We are very pleased to welcome Denis Halliday to the Dr. Dhafir Support Committee Advisory Board. He joins other members of the Advisory Board

To know more about him, see the interview below:

Death For Oil: An Interview With Denis Halliday, Ex-UN Assistant Secretary-General Heading The UN Humanitarian Mission In Iraq.

by Amira Howeidy Commondreams.org Published 7/19/07

Denis Halliday is probably the most high-profile critic of continuing sanctions against Iraq the world over. He should know. As UN assistant secretary-general heading the international organisation’s humanitarian mission in Iraq he was first hand witness to the havoc the sanctions were wreaking on the country and its people. In 1998 he resigned in disgust. While in Cairo last week, Halliday found time to talk to Amira Howeidy about the 10-year long genocidal war still being launched against Iraq and the medieval tactics used in a dangerous game masterminded by Washington.

On 9 June, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1302, which extends the Oil-for-Food programme for another 180 days. How do you evaluate this resolution and should we expect improvement in the plight of the Iraqi people?

Resolution 1302 is a continuation of the Oil-for-Food programme, which was not designed to resolve the crisis in Iraq. When it was assembled in 1996, it was designed to stop further deterioration. But the fact is that Oil-for-Food has sustained the humanitarian crisis. Mortality rates of children under five years of age still remain at 5,000 per month, plus an additional 2,000-3,000 people per month among adults, other children and teenagers. These people are dying because of bad water, inadequate diets, broken down hospital care and collapsed systems.

We have massive malnutrition in Iraq, despite the Oil-for-Food programme. There is a huge social collapse, families falling apart with children out of school taking to the streets. The electric power is 35 per cent of what it was in 1990. So the Oil-for-Food programme has totally failed to bring about the well being of the Iraqi people. Having said that, it has, however, provided something like 20 million tonnes of basic food. It does make a huge difference in keeping the Iraqi people alive — but only barely alive.

The conditions in Iraq today under the UN economic sanctions and the Oil-for-Food programme constitute famine conditions. The average birth weight of a child in Iraq today is less than five pounds. That is an indicator of famine. The Oil-for-Food programme is something that the UN should be ashamed of. It is a continuation of the genocide that the economic embargo has placed on Iraq.

I say genocide because it is an intentional programme to destroy a culture, a people, a country — economic sanctions are known to do that. [Secretary of State Madeleine] Albright herself acknowledged half a million dead children back in 1996. Yet the member states — the United States and the United Kingdom in particular — have continued the economic embargo despite their knowledge of the death rate of Iraqi children. That is genocide.

Oil-for Food is better than nothing, but it is not the solution. The solution is to rebuild the economy. There is no other way to address the problems of the Iraqi people but to give 100 per cent of the oil revenues back to Iraq and allow Iraq to invest that money in agriculture, health care and education, to rebuild the infrastructure, water systems, sewage systems, electric power and rebuild its capacity to produce oil and so on. That is the only solution to this crisis.

After ten years of disarmament and sanctions, outrageous mortality rates and evidence of famine, why has the UN Security Council failed to agree on lifting the embargo? Do you believe that the continuation of this genocide is deliberate?

I think the UN Security Council today reflects the wishes of the US. The US, supported by the UK, has corrupted the UN. They deliberately sustain this policy. This is not about Kuwait, it is about something much bigger. It is a new form of neo-colonialism [applied by] the US to dominate the Arab world in order to control the supply of oil and destroy and suppress perhaps the strongest country within the Arab world which in 1990 who dared to challenge the West. A country which dared to stand up and plan to create some regional leadership.

The US found that unacceptable. They were afraid of the power that Saddam Hussein represented after the Iraq-Iran war. Although the economy was damaged and he was short of money, he had capacity. When they realised this capacity, and when he foolishly invaded Kuwait — a grave mistake — it was a gift to President George Bush. They prayed for something like that and they got it. They destroyed Iraq and they were very happy to do that. They were very frightened that he would withdraw from Kuwait before [General Norman] Schwarzkopf and Bush were ready to crush the Iraqi people.

But when they did that, they broke the international law and the Geneva convention. They deliberately targeted the civilian infrastructure. And this was the US — under the umbrella of the UN — committing crimes against humanity during the Gulf War.

Go to: full interview.