Centre for Research on Globalisation
Centre de recherche sur la mondialisation


UN Secretary General Kofi Annan instructed by Bush Administration to suspend humanitarian assistance to Iraq

Iraqi Trade Minister's Press Conference

US/UK Coalition Blocks Food and Medicine Supplies to Iraq 

Source: Al-Jazeera TV, Doha, in Arabic 0825 gmt 25 March 2003.
www.globalresearch.ca 26  March 2003

The URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/ITM303A.html


Iraqi Trade Minister Muhammad Mahdi Salih has called for the UN to immediately permit the entry of food and medicine into Iraq which had been obstructed, he said, by the British and US leaders. He said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was violating UN resolutions through this obstruction. Speaking at a news conference in Baghdad, Salih also urged Jordan to continue the flow of goods to Iraq. The following is an excerpt from a report broadcast live by Qatari Al-Jazeera satellite TV on 25 March; Salih spoke in both Arabic and English with simultaneous Arabic translation, translated from Arabic, subheadings inserted editorially:


 Those who want me to speak in English please raise your hands and those who want me to speak in Arabic please your hands. Alright, I will speak in both Arabic and English.

The issue is related to the measures taken by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan contrary to UN Security Council Resolution 986, which is related to the Memorandum of Understanding MOU and regarding the Iraqi oil exports to secure the Iraqi people's basic needs, as well as regarding his decision on withdrawing the UN monitors and the Swiss Kotikna Company. This has obstructed the arrival of foodstuffs in Iraq contrary to UN Security Council Resolution 986. These measures were pursuant to instructions from US President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The situation is that Iraq does not need humanitarian assistance. Iraq is a rich country. Its people are great. They are led by a great leader who is fighting colonialism represented by the United States and the new Britain. They are being instigated and supported by Zionism.

Iraq will emerge victorious against this savage, barbaric invasion. However, I say that Iraq now has 21bn dollars in its account. Contracts had been signed to purchase food and medicine. The funds that had been allocated to the suppliers and for food and medicine, the basic requirements for water and sewage, and other items included in the MOU, which are ready for shipping, total 13.924bn dollars. This includes 8.317bn dollars for food and medicine contracts, which are ready for shipping. Some of them arrived on the border but their entry into Iraq was obstructed. There are also 7.287bn dollars for food and medicine contracts, which are still suspended by the United Nations.

What is required from the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan - this is if the United Nations cares for security and peace, rejects punishment against peoples, and refuses to succumb to the US and British evil will - the UN secretary-general should, in compliance with Resolution 986, immediately allow the entry of food and medicine into Iraq based on the huge contracts Iraq has signed. These materials suffice the Iraqi people for two years.

However, the administration of evil, represented by Bush and Blair, is pursuing the Iraqi people, not only by bombs that are being dropped on our people every day and by invading our chaste land, in which they will be buried, but they are also preventing food and medicine from reaching the Iraqi people. Therefore, we are exposing this criminal position of the US president and the British prime minister, who have been issuing instructions to the UN secretary-general. The secretary-general has contravened Resolution 986, which stipulates the export of commodities to Iraq. Iraq has exported 64bn dollars worth of oil commodities, but Iraq has thus far received 21bn dollars worth of commodities, which were distributed to the Iraqi people over the past years.

We currently have contracts and materials in ships, and near the border areas, some of which are in Jordan. They were returned to Al-Ruwayshid and unloaded there. I hope that our brothers in Jordan will always behave as responsible as they were in 1991, and not cave in to the evil US will, by allowing food flow into Iraq in accordance with the contracts Iraq had signed from its own resources.

"We do not need humanitarian aid"

We say that, as a country, we do not need humanitarian aid. We have the resources that can secure the Iraqi people's needs just like they have been secured over the past six years. However, what is required is to condemn these measures by the UN secretary-general, the US president and the British prime minister of preventing the arrival of food, medicine and other supplies for which Iraq signed contracts in accordance with Resolution 986 on the MOU, whose total value is 21bn dollars.

I will provide you with the details of the signed contracts for each of the humanitarian sectors, which are included in the oil-for-food programme and which Iraq paid from its own money, and which was obstructed by the United States and Britain within the framework of this military campaign and aggression. Nevertheless, I emphasize that we were ready, as a country, for this situation.

Provision for citizens during war

We knew that the obstruction of the arrival of food and medicine in Iraq would coincide with the military aggression. So, pursuant to the instructions of leader President Saddam Husayn, may God watch over him, all preparations were made to secure the Iraqi people's needs under combat circumstances. We have actually secured the citizens' needs of food for some six months, which are enough for fighting regardless of the circumstances in any of the cities, beginning with Umm Qasr, Al-Faw and Safwan. We delivered enough food to all cities to suffice their citizens for six months.

Despite bombs and missiles, vehicles flow from Baghdad into all governorates to transport food and medicine to citizens in Basra, Al-Nasiriyah, Al-Muthanna and Al-Najaf. We assure them that we have enough food and medicine to fight the enemies. However, the United States and Britain must not punish this great people through their barbaric policy on another issue, which is related to contracts Iraq had signed to purchase food and medicine from Iraq's money. We denounce this immoral and inhuman action by the US president's administration and by him personally, and by the British prime minister who ordered the UN secretary-general to obstruct the oil-for-food programme... passage omitted, Salih repeating the above briefing in English

Salih, in English

Yesterday we sent many trucks to Basra and Al-Nasiriyah to provide additional supplies of food to the Iraqi people so that they will be able to bear the suffering and to defend their country.

This aggressive and criminal measure by President Bush and Blair against the Iraqi people can always be seen as an imperialist attitude by those who call themselves presidents. They want to record for themselves some places in history of the world through letting the blood of the US soldiers and the Iraqi people. Both sides are innocent. These innocent Iraqi people are facing a military offensive and invasion from the United States and Britain.

As for the case with the prisoners of war, his excellency the president has ordered that they be treated well. As for food and medicine, we are going to provide these prisoners of war with the best of what we have. Thank you.

Basra, Umm Qasr

Unidentified correspondent, in English Can you explain about the situation in Basra?

Salih, in English

Lately, we in Iraq have not been in need of humanitarian assistance. We have enough money in our accounts that are enough to meet our requirements for two years. If Kofi Annan allows the goods to reach Iraq we will not have a problem and we will not be in need of any assistance.

Correspondent, in English You spoke about the civilian casualties.

Salih, in English

Well, what they said is not true. Yesterday, they targeted a flour mill. The wheat was imported through the oil for food programme. Now they destroyed that mill and fire continues to be raging in the flour warehouses.

Correspondent The Americans say or allege that they want to rebuild Umm Qasr to receive humanitarian and food assistance to the Iraqi people. What is your comment on this?


This talk is really part of the false propaganda that the United States and Britain continue to make. First of all, Umm Qasr port is a qualified port, and food that was bought with our money is stored in that port. One night before the aggression was launched, there were three ships full of sugar docking there. They gave instructions to take the ships away from Umm Qasr Port. The ministry's trucks along with their drivers and the ministry's employees, along with the workers of the Transportation Ministry were unloading the sugar.

Umm Qasr Port was built by the state and is ready to receive food and medicine. We have foodstuff that was returned to Dubai before and during the military aggression. However, There is something he prepares for changes thought we challenge Bush. First of all, the Iraqi people reject these positions by Bush, Blair and the aggressors. The Iraqi people are dignified people who do not receive any assistance from any party. They are the ones who extend assistance to others. The leader of Iraq extends assistance to others. We have what is enough for us. We have huge funds estimated now at 21bn dollars. What is needed is to allow the delivery of food and medical goods to Iraq. We have reserves in Iraq that are enough for long years. This is the first point. The second point is that Bush and Blair are telling lies to the world. The ones who kill our sons do not extend assistance to our people. We do not need assistance from Bush, Blair or any other party. We are a rich country and we have great resources. Our people are rich. They fight and will fight and will defeat the United States and Britain. They will teach them a lesson that they will never forget.

Correspondent, in English It is said that there are some prisoners in hospitals.

Salih, in English

I think this issue concerns the health minister. I am the trade minister. I am in charge of anything that concerns the economic aspect, the flow of food, and issues that concern the market at the current circumstances.

Correspondent, in English

What about the delivery of supplies to Basra?

Salih, in English

Things continue to be normal until today. We provided Basra with food enough for six months. Each family in Basra has food enough for six months so that they will be able to fight and defend Basra and other cities. Secondly, we are able to daily deliver additional quantities. At present we send these goods, such as bread, on a daily basis, not only to Baghdad but also to Basra and other cities. We deliver flour to bakeries so that bread will always be available.

Correspondent, in English

It is said that there is a big problem in Basra.

Salih, in English

Today, the director general of the Trade Ministry is in Basra to evaluate the situation as far as food supplies are concerned. We will probably provide Basra with more supplies. At present I do not have accurate information about this issue and about water supplies in particular.

Jordanian return of imports

Correspondent The Jordanian government has returned some goods imported by Iraq. Have you made contacts with -

Salih, interrupting

I sent a letter to the brother Jordanian trade and industry minister yesterday. The letter dealt with three points. The first is that we asked that the goods turned back by the Jordanian authorities from the border to Al-Ruwayshid be sent to Iraq and to allow their passage. The second point concerns all contracts on goods imported through the oil for food and medicine programme from Jordanian suppliers. We asked the Jordanian brothers to continue to send these goods and we will pay for them. Iraq is committed to all suppliers to pay for the goods. They should not hesitate to send these goods, and we will pay the money for them. We will give precedence for those who send these goods at the present circumstances in the near future, God willing, after we defeat this conspiratorial military action against Iraq, the Iraqi people and Iraq's independence. God willing, we will end this conspiracy, and will resume our activity back to normal in which we will give precedence to all those who continue to deal with us during the military aggression and continue to supply us with these goods.

Basra convoys

Correspondent, in English The truck convoys that are seen to Basra -

Salih interrupting, in English

Yes, there are daily convoys that go to Basra and other cities and governorates carrying rice, flour and other food. In addition, there is another task that we carry out these days, which is to provide flour to bakeries. There are about 22 roads for Basra. From there, we have branches that send supplies to Al-Zubayr and other cities.

Correspondent, in English question unheard

Salih, in English

Yes, each one is specialized in a certain field. You can go to our warehouses now if you want. Yes, we can take you to the warehouses to see for yourselves the stockpiles we have, such as flour. These supplies are provided daily until we defeat the aggression.

Northern governorates


The Trade Ministry provided the northern governorates words indistinct . In light of the aggression circumstances, does the ministry need to go back to implementing its strategy or is it words indistinct stability of prices of goods on the Iraqi markets?

Salih As far as the north is concerned, until the withdrawal of the UN monitors, we have distributed changes thought because the northern part, that is Dahuk and Arbil, and Al-Sulaymaniyah, the trade and health ministries buy food for these governorates. This food is delivered to that part on behalf of the Iraqi government by the UN General Secretariat, which has abandoned its responsibility towards our Kurdish people in the north. Therefore, the supply operations continued until the withdrawal of the UN monitors and teams. These monitors and teams have stopped functioning in all Iraqi governorates. Over the past four months, we have sent flour from our reserves to the north that can meet the requirements for four months. The supplies of wheat and bread could have been stopped four months ago, but the leader president, may God watch over him, gave instructions to continue sending flour to the governorates of Dahuk, Al-Sulaymaniyah and Arbil from the state revenues that are not part of the oil for food programme. The delivery of these goods has stopped because of the UN withdrawal from the northern region.

Effect of war on ministries, commerce

Correspondent, in English Can you make a statement on the commercial situation in the Iraqi cities and governorates? Has trade situation been significantly harmed? What is the current situation?

Salih, in English

Basically, as I told you, a flour mill in Basra was bombed and destroyed. The wheat in that mill was received through the oil for food programme. The mill is a civilian target. As a trade minister, I do not have information about other ministries. There are heavy industries in and around the city.

Correspondent, in English To what extent are the ministries functioning in the city?

Salih, in English

We work 24 hours a day. We have not closed our doors the same as the case with the Health Ministry and other ministries.

Correspondent, in English All the employees?

Salih, in English Of course. We are doing our job towards the people. You see the activities on the streets in Iraq. The traffic continues the same. You can see in Baghdad how we distribute flour to bakeries by our trucks. Before the military attack, the bakers used to come to take flour from our warehouses, but now we shoulder this responsibility. We, at the ministry, also produce bread and deliver it to the people with additional quantities.

Thank you. This is the information that you can take and base your reports on concerning the oil for food programme, and the food worth billions of dollars that we have not received. This information is available in English.

 Copyright   Al-Jazeera and BBC 2003.  For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .