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Re: [casi] Dual crisis looms for millions in Iraq

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I’d like to reiterate the comments made by Brian Whitaker (The Guardian, Thursday January 23, 2003, 
“Dual Crisis Looms for millions in Iraq”).  He accurately points out that during air strikes in the 
1991 Gulf War electric power was knocked out and that if this occurs again in the case of another 
war against Iraq, disease would spread rapidly as water and sanitation are electrically pumped in 
much of Iraq.  I have no doubt that this will be the case if the US goes to war against Iraq again.

The US Gulf War Air Power Surveys (GWAPS), produced after the Gulf War by  the US Air Force in 1993 
in conjunction with Johns Hopkins University, edited by  T. Keaney and E. Cohen, reveal much about 
the strategy of the air campaign planners, specifically in Volume II, Part II, chs 6 and 7.

The GWAPS explains the target categories that were drawn up for the air campaign. Iraq’s national 
power structure was divided among five broad core categories: Leadership, Key Production, 
Infrastructure, Population, and Fielded Forces.    Within these core categories, there were a 
number of “strategic” targets.  These strategic targets were divided among the five broad core 
categories of national power, as follows:

1.  Leadership:  Command, Control and Communications

2. Key Production: Electric Power, Oil storage depots and refineries, Nuclear, Chemical and 
Biological warfare capabilities and weapons programmes, and military support facilities.

3. Infrastructure: Bridges, Rail Road Facilities

4. Population: No targeting

5. Field Forces: Scuds

I want to focus on electric power.  The GWAPS confirms that as a result of the targeting of 
electric power, which was seen as essential for restricting the capabilities of the Iraqi military, 
“Almost 88 per cent of Iraq’s installed generation capacity was sufficiently damaged or destroyed 
by direct attack, or else isolated from the national grid through strikes on associated 
transformers and switching facilities, to render it unavailable; the remaining 12 per cent … was 
probably unusable other than locally due to damage inflicted on transformers and switching yards.”  
The GWAPS states that the above targeting of electric power made an enormous contribution to the 
“success” of the US-led air campaign, in that it enabled the defeat of the Iraqi military within 
six weeks.

There is little doubt that in any conflict with Iraq the US will again be keen to see a rapid 
defeat of the Iraqi military.  In order to achieve this, they will be looking at the same kind of 
aerial bombing that was undertaken during 1991, with target categories similar to those outlined 
above.  This will mean, again, that taking out Iraqi electric power will be one of the earliest 
priorities in any campaign.  Everyone on the list will be well aware of the consequences of this 
targeting of electric power in the last Gulf War when coupled with economic sanctions: that the 
infrastructure has not been rebuilt, that the availability of clean water is still woefully 
inadequate, and that disease is rife, especially among children.

Under-Secretary General Ahtisaari of the UN, on his mission to assess the humanitarian situation in 
Iraq in March 1991, reported that, “Virtually all previously viable sources of fuel and power … and 
modern means of communication are now, essentially, defunct … there is much less than the minimum 
fuel required to provide the energy needed for movement or transportation, irrigation or generators 
for power to pump water and sewage.” (Report S/22366 to the United Nations Security Council, p.4, 
Sections 9-10.

An intelligence analysis document entitled Disease Information, circulated in January 1991, and 
declassified in 1995, highlighted the potential effects that bombing of electric power could have 
on disease occurrence in Baghdad, “Food- and waterborne diseases have the greatest potential for 
outbreaks in the civilian and military population over the next 30 to 60 days.  Increased incidence 
of diseases will be attributable to degradation of normal preventive medicine, waste disposal, 
water purification/distribution, electricity, and decreased ability to control disease outbreaks. 
Any urban area in Iraq that has received infrastructure damage will have similar problems.” 
(Defence Intelligence Agency, US. Disease Information. January 15 1991,  950901_0504rept_91.txt, 
p.91, declassified January 9, 1995.)

The US department of defence was clearly aware then and is aware now of the consequences that 
targeting electric power will have on the people of Iraq.  And yet this will still be seen as 
“worth it” in the campaign to remove SH from power.  The majority of us on the list certainly do 
not see this as “worth it”, and this is why we are campaigning for both the avoidance of military 
conflict and the lifting of economic sanctions.  I appreciate that SH too is guilty of harming 
Iraqi people, but would ask Abtehale and any others who argue that “this external military 
intervention may be the only possible hope they have to get rid of Saddam” and that “people in Iraq 
want this war to happen because they see that they have nothing to loose” to reconsider.  Do Iraqis 
really want to see the effects of US targeting of electric power again?  Do they want to see the 
unimaginable horrors of disease and hunger that they faced in the wake of 1991 and throughout the 
last ten years?  I think not.  This war must be prevented, and sanctions must be lifted if Iraqis 
are to have any hope of re-building their lives, with or without SH.

 Voices UK <> wrote:
Dual crisis looms for millions in Iraq

Brian Whitaker
Thursday January 23, 2003
The Guardian

Millions of Iraqis could face hunger and disease if the country's fragile
infrastructure collapses during an American-led invasion, humanitarian
agencies warned yesterday.
Concern centres on food supplies, which depend heavily on the Baghdad
government's distribution system, and on electricity supplies, which are
essential for water and sewage services.

About 15 million Iraqis, out of an estimated population of 24 million,
depend on food rations provided under an agreement between the UN and the
Iraqi government. The rations provide 2,200 calories a day, well below the
average Iraqi's intake of 3,159 calories before the 1991 Gulf war, but even
this meagre amount could be jeopardised by a new conflict.

"If any military strike disrupted the Iraqi authorities' distribution of
food or the transport network, there could be very, very serious
humanitarian consequences," said Ed Cairns, a policy adviser for Oxfam.

A similar warning came from Elkheir Khaled, the UN Food and Agriculture
Organisation's representative in Iraq.

"There is reliance of the peo ple here on the government and to get out of
this dependency all of a sudden will be really disastrous, because people
don't have the ability to cope," he said.

"Without this ration, starvation will come like this," he said, snapping his

In anticipation of an attack, Iraqi officials say they have stepped up food
rations, but it is unclear how long these might last.

Disease could also spread rapidly if air strikes knock out electrical power
as happened in 1991. "Water and sanitation are electrically pumped in much
of Iraq," Mr Cairns said. "So targeting of electricity supplies for military
reasons could also have a very severe civilian effect."

Iraq's national power supply has still not been fully repaired since the
1991 war, and is thought to be only two-thirds operational. Although many
water treatment plants have their own generators, 70% of them do not work,
according to the UN agency, Unicef.

"The public health statistics in Iraq are already grim," Mr Cairns said,
"and we would be very concerned that an existing humanitarian crisis could
be tipped over the edge into catastrophe."

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Ruth J Blakeley
265A Hotwell Road
0117 929 4156 / 07909 525010

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