A former GW professor of history and political science cautioned a GW audience Monday that the United Nation’s sanctions on Iraq are harming the Iraqi people and not Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Edmund Ghareeb, now a professor at American University, said the U.N. sanctions prohibiting the importation of food and medical supplies to Iraq after the Gulf War are ineffective in combating Hussein’s stronghold.
“The sanctions amount to a moral, as well as a political, failure,” he said in the speech sponsored by the Arab Student Association.
Ghareeb said the United Nations intended to use sanctions to pressure Hussein to cooperate with U.N. demands, but sanctions have had the opposite effect, forcing Iraqi citizens to become more dependent on Hussein than before.
Ghareeb cited statistics from the U.N. Children’s Fund, which showed that Iraq is incapable of importing enough food as a result of the sanctions. More than 4,000 Iraqi children die every month of malnutrition or starvation, according to the fund.
Ghareeb also said as many as 1 million people have died since the sanctions went into effect. He said basic needs such as water purification chemicals, food and medical supplies are being denied to the Iraqi people.
He said the sanctions are no longer needed because Iraq is not a threatening force. He said other Arab nations and many nations that fought alongside the United States in the Persian Gulf War do not believe Iraq poses a threat to security.
“Most Arabs view Iraq as a country on its knees,” he said.
Ghareeb said the sanctions could cause severe problems for the stability of Middle Eastern countries. He said the overall autonomy of countries in the region is threatened when Iraq’s autonomy is threatened.
He said these sanctions create a sense of disparity among the people and will eventually lead to other problems, such as internal ethnic conflict.
“The sanctions will make what happened in the former Yugoslavia look like a picnic,” Ghareeb said.