A congressional resolution (Joint Resolution 125) has just been introduced castigating Iraq for concealment of weapons of mass destruction and non cooperation with UN inspectors. It calls on President Clinton to take action and implies the renewed use of military force. The resolution seems to be the opening shot in the battle to maintain sanctions on Iraq when the sanctions regime come up for review in October.
The resolution also claims that UN Resolution 687 requires that economic sanctions remain in place until Iraq fully discloses, destroys and renounces all weapons of mass destruction. This could undermine the efforts of Arab Americans, churches, peace and human rights groups to lift the sanctions against Iraqi civilians.
Now is a particularly crucial time to generate calls to Congress. We must impress upon them the suffering of the Iraqi people. The desire to maintain pressure on the Iraqi government cannot justify policies which result in the deaths of many thousands of innocent people.
We must ask members of Congress to vote against Resolution 125. Instead, they should sign the letter to President Clinton initiated by Reps. John Conyers, Carolyn Kilpatrick and Dave Bonior, which asks for a reevaluation of the sanctions policy and the “delinking” of economic sanctions against civilians from the military sanctions.
The sanctions against Iraq are a humanitarian catastrophe for the Iraqi people. According to UN agencies, the result has been widespread malnutrition, disease and death for hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, especially those most vulnerable — children, the infirm and the elderly. UNICEF estimates that 4500 children die each month as a result of the sanction. Sanctions were meant to pressure the Iraqi government, but instead the Iraqi people have been the victims. It is time this policy be changed.
The civilian infrastructure must be rebuilt: public health, water treatment plants, sewage disposal, medical institutions, food production, electrical generation. Equipment for rebuilding must be allowed into Iraq. Chlorine is central to water purification and eliminating disease. It is essential for public health.
Threats of renewed military conflict are not likely to make the Iraqi government more cooperative with UN weapons inspectors. It only prolongs the game of pressure, evasion, and posturing that has, in turn, led to the victimization of the people of Iraq.
Call your congressional representatives immediately. The Joint Resolution is in both the House and Senate. You can reach any Senate or House office through the congressional switchboard at (202) 244-2990.
Ask them to vote against Joint Resolution 125.
Ask them to sign the letter to President Clinton calling for delinking economic from military sanctions and begin to bring the humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq to an end. To sign on they should call Carl LeVan in Rep. John Conyers’ office at 225-5126
The resolution could come up for a vote as early as Monday, August 2, so immediate action is essential. Due to the urgency of this matter, phone calls are much more effective than email or written letters.