[DEBATE] : IRAQ: Saddam Provided More Food Than the U.S. (was A Wave of Sexual Terrorism In Iraq)
critical.montages at gmail.com
Mon Dec 31 03:05:48 GMT 2007
On Dec 27, 2007 12:46 PM, peter waterman <lsifuentesore at gmail.com> wrote:
> Since when, Yoshie, are 'stern' and 'competent' categories that belong to
> any emancipatory discourse?
This story illustrates the importance of competent authority in
ensuring people's survival.
IRAQ: Saddam Provided More Food Than the U.S.
By Ahmed Ali and Dahr Jamail*
BAQUBA, Dec 27 (IPS) - The Iraqi government announcement that monthly
food rations will be cut by half has left many Iraqis asking how they
The government also wants to reduce the number of people depending on
the rationing system by five million by June 2008.
Iraq's food rations system was introduced by the Saddam Hussein
government in 1991 in response to the UN economic sanctions. Families
were allotted basic foodstuffs monthly because the Iraqi Dinar and the
The sanctions, imposed after Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion of
Kuwait, were described as "genocidal" by Denis Halliday, then UN
humanitarian coordinator in Iraq. Halliday quit his post in protest
against the U.S.-backed sanctions.
The sanctions killed half a million Iraqi children, and as many
adults, according to the UN. They brought malnutrition, disease, and
lack of medicines. Iraqis became nearly completely reliant on food
rations for survival. The programme has continued into the U.S.-led
But now the U.S.-backed Iraqi government has announced it will halve
the essential items in the ration because of "insufficient funds and
The cuts, which are to be introduced in the beginning of 2008, have
drawn widespread criticism. The Iraqi government is unable to supply
the rations with several billion dollars at its disposal, whereas
Saddam Hussein was able to maintain the programme with less than a
"In 2007, we asked for 3.2 billion dollars for rationing basic
foodstuffs," Mohammed Hanoun, Iraq's chief of staff for the ministry
of trade told al-Jazeera. "But since the prices of imported foodstuff
doubled in the past year, we requested 7.2 billion dollars for this
year. That request was denied."
The trade ministry is now preparing to slash the list of subsidised
items by half to five basic food items, "namely flour, sugar, rice,
oil, and infant milk," Hanoun said.
The imminent move will affect nearly 10 million people who depend on
the rationing system. But it has already caused outrage in Baquba, 40
km northeast of Baghdad.
"The monthly food ration was the only help from the government," local
grocer Ibrahim al-Ageely told IPS. "It was of great benefit for the
families. The food ration consisted of two kilos of rice, sugar, soap,
tea, detergent, wheat flour, lentils, chick-peas, and other items for
Another grocer said the food ration was the "life of all Iraqis; every
month, Iraqis wait in queues to receive their food rations."
According to an Oxfam International report released in July this year,
"60 percent (of Iraqis) currently have access to rations through the
government-run Public Distribution System (PDS), down from 96 percent
The report said that "43 percent of Iraqis suffer from absolute
poverty," and that according to some estimates over half the
population are now without work. "Children are hit the hardest by the
decline in living standards. Child malnutrition rates have risen from
19 percent before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to 28 percent now."
While salaries have increased since the invasion of March 2003, they
have not kept pace with the dramatic increase in the prices of food
"My salary is 280 dollars, and I have six children," 49-year-old
secondary school teacher Ali Kadhim told IPS. "The increase in my
salary was neutralised by an increase in the price of food. I cannot
afford to buy the foodstuffs in addition to the other necessary
expenses of life."
"The high increase in food prices led people to condemn the delays in
the ration every month," Salah Kadhim, an employee in the
directorate-general of health for Diyala province told IPS. "The
jobless just cannot afford to buy food."
"The food ration still represents a big part of the domestic budget,"
Muneer Lafta, a 51-year-old employee at the health directorate told
IPS. Without the ration, she said, families have to go to the market.
Because Iraqi families are large, usually six to 12 people, shopping
for food is simply unaffordable.
"I and my wife have five boys and six girls, so the ration costs a lot
when it has to be bought," 55-year-old resident Khalaf Atiya told IPS.
"I cannot afford food and also other expenses like study, clothes,
People in Baquba, living with violence and joblessness for long, are
now preparing for this new twist.
"No security, no food, no electricity, no trade, no services. So life
is good," said one resident, who would not give his name.
Many fear the food ration cuts can spark unrest. "The government will
commit a big mistake, because providing enough food ration could
compensate the government's mistakes in other fields like security," a
local physician told IPS. "The Iraq will now feel that he, or she, is
of no value to the government."
(*Ahmed, our correspondent in Iraq's Diyala province, works in close
collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on
Iraq who has reported extensively from Iraq and the Middle East)
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