Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|09/18/01 at 12:00:35|
|Bismillah and salam,|
U.S. policy on sanctions is just fine with Saddam
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR EMERITUS
NOT ONLY are the economic sanctions on Iraq not achieving any of their
stated goals, they are working in perverse ways.
1) A decade ago, Iraq was totally isolated by the 33-nation Gulf War
coalition led by the United States; today it is the U.S. that
The credit, or blame, for such a spectacular turnaround is not
attributable to the wicked genius of Saddam Hussein but rather
the peculiarities of American politics.
Only Washington could have managed to so alienate its partners that
Saudi Arabia, its staunchest Arab ally, and Turkey, a
member of NATO, and even Kuwait, for which the Gulf War was fought,
now oppose the sanctions.
Walking through the inherited diplomatic and strategic ruins,
Secretary of State Colin Powell tried to re-engineer the sanctions,
easing restrictions on civilians but tightening the military embargo.
But he had to abandon this - his first and only major foreign
policy initiative - in the face of opposition from the Arab and Muslim
world, Europe, Russia and China.
2) Let alone hurting Iraq militarily, sanctions are helping Iraqi
The most bizarre example is how the Chinese, supposedly working on
humanitarian relief, are widely suspected of laying a
fibre optic network connecting radar stations for an anti-missile
defence system. This new capability is credited with the recent
Iraqi shooting of an American drone flying over Iraq as part of the
ongoing Anglo-American bombing campaign.
More scandalously, Americans may have helped the Chinese do it. United
Nations officials in charge of enforcing the
sanctions had raised a cautionary flag over the Chinese presence. But
trying to get Beijing to support the Powell initiative in the
Security Council, the U.S. lifted the hold on the Chinese items!
3) Saddam is stronger than ever. He and his coterie are not only not
hurting under sanctions, they are benefiting - in various
Given human ingenuity, all sanctions leak. In Iraq, they are leaking
all over. Illegal trade with Jordan, Turkey and Syria is
An old pipeline to Syria has been reopened. Bashar Assad told Powell
that the line is only being tested, but up to 150,000
barrels of Iraqi crude is said to be getting through every day.
Another open secret is the round-the-clock movement of trucks to
Turkey, a virtual pipeline supplying a third of its diesel
needs. Everyone is turning a blind eye, for two reasons. It is one way
of compensating Turkey's estimated $20 billion loss
under sanctions in lost bilateral trade. The traffic also helps the
Kurds whose territory the trucks must pass through and pay a
Such oil revenues flow to Saddam, enabling him to put up palaces for
his tight coterie of civilian and military elite, while the
Sanctions also spawn corruption wherever they are imposed. In Iraq, it
is reaching new heights and sophistication. Not that
those involved are genetically prone, but they have had a lot of time
figuring out ways around the rules.
The U.N. oil-for-food program - created in response to the
international outcry against the horrendous effects of sanctions on
civilians - has evolved into an Orwellian nightmare.
Iraqi officials submit a mind-bogglingly long list of relief items.
U.N. officials tick off each against a pre-approved list of what
is permitted and what is not. (Hence the endless arguments over "dual
use" items: Is a truck a carrier of food supplies or
military hardware? Is a pencil destined for a school or a radar
Following the haggling, the Iraqis get suppliers, foreign and local,
to draw up contracts that must also be okayed by the U.N.
But this is not as airtight as it sounds. It opens up room for
kickbacks and deals for embargoed items.
The system suits Saddam just fine.
4) Instead of eliminating Iraqi chemical and biological weapons,
American zealotry on sanctions may have helped increase the
Since the surreptitious insertion of an American spy into the United
Nations weapons inspection team led to the collapse of the
mission nearly three years ago, there have been no inspections. Under
the new system of monitoring from a distance, there is
no way of knowing what Saddam is up to. His record suggests he bulks
up any chance he gets. Lately, he has been free of
oversight and full of new revenues.
Ironically, this suits not just Saddam but Washington. It keeps the
story out of the headlines and public scrutiny, notes Colin
Rowat, a Canadian with the Cambridge University-based Campaign Against
Sanctions on Iraq.
5) Sanctions, combined with the intifadah, have put moderate Arabs on
the defensive and let Saddam strut as a defender of
Besides racist tirades against Jews and "the Zionist entity," along
with empty promises of liberating Palestine, he has been
sending $10,000 cheques to each bereaved family in the occupied
territories that has lost a member to Israeli attacks. Helping
him rehabilitate are the two states with peace treaties with Israel,
Egypt and Jordan, responding to public anguish at the
disproportionate number of Palestinian deaths.
Meanwhile, 600,000 Iraqi children under age 5 are dead due to
malnutrition. And while the food program is now managing to
avert widespread hunger, mass-scale misery continues. A collapsed
infrastructure means rusty water pipes, busted sewer
systems, little electricity.
One cannot think of a more counterproductive foreign policy, mixing
insensitivity and incompetence on as stupendous a scale
Haroon Siddiqui is The Star's editorial page editor emeritus. His
column appears Thursday and Sunday. His e-mail
address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Individual posts do not necessarily reflect the views of Jannah.org, Islam, or all Muslims. All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners. Comments are owned by the poster and may not be used without consent of the author.The rest © Jannah.Org