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Washington, U.S.A. — In the course of research on Iranian dissidents, the Iran Policy Committee (IPC) reviewed letters sent by a Senator and Members of the House of Representatives to the Secretary of State on the status of Iranian dissidents in Iraq. IPC also participated in a briefing by Members of the House. IPC research is consistent with views expressed in these letters and at the briefing.
In a June 12, 2012 letter, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to express his dismay over the lack of action by the Department of State to reach a decision on the status of a revocation petition filed by the main Iranian opposition group that rejects clerical rule, the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq.
Senator Levin wrote: “I have requested repeatedly that the Department of State proceed expeditiously to make a determination regarding the designation of the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK) as a foreign terrorist organization…” The Senator is the latest among U.S. lawmakers to criticize the delay by the Department on the status of the MEK. The Senator also questioned the process that the State Department pursues to determine the status of the petition by the MEK.
A letter of August 2, 2012 from Members of the House spearheaded by Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA), ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade stated, “We respectfully request that the Department of State seek the Iraqi government’s agreement to and implementation of a number of humanitarian measures.
Until these measures are implemented, further voluntary relocation of Camp Ashraf residents would only exacerbate the current dreadful living conditions in Camp Liberty.” A bipartisan group of 79 Members of Congress signed the letter.
During a briefing by Members of the House on Capitol Hill in Washington on August 1, 2012, Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), a senior member of Committee on Homeland Security blamed Baghdad for “lack of clean water” at Camp Liberty. Also at the briefing, Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, called for removal of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), a group to which the Iranian dissidents belong, from the U.S. terrorist list to facilitate their speedy resettlement outside of Iraq, without relocation from Ashraf to Liberty.
Through independent research, the IPC determines that residents of Liberty are only seeking minimum humanitarian improvements in their quality of life.These include ensuring satisfactory access to clean water via measures to connect Liberty to the Baghdad water network and transfer of water purification equipment from Ashraf to Liberty or acquisition elsewhere of such items; improved electrical equipment to operate air conditioners, potentially through transfer of large generators from Ashraf to Liberty; authority to construct adequate ramps and related safety infrastructure for residents of Liberty, including those who are suffering from disabilities; and transfer of forklifts from Ashraf to Liberty to facilitate handling of heavy items.
Three former U.S. military officers of the IPC issued a statement on implications of diplomatic maneuvering about the status of the Iranian dissidents in Iraq. Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney (Ret), former Assistant Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force; Maj.
Gen. Paul Vallely, (U.S. Army (Ret), former Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army, Pacific; and Captain Charles “Chuck” Nash, U.S. Navy (Ret) said, “We are concerned that statements implying Iranian dissidents in Iraq are responsible for any delay in relocating play into the hands of those in the Government of Iraq intent on forcible relocation; on the contrary, our research finds that Baghdad is responsible for such delays because of failure to provide minimum humanitarian assistance to the dissidents.
In this respect, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Ambassador Martin Kobler, told the Security Council on July 19, 2012 that, “Time is running out to find a sustainable situation,…[and he urged] the Camp Ashraf residents to cooperate with the Iraqi authorities and to relocate.”
Founder and President, Global Initiative for Democracy and former Freedom House Executive Director, Bruce McColm commented on a statement of August 1, 2012 by Patrick Ventrell, Department of State Acting Deputy Spokesperson. Ventrell called on “…the Ashraf leadership to immediately resume cooperation with the relocation of residents to Camp…[Liberty].
The continued intransigence of the residents’ leadership in placing preconditions and making demands prior to any agreement to relocate…[additional] Ashraf residents is unacceptable…” McColm said “Ventrell’s statement blames the victim rather than the cause of the delay—Baghdad.”
Professor Raymond Tanter, President of the IPC and former member of the National Security Council staff in the Reagan administration, inferred Baghdad’s hidden agenda for denying minimum humanitarian life support: ”
1) Provide a rationale for forcible relocation within Iraq of remaining Ashraf residents by the Iraqi military;
2) Wear down resolve of Liberty residents so they ‘voluntarily’ repatriate to Iran rather than resettle to friendly third countries where they can continue as a political force that threatens survival of the clerical regime in Tehran; and
3) Evacuate Ashraf but keep former residents at Liberty to give space and time for the Iraqi military to place weapons in Ashraf to reinforce the false claim the MEK maintains an intent to commit terrorism and justify its continuation on the U.S. terrorist list. Such a hidden agenda based on fabricated premises is an illegitimate basis for denying minimum humanitarian life support to individuals listed as asylum seekers by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.”
Image Courtesy of Elvert Barnes