Global Policy Forum

UN Spends More on Sniffer Dogs Than People, Says Iraq

June 29, 2001

Accusing the United Nations of corruption, a senior Iraqi official yesterday said the world body spent more on sniffer dogs in heat than feeding ordinary Iraqis suffering under decade-old sanctions.

In a more than two hour address to the UN Security Council, Riyadh Al Qaysi, an undersecretary in Baghdad's foreign ministry, demanded an audit for UN officials, alleging they were skimming off and wasting funds in managing the oil-for-food humanitarian programme for Iraq.

He said the program had spent more money on per sniffer dog sent to uncover mines in the north than Baghdad was able to spend on food per person. The 28 dogs, he said, needed trainers, two guides, a vet and "bitches so they can allay their sexual desire" after "suffering from inertia."

The oil-for-food programme allows Baghdad to sell oil, an exception to the sanctions imposed when Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990. The oil revenues are used to purchase food, medicine and a host of other supplies for ordinary Iraqis.

But the council vets the goods and the United Nations pays suppliers oil sale monies deposited in escrow accounts, which can hold as much as $12 billion a year. Al Qaysi said some suppliers were not paid for 30 days while oil revenues moved from one account to another.

"So many Garfields and they are getting fatter," he said. referring to the chubby lasanga-eating cartoon cat. In response, U.S. representative James Cunningham said Al Qaysi's speech was full of blustering, denial, attacks on the Security Council and attacks on the U.N. secretariat."

"Rather astonishing, I thought... from a country and a regime that tried to annihilate a member of the United Nations and extinguish its existences, stole its historical records and looted the country," Cunningham told reporters.

Al Qaysi came to New York to argue against a U.S.-British plan to revamp sanctions under the oil-for-food programme. The two countries want to ease restrictions on civilian goods and attempt to curtail smuggling routes.

Russia, one of five permanent council members with veto power, has rejected the plan and wants to speed up steps towards suspending the sanctions, arguing the new resolution only tightens the embargoes. Council members must renew the oil-for-food programme by Tuesday. If Russia maintains its objections, the council is expected to extend current program but it is not known for how long. Iraq suspended oil sales on June 4 to protest a British-drafted resolution on the overhaul of sanctions.

"The so-called 'smart sanctions' are but a new facet of neo-colonialism. We refuse," Al Qaysi told the council during the second day of a debate on Iraq called by Russia. During the meeting, Canada's UN Ambassador Paul Heinbecker encouraged council members to support the new resolution. Australian Ambassador Penny Wensley said it would "make a difference to the lives of ordinary Iraqi citizens."

But the council is at loggerheads over both interim and long-range plans. British Prime Minister Tony Blair called Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday on the sanctions dispute but apparently made no headway.

U.S. Secretary Colin Powell called his French and Chinese counterparts in an effort to ease their objections to the resolution, the State Department reported yesterday. Tracing the history of sanctions year by year, Al Qaysi said UN arms inspectors, checking on Iraq's weapons of destruction programs, were not allowed back into the country because they distorted what they found.

He contended that in the autumn of 1998 the inspectors had investigated 427 sites and experienced "incidents" at five of them. But former chief UN inspector Richard Butler still reported Iraq had not cooperated, thereby unleashing five days of bombing by the United States and Britain in December 1998.

Return of the inspectors is a key condition for the council moving towards the suspension of sanctions.

More Information on the Oil for Food Program
More Information on Sanctions Against Iraq
More Information on the Iraq Crisis


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