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Thursday, 10 August, 2000, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
Iraq: Does it still pose a threat?

Ten years after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, calls are growing for a change of policy by the West towards Iraq.

Many in the region believe Iraq is no longer a major threat to stability, arguing that the country has effectively disarmed by years of UN weapons inspections.

Do you agree? Or should sanctions only be lifted once Saddam Hussein goes?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

The question is - are the sanctions working?

Alex Steer, UK
Whether or not Saddam Hussein is still a threat is hardly the issue. The question is - are the sanctions working? Are they toppling his support? Well, if I were an average Iraqi, and the West were imposing sanctions which were harming me (that's me, not Saddam Hussein), I know my vote would go to the most anti-Western candidate going.
Alex Steer, UK

What is the point of bombing civilians? The allies claim that they are targeting military installations. Radar sites etc. But they kill civilians by the hundreds. They provoke reactions by flying through the Iraqi air space. They say it is needed to check whether the Iraqi Air Force is sticking to the agreements. That can easily be done by RADAR.
Holger Rasper, Germany/UK/Ireland

If Saddam ever gave into UN (US) demands to end the sanctions or even apologies he would loosen his grip of control which would put himself and his top officers at risk from the international community. This is not going to happen - Mr Clinton/Mr Blair - so please lift the sanctions and help the real victims - the poor - while you figure out a different way of taking control of the oil.
Chris Millward, Canada

What is the goal of the sanctions?

Ben, USA
What is the goal of the sanctions? Is the world community trying to starve out Saddam? Or are we trying to encourage political insurrection by inflicting further punishment on the silent underclass of Iraq's population? Perhaps both. However, neither are effective in their goal of toppling Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. Iraq's elite, the population that keeps Saddam in power, remains relatively unharmed by the sanctions. The prosperity of selected wealthy enclaves of Iraq's powerful upper class shows that they will continue to prosper as the sanctions create more market commodities that only the privileged have access to. The poor and under-represented majority will continue to suffer because of the sanctions.
Ben, USA

There are no victors in war only victims.
Robert Sydee, UK

Saddam Hussein is exactly as dangerous as we let him be. If we remove the sanctions and the no-fly zones and pull out, Iraqi troops will be in Kuwait City within two weeks and in Riyadh within a month. If Hussein has learned anything, it is that he can outwait the UN. The Iraqi people's suffering won't bother him as long as the Republican Guard is there to protect him.
James Castro, USA

Saddam has no restrictions so he does whatever he likes

Egger, Switzerland
Many have noticed that Kuwaitis are still shocked and fear Iraq. Both ignoring and a sanctioning a war have had little effect on Saddam Hussein. He is still able to have weapons of any kind and even if we could get rid of him, there would be someone else who would continue his work. One should destroy the bulk of the government, but nobody knows how without any further innocent victims. Saddam has no restrictions so he does whatever he likes.
Egger, Switzerland

I think that the only problem with Iraq is Saddam Hussein and that economical sanctions are not the appropriate solution. Evidence for this is the fact that Saddam is still a threat to the world even ten years after the invasion. Economical sanctions are only causing the death of innocent people and the resistance of those who believe in Saddam. I have no suggestions to give but I hope somebody will find a way out.
Claudia, Italy

Like Vietnam and Cuba, sanctions are America's way of doing something and nothing at the same time. Whilst sanctions never achieve their stated aim, they do allow US governments to say, "hey, we're doing something about it", whilst not having to risk US personnel and very large sums of money in very risky operations. Sanctions are a relatively cheap face-saving method of ignoring a problem long enough for another, future administration to deal with it.
Graeme, England

The threat from Saddam is just as alive as it was the day his army walked into Kuwait

Aqshar Khaliq , England
The threat from Saddam is just as alive as it was the day his army walked into Kuwait. Why stop with Saddam, what about China, India and Russia. The list could go on and on. In my opinion the biggest threat is the west itself, after all it created the likes of Saddam. Who knows what they can do next!
Aqshar Khaliq , England

The course of action that has to happen in Iraq is clear to me: we in the West have a moral duty to depose the whole Hussein regime and only then lift the sanctions on the innocent people of Iraq. However, while economic sanctions should be lifted, military sanctions should remain.
Peter Bolton, UK in US

When Western Allies could not beat Saddam Hussein, they reverted to sanctions, thus making the whole nation suffer, with the help of United Nations, which is completely owned by United States of America. What have the innocent children of Iraq have done to the Western world to deserve hardships and final death? What is the TASK of United Nations? Is it to kill innocent children or help them! Can we see our own children suffer and die? Has 10 years of sanctions help get rid of the threat!
Nooraly Jaffer, Canada

It's one big game of Chess

Mike, UK
Saddam serves the Wests needs. The US/UK have no interest of taking up their old hobbies of dispatching the leaderships of foreign countries - when it comes to Saddam and Iraq. Why? Well to the East of Iraq there is Iran -as long as Saddam survives in power there is no power vacuum in the region which to the west means Iran can't do a thing. It's one big game of Chess.
Mike, UK

Saddam is a survivor. He has in many ways modelled himself on Stalin. Sanctions will not hurt him - the only way to help the people of Iraq is to launch an operation with the sole aim of removing him from power. It may not be politically correct, but harsher measures than imposing sanctions are certainly called for.
Shyam, USA

I am pleasantly surprised that so many people have not been taken in by the specious arguments for lifting sanctions. There are no sanctions on food or medicine. The shortages are manufactured by Saddam to maintain his grip on power. He will continue to threaten the region while he rules Iraq. The main duty for the major powers is to ease the plight of the Iraqi people as much as they can, which is what the "oil-for-food" deals are designed to do. But even there Saddam controls distribution in his own country, and chooses who he favours with supplies.
Andrew, UK

All the people who are saying we should have got rid of Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War are forgetting that we didn't have a mandate to do it. To have done so would have broken international law and opened a whole can of worms. They should have got that mandate but that's another story...
Chris Chow, UK

I have just returned from a short visit to Kuwait and Saddam's threat is as alive as it was more than 10 years ago

Han de Min, UK (formerly Netherlands)
I have just returned from a short visit to Kuwait and Saddam's threat is as alive as it was more than 10 years ago. Where in the world would it be possible to have to beg a country to return its Prisoners Of War? The POWs is a major issue in Kuwait and hardly any progress has been made in 10 years. It is harsh for the Iraqi population as sanctions hit them hard whilst Saddam continues to live in wealth. He does not care that their children die every day, and some bombings (last week again) in the no fly zone will not impress him. He remains a massive threat to the region and all must remain vigilant to hit this true villain, and get rid of him forever. That was the real objective of the Gulf War which we failed to achieve.
Han de Min, UK (formerly Netherlands)

Let us for once think about the people of Iraq who are dying due to the sanctions imposed upon their leader. I am sure there are other methods than the present to punish Saddam and not his people. If we are unable to do this, than we have a serious problem in our democratic society.
A. Jaffar, UK

Iraq is the first victim of the US global hegemony which George Bush arrogantly proclaimed as "The New World Order." The devastation the US has wrought upon Iraq in the war and the subsequent sanctions proves to all that, as Bush said, "What we say goes."
S. Block, USA

Let's make some things perfectly clear: Iraq was the aggressor; they have not renounced or apologised for that aggression; they have not satisfied the UN that they have disarmed themselves as required; and it is the stubbornness of the Iraqi leadership that is causing all the hardship in that country. The suffering in Iraq today should be taken as a salutary lesson by all the world's tin-pot dictators that aggressive behaviour will not be tolerated and the price for non-compliance is very high indeed.
Mark M. Newdick, USA/ UK

According to a Time magazine article I read, sanctions have not hurt Saddam in the least. In fact he's stronger than ever and building many palaces and such to his own glory. Sanctions have only hurt the people of Iraq. What's really scary is the fact that Saddam will eventual die, leaving everything to one of his two sons who are both vying for power. Then what?
Frank Cobain, South Africa

It is not the country of Iraq that is the problem, it is Saddam Hussein

Neil, UK
It is not the country of Iraq that is the problem, it is Saddam Hussein. We all saw how he reacted after his failed invasion of Kuwait by taking out his anger on his own people, yet the world stood by and did nothing. Any talk of him not being a threat is unfounded. This man will always be a threat.
Neil, UK

As long as Saddam refuses to co-operate with the UN weapons inspectors, he should be considered a threat. If he had nothing to hide, he should have no problem allowing them to do their job. I do think the people of Iraq have suffered enough at the hands of Saddam and that the West should increase food and medical assistance. The West are the leaders of the free world and must set an example if we want to see democracy in this troubled part of the world.
Sheila, USA

We don't seem to be learning from history. After the First World War, Germany was made to pay reparations. This damaged the economy and ultimately led to the rise in National Socialism. Sanctions against Iraq could well do the same thing, and certainly aren't changing the way the regime thinks but are harming ordinary Iraqi people. We certainly need to keep our guard up, but I think continued sanctions could end up being counter-productive.
Mark, UK/ Netherlands

Why give up chasing Saddam and Iraq? What will America and the UK then use for target practice as well as training and testing their military?
Norman, UK

Why didn't the UK and US kill Saddam when they had the chance? Iraq needs democracy.
Paul Nicholas Grubb, UK

Yes, Iraq still poses a threat to the Middle East and especially to the people of Kuwait. It is terrible what some of the Iraqi people have to endure at the moment. It is not the UN sanctions that are hurting them, it is Saddam Hussein. If Saddam had let UN weapons inspectors do their job, the sanctions would have ended long ago. There are still 605 people missing from Kuwait. These were parents, grandparents and children. Every single day, Kuwaiti people have to live with the uncertainty that they don't know if their loved ones are dead or alive. Until Iraq allows a full investigation of its weapons facilities there is NO WAY that the UN sanctions should be lifted.
Anne-Marie, UK

The only real threat to stability in the region will be the continuation of economic sanctions against Iraq

Chris, UK
The only real threat to stability in the region will be the continuation of economic sanctions against Iraq. I feel that Iraq's hand may be forced into some token gesture of military defiance, if only to appease the understandably disgruntled population.
Chris, UK

The US sees Iraq as a threat to its oil supplies and wishes to put the Iraqi people back in the Stone Age. The US really created the situation as an excuse to bomb Iraq in the hope that the knowledge that they themselves had given the country during the Iran/ Iraq war would be forgotten. Knowledge once given cannot be taken back. The same can be said about the sanctions against Afghanistan.
Amir M. Habib, UK

Why are we punishing innocent people for being ruled by a dictator? Saddam and his family live in a string of luxury palaces (none of which were bombed by the Allied forces). We refused to remove Saddam for some pathetic reason but the West is strong when it comes to killing women, children and the ill. It loses its backbone when it has to confront an evil dictator.
Arshad Sharif, UK

As Saddam Hussein has shown himself time and time again to be devious and mistrusted by other nations, the only way the world can exert some control is by sanctions. Unfortunately, the current Iraqi leadership does recognise the needs of its people but chooses to channel revenue from domestic sources, e.g. crops, to that black hole called the Iraqi Weapons Programme, at the same time blaming the major westernised countries for its hardship.
Hazel, UK

Iraq no longer poses a threat. The Iraqi people have paid the price for the actions of their leaders and the international community, especially the USA, has used the Iraqi card to set up a base in the Middle East to follow their selfish national interests rather than think about the humanitarian side of the crisis. The sanctions have been there too long and have accomplished little. Where have the "Enforcers of Human Rights" gone or is it that the Iraqi people have no human rights?
Ribu Jacob, India

The threat is Saddam Hussein, not Iraq. 10 years of sanctions and bombing have served only to hurt the Iraqi people, who appear to be unable to topple him. Saddam himself hasn't suffered. And even if he was toppled, who seriously believes that a truly democratic regime would replace him?.
Phil, UK

Saddam Hussein was responsible for the threat to Kuwait, as his actions proved. He is still in Iraq, and has not changed his tune. Therefore the threat still exists, and "the West's" policy towards Iraq should remain unchanged.
Allan M, UK

Those who campaign for sanctions to be lifted are seriously underestimating Saddam Hussein

Paul R, UK
Those who campaign for sanctions to be lifted are seriously underestimating Saddam Hussein. He is, without doubt, a master tactician. I very much doubt that the UN has found even half of the chemical and biological weapons that Iraq has created. Saddam will bide his time and strike again when the world least expects it. Believing that Iraq is no longer a threat is a grave mistake.
Paul R, UK

The Iraqi people have suffered long enough due to the aggressive nature of their leader. Sanctions only hurt the people. Saddam remains firmly in power, surrounded in luxury, whilst his people go without necessities. We need a new plan, one that directly attacks Saddam. Saddam is still a threat, given half a chance he would do it all again. We do need to keep an eye on Saddam, but not at the cost of the Iraqi people.
Eric H, UK/USA

Sanctions against Iraq are illegal. To deliberately starve children and deny a country the right to import medicines is contrary to every law on Human Rights. Perhaps the question may have been better put; do Western leaders who create and support dictators for their own political ends fulfil the democratic obligations that we the electors place on them? Or is the real threat nearer to home.
Ed, Brit in Italy

Is Saddam any less dangerous as he was 10 years ago?

James, UK
Is Saddam any less dangerous as he was 10 years ago? I doubt it very much. The Kuwaitis still feel threatened by Iraq and justifiably so, their country was systematically raped during the conflict. They are right to remain cautious of Saddam Hussein.
James, UK

Even if we have destroyed all his dumps of biological and chemical agents (and I refuse to believe we have), does anyone really believe that when we leave him alone he won't go straight back to production? The danger isn't so much the country as its leader.
John B, UK

The sanctions should be lifted. About a million Iraqi children have died due to the sanctions. I hardly think Saddam has been affected one bit. He won't go either. The Americans admit that they created him and supplied him with weapons and money in the first gulf war against the Iranian 'Islamic' threat. It is in America's interest to keep a bad guy in power to justify their claim that they can police and dominate whomever they want.
James Richardson, UK

Considering we trade with Israel (in which scary extremists have exceptional influence, and UN resolutions are typically ignored) by what right do we single out Iraq?
Lee, England

I would guess that Iraq poses a threat because as long as its dictatorship stays in place and it has those oil resources to sell it can re-arm very quickly. And even a poor dictatorship can concentrate its efforts into one off acts of international terrorism. Lifting the sanctions in order to relieve the poverty of the Iraqi people would have no such affect; it would simply fill the war coffers with tax revenues.
Dan Peters, UK

Saddam is as much a threat now as he was in 1990 and before

James Jeffrey, USA
Saddam is as much a threat now as he was in 1990 and before. He has repeatedly shown disregard to International conventions, used weapons of mass destruction on his own people and instituted a regime of hate and terror. He continues to develop chemical, nuclear and biological weapons and build lavish palaces for his own use. All this while shouting that his people are dying of hunger and lack of medicines, which are not subject to the UN embargo.
James Jeffrey, USA, but English

Iraq is not the same threat to the Middle East as it was a decade ago. The need for food and aid to the Iraqi people is evident. And, there is no reason why 'sanctions' should not be lifted as the people are not truly responsible for government policy. It seems safe to say, that eventually, Iraq, will be interacting with other western nations. And, as long as it does not a source of conflict - that, the re-establishment of relations would be good for all concerned.
Dave Adams, USA

If Iraq has effectively disarmed sanctions must be lifted. That is what the UN resolutions call for. Sanctions cannot be applied to a country just because the 'coalition' countries are frustrated in their attempts to eradicate Saddam Hussein. Iraq was severely damaged during the Gulf war, I don't believe Saddam could survive another one. The only area for concern is in the area of terrorism, which will not be prevented by applying sanctions.
Neil Hastings, USA

The current situation benefits nobody (except American movie-maker

Michael, Ireland
Iraq is unfinished business. If the Allies pushed on during the gulf war and removed Saddam, or supported the uprising, then a lot of suffering of the people of Iraq could have been avoided. International action in the form of "sanctions", has effectively achieved little at great cost of resources and Iraqi lives. If war must be used (always as a last resort) then it must be as quickly and effectively carried out until the objections are met, and so as not to prolong the suffering and conflict. The current situation benefits nobody (except American movie-makers).
Michael, Ireland

Does Iraq pose a threat to the region? I can't think of ANY country in the Middle East - ranging from Greece and Turkey in the west to Kashmir in the east that doesn't represent a threat to world peace!
Bob, UK

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