Rouen (France),
Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Seville (Spain), Tirana (Albania), Tuzla
(Bosnia-Herzegovina), Volona (Albania), Viborg (Denmark), Zavidovici
The Jordanian National Mobilisation Committee for the Defence of Iraq has
recently organised a pencil campaign in defiance of the 10 year-old U.N.
embargo and managed to collect around 3-and-half million pencils delivered
to Iraq in a public motorcade.
The committee is currently leading a petition with the aim of collecting
signatures on three petitions to be presented to Arab Leaders, lower House
Speaker Abdul Hadi Majali and to Jordanian Prime Minister Abdur Ra'uf S.
Rawabdeh asking for an active move to get the sanctions on Iraq lifted.
Iraq has been suffering under a nearly a decade of economic sanctions
imposed on it after its invasion and occupation of Kuwait in 1990. According
to the U.N., nearly one million Iraqis, mostly children, have died as a
result of the sanctions.
BAGHDAD, March 15 (Reuters) - British parliamentarian George Galloway has
condemned Britain and the United States, which he believed to have blocked
an aid flight to Iraq.
Galloway also told reporters when he arrived in Iraq on Tuesday night that
he would sue those responsible for blocking his bid to transport medicine to
"We have began legal action for compensation as a result of destroying the
project," he said.
He also criticised his government for asking permission from another country
to fly aid to Iraq.
"It's deeply humiliating for Britain to ask the United States for permission
to fly to Iraq," he said.
Galloway and eight companions traveled from Jordan to Baghdad on a visit "to
express their solidarity with Iraqi people in facing up the unjust
Galloway had called off an aid flight from London last Wednesday, charging
the United States with sabotaging his plans to fly medicine and journalists
to sanctions-hit Baghdad.
British officials denied the flight would have been blocked and said the
United States also had assured Britain it would not stop it.
Galloway has been a vocal campaigner against sanctions imposed on Iraq for
its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Also on the flight were to have been a former British airman shot down over
Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War and a former U.N. humanitarian coordinator for
Iraq who resigned two years ago.
Galloway said he had also planned to take doctors, journalists, dozens of
elderly Iraqis and three terminally ill people who wanted to die in their
own country.
Wednesday March 15 5:36 AM ET

 Iraq Says it Shot Down Iran Plane

 BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraqi anti-aircraft defenses shot down an unmanned
Iranian plane Wednesday, the official Iraqi News Agency reported.

 INA said the drone was downed early Wednesday close to the borders with
Iran, but it did not specify the location.

 ``Our heroic air defenses and army units ... shot down the drone after
violating our national skies,'' the agency said.

 Iran had no immediate reaction to the claim.

 It came one day after an Iraqi-based opposition group claimed that Iranian
jets tried to bomb its military camp in Iraq but were driven off by air
defense units.

 Iraq has declined comment on Tuesday's reported attack on the military camp
run by the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen Khalq.

 Iran and Iraq fought an eight-year war that ended in 1988 with a
U.N.-brokered cease-fire. Relations, however, remain tense.
Tuesday March 14, 3:47 pm Eastern Time

US delegation says sanctions draining Iraqi people

By Patrick Connole

WASHINGTON, March 14 (Reuters) - Congressional staffers who traveled to Iraq
in 1999 released a scathing indictment of
U.S.-sponsored U.N. sanctions on Tuesday, saying Iraq's people are being
systematically damaged by their isolation from the
outside world.

The report seeks to build support in Congress for pending legislation to
lift sanctions on Baghdad, which have been in place since
1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait.

After speaking with U.N. experts in Iraq, and through their own talks with
regular Iraqis, the group said they learned of the severe drain being felt
in the medical,
economic and intellectual sectors of Iraqi society.

``The oil-for-food program funds are barely enough for Iraqis' urgent and
immediate physical needs, with nothing made available for intellectual
needs,'' the report

``The result is complete intellectual deprivation.''

One result of the isolation is seen in the younger political class in Iraq,
which is emerging as even more extreme force than the current leadership
class led by
President Saddam Hussein and his Ba'ath Party, they said.

``It is from these younger Ba'ath figures that pressure on Saddam Hussein is
emerging from the right, challenging his 'too accommodating' stance toward
the U.N.
and the West,'' it said.

A U.N. program permitting Iraq to sell oil for food has been in place since
1996, but has been criticized, especially in recent months, as unworkable
and inadequate
to provide Iraqi civilians with an acceptable quality of life.

The five staffers from offices of Democrat and independent House members,
said their August 1999 trip was the first such congressional visit since
shortly after the
Gulf War in 1991.

On the humanitarian front, the group was shocked at the deprivation they saw
in the hospitals and medical centers.

``Ceiling tiles were falling down. The hospital we visited didn't have
incubators or air conditioners ... in part due to sanctions,'' said
delegation member Danielle

The United States and Britain have been criticized for putting ``holds'' on
contracts for supplies and equipment purchased under the oil-for-food deal.

As of Jan. 31, contracts worth $1.5 billion had been frozen, with more than
$1 billion of that frozen by the United States, the U.N. said this week in a
new report.

On Monday U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan recommended the Security Council
double funds for Iraq's oil equipment and for an increase in health
criticizing Baghdad's priorities and the frozen contract practice.

The U.S. delegation went to Iraq to study the humanitarian situation, the
impact sanctions have had on the two nations' trade, and depleted
uranium-related health
problems resulting from Allied bombings during the Gulf War.

Members were from the offices of Democratic Reps. Danny Davis of Illinois,
Sam Gejdenson of Connecticut, Earl Hilliard of Alabama and Cynthia McKinney
Georgia, as well as from that of independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont.


U.N. Chief Faults U.S., Britain for Iraqi Supply Delays
By Colum Lynch
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday , March 14, 2000 ; A14
UNITED NATIONS, March 13 –– In the draft of a report to be delivered to the
U.N. Security Council this week, Secretary General Kofi Annan chides the
United States and Britain for holding up more than $1.5 billion of
humanitarian supplies for Iraq and calls for doubling the amount of money
that Iraq is allowed to spend on its oil industry.
The U.N.'s effort to ease the suffering of Iraq's 20 million people "has
suffered considerably" as result of "holds" placed by the United States and
Britain on numerous contracts in the oil-for-food program, which allows Iraq
to sell oil and use the proceeds to buy humanitarian supplies under strict
U.N. supervision, Annan wrote.
The secretary general's 64-page assessment of Iraq's humanitarian needs also
renews his previous request for the Security Council to allow Iraq to double
the $300 million it spends every six months on repairs and spare parts in
its oil sector, which he said would ensure that oil keeps flowing and
providing revenue for food, medicine and the like.
"I am very much concerned with the deteriorating condition of the oil
industry of Iraq," wrote Annan, who sent a team of experts in January to
inspect Baghdad's petroleum fields, pipelines and refineries. The team
concluded that "the ability of the Iraqi oil industry to sustain current
reduced production levels will be seriously compromised unless effective
action is taken immediately," according to Annan's report.
While the report directs its strongest criticism at the Security Council,
where the United States frequently exercises its veto power, Annan also
faulted President Saddam Hussein's government for spending too little of the
money from oil sales on food for the population. He appealed to Baghdad to
increase its daily food rations, improve the delivery of drugs for chronic
illnesses, and establish supplementary feeding programs for those at high
Since the oil-for-food deal was negotiated in 1996, the Security Council has
approved $9.3 billion worth of humanitarian purchases by Iraq. All of those
contracts are exemptions to the international trade sanctions imposed on
Iraq after its troops invaded Kuwait in 1990, sparking the Persian Gulf War.
Annan's report comes less than a month after two senior U.N. humanitarian
officials based in Baghdad resigned in protest over the devastating impact
of the sanctions on ordinary Iraqis. It adds to the mounting pressure on the
United States from some of its closest allies, including Britain and France,
to demonstrate greater flexibility in approving contracts.
The Clinton administration recently began an internal review of its policy
in an effort to accelerate the approval of equipment that is used for
legitimate purposes. But U.S. officials say their goal has been to block
items with potential military use, particularly in the development of
nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. They charged that Saddam Hussein
has spent the earnings from smuggled oil on palaces, liquor and luxuries for
himself and his cronies.
"About 85 to 90 percent of contracts get approved by the sanctions
committee," a U.S. official said. "The only things that don't get through
are the things that the Iraqis can use to make weapons."
Annan reported that Iraq's oil, electricity, sanitation, transport and
telecommunications sectors have been most severely harmed by the Security
Council's foot-dragging. But he added that the council's sluggish approval
of "dual use" contracts for forklifts, harbor dredges and other equipment
required to repair Iraqi port facilities has hampered the U.N.'s ability to
deliver food.
"Poor port conditions continue to contribute to a slow and inefficient
offloading of necessary food basket items," he said. "Outdated damaged
equipment such as forklifts continues to jeopardize the safety and
well-being of port personnel."
MP takes medicines to Iraq
The Guardian; Manchester; Mar 13, 2000; Ewen Macaskill, Amman

Full Text:Copyright Guardian Newspapers, Limited Mar 13, 2000

The Labour MP George Galloway flew into Jordan last night on the first stage
of a journey to deliver medical supplies to Iraq to highlight the damaging
impact of UN sanctions.

He is to lead a convoy, including a refrigerated truck carrying pounds
115,000 worth of medical supplies, 1,000km (621 miles) across the desert to

The main hurdle will be at the Iraqi border on Wednesday, when the convoy
will have to undergo a search by UN representatives.

An Iraqi government representative expressed concern that the medicine,
which has to be kept refrigerated, might perish if taken out of storage for
too long at the border.

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