In a letter sent on Friday, September 15, 2000, CBD Director, Dr. Louay Safi, urged the United Nations Security Council to lift the economic sanctions from the Iraqi people and to resort instead to an arms embargo to curtail the aggression of the Iraqi regime. Dr. Safi argued that the sanctions outlived their usefulness, and have become a source of a major humanitarian disaster in Iraq.
Bellow is the full text of Dr. Safi’s letter to the Security Council President.
His Excellency Moctar Ouane
President of the United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Organization
Dear Mr. Moctar Ouane
I am writing to you to share with you my concerns, and those of my colleagues at the Center for Balanced Development, regarding the continued degradation of the state of human life in Iraq, and to join the growing number of individuals and organizations who have become convinced that the economic sanctions have given rise to humanitarian disaster of lasting material and moral impact. Many of us who are committed to a future based on the principles of justice, cooperation, and respect for human rights and dignity are astonished to see a society of over 22 million people being exposed to conditions that resemble those found in concentration camps. The images of starved children suffering from malnutrition bring to mind the prisoners of concentration camps under the Serb regime in Bosnia and the Nazi regime in pre-1945 Germany. Starving the children of Iraq and denying them decent education is unacceptable, particularly when the United Nations Security Council holds the key to stopping all the misery visited on them.
While I am aware that the economic sanctions are intended to curtail the aggression of the Iraqi regime, and to limit its ability to bully its neighbors, such an objective should, and can, be pursued, I believe, without putting the entire Iraqi population under extreme hardships and dangers.
The Security Council's sanctions are now contributing not only to the nutritional deprivation of the Iraqi people, but they have had debilitating effects on the education system. As such, the sanctions have become counterproductive, since they are breeding ignorance and illiteracy, the very conditions that give rise to tyrants and dictators. If the objective is to defeat the authoritarian regime of Iraq, a policy that create more openness and strengthen civil society institutions and projects should replace the current isolation imposed on Iraq. It is not difficult to see that rather than weakening Saddam’s regime, the sanctions are playing to the hands of the Iraqi government by setting in place the very conditions which ensure its survival. After nine years of sanctions, Saddam’s regime is as entrenched in power as it has ever been.
The oil for food plan has done very little to ease the suffering of the Iraqi people, and UNICEF and WHO reports show that the overall health, education, and poverty conditions continue to deteriorate. Apparently, those who need the food and medication the most are the last to receive them.
While Saddam’s regime bear the main responsibility for leading the people of Iraq to two major wars with their neighbors, and for bringing destruction and adversity to millions of families both within and without, the United Nations Security Council holds the key to ending this sad situation. The Security Council must recognize that its efforts to fight Saddam’s regime through economic sanctions has instead created a major catastrophe for the civilian population. If the sanctions are meant to destabilize the military regime of Saddam, as repeatedly argued by their defenders, the last nine years should provide sufficient proof of the futility of this strategy. A more meaningful approach to limit the capacity of the Iraqi government to commit aggression against its neighbors is to impose a military embargo.
I wish therefore to conclude my letter by urging you, and through you the members of the Security Council, to work towards lift
ing the economic sanctions as soon as possible, and to consider replacing them with an embargo on military technology and hardware. A military embargo can achieve the stated aim of preventing Iraq from threatening its neighbors without destroying the people of Iraq.
Louay M. Safi
Center for Balanced Development
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