The stands on sanctions
The Jordan Times, April 21, 2003
TO LIFT or not to lift the sanctions on Iraq — that is the question. US President George Bush wanted them lifted, ostensibly to use extra funds generated by the increased sale of Iraqi oil to pay for the reconstruction of the country following the war he waged on it. The reconstruction of Iraq, according to Washington, would be carried out by US firms. EU countries, now supported by the recent Arab foreign ministers meeting in Riyadh, want the sanctions to continue. The reason is to give the UN a real and effective role in how oil revenues of Iraq are spent. The Arab Gulf countries support this EU stance and also want Iraqi oil out of the market, possibly in order to keep oil prices high enough to maintain the level of their revenues from their own oil sales.
But Iraq too needs maximum of revenues in order to rebuild its devastated economy in the aftermath of the war. To argue in favour of maintaining the sanctions would mean that Iraq may only generate enough income to pay for its food and medical needs. The reality is that Iraq needs much more than that. If the concern is over the role of the UN and the ability of the international community to maintain some control over the huge income to be generated by unrestricted oil sales, this much can be secured by creating an international trust fund under UN control and into which all revenues from oil sales would flow.
To argue otherwise would be tantamount to putting power politics ahead of Iraq's ultimate interest in using its riches to alleviate poverty and emerge from the scourges of underdevelopment. Iraq needs every single fils to be generated from unrestricted oil sales to the international market. Whatever privileges that the US may gain from the free flow of oil from Iraq they come nowhere near the overwhelming gains that Iraq can expect when sanctions are lifted.