Letter: Need to reassess Iraq sanctions

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The Independent Online
Sir: The sixth anniversary of the Gulf War provides an opportunity to reflect upon the crisis in Iraq. The last six years have seen massive loss of life and hardship within Iraq, caused both by internal repression and by externally imposed sanctions.

Despite the catastrophic effects of sanctions on the population of Iraq, little has been achieved by this policy. The sanctions regime maintained by the United States and the United Kingdom under the auspices of the UN has neither stopped human rights abuses, nor enabled the Iraqi people to replace the Ba'athist state.

Rather, this has consolidated Saddam's position, by suppressing the will of those who might have formed the basis of a revolution and by provoking anger towards the West.

Thousands of infants have died since 1991 from malnutrition and treatable diseases as a direct result of sanctions; while thousands of Shia and Kurds have languished in Iranian refugee camps in what is proving to be long-term exile.

It is now time to reassess the policy of sanctions. In the absence of additional measures which enforce respect for human rights in Iraq and enable the overthrow of the current regime, sanctions will remain both ineffective for long-term crisis settlement and morally reprehensible.

Lifting sanctions on everything but arms, coupled with effective international protection for northern and southern Iraq, should be viewed as the lesser of two evils.




Campaign Against Repression and For Democratic Rights in Iraq