New Congressional Letter to President Clinton on Iraqi Sanctions
Nov. 23, 1999
Dear President Clinton,
We are again writing to you to ask that you de-link economic sanctions from the military sanctions currently in place against Iraq.
More than nine years of the most comprehensive economic embargo imposed in modern history has failed to remove Saddam Hussein from power or even ensure his compliance with his international obligations, while the economy and people of Iraq continue to suffer. Reports from UNICEF, (the United Nation's Children's Fund) and other United Nations agencies operating in Iraq estimate that over one million civilians, mostly children, have died from malnutrition and disease as a result of the embargo. UNICEF also reports that, despite the UN's Oil-for-Food program, several thousand children under the age of 5 die every month ("Situation Analysis of Women and Children in Iraq," 1998, UNICEF).
Earlier this year, a special United Nations Security Council panel reported that "the gravity of the humanitarian situation is indisputable and cannot be overstated." Iraq has "experienced a shift from relative affluence to massive poverty." Prior to sanctions, Iraq's healthcare was regarded as amongst the best in the Middle East. Today, children die from epidemics of once preventable diseases. The special Security Council panel reported "infant mortality rates are among the highest in the world." Meanwhile the embargo effectively prevents Iraq from purchasing equipment and spare parts required to restore water purification, sewage treatment, medical infrastructure, electrical, transportation, agricultural, and industrial production systems that were severely damaged during the 1991 Gulf War. The U.S. Administration has argued that sanctions remain necessary to prevent Iraq from threatening its neighbors and rebuilding its arsenal. The goal of these sanctions, however, seems to have changed. The original UN resolutions imposed sanctions to pressure Iraq to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction programs. Statements by U.S. officials, including Secretary Albright and Sandy Berger, however, suggest that sanctions will remain in place until Saddam Hussein is removed, or even beyond.
|Nassar Feyath, age 1. Severe malnutrition.
Weight: 9.47 lb. Ideal weight: 22 lb.
Basrah, Dec. 1996.
This policy clearly undermines the original intention of the sanctions, around which the international consensus against Iraq was originally based, and makes the children and families of Iraq into virtual hostages in the political deadlock between the U.S. and the government of Iraq.
Morally, it is wrong to hold the Iraqi people responsible for the actions of a brutal and reckless government. Politically, this policy deprives the Iraqi regime of any incentive to comply with UN resolutions and international norms.
The time has come to turn a new page in our dealings with Iraq. While we have no illusions about the brutality of Saddam Hussein, the people of Iraq should be allowed to restore their economic system. We simply ask you to do what is right: lift the economic sanctions. At the same time, we support the continued embargo on military equipment and materials.
Member of Congress Member of Congress