By Arab Cause Solidarity Committee, Madrid, 14 July 2001
The draft produced by Emma Nicholson, Vice-president of the Committee, is plagued with falsehoods and distortions concerning the situation in Iraq
A preliminary report by the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy of the European Parliament backs the most interventionist and aggressive positions of the new Bush Administration against Iraq
On 25 June 2001 the preliminary draft (document 2000/2329, INI) of a report commissioned by the British Baroness, Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne, Vice-president of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy of the European Parliament (EP), and member of the Liberal Democratic Party, entitled "On the situation in Iraq ten years after de Gulf War", was presented to this Committee. The Conference of Presidents of the Parliamentary Groups of the EP had requested the Committee to produce a Report with which to prepare a future parliamentary delegation visit to Iraq. The document (which has not yet been made public, but to which the Arab Cause Solidarity Committee has had access) has been drawn up following the hearing of various experts concerning the situation in the country hold on 26 February before the aforementioned Committee. Among the experts were the President of Cáritas Internacional, Professor Bossyt, and the United Nations Humanitarian Program ex-Coordinator for Iraq, Hans-C. Graf Sponeck, who resigned from his post last year. The draft of the Report basically summarises the arguments of the USA and the UK as well as of the Iraqi opposition about the Iraq question. Its presentation in its current draft form would represent the explicit alignment of European institutions with the most interventionist and aggressive positions against Iraq of the new Bush Administration.
In paragraph 2 of the presentation of the draft Report, Emma Nicholson singles out as the exclusive cause for the prolongation of the embargo against Iraq "Iraqi government refused to comply with the post-war conditions in particular the obligation to declare and destroy prohibited weapons of mass destruction". At the same time, the text at no point considers that the serious humanitarian situation faced by the Iraqi people is a direct consequence of the sanctions, nor does it include any consideration of the disparity between the objectives for which it is intended to justify prolonging the sanctions against Iraq (for example, its strategic disarmament) and the humanitarian impact that they are having on its people. Equally, there is no reference to the evolution over these last ten years of the dispute between Iraq and the Security Council (SC) of the United Nations (UN). It ignores Iraq´s widely recognised and practically total fulfilment of the obligations imposed on it after the Gulf War, and the still open rift in the heart of the SC over the need to reach a negotiated solution to the conflict with Iraq, resulting from the determination of the USA and Great Britain to prolong the sanctions indefinitely.
Thus, section IV of the draft ("Disarmament and Defense Policy of Iraq") reiterates the USA considerations that for more than two years the system of arms control in Iraq has not been valid and that the Iraqi government has not agreed to the entry into the country of the new disarmament commission, UNMOVIC, whose creation was established in resolution 1284, (December 1999). The text gives details of "indices" according to which Iraq is rebuilding its nuclear arms programme and might be able to build atomic bombs within five years if the embargo were lifted. It says nothing, however, about the fact that the interruption of the arms inspections and the paralysing of the Iraqi disarmament verification system (operating since the end of 1994) was due to the unilateral decision of the USA to launch Operation Desert Fox in December 1998, outside of the consensus of the SC, and that the need to create a new disarmament commission …—UNMOVIC…— was entirely due to the necessity of dissolving the former disarmament commission, UNSCOM, because of its proven espionage activities in Iraq in favour of the USA, provocation by its inspectors and distortions of the information collected in the country. Likewise, the draft includes no mention that, on the other hand, during these years Iraq has allowed the commissions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to enter the country. This organization has reiterated that Iraq is not in the position to develop a military nuclear programme.
Oil for Food´ Programme
At no point does the text give any detailed description of the serious humanitarian situation being endured by the Iraqi people (despite the expert testimony presented to the Committee), but rather focuses its attention on the internal situation in Iraq exclusively in relation to the Iraqi government´s attitude to democratic freedoms and human rights (sections II and III). Obviously the consideration that the regime of sanctions imposed on Iraq since 1990 goes against the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international agreements for the protection of civilian and humanitarian legislation …—reiterated, for example, by the UN Commission on Human Rights, which is cited selectively by the Baroness…— is not evaluated in the text. The draft recalls the EP´s resolution of 30 November 2000 (EP, 298.881) urging the Council of Europe and the member States to support the creation of an International Court specifically for the indictment of Saddam Hussein (paragraph 29 of the draft). In this context, the draft Report aligns the European Union with the practice of interference and internal change of regime headed by the USA and Great Britain, which lacks any authorisation from any SC resolution relating to Iraq.
In the same way, the USA and British falsehoods and those of the Iraqi opposition concerning the humanitarian situation in Iraq and the effectiveness of the "oil for food" programme have been repeated (resolution 986 of the SC). Paragraph 34 of section V of the draft must be considered as the most express demonstration of the cynicism and immorality of its authors, with its claim that the system of sanctions is achieving its objectives although it has made the Iraqi people a hostage of the regime:
"This policy of sanctions has probably prevented from Iraqui re-arming and attacking neighbouring countries. However, by using a policy of generalized sanctions, the international community facilitated civil population to become hostage of Iraqi government and subject to an internal political system based on arbitrary, terror, and repression (……)".
The only references made in the draft to the degradation of living conditions in the country and the serious humanitarian crisis endured by the population (paragraph 35) are those that ascribe responsibility for it exclusively to the government, and not to the impact of sanctions and the 1991 war.
With falsification and blatant lies, the Iraqi government is also held responsible for the obvious failure of the "oil for food" humanitarian programme. For example, the draft Report states that the SC has already authorised Iraq to export an unlimited quantity of petroleum since 1999 in exchange for the acquisition of humanitarian products. However, the Report does not point out that the USA and Great Britain have acted in the Sanctions Committee of the SC to block the entry of parts and spares required by Iraq to normalise its production and exports. The consequence: Iraq cannot pump more than 2.7 – 2.9 million barrels per day, and it does so under such precarious conditions that it is seriously undermining its strategic reserves (according to the UN, 20% of its oil wells are irreversibly damaged) as well as causing serious damage to the health of the workers and to the environment.
Likewise it is false (as has already been pointed out by the US Congress itself, the specialist Agencies of the UN and independent experts) that the improvement in the humanitarian conditions in Iraqi Kurdistan in recent years in comparison with the rest of the country is due to the fact that it is the UN rather than central government that administers the "oil for food" programme in that area. This is fundamentally untrue and the real reasons are rather different. That the inhabitants of Kurdistan receive 22% more money from the UN´s humanitarian programme than do the governmental areas stems >from the circumstances whereby: the area benefits from the permeability of its borders and taxes from smuggling; the UN Agencies have a constant source of money available …—something that the SC has not authorised in the rest of Iraq…—, on top of that circulating through other international institutions and NGOs that operate in Kurdistan (the EU itself); and finally, the geographical and economic characteristics of the area (historically the supplier of agricultural produce to the rest of Iraq).
The draft also falsifies the data concerning how humanitarian programme of the "oil for food" programme is shared out, masking the fact that the USA is currently blocking more than 3,000 million dollars in contracts that are considered to be of "double use" (civilian and military), and that only in last year Iraq paid 5,000 million dollars in compensation for the Gulf War while it received little more than half that sum (3,200 million dollars) in humanitarian products, according to data from the UN´s Secretary General Kofi Annan. Currently, the "oil for food" humanitarian programme establishes the provision of 226 dollars per person per year, an amount that is totally insufficient. The amount of products that have come into the country since the programme was initiated in 1997 stands at 8,800 million dollars. In other words, this is less than a quarter of the money that Iraq has obtained from its oil exports. This money is paid into an account in Paris under UN control and to which the Iraqi government does not have access. It is worth remembering that the two former coordinaters of the programme, Dennis Halliday and Hans-C. Graf Sponeck, resigned from their posts in 1999 and 2000, respectively, due to their rejection of the prolongation of sanctions, the ineffectiveness of the humanitarian programme and the obstructionist and manipulative practices of the USA and Great Britain.
Support for "smart sanctions"
Given all this, it is not surprising that Emma Nicholson concludes the draft of her report supporting equally the new US and British strategy of a new reinforced system of sanctions against Iraq …—the so-called "intelligent sanctions"…— which replace those that have been in place since August 1990 (section VI "A new approach to the embargo"). Thus, practically reproducing the content of the proposal of the resolution presented to the SC by Great Britain last May, paragraph 45 of the Report states:
"A revision of the embargo should be envisaged, so as to enable the rehabilitation of the country´s civilian economy, while retaining comprehensive import restrictions for all military goods and a rigorous monitoring of "dual use" goods. The control of border should be enlarged to all goods, in order to monitor their use (under the actual arrangement only those goods imported under the "oil for food" programme are inspected). The UN Security Council should allow for investment and development activities under international supervision (...)".
And the example they cite is that of the sanctions applied against Yugoslavia until the handing over of Milosevic.
Presented at the end of June, Emma Nicholson´s draft concludes with the expectation that the SC´s new resolution will be approved before 3 July. Russia´s opposition has made it impossible for the USA and Great Britain to force the approval of a resolution that was in fact going to represent the reinforcement and indefinite prolongation of sanctions against Iraq. In the end, in the face of a lack of consensus, the SC approved resolution 1360 on 3 July in which the "oil for food" programme was extended for another five months and the approval of the system of "intelligent sanctions" was postponed. This represented a serious setback for the new US Administration´s strategy in relation to its policy of blockade against Iraq.
The presentation of the current draft this Report on Iraq to the Conference of presidents of the Parliamentary Groups by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament represents a grave and explicit alignment of European institutions with the most interventionist and aggressive positions of the new Bush Administration against this country, and is a further demonstration of the absence of a European foreign policy independent of that of the USA and its British ally.
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Arab Cause Solidarity Committee
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