ADC Welcomes Secretary Powell’s Proposal to Ease Sanctions on the Iraqi People
Washington D.C. — The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the nation’s largest Arab-American membership organization, today welcomed proposals by Secretary of State Colin Powell to ease economic sanctions against the people of Iraq. Secretary Powell, who is wrapping up a tour of Middle East states, told reporters that he favors unspecified measures to ease sanctions in order to provide relief to the Iraqi people who have faced over ten years of unprecedented siege. He said that this was encouraged by all Arab leaders with whom he had spoken.
ADC President Hala Maksoud said “we strongly support all measures to ease the sanctions and relieve the extreme and unjustifiable suffering of the Iraqi people. The sanctions should have been eliminated long ago, and any steps in that direction are morally and politically overdue. It is high time that our country develop a constructive and rational approach towards Iraq. These proposals are a welcome step in the right direction.”
ADC and others in the community of conscience that opposes the sanctions have been saying for years that the United States has caused significant damage to its reputation and diplomatic efforts in the region by insisting on measures that needlessly cost tens of thousands of innocent lives in Iraq. The international and regional reaction to the recent increased bombing attacks on Iraq show that heavy-handed and unjustified military actions are also highly counterproductive.
According to the United Nations, sanctions on Iraq have resulted in the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, many of them children, in the past ten years. Sanctions are opposed by a broad coalition of groups across the political spectrum and around the world, including major religious leaders, former President Carter, and former UN humanitarian and weapons inspection officials. At a recent meeting with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, representatives of ADC and the Secretary-General agreed that, after ten years of sanctions and bombing, a major international effort to rebuild Iraq‘s economy, civilian infrastructure, sewage and water treatment systems, and medical and public health capacities was urgently required.