Gulf War Profiteering – Victors and Victims
An Independent Journal Of International Affairs
Gulf War Profiteering – Victors and Victims
Christiane N. Martens and
Paul V. Rafferty
2002-08-20 - War is by nature confusing and those who “sell war” appear to need a confused public. In a war which seems to have no end, Confusion reigns.
The United States continues to press for war against Iraq and refuses any negotiations which would enable Saddam Hussein to allow a return of United Nations inspectors. The Bush Administration openly declares that it is seeking to overthrow the government of a sovereign nation and acts as if this is normal. Meanwhile, a complacent United Nations continues to weaken Iraq, in collaboration with the United States and Great Britain.
It is as if the United States were the matador, Saddam Hussein the bull and the United Nations the picadors, tormenting the bull until he lowers his head for the kill.
The relations between the United Nations and Iraq are quite often difficult to understand. The U.N. is using Iraqi oil, not only to feed the Iraqi people under the U.N. “oil-for food” program but also to pay reparations for the Gulf War through the U.N. Compensation Commission (UNCC) which was established solely to handle claims against Iraq.
In the interest of accuracy, some of the convolutions within this particular aspect of United Nations reasoning have been preserved in this article.
As of July 23, official statistics show that the UNCC has allowed over $15 Billion ($15,549,384,227) in war claims to be paid from Iraqi oil revenues - out of a possible $300 Billion plus in claims from 100 nations.
As of August 9, the Office of Iraq Programme: Oil for Food, known as OIP, has allowed nearly $56 Billion ($55,846,000) for food and other necessities. This OIP “allowance” also comes from Iraqi oil revenues – all of which are being administered by the United Nations.
Iraq is therefore a de facto economic prisoner of the United Nations. The Sanctions imposed upon Iraq, by the U.N. Security Council, do not allow Iraq to sell any of its oil, except that which the U.N. “oil-for-food” office (OIP) specifies.
The Office of Iraq Programme reports that: “The first oil under the programme was exported on 10 December 1996. For the first three six month phases the Security Council set a ceiling of two billion dollars on oil exports in each phase. For phases IV and V the ceiling was raised to $5.2 billion but the low price of oil and the state of Iraq's oil industry put that out of reach. In phase VI, the Security Council, resolution 1266 (1999), recognized the earlier shortfalls and permitted Iraq to export an additional $3 billion worth of oil. Security Council resolution 1284 (1999) removed the ceiling on Iraqi oil exports.”
The official OIP website adds: “The main focus
of the programme has been to ensure substantial deliveries
of food and health supplies to Iraq. From phase IV onwards,
oil industry spare parts and equipment were also given
priority to maintain and increase Iraq's ability to export
oil with the Security Council authorising Iraq to import
initially up to $300 million and subsequently $600 million
worth of equipment with revenue from each phase.”
As of the end of July, the U.N. Compensation Commission (UNCC) also states that there were “approximately 2.6 million claims seeking compensation in excess of US $300 Billion”. Any and all claims approved by the UNCC will be paid out of funds from the “oil for food” programme. “Food” must have various connotations.
The UNCC explains that:
“Nearly one hundred Governments have submitted claims for
their nationals, corporations and/or themselves. Thirteen
offices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),
the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine
Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), have also submitted
claims for individuals who were not in a position to have
their claims filed by Governments. This staggering volume of
claims, and the accompanying documentation require
approximately 3,500 square metres of storage space in
According to the UNCC, “The overwhelming majority of the 2.6 million claims filed with the Commission have been resolved. However, the claims still to be considered by the panels of commissioners include those claims with the largest asserted values.”
Therefore, approximately $285 Billion worth of claims has yet to be adjudicated and if so determined, taken from Iraq’s income from the so-called “oil-for-food” program.
Meanwhile, the bombing continues (over 112,000 air sorties in 11 years); Iraq continues to be an experimental laboratory for depleted uranium and the people of Iraq are presented as being “beneficiaries” of the largesse of the United Nations which is managing their oil revenues and doling it out to them as a form of “aid”.
Although the United States, Great Britain and the United Nations claim that the sanctions are simply a method of forcing Saddam Hussein into compliance with International Law, the actual victims are the Iraqi civilian population.
This month, Benon V. Sevan, Executive Director of the U.N.’s Office of the Iraq Programme, Oil for Food, expressed “grave concern” over declining oil revenues for “relief aid”. He is also concerned about the differences of opinion as to the proper method for pricing Iraqi oil.
In a letter to the Security Council’s sanctions committee, he stated that during the first two months of the latest phase of the oil-for-food program, Iraq exported 63.2 million barrels of oil, which is "lower than previous recorded levels of monthly exports under the programme…. Even by the most conservative estimates, some $1.5 billion in revenue had been lost owing to a reduction in the level of Iraqi oil exports."
On July 23, however, the United Nations reported that: “ Iraqi crude exports spiked to 9.8 million barrels over the past week – the highest volume over a seven-day period since the start, in late May, of the current phase of the United Nations oil-for-food programme, which allows Baghdad to use a portion of its petroleum revenues to purchase humanitarian relief.
“With the price of Iraqi crude oil averaging approximately €24.30 (euros) or $24.50 per barrel, the week’s exports netted an estimated €238 million or $240 million in revenue, according to the Office of the Iraq Programme (OIP), which runs the oil-for-food scheme.
“Despite the recent rise in exports, an accumulated shortfall has left nearly 1,000 approved humanitarian supply contracts, worth almost $2.1 billion, without funding.”
Basically, the United Nations is controlled by the Security Council which accepts or rejects recommendations made by the General Assembly. This is similar to the British Parliament when only the land owners had any say in governance and the majority of the population had no voice. A bi-cameral legislature had been formed with an upper “House of Lords” making all decisions and a lower “House of Commons” merely expressing their opinions.
Then, as in the United Nations, the “Lower House” could only approve or disapprove the “Budget” – the expenses and taxation of the “Realm”.
Since the U.N. Budget is usually honed down to the bare minimum necessary for the organisation to function, the General Assembly always approves the Budget. Were the General Assembly to exercise its only power – rejection of the Budget – the entire organisation would collapse and all the projects of the U.N. would cease. Since we now live in a world which is dominated by international agreements, the result would be global chaos. The General Assembly is not suicidal, so the Security Council maintains control of the U.N. - even though all U.N. Member-States are considered "equal" in the General Assembly.
The Security Council is comprised of the five Permanent Members (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) plus 10 Member-States elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly. Only the Five Permanent Members have the Right of Veto over any decision not to their liking.
The Security Council controls the U.N. and while the United States may not officially control the Security Council, U.S. influence is immense. The U.S. has been able to do this for several reasons.
First is the fact that the U.N. was founded by the winners of the Second World War: primarily China, France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States. All but the United States were severely damaged internally by the war and China was further struck by the Civil War between Communist and Nationalist forces – with the United States siding with the Nationalists.
Although the Nationalists held China’s Security Council seat, when the United States switched sides, Communist China replaced the Nationalists in 1979.
Historically, China has also been an inward looking country, prefering to focus primarily on its own regional empire than to seek foreign adventures.
France and Great Britain, though on the winning side, suffered greatly from the Second World War, lost their colonies and were largely dependent upon U.S. loans for recovery.
The Soviet Union, in its Cold War conflict with the United States exhausted its own resources in an arms race which it was unable to sustain, collapsed internally and Russia is now largely dependent upon the United States and other Western nations for assistance in its recovery.
This has left the United States alone as a “Super-Power” among the Five Permanent Members of the Security Council having Veto Power over all U.N. decisions. By also controlling the U.N. “purse-strings” the U.S. reasserts its authority.
On April 3, 1991, five weeks after the official suspension of the Gulf War, the Security Council voted Resolution 687, establishing Iraq’s “legal responsibility” for losses incurred as a result of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the Gulf War. The United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC) was then established as a subsidiary body of the Security Council and a special fund was created to take a percentage of Iraqi oil to pay successful claimants. Such claims would be heard by the UNCC.
In a report to the Security Council,
Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated:
"the Commission is not a court or an arbitral tribunal before which the parties appear; it is a political organ that performs an essentially fact-finding function of examining claims, verifying their validity, evaluating losses, assessing payments and resolving disputed claims; it is only in this last respect that a quasi-judicial function may be involved."
On August 15, 1991, Security Council Resolution 706 authorised Member-States to import Iraqi oil for six months, up to $1.6 Billion, in order to finance the UNCC and other related U.N. operations.
Although Iraq “agreed”, this was not possible because of damage to Iraq’s oil industry, during the Gulf War and voluntary contributions from Member-States, plus the U.N.’s Working Capital Fund covered the costs of establishing the UNCC. Then, in 1992, Security Council Resolution 778 allowed these funds to be reimbursed by Iraqi funds that had been frozen by various governments.
Finally, in December 1996, the “oil-for-food” program was launched and the U.N. Compensation Commission could operate fully, utilising a percentage of the “oil-for-food” program. Obviously the term “food” has various connotations to some U.N. Member-States.
The Governing Council of the U.N.C.C. “establishes the criteria for the compensability of claims, the rules and procedures for processing the claims, the guidelines for the administration and financing of the Compensation Fund and the procedures for the payment of compensation. It reports regularly to the Security Council on the Commission’s work.”
“In December 1997, the secretariat presented to the Committee, for the first time, a biennium budget, thus bringing the Commission into line with standard United Nations practice. The Council approved the budget and allocated US$82.3 million for the Commission's operations for 1998-1999.”
(The “U.N. OBSERVER” does not yet have the next two Budgets but we felt that due to the mounting calls for war, it is best to consider the available information and allow our readers to check the known facts, themselves.)
The Governing Council is actually the Security Council, under a different name but with no one holding Veto Power. Decisions have usually been by consensus, although there are provisions for a nine member approval being necessary, as in the Security Council.
Meetings are closed to the public but U.N. Member-States which are not on the Security Council may ask for permission to appear. Iraq and Kuwait have often done this.
There are 56 Commissioners, working on 18 panels, including three panels which have now concluded their work. The UNCC states that: “Commissioners are chosen for their integrity, experience and expertise in such areas as law, accounting, loss adjustment, assessment of environmental damage, and engineering.”
There is also a secretariat to perform the necessary administrative tasks and the UNCC notes that: “The majority of the members of the secretariat are lawyers, accountants, loss adjusters and information technology specialists.
“In addition to the Office of the Executive
Secretary, the secretariat comprises:
(1) the Claims Processing Division, which includes the Legal Services Branch, made up of various claims sections and units, the Verification and Valuation Support Branch and the Registry;
(2) the Support Services Division, which includes the Claims Payment and Compensation Fund Administration, the Executive Office, dealing with general administration, and the Information Systems Section providing computerized systems to support claims processing and payment; and
(3) the Governing Council Secretariat.”
The United Nations Compensation Commission has subdivided claims into six categories: four for individuals; one for corporations and one for international organisations, “which also includes claims for environmental damage.”
By allowing Iraq only enough income to satisfy the desires of the United Nations Security Council and by continuing 11 years of bombing raids, utilising depleted uranium, the United States is preparing its victim for the ultimate “sword thrust” or “Moment of Truth”, as in the bull ring – all under the gaze of a spell-bound crowd - and this is all presented as “relief aid”.
The punishment of Iraq by U.S. led U.N. Sanctions has led to the impoverishment of the Iraqi people and caused untold suffering and hunger, as well as birth malformations and increased cancers due to depleted uranium contamination of Iraqi soil and water.
Meanwhile, by controlling the flow of Iraqi oil, the overall price of oil is also regulated.
- Christiane N. Martens and Paul V. Rafferty
(Please see some of the following links for additional information on Iraqi civilian casualties.)
For additional information, please visit the following websites:
United Nations Compensation Commission: http://www.unog.ch/uncc/start.htm
United Nations Office of the Iraq Programme Oil for Food: http://www.un.org/Depts/oip
The Center for an Informed America: http://davesweb.cnchost.com/nwsltr13.html
Please also visit:
Iraq News Agency
Gulf War.com: http://www.gulfwar.com
“American Servicemen Used As Guinea Pigs - Tests Revealed: DOD Releases Project SHAD Fact Sheets”: http://www.rense.com/general26/gjh.htm
Baby Milk Store at Reported Weapons Site
by Huda Majeed Saleh
Security Council won't take up Iraq's response on weapons
By GERALD NADLER, Associated Press Writer
American public left in dark on US war aims in Iraq By Patrick Martin: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2002/aug2002/iraq-a06.shtml
Brainwashing America, by Norman D. Livergood: http://www.hermes-press.com/brainwash1.htm
Pushes the Envelope With Forces Proposal
American Way of War, by Michael Kelly:
Americans Against Bombing/Americans Against World Empire: http://www.iraqwar.org
Iraq Affinity Group: http://www.rdrop.com/~pjw/Iraq.html
Iraq Action Coalition: http://iraqaction.org
For more information on
bombings of Iraq:
International Action Center
(Founded by Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General): http://www.iacenter.org
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR): http://www.fair.org