Dilemmas of Relief Work in Iraq

by Atallah Kuttab
published in MER174

The allied attack on Iraq in January-February 1991, and the hardship inflicted on the civilian population, prompted many UN agencies and non-governmental organizations to mobilize relief efforts in the country. I spent seven weeks in May and June leading a relief team in southern Iraq. Relief work was already underway in the Kurdish north, in the center (Baghdad) and in the largely Shi‘i south.

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The Iraq Sanctions Catastrophe

by James Fine
published in MER174

The continuing public health emergency in Iraq is taking a higher toll in civilian lives than the coalition bombing last January and February. This emergency could have been over by now if the Bush administration and its allies at the United Nations had accepted recommendations on humanitarian needs and monitoring safeguards made by UN relief officials last July.

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Omissi, Air Power and Colonial Control

by Vinay Lal
published in MER176

David Omissi, Air Power and Colonial Control: The Royal Air Force, 1919-1939 (Manchester, 1990).

In the recent war with Iraq, US air superiority was crucial in minimizing the US (and other allied) casualties, preparing the ground for a swift advance by land forces. The Middle East, and particularly Iraq, has often been a principal hunting ground for the air forces of Western powers. The recent bombing of Iraq is a species of what David Omissi aptly terms the “frightfulness” with which the colonial powers in the first half of the twentieth century sought to retain their mastery over Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

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How Bush Backed Iraq

by Jack Colhoun
published in MER176

An ongoing House Banking Committee’s investigation into US policy toward Iraq, led by chair Henry Gonzalez (D-TX), sheds new light on the role of George Bush in pressing for strong US support of the Baath regime in Iraq. Documents released by the committee reveal that at critical moments Bush intervened on Iraq’s behalf during and after the Iran-Iraq war.

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The False Promise of Operation Provide Comfort

Protecting Refugees or Protecting State Power?

by Bill Frelick
published in MER176

The US-led response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait has had many immediate repercussions on the international humanitarian network set up at the dawn of an earlier “new order” -- the close of World War II. It also has more than a few similarities to the protection scheme set up then to assist and protect refugees and displaced persons, and similarly reflects the values and concerns of its time.

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State Terror and the Degradation of Politics in Iraq

by Isam al-Khafaji
published in MER176

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Why the Uprisings Failed

by Faleh A. Jabar
published in MER176

In March 1991, following Iraq’s defeat in the Gulf war, the Kurds of northern Iraq and Arabs of the south rose up against the Baath regime. For two brief weeks, the uprisings were phenomenally successful. Government administration in the towns was overthrown and local army garrisons were left in disarray. Yet by the end of the month the rebellions had been crushed and the rebels scattered, fleeing across the nearest borders or into Iraq’s southern marshes. Those who could not flee did not survive summary executions.

The Displacement of Urfiya Hama Ahmad

by Joost Hiltermann
published in MER181

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Makiya, Cruelty and Silence

by Mouin Rabbani
published in MER187

Kanan Makiya, Cruelty and Silence: War, Tyranny, Uprising and the Arab World (W. W. Norton, 1993).

The absence of basic human rights and democratic freedoms in the Arab world for most of the post-colonial era, and the failure of the region’s inhabitants to successfully contest this deficit, has appropriately come to be known as a crisis of Arab political culture. That this crisis is not an abstraction but is excruciatingly real was amply demonstrated during the 1990-1991 Gulf crisis. It is this important theme that Kanan Makiya attempts to address.

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