Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Iraq Sanctions Bleg

. Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I recently heard that the sanctions against Iraq have not yet been lifted, and won't be until the Iraqi government pays the U.S. government some amount of money, which I believe is related to post-war reconstruction. Perhaps some restitution to Kuwait too. This sounded crazy when I heard it, but it came from a somewhat-reputable source (that I now cannot recall). Wikipedia seems to disagree, although the entry focuses on U.N. sanctions, so I suppose it's possible that U.N. sanctions were lifted while U.S. sanctions persist.

Anyway, now I'm confused. I had believed that the sanctions ended when the war started. Then I read somewhere that they didn't. Now I'm finding sources saying that for the most part they ended then, with some exceptions that have mostly been eliminated in a series of executive orders since. For example, this OFAC summary (pdf), released last week by the Treasury Dept., says:

There currently are no broad-based sanctions in place against Iraq, but there are certain prohibitions and asset freezes against specific individuals and entities associated with the former Saddam Hussein regime, as well as parties determined to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act of violence that has the purpose or effect of threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq or undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people.

Those exceptions are probably wide enough to drive a Humvee through, and could probably be applied to just about any person or group in the country. More confusingly, this article from February indicates that U.N. trade sanctions still apply. A quick Google news search doesn't turn up much since.

Does anybody out there have a clear sense of what's going on with this?


Anonymous said...

Here's a yahoo article that touches on continued sanctions:

"Iraq to pay $400 million for Saddam's mistreatment of Americans"

By Jane Arraf – Thu Sep 9, 4:50 pm ET

Baghdad – Iraq has quietly agreed to pay $400 million in claims to American citizens who say they were tortured or traumatized by Saddam Hussein’s regime after his 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

The controversial settlement ends years of legal battles and could help Iraq emerge from United Nations sanctions put in place two decades ago – a step Iraqi leaders see as a prerequisite to becoming fully sovereign.

The Iraqi foreign ministry said the $400 million settlement, signed last week with James Jeffrey, the new US ambassador to Iraq, resolves legal claims inherited from the former regime and was in line with negotiations to end the sanctions.
Settling the claims, which were brought by American citizens, has been seen as a key requirement for Washington to be willing to push for an end to the UN sanctions.
“There was a lot of pressure on the Iraqi government to do something that gets Congress off their back,â€

Known as "Chapter 7" sanctions after the part of the UN charter that deals with international threats to peace, they were imposed against Iraq after Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait and never fully lifted.

As part of the Status of Forces Agreement between Iraq and the United States, which provides the legal basis for the presence of American troops here, the US committed itself to helping Iraq emerge from Chapter 7...

[snipped section regarding nature of Americans' "pain and suffering" for which they are demanding financial compensation from Iraq]

...The money comes out of a roughly $900 million fund in frozen assets held by the US government to settle unresolved contracts under the Oil for Food program.

The program was an exemption to the sweeping trade sanctions in the 1990s, under which Iraq was allowed to sell oil to foreign buyers under supervision to buy food and medicine. It ended with the 2003 war, leaving dozens of countries and companies with unfulfilled contracts.

Senior Iraqi officials said the settlement was aimed at protecting Iraqi funds being held abroad. The Development Fund for Iraq, created by the UN, holds Iraq's current oil revenue as well as money from the former Oil for Food program and other frozen assets. The mandate of the advisory body which oversees it expires at the end of this year and Iraq needs US and international support to replace it with direct control of its revenue.

Iraq is still paying compensation to Kuwait under Chapter 7 sanctions – so far $27.6 billion – and continues to devote 5 percent of its oil revenues to a UN fund for Kuwaiti compensation. Baghdad, which argues that it needs the funds for reconstruction, is trying to cut that percentage in half.

Kuwait has taken additional measures such as seizing an Iraqi Airways plane on its first flight to London this year.

Iraq argues that it can’t be fully independent while it is still under Chapter 7.

Why the settlement is controversialDespite Iraq’s potential oil wealth, the country has major economic problems, including widespread poverty, 30 percent unemployment, and an infant mortality rate among the highest in the region. Oil revenue, which the US believed would fund reconstruction when it invaded Iraq, has been limited by ongoing attacks and an infrastructure that will take billions of dollars in investment and years to repair.

The settlement is controversial not only because of Iraq's pressing developmental needs, but because it holds the current government accountable for Saddam Hussein’s actions.

“A lot of blood has flowed since then and a lot of it is Iraqi blood. It’s arguable that the suffering was not caused by the current Iraqi government or the Iraqi people,” says one senior Iraqi official. “This is politics, this is not justice.”


Anonymous said...

Lessons we should have learned from the Iraqi sanctions
Posted By Joy Gordon Thursday, July 8, 2010
Foreign Affairs

How Smart Are the Iran Sanctions?
by Joy Gordon, September 15, 2010

Kindred Winecoff said...

Yes! Thank you. The practice described in the Yahoo! article is what I had heard and forgotten originally.

Iraq Sanctions Bleg




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