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October 1998 
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FINALLY THE GUTS, AND DECENCY, TO RESIGN

MER - WASHINGTON - 1 Oct:

If a few Americans are killed, anywhere in the world, all hell breaks loose. If a few Israelis die at the hands of those they militarily occupy and continually oppress, the same result. In Iraq, more than a hundred people needlessly die daily - mostly defensely woman and children - yet instead of raising hell with the Americans who are responsible for this the compliant and discredited U.N. applauds, the General Assembly actually giving the on-the-ropes American President a standing ovation! Finally someone has had the guts, and the decency, to resign from the U.N. bureaucracy in protest. For many months the top U.N. official in Iraq, Denis Halliday, has been quite literally screaming on the phone with his superiors about what has been done to Iraq under cover of U.N. sanctions. Of course the U.N. has been terribly manipulated by and become the agent of the U.S. in all this, but that's a much longer story not for today. While a new wave of hysteria about Iraq is beginning to build in the U.S. - fanned by NBC News and Scott Ritter, along with NBC consultants Norman Schwartzkopf and the Brookings Institute crowd, at least one person has some decency in all this. Denis Halliday left his post in Baghdad on Wednesday after many months of recriminations and pleadings. This report from the BBC World Service on 30 Sept.

TOP U.N. OFFICIAL BLASTS IRAQ SANCTIONS

WOMAN AND CHILDREN ARE THE MAIN VICTIMS

The outgoing co-ordinator of the UN oil-for-food deal in Iraq, DenisHalliday, has launched a scathing attack on the policy of sanctions,branding them '' a totally bankrupt concept''.

In his surprise remarks, Denis Halliday, said his 13-month stint hadtaught him the "damage and futility" of sanctions.

''It doesn't impact on governance effectively and instead it damagesthe innocent people of the country,'' he told Reuters news agency.

"It probably strengthens the leadership and further weakens thepeople of the country.''

Mr Halliday, who has resigned after more than 30 years with the UnitedNations, leaves his post in Baghdad on Wednesday.

He was co-ordinator of the programme that allows Iraq to selllimited amounts of oil to buy food, medicine and other supplies.

He said maintaining the crippling trade embargo imposed on Iraq forits 1990 invasion of Kuwait was incompatible with the UN charter aswell as UN conventions on human rights and the rights of the child.

But Mr Halliday believed UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan favoureda fresh look at sanctions as a means of influencing states to changetheir policies - in Iraq's case making it scrap its weapons of massdestruction, and long-range missiles.

"I'm beginning to see a change in the thinking of the United Nations,the secretary-general, many of the member states, who have realisedthrough Iraq in particular that sanctions are a failure and the priceyou extract for sanctions is unacceptably high.''

His comments follow criticism recently by a top UN weaponsinspector, Scott Ritter, of the US and UK for failing to take a tougher line over the inspections.

Up to 5,000 children dying a month

Mr Halliday said disarmament was a legitimate aim, but took issuewith the "open-ended" and politicised nature of weapons searches inIraq.

"There is an awful incompatibility here, which I can't quite deal withmyself. I just note that I feel extremely uncomfortable flying the UNflag, being part of the UN system here," he added.

Mr Halliday said it was correct to draw attention to the "4,000 to5,000 children dying unnecessarily every month due to the impact ofsanctions because of the breakdown of water and sanitation,inadequate diet and the bad internal health situation".

But he said sanctions were biting into the fabric of Iraqi society inother, less visible ways.

He cited the disruption of family life caused by the departure overseas of two to three million Iraqi professionals.

He said sanctions had increased divorces and reduced the numberof marriages because young couples could not afford to wed.

"It has also produced a new level of crime, street children, possibly even an increase in prostitution," he said.

"This is a town where people used to leave the key in the front door,leave their cars unlocked, where crime was almost unknown. Wehave, through the sanctions, really disrupted this quality of life, the standard of behaviour that was common in Iraq before."

Young Iraqis likened to Taleban

Mr Halliday argued that the "alienation and isolation of the youngerIraqi generation of leadership" did not bode well for the future.

He said many senior government figures had been trained in the Westand exposed to the outside world.

Their children had stayed at home through the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war,the 1991 Gulf War and now sanctions.

"They don't have a great deal of exposure to travel, even to readingmaterials, television, never mind technological change," he said.

"I think these people are going to have a real problem in terms of howto deal with the world in the near future."

Likening their introverted development to that of Afghanistan'sTaleban movement, Mr Halliday said younger Iraqis were intolerantof what they considered their leaders' excessive moderation.

Mr Halliday noted mosque attendance had soared during thesanctions era as people sought solace in religion - a change fromIraq's hitherto largely secular colouring..

"What should be of concern is the possibility at least of morefundamentalist Islamic thinking developing," he said.

"It is not well understood as a possible spin-off of the sanctions regime. We are pushing people to take extreme positions."

 


 

 

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