Kurd Sellout Watch, Day 75

Show them the money!

It’s well known that the United States is taking flak inside the U.N. Security Council for giving itself too much power over Iraq in its draft resolution to end U.N. sanctions. To a large extent, the dispute is about money. The Russians and the French want to get paid for sales approved under the old oil-for-food program. But there’s another, more deserving oil-for-food creditor standing in line, one that’s gotten little attention because it lacks a seat on the Security Council. Want to guess who it is?

Of course, it’s the Kurds. The Kurds are incensed that the draft resolution put forth by the United States, the United Kingdom, and Spain makes no provision for releasing an estimated backlog of $2.5 billion in humanitarian assistance for the Kurds. Under the oil-for-food program, the money was allocated for Iraqi Kurdistan. But it was never spent, because Saddam Hussein wouldn’t allow it, and now it gathers dust in a U.N. escrow account. (For the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan’s take on this and other shortcomings of the oil-for-food program, click here.) Now the Kurds would like to have what’s owed them, and they’re justifiably annoyed that the draft resolution makes no mention of forking it over. “These provinces are desperately poor,” reads a statement issued May 16 by the PUK’s liaison to the United Nations.

The unspent funds are needed to cope with the ongoing reconstruction following the genocidal Anfal campaign of 1987-88. The Kurdish provinces contain around 800,000 internally displaced persons, roughly a quarter of the total population, and victims of ethnic cleansing by the Iraqi regime that continued until late March 2003. Basic infrastructure available elsewhere in Iraq still needs to be built for the Kurds.

The Kurds are being eminently reasonable about all this. They have no particular objection to seeing funds from their account diverted to provide emergency humanitarian relief throughout Iraq, as provided for in the existing oil-for-food program. They’d just like some assurance that they’ll be reimbursed after the crisis passes. They also demand their fair share of all future assistance under the proposed successor to the U.N. fund. At the moment, though, they’re mostly focused on not losing what they were already given. They hope to discuss the matter next week with John Negroponte, United States ambassador to the United Nations.

Kurd Sellout Watch Archive:
May 1, 2003: Day 60
April 25, 2003: Day 54
April 23, 2003: Day 52
April 18, 2003: Day 47
April 10, 2003: Day 39
April 3, 2003: Day 32
March 26, 2003: Day 24
March 25, 2003: Day 23
March 23, 2003: Day 21
March 21, 2003: Day 19
March 20, 2003: Day 18
March 17, 2003: Day 15
March 14, 2003: Day 12
March 11, 2003: Day 9
March 6, 2003: Day 4
March 4, 2003: Day 2
March 3, 2003: “How Screwed Are the Kurds?”