Government Commission investigates possible transfer of Ashraf residents to a camp near Samawah
Muthanna / Aswat al-Iraq: The official source of Muthanna province said a government delegation arrived in the city of Samawah on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of transferring the population of Camp Ashraf to a camp near the town of Samawah, indicating that the proposal has been categorically rejected by the Governor and provincial Council.
The source told Aswat al-Iraq that the government "arrived at the city of Samawah on Tuesday morning and discussed with the Governor of Muthanna and a number of local officials the possibility of the transfer of Camp Ashraf residents (MKO) to the Iraqi military camp west of Samawah, established by Japanese troops." He pointed out that "the proposal has been categorically rejected by county officials."
The Japanese Self-Defence Forces had established a camp at the end of 2004 and used it as its headquarters until its withdrawal from Iraq in July 2007 when Japanese troops handed the camp over to an Iraqi army brigade deployed in the province.
The source explained that "the Governor and provincial Council refusal is linked to the idea that Al Muthanna province will be a safe haven for the group. It will reflect negatively on the security reality and sabotage the security of the region."
The Iraqi government took the decision at a meeting of the Council of Ministers on June 17, 2008, as the endemic presence of the MKO on Iraqi territory is illegal and it must leave Iraq. Iran is also opposed to the continuation of Ashraf camp site (renamed Camp New Iraq) in Khalis (15 km north of Baquba.
The source, who asked not to be named, told Aswat al-Iraq that the Commission "has, this morning, visited the camp to study the site and identify the areas of possibility for the new headquarters for the residents of Camp Ashraf”. He alluded to the fact that the Commission "found that the camp mentioned is not suitable accommodation for residents of Camp Ashraf and lacks a lot of facilities”.
"Another option for the Committee is a camp taken by American forces based near Diwaniyah, but not cleared until several months ago, according to the proposal by the Commission”.
The transfer of MEK to the province of Muthanna, "an old idea dating back to 2008, was completed in a manner allowing the authorities to reject the proposal." He pointed out that the option for the transfer of that group to the camps in the province of Muthanna and Diwaniya, "is still in the process of proposals and is not yet a decision of the government of Iraq”.
It is noteworthy that on July 28, 2009 Iraqi security forces had entered Camp Ashraf in Diyala province to take control of it, which led to clashes which killed seven and injured 400 other residents of the camp, as well as two people killed and 60 wounded members of the Iraqi security forces.
The People’s Mojahedin Organization, opposed to the Iranian government, took Camp Ashraf in Diyala province (north-east of Baghdad) as their headquarters after the transfer of the MKO leadership to Iraq in 1985, where they were received in a timely manner under the auspices of the former regime and from where it has launched attacks in Iran.
After the American intervention in Iraq in 2003, its members remained at their base at Camp Ashraf, which was placed under protection of the U.S. Army Corps, although classified as a terrorist organization. After signing the security agreement [SOFA] between Iraq and the United States late last year, the Iraqi government took responsibility for Camp Ashraf while U.S. forces remained at the camp, and then withdraw from it in accordance with the timing of the Convention.
The town of Samawah, capital of Muthanna province, lies 280 km south of Baghdad.
Aswat al Iraq, Baghdad – translated by Iran-Interlink