Obama’s opportunity to change America’s reputation by closing Terrorist Camp Ashraf in Iraq
Open Letter to President-elect Barak Obama
With your election, a new administration now has the opportunity to revisit US-Iran relations and come up with new ideas and policies. No doubt you have already been inundated with advice and lobbying on this issue.
We make no apology for adding our voice on the subject of the Iranian terrorist organisation Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) – a group which will no doubt be lobbying your administration on its own behalf. The members of this group, in particular its 3000+ uniformed militants in Iraq, are the victims of deception and human rights abuses and this issue, small as it is, needs urgent attention.
The MEK’s fundamental message to your administration will be that it is the largest, most popular, pro-democratic, opposition group and that only this group can effect change in Iran. To expose the falsity of this claim we only need refer you to the investigations of the last two US administrations, one Democratic under Bill Clinton and the other Republican under George W Bush, into this group, and the most recent Country Report into terrorism which describes the MKO as a terrorist cult.
Unfortunately, in spite of this, various sectors of the US political body have been willing to employ this group as a means of confrontation with Iran. This artificial support has promoted the group far beyond its real power and efficacy and has sadly stunted the growth of real and effective opposition to the current Iranian government. It has also given ‘permission’ to the group’s leaders to continue holding the members against their will and in conditions sustained by systematic human rights abuses.
America’s interests have not been served by uncritically succumbing to the mendacious influence of MEK propaganda. Western public and political opinion have been deceived for years as to the reality of Iranian society and politics by this group. The MEK does everything in its power to prevent contact and dialogue with Iranian civil society lest its lies and exaggerations be exposed.
In specific examples, the myth created by the MEK that it is useful in providing intelligence has exposed the American intelligence services to accusations of naïvety and/or ignorance. Such uncritical – perhaps gullible – reactions to the MEK’s revelations are exposed by the recent unwarranted arrest of Iranian civil contractor, Nader Qorbani, at Baghdad airport and making spurious accusations against him based on MEK ‘intelligence’. The knee-jerk reaction of US Homeland Security to false allegations against individuals is another example which evokes scorn among European observers.
In the wider sense, efforts to progress western interests in relation to Iran have been frustrated as the IAEA has been sidetracked into wasting time and effort investigating false information provided by the MEK for political purposes. That is, to serve the MEK’s self-survival interests.
However, the worst aspect of artificial, improper American support for this terrorist cult has been that the US army has preserved and protected its military headquarters, Camp Ashraf, in Iraq for five years. Iraqis consider Camp Ashraf to be a Saddamist stronghold and the MEK inside it as a danger to national security. Iraq’s government has repeatedly demanded that the US army help to remove all foreign terrorist groups from its territory as being directly against Iraq’s national interests.
In January 2008 SAHAR Family Foundation was established through the auspices of the Iraqi government, academics and human rights organisations and a plan was provided to the US army to deal with Camp Ashraf and help free its residents. The US army did not cooperate. This led Iraqi government officials relevant to this issue to the inescapable conclusion that the US army unit protecting Camp Ashraf has been taking its orders from MEK terrorist leaders rather than Washington.
Beyond security or political issues, behind the closed doors of Camp Ashraf a scandalous situation of systematic human rights abuses has been perpetuated under the auspices of American protection.
When the Camp Ashraf scandal is fully exposed, America herself will be spotlighted as responsible for ongoing, preventable human rights abuses conducted inside the camp by MEK officials against their own members. Allegations of forced hysterectomies for women members, mental and physical torture and even murder of inmates of the camp must be investigated.
The base is vital to the cult for the ongoing ideological indoctrination and manipulation of members. For this reason the MEK leaders are lobbying hard in America for continued US protection of Camp Ashraf and for the members to remain in Iraq. The MEK claim that Iraq will forcibly hand over its members to Iran. This has never been on the table and is in fact a ploy by the cult to divert attention away from what is happening inside the camp.
A humanitarian solution is available. How to resolve the situation is not a mystery, nor is it difficult or dangerous for the people in the camp.
The straightforward answer is to have the door of Camp Ashraf opened up to external agencies and individuals. Control of the camp should not be with MEK leaders but with the UNHCR, ICRC and the Iraqi Red Crescent.
As a priority the camp should be opened to families and relatives of those detained there. Doctors and human rights investigators need unfettered access to individuals. Those who choose to leave must be offered a safe refuge.
Under your leadership, America can make an immediate difference to US-Iraq relations by dismantling this terrorist base rather than continuing with double-standards by supporting those terrorist groups which are erroneously perceived by some to be ‘helpful’ to American interests.
While confident of the good intentions of your new administration to act on thorough investigation into the facts of this issue, we are ready to provide further information if needed.
Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri Maliki
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown
President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy
Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel
President of the People’s Republic of China, Hu Jintao
President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev
Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon