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Saddam Hussein 10 Years Later

No regard for humanitarian needs of Iraqi people, says UN
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"The recent British and American bombing excursion on Iraq tells us more about the respective countries leaders than it does about Iraq or the middle-east. Newly elected Bush is trying to prove his hawkishness whilst Blair has an election coming up and, yet again, is going for the backward middle-England vote."
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Responding to a reported buildup of threat to allied planes patrolling the 1991-established no-fly zone in southern Iraq, US and British forces on Feb. 16, 2001, launched defensive air strikes against targets in Baghdad.

The buildup in extent and sophistication of Iraqi air defense systems offers support to the United Nations' recent sharp criticism of Saddam's Hussein's regime.

A full ten years after Operation Desert Storm, Saddam Hussein continues to show "callous disregard" for the welfare of his own people, according to a letter issued by the United Nations.

The U.N. letter, announced by the State Department on Jan. 26, 2001, shows continued Iraqi mismanagement and waste in acquiring humanitarian supplies.

The letter asserts that Baghdad has delayed ordering sufficient supplies for health, education, water, sanitation and oil production under the UN-administered Oil-for-Food program. Under this program, Iraq is allowed to sell oil in order to buy supplies for the Iraqi people, to rebuild its critical infrastructure and to insure continued oil production. The program requires Iraq to order supplies every six months, with the approval of the UN.

Over the last six months, $7.8 billion (US) were available to Iraq for humanitarian purchases, yet Iraq applied to purchase only $4.26 billion worth of goods -- only about 54 percent of the amount available.

In key sectors of the Iraqi economy, Hussein's regime's disregard for the welfare of the Iraqi people is made plain: -- Despite the international concern for the health and nutritional needs of the Iraqi people, the total value of applications received in the health sector was only US$83.6 million. $624.7 million are allocated by the UN for the Iraqi health sector, meaning that Saddam Hussein spent only 13 percent of funds available for health supplies it could have purchased -- Iraq submitted only $21.5 million in applications for educational supplies, barely six percent of the $351.5 allocated for this purpose. -- Iraq submitted only $184.7 million in water and sanitation applications, out of $551.1 million available. -- Iraq requested only $22.7 million in applications for spare parts and equipment for the oil sector, just three percent of the $600 million allotted.

More than $4 billion sit in a United Nations escrow account, available to the Iraqi government for the purchase of the humanitarian supplies the Iraqi people so desperately need, and which the Iraqi regime claims it cannot obtain due to economic sanctions.

In December 2000, Iraq shut off and then slowed down its oil exports in an attempt to extort control of oil revenues. According to the United Nations, as of January 10, 2001, Iraq's reduced exports had already amounted to lost revenue totaling US$1.4 billion dollars.

Baghdad's recent insistence on selling its oil in Euros rather than US dollars, which is the worldwide industry standard, will likely result in Iraq losing $250 to $300 million yearly in conversion fees and lost interest. 

[Source: US State Department]


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