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The BBC's Greg Barrow
"The British ambassador... said Russia had raised unjustifiable, negative and national objections to the new sanctions regime"
 real 28k

Monday, 2 July, 2001, 21:24 GMT 22:24 UK
Analysis: Iraq wins sanctions battle
Two women at Baghdad fruit market
UN sanctions have hurt Iraq's people
by Middle East Correspondent Frank Gardner

Once again, Baghdad appears to have won the propaganda war against the West.

The US-British plan to introduce so-called smart sanctions on Iraq has now been put on hold, pending further discussions in the United Nations Security Council.

But in the Middle East, most Arabs would like it to be quietly forgotten.

At first glance, the plan appeared to be answering Arab criticism that 11 years of UN sanctions have hurt only Iraq's people, not its leaders.

Underconsulted

The proposed modified sanctions would have loosened restrictions on trade, allowing more goods to flow into Iraq.

Al Basra oil refinery in Iraq
Smart sanctions would have tightened controls on oil smuggling
At the same time, controls would have been tightened on oil smuggling and on any goods that could be used for military purposes.

Above all, the plan would have put a stop to the estimated $1bn a year of oil revenue that has been passing outside UN control and going straight to Iraq's government.

But both the West and the UN have failed to sell the plan effectively to the Arab world.

As UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan heard on his recent trip to the region, most Arab countries want the sanctions dropped altogether, not modified.

Iraq's Arab neighbours, Jordan and Syria, both felt underconsulted.

Oil dependence

They complained that plans were being hatched in New York that would have drastic and damaging consequences for their own fragile economies.

Jordan depends heavily on Iraq for cheap oil, while Syria is enjoying a growing trade relationship with Baghdad.

Iraq had threatened to cut off oil supplies to its neighbours if they signed up to the plan.

So those neighbouring countries will now be heaving a sigh of relief.

For affairs to have reached this state, it shows how far Iraq has been rehabilitated in the minds of many Arabs, and how out of touch with Arab concerns they feel the West has become.

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See also:

02 Jul 01 | Middle East
Iraq sanctions plan postponed
29 Jun 01 | Middle East
Iraq outburst over UN sanctions
27 Jun 01 | Middle East
UN deadlock over Iraq sanctions
26 Jun 01 | Middle East
Russia resists new Iraq sanctions
23 May 01 | Middle East
UN faces split over Iraq proposals
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