Sanctions on Iraq paradoxically strengthen Saddam
HDN | 6/7/2000 12:00:00 AM |
As Undersecretary Logoglu continues his meetings in Iraq, experts say UN sanctions against Iraq have harmed civilians but paradoxically strengthened Saddam Selcuk Gultasli Ankara - Turkish Daily News As Ministry of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Faruk Logoglu continues his meetings with Iraqi officials in Baghdad in a bid to improve political and commercial ties, pressure is slowly mounting to ease U.N. sanctions on Iraq. Politicians and experts have raised their voices, questioning the reasoning As Undersecretary Logoglu continues his meetings in Iraq, experts say UN sanctions against Iraq have harmed civilians but paradoxically strengthened Saddam
Ankara - Turkish Daily News
As Ministry of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Faruk Logoglu continues his meetings with Iraqi officials in Baghdad in a bid to improve political and commercial ties, pressure is slowly mounting to ease U.N. sanctions on Iraq. Politicians and experts have raised their voices, questioning the reasoning behind the embargo which has devastated the lives of so many innocent Iraqi civilians.
While Ankara can not openly oppose the U.N. embargo, experts stress that Turkey has been one of the biggest victims of the embargo against Iraq since the Gulf crisis in August 1990. Ankara lost its immense border and bilateral trade with Iraq after the Gulf War, which caused unemployment in the region to skyrocket, fuelling the separatist terrorism of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). As well as declaring the burden Turkey has to bear, Ankara has constantly asked the United Nations to alleviate the misery of the Iraqi people.
Sanctions not benefiting Turkey
Experts state that sanctions have not weakened Iraq's President Saddam Hussein; on the contrary, they have helped to keep him in power. Ali Nihat Ozcan, from the Center for Eurasian Strategic Studies (ASAM), said the power models in the Middle East were not democratic but were built on ethnic, religious or tribal power bases. "There are two bureaucratic mechanisms for power in these models: intelligence and military. In Iraq, Saddam's power base is the Tiqriti tribe from which he comes." Ozcan continued: "In this model, unlike democratic systems where a change of government is carried out peacefully, a change of regime is only possible from within the system. So the sectors of society which are negatively affected are those outside the ruling elite. Those in power have not been affected by the embargo at all. On the contrary, Saddam has been getting stronger each day despite the sanctions."
Commenting on Turkey's position, Ozcan said that the sanctions did not help Turkey's interests in the region. Ozcan indicated that full normalization in Iraq would be beneficial to Turkey. "Iraq has been working on bettering relations with its immediate neighbors including Syria, the Gulf countries and Iran. Syria has almost completed the renovation of the pipeline carrying Iraqi oil through its land. That may endanger the Kerkuk-Yumurtalik pipeline. Turkey should seek ways to improve its bilateral relations with Iraq," said Ozcan.
U.S. vehemently opposed to lifting sanctions
While Arab and Muslim countries' pressure on the United Nations to ease the sanctions on Iraq increases, the United States is vehemently opposed to such a move. A U.S. Embassy spokesman told the Turkish Daily News that Saddam had aggravated his people's suffering and used the spectacle to seek the removal of sanctions. He argued that ending sanctions on Iraq would not end the suffering of its people.
"Saddam rejected the oil-for-food program for five brutal years," said the spokesman. "But now, three years after he acquiesced, Iraqi oil exports and food imports are reaching prewar levels. With oil prices rising, revenues are surging and Iraq has record resources for the purchase of food and medicine. During this latest six-month period, Iraqi oil revenues are expected to reach $8 billion and yet the Iraqi government has so far placed orders of only $1.8 billion for food, medicine and humanitarian supplies."
The U.S. diplomat proposed that the "friends of Iraqi people" call on Saddam to end his restrictions on U.N. monitors, non-government organizations (NGOs) and supplementary feeding programs rather than insisting that the United Nations should end sanctions on Iraq.
Pressure in the Arab world
In the Arab world meanwhile, Qatar reportedly presented a proposal on Saturday that aimed at helping lift the sanctions. The proposal was made to the foreign ministers of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries -- Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain.
In Cairo, the six GCC countries plus Syria and Egypt began a two-day meeting on Sunday to discuss ways of alleviating the suffering of Iraqi civilians after a decade of sanctions.