Caught in the Circle of Punishment

by Omar Al-Jaffal
published in MER286

The politics, sensibilities and lives of Iraqis born in the 1970s and 1980s were intimately shaped by harsh US sanctions on essential and non-essential goods, Saddam Hussein’s wars and the US invasion in 2003 with its devastating war and aftermath. What can a young Iraqi possibly hope for now?


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Economic Sanctions and Iranian Trade

by Philip Shehadi
published in MER98

Former President Jimmy Carter’s announcement of economic sanctions against Iran on April 7, 1980 aroused little enthusiasm except in Tehran, where crowds roared their approval of a formal break in ties with the “great Satan.” At home, hadn’t the freeze of Iranian assets, the longshoremen’s refusal to load Iran-bound goods, and the November ban on Iranian oil imports already reduced trade between the two countries to a trickle? In Europe, foreign ministers meeting in Lisbon on April 10 declined to heed Carter’s call. The Europeans, and the Japanese, had a stake in maintaining economic ties to the new regime. Western Europe as a whole was importing 650,000 barrels of Iranian oil a day.

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Aspiration and Reality in Iraq's Post-Sanctions Economy

by Bassam Yousif
published in MER266

From 1990 to 2003, Iraq languished under comprehensive UN sanctions that prohibited foreign trade. When sanctions were finally lifted, many economists and pundits, as well as Iraqis themselves, hoped for a rapidly expanding economy, brisk reconstruction and a return to prosperity. They have been sorely disappointed.

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From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER163

Events elsewhere in the world -- elections in Nicaragua, death squads in South Africa and recent decisions by the European Commission -- hold much instruction for people concerned with the Middle East. Elections, after all, are not the same as democracy. After ten years of US armed intervention and economic aggression, a majority of Nicaraguans voting on February 25 chose an alternative to 10,000 percent inflation, to pervasive shortages, to the killings and sabotage of the Contras. “Sandinistas Lose the Hunger Vote” was the accurate headline in the Financial Times. The winning opposition front was cobbled together and financed by the State Department.

In Between, Fragmented and Disoriented

Art Making in Iraq

by Nada Shabout
published in MER263

It is argued that the celebrated Arab protest movements have changed the path of visual arts in the region. Headlines predict that art inspired by the uprisings will be freer and more critical. Artists have partaken in the displays of mass dissent, demonstrating in the streets and protesting further through their work. Inflated claims notwithstanding, and despite unfulfilled hopes, the protests have indeed directed welcome attention to art scenes in Arab cities. Change, many still hope, is finally possible.

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Report of the UN Mission to Assess Humanitarian Needs in Iraq

published in MER170

Conditions in Iraq in the aftermath of the US military assault have been difficult to ascertain. The most authoritative report to date is that of the UN mission led by Undersecretary-General Martti Ahtisaari, which spent March 10-17 in Iraq. The mission, which included representatives of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and other UN programs, had intended to examine conditions first in Kuwait and then Iraq, but the Kuwaiti authorities requested it delay its arrival there until a UN Environment Program mission had completed its work.

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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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The Sanctions Dilemma

by John Patterson
published in MER187

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has a historical perspective regarding the use of economic sanctions. We have both supported and opposed the implementation of sanctions -- at times with clear strength of conviction, at other times with doubts and apprehensions. We have supported economic and cultural sanctions against apartheid in South Africa since 1976. We supported the pre-war sanctions against Iraq after it invaded Kuwait, but have opposed continuing sanctions since the end of the war. We support sanctions against the former Yugoslavia and against the military government of Haiti. We have opposed sanctions against Vietnam, Cuba, Nicaragua, Libya and the former Soviet Union.

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