By: Nima Sharif
Over the past year a bipartisan group of former top-ranking American officials have been advocating to provide protection to Camp Ashraf residents in Iraq and removal of the MEK from U.S. blacklist in order to facilitate for Ashraf residents, who are members of MEK, to be resettled outside of Iraq and away from Iran where they will be persecuted because of their political beliefs.
MEK is the main Iranian opposition movement that has been trying to overthrow the mullahs’ tyrannical regime for the past thirty years. The United States designated MEK as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) originally in 1997 to curry favor to the Iranian regime and the then, supposedly moderate President, Mohammad Khatami. The aim was to pave the way to dialogue with this U.S.’s long time foe. As it turned, the intended dialogue brought nothing to the U.S., but instead bought time for the Iranian regime to covertly advance its nuclear program to reach the point we see today.
In fact MEK was the group that blew the cap off the Iranian regime’s nuclear program back in 2002 for the first time.
When coalition forces occupied Iraq in 2003, MEK declared to be no-party to the war having no intention to engage the occupation forces. It then accepted to disarm in return for protection by American forces. U.S. signed individual agreements with the MEK members who were resident in Ashraf promising them protection by U.S. forces.
A Sixteen months screening of all 3400 individuals in Camp Ashraf by seven different American government agencies found no “terrorists” in Camp Ashraf. Finally, the United States declared each residents of the camp to be “Protected Persons” under “Fourth Geneva Conventions”.
But in 2009 the American forces released protection duty for Camp Ashraf to Iraqi government. It didn’t take long after the release that the residents realized their new presumably protectors are in fact their jail keepers and potential murderers directly controlled by the Iranian regime. Two attacks on the camp by Iraqi forces left about 50 residents dead, among them 8 women. Video clips of the latest attack on April 8, 2011 that have been posted on YouTube and elsewhere show Iraqi armed forces pointing their guns directly at unarmed residents and shooting to kill them.
Right after the April 8 massacre of Ashraf residents by Iraqi forces, an international outcry began condemning the inhuman act of the government of Iraq, calling for the involvement of global community for a resolution to save the lives of the unarmed residents in the Camp. Condemnations came from, among others, U.S. Secretary of State Clinton, the High Representative of the European Parliament Catherine Ashton, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and many European Foreign Ministers.
Among those voicing their support for the MEK and Camp Ashraf residents, there have been a large number of distinguished and high ranking former officials in the United States including former FBI and CIA directors, former Governors and former presidential candidates and former Mayors and U.S. Judges and Parliamentarians. They have taken up the task to speak out on behalf of the residents of Camp Ashraf and their families living abroad and mostly in United States. They have tried to highlight a looming twenty-first century genocide in a bid to prevent it.
That by itself is first of its kind and a genius of our time and commendable trying to prevent a human catastrophe before it happens saving the lives of thousands of people.
For the resettlement of the residents, there has been one big obstacle and that is the FTO listing in the United States. Despite the fact that MEK has been delisted in the United Kingdom and the European Union for many years now, it being in the blacklist of the United States prevents the residents of the camp from having fair access to internationally available asylum resources.
While a Washington D.C. Circuit Appeals Court called on the State Department to revisit the listing of the MEK for it found no evidence showing that it was a terrorist organization according to the defined ‘statutory criteria,’ the Department of State continued to drag its feet for 18 months and still has not taken any action on the subject. MEK filed a new complaint to the court asking for an immediate decision by the court.
Soon after the filing of the complaint, it seems, the U.S. Treasury issued subpoenas to a number of speaker agencies for arranging the U.S. former officials to speak at conferences, discussing the situation in Ashraf and the FTO designation of the MEK. These conferences organized by Iranian communities in Europe and U.S. have been very effective in highlighting the crimes committed by the Iranian regime against its opponents including efforts to destroy 3,400 MEK members in Iraq, through its ally in Iraq Nouri al-Maliki. There are two groups of people not being happy with these well publicized public events. One group includes Khamenei and Ahmadinejad (Iranian regime) since they feel these activities are preventing them from pursuing their goals of eliminating residents of Ashraf and thus their main opponents. The second group, are advocates of the so-called appeasement policy in the Administration, specially the State Department, who have failed to take the right decision to delist the MEK and protect the residents. The orchestrated campaign against the luminaries is obviously an attempt to silence them.
But as it seems the propaganda is beginning to fall apart and turn against itself due to the simple fact that it is based on bogus facts and assumptions and also because it is against something so noticeably humane.