Sanctions Against Iraq

Sanctions Against Iraq

For the first time in a decade, the United Nations has opened a window of opportunity for Iraq. Even though such an opportunity of lifting sanctions seems like a chance to be welcomed with open arms, instead, it is a decision both sides have approached with hesitation. The advantages and disadvantages of such a decision could possibly effect much of the known world. In that light, hesitation seems a bit more logical toward the idea of this sort of peace between many nations.

It was ten years ago that sanctions were places on Iraq. The causes of them being set in the first place were the actions by Saddam Hussein around the time of the Gulf War. The UN’s intentions were to prevent Iraq from acquiring dangerous weapons of mass destruction, whether it be by lack of supplies or money. Although it seemed like a good idea at first, as time passed, things started falling apart.

One of the biggest problems that both sides of the decision face is the starvation that the Iraqi people, most of who are not supporters of Hussein, suffer from. Former United Nations” humanitarian coordinator, Dennis Halliday stated that “somewhere between 300,000 and a half-million Iraqi children have expired from the U.S.-led sanctions-(Stein 1). Surprisingly, in the face of starving babies and malnourished children, the U.N sanctions and Iraq have found many small things to fight about. An interesting argument would be that of pencils. As the Iraqi Embassy in Jordan stated,

“Officials claim pencils were on a UN list of banned imports to Iraq, because the world body feared Saddam would use the graphite for military purposes (Getzlaff 1).”

So what was the open window given to Iraq that was previously mentioned? It’s called Resolution 1284, which would lift the economic sanctions placed on Iraq if Baghdad took in a new system of monitoring and inspection (Williams 1). As long as the Iraqi concerted with the inspectors of the UNMOVIC (United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection commission), the sanctions would be lifted. (Williams 2) It’s a simple compromise, but unfortunately it is doubtful that things would run as smoothly. Such an agreement, however, could most likely lead to the end of military air strikes on Baghdad from the United States and Britain. Also the presence of the UNMOVIC wouldn’t be as pressuring as could only set standards and inquiries to Iraq actions instead of being able to check and find out for themselves (Williams 2).

The hesitation of the lifting of the sanctions comes from many parts of the world. Of course the United States set the sanctions for the purpose of bringing down Saddam Hussein himself. At the moment he’s not quite where the US government would like to have him, but with the knowledge of such a high mortality rate of “his” people, the United States can no longer play this waiting game. Not even countries that place Iraq on their good sides wish for the sanctions to end. Who is to blame them? It’s scary to think about a country that has used deadly biological and nuclear weapons before having the ability to obtain such materials to make and use these types of weapons again (Williams 2). Even though the United States and the United Nations would be basically saving the people of Iraq from all starving to death, there is probably not one person in the world who wouldn’t doubt that these weapons of mass destruction would be used again if given the chance.

On the other hand, some of the same countries are almost begging for the sanctions to be lifted, of course, in their own interests. Russia for example, would be 6 billion dollars richer if sanctions were gone. Baghdad is in debt to them from all the weapons they were sold from Russians. Along with Russia, China would also benefit from the absence of these sanctions. Many oil companies from these countries have been promised “development and exploration contracts in Iraq when the sanctions are over (Williams 3).”

For the last ten years, the United States and the UN have managed to get Iraq in a tight choke-hold. The problem is, as a choke-hold cuts off blood to the brain, this type cut off important vitals to the people of Iraq, who had nothing to do with the original target, Saddam Hussein. As President Bush stated, ” the sanction regime is like Swiss cheese [meaning] that they weren’t very effective (Trapper 2).” Yes, obviously it wasn’t the best solution, but did it really have to take 10 years to figure this out?


Bush’s opening night. Trapper, Jake. 23 Feb. 2001 **

Iraq and the U.N. duke it out over pencils. Getzlaff, J. A 25 Feb. 2000


Counting the dead children. Stein, Jeff. 15 Jan. 1999


A new era for Iraq? Williams, Ian. 21 Dec. 1999


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