Iraq deals with sanctions
schaffer at optonline.net
Mon Feb 3 07:27:29 MST 2003
interesting from point of view of food distribution system and also
portrait of iraq as modern secular state.
Stockpiling Popularity With Food
Rations Quell Iraqi Discontent
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, February 3, 2003; Page A01
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 2 -- Once a month, Esther Yawo strolls to a
neighborhood market to pick up groceries for her family of five. She
usually returns with 180 pounds of flour, rice, sugar, cooking oil,
white beans, chickpeas and tea, plus 16 bars of soap.
Total price: 60 cents.
In a colossal exercise in public welfare and social control, President
Saddam Hussein's government distributes the same monthly provisions at
the same low price across Iraq, a country of 26 million people. The
handouts have kept food on the table for the Yawos and most other
Iraqi families, who can no longer afford to purchase wheat, rice and
other staples at market prices because of debilitating U.N. economic
sanctions imposed after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
The ration program is regarded by the United Nations as the largest
and most efficient food-distribution system of its kind in the
world. It has also become what is perhaps Hussein's most strategic
tool to maintain popular support over the last decade.
The United States and other Western nations had hoped the sanctions,
which devastated Iraq's once-prosperous economy, would lead Iraqis to
rebel against their leader or, at the least, compel him to fully
cooperate with U.N. inspectors hunting for weapons of mass
destruction. But Hussein has held firm in large part by using food to
stem discontent with the pain of sanctions, employing a massive
network of trucks, computers, warehouses and neighborhood distributors
to provide basic sustenance for every Iraqi.
In some ways, the food program reflects the philosophy of Hussein's
Baath Party government, which promotes modern, technocratic Arab
nationalism and had invested heavily in education and infrastructure
before the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
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