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
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
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
"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."