From the Editors

published in MER193

A public debate over the US-led economic sanctions policy against Iraq is long overdue. More than four years have passed since the Gulf war ceasefire and Baghdad’s bloody suppression of the popular uprisings that followed. The regime, the ostensible target of the sanctions, appears to be firmly in place. The vast majority of individual Iraqis, whose best interests are cited as a major justification for the policy, are suffering a degree of trauma and deprivation that has already set in motion a dynamic of social disintegration and self-destruction that will affect the entire region -- and may be very difficult to reverse.

Iraqi Sanctions, Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

by Roger Normand
published in MER200

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The Destruction of Iraqi Kurdistan

by Isam al-Khafaji
published in MER201

Less than five years ago, the US-led coalition against Saddam Hussein established a “safe haven” in Iraqi Kurdistan following Iraq’s brutal suppression of an uprising against the regime during March-April 1991. The mood among the majority of Iraqi Kurds was highly optimistic: A certain measure of self-rule had been forced on the central government in Baghdad, a goal for which they had been fighting for almost half a century.

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The Demise of Operation Provide Comfort

by Joost Hiltermann
published in MER203

The evacuation of several thousand Iraqi Kurds from northern Iraq by the US military in December 1996 constituted the last gasp of Operation Provide Comfort. This operation was launched in the spring of 1991, in the wake of the Gulf war and Kurdish uprising against Baghdad, as hundreds of thousands of Kurds, fleeing Iraqi depredations in the valleys below, escaped to the high mountain ranges that mark the Iraqi-Turkish border. In October 1991, the Iraqis withdrew, freeing the Kurds to carve out an autonomous region. This territory was nominally protected by an allied Military Coordination Center based in the Iraqi border town of Zakho and by allied fighter jets and AWACS planes patrolling the no-fly zone above the thirty-sixth parallel from the US airbase at Incirlik, Turkey.

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Legalism and Realism in the Gulf

by Sheila Carapico
published in MER206

In his State of the Union address in January 1998, President Clinton won thunderous applause for threatening to force Iraq “to comply with the UNSCOM regime and the will of the United Nations.” Stopping UN chemical and biological weapons inspectors from “completing their mission,” declared the president, defies “the will of the world.” In the next three weeks, the White House ordered a massive show of force in the Gulf. Even traditional hawks, however, realized that a bombing mission could undermine American hegemonic interests in the Gulf that are served by a continuation of the sanctions regime.

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From the Editor

by Phyllis Bennis
published in MER206

Not all in Clinton’s administration were happy with his grudging acceptance of the UN-Iraqi agreement negotiated by Secretary General Kofi Annan. It is likely, however, that at least some were grateful to have a way out of their self-created political trap. Weeks of escalating rhetoric against the backdrop of a massive and carefully choreographed military buildup in the Persian Gulf and continued defiance in Baghdad, had brought Washington to the brink of launching a major military strike. The only alternative would have been to acknowledge that it really had no viable policy toward Iraq.

Protesting Sanctions Against Iraq

A View from Jordan

by Jillian Schwedler
published in MER208

Aida Dabbas is program officer for the Jordanian-American Binational Fulbright Commission in Amman. She has been an active opponent of the sanctions against Iraq and of the US arms buildup in the region. Jillian Schwedler, an editor of this magazine, spoke with her by telephone in June.

You recently visited Iraq for the first time.

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Conspiracy of Near Silence

Violence Against Iraqi Women

by Nadje Al-Ali , Nicola Pratt
published in MER258

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"Sanctions Have an Impact on All of Us"

by Denis Halliday
published in MER209

The following comments are excerpted from a speech delivered on Capitol Hill on October 6, 1998 by Denis Halliday, former UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, shortly after he resigned his post in protest over the sanctions’ devastating impact on the Iraqi people.

"The Bombing Has Started Again"

by Kathy Kelly
published in MER210

I recently informed an editor of a national news program about a delegation of Nobel laureates who planned to visit Iraq in March. He responded that “Iraq’s not on the screen now that the bombing has stopped.” A puzzling response, since on that very day, the US had bombed seven sites in Iraq.

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