A Negative Response to Terrorists’ Incessant Preconditions

The State Department is warning MKO not to bargain over the humanitarian issue of relocation

No doubt, terrorism is a common problem and all measures have to be undertaken to lower the level of its threat with a focus on preventive measures. But to see a terrorist group setting precondition for the continuation of its cooperation in a process to fulfill another unconventionally reached agreement with it is a new phenomenon. It appears that even all parties engaged in the process of relocating MKO’s members from its military camp, Camp Ashraf, to the Temporary Transit Location TTL near Baghdad have grabbed the truth that the group is contriving a serious battle against them. That is because so far all efforts to peacefully resolve the standoff are being rebuffed by MKO’s strict set of conditions to resume a negotiation to comply with the already agreed transfer process.

All the parties involved are unanimous that the issue of relocation of the residents in Camp Ashraf is a purely humanitarian issue that should be made as easy and peaceful as possible to accomplish, notwithstanding MKO is blacklisted a FTO. In December 2011, Ambassador Daniel Fried, Special Advisor for Camp Ashraf for the State Department, made the cause clear and promised to monitor the process of the transfer: “Embassy Baghdad will visit former Camp Liberty on a frequent basis to provide robust observation. The US seeks a safe, secure, humane resolution. Our interest is humanitarian”. But MKO is grabbing at the issue as an opportunity to force the State Department to remove it from its terrorist blacklist.

The process has reached a stalemate since MKO stopped convoys of Camp Ashraf residents to TTL after the relocation of the fifth group in early May. Since then, it has minimized its contact with the Iraqi government and other involved parties and has focused on widespread propaganda warfare to impose its set six preconditions to resume the transfer. Amongst these publicly-declared conditions is a call for the State Department to inspect Camp Ashraf, “U.S. will inspect Camp Ashraf as soon as possible”, a task the US has announced to carry out following the complete evacuation of Camp Ashraf in a two month-long span. The result will be instrumental in convincing the State Department to review MKO’s re-designation.

Apparently fed up with MKO’s procrastination and enraged by its sets of preconditions, particularly the one calling for the inspection of Camp Ashraf, Victoria Nuland, the Department Spokesperson, in a statement released on June 18 urged MKO “to resume full cooperation immediately with the Iraqi Government and United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI)”. The statement adds, “Constructive offers must be met with a constructive spirit, and not with refusals or preconditions to engage in dialogue. Recent publicly-declared conditions for cooperation, including calls for the Department to inspect Camp Ashraf as a precondition for further relocations to Camp Hurriya, are an unnecessary distraction.”

MKO considers the court ruling giving the State Department four months to announce its final decision over the group’s terrorist tag as a gained victory to have the upper hand in any dealing. The illusion fostered mostly when some European high-profile personalities congratulated the halfway, unpromising court ruling, as a decisively issued ruling. However, an American official believes that “the group’s leaders may have overinterpreted the U.S. court ruling as a guarantee that it would escape the terrorist list”. In fact, the State Department is delivering a message to MKO forewarning that it is gravely mistaken to strike any bargain with the Iraqi government and the US over the humanitarian issue of the residents; it is warned that it has no other option but to follow through on plans to resume the process of relocation as planned.

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