MKO fears that withdrawal of US troops from Iraq will leave them orphaned

Two weeks ago, speaking with certainty and resolution, President Obama announced that “after nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.” [1] Obama spoke after a private video MKO fears that withdrawal of US troops from Iraq will leave them orphanedconference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and he offered assurances that the two leaders agreed on the decision, reported the Associated Press on October 21, 2011. [2] Now that the official countdown has begun, American troops are organizing their departure.

This is good news for troops who want to come home, but bad news for the members of the MKO housed in Camp Ashraf who have tenuously benefited from the troops’ presence; Ultimately America’s departure from Iraq will conclude the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) presence in Iraq. One sticky problem on the final departure is the disagreement between Baghdad and Washington over “the issue of immunity for American soldiers from Iraqi law” reports The Wall Street Journal. For those American trainers and advisors that the US is willing to maintain in Iraq beyond the end of the year “it’s impossible to grant immunity to a single American soldier,” Maliki told reporters. [3]

The Wall Street Journal also reported Iraqi Shiite Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s reaction to the announcement. According to Cleric Sadr’s website—the official website of his political movement—Americans are “all occupiers and must be resisted after the end of the [withdrawal] period.”[4] Many Iraqi officials share this opinion particularly in regard to the MKO. According to Aswat Al-Iraq, Premier Nouri Al-Maliki had a discussion with Martin Kobler, the new UN representative to Iraq. They spoke about the necessity of evacuating Iranians in the Ashraf camp by the end of this year. Furthermore, the Iraqi government issued a final resolution to end the presence of the MKO—also by the end of this year—[5] mainly because the group is a terrorist organization whose members are pro-Saddam, anti-Iran, and they participated in killing thousands of Iraqi people. It’s clear, despite the fact that members of the MKO are Iranians who have been living in Iraq for decades, that the terrorist group has no place in the final Iraq-Iran equation. About a month ago, Moqtada Sadr strongly condemned the crimes committed by the MKO against Iranian and Iraqi nations, and further stressed his country’s determination to expel the terrorist group from Iraq. [6]

This scares the MKO so much that their headquarters in Paris has launched a propaganda campaign to help purify their image in hope of gaining Western support. The MKO asked Lord Corbet, a longtime paid supporter of the group, to write articles and beef up misinformation about the alleged “inhuman siege [of Camp Ashraf] by Iran’s Qods Forces and Iraqi government.”[7]There’s no doubt, the fate of the MKO is connected to the withdrawal of US forces. Supporters of the terrorist group are worried that when the US leaves, the MKO will be defenseless in a hostile country, suggests Bahman Kalbasi of the BBC.[8] But Kalbasi also points out that many blame the leadership of the MKO for the predicament facing the residents of camp Ashraf. [9]
Leaders of the MKO seem not to care about the destiny of their members. Author of two books about the MKO and former member of the group, Ann Singleton, in her letter to the European foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, points out that the issue of Camp Ashraf is totally irrelevant to what the group leaders launch propaganda about—such as Iran’s nuclear program, MKO delisting by the US government, and American troops withdrawal from Iraq. [10]

As a prerequisite to withdrawal, Singleton argues that “the government of Iraq demands that the MEK leave Iraq before the end of the year, certainly before American troops are withdrawn. For this reason, there is an urgent need to find an effective solution.” She finds the situation dangerous for Ashraf residents. Essentially they are trapped in the camp because they are victims of a cult system which is always ready to sacrifice them for its cause. She adds, ”on two occasions, August 2009 and April 2011, when Iraqi security forces attempted to enter the Camp to impose the rule of law on the Camp, Massoud Rajavi ordered his special forces, his *fedayeen*, to force the brainwashed residents to confront these efforts with a suicidal resistance which led to the deaths and injuries of many rank and file members as well as injuries to Iraqi security forces.”[11]

References:
[1] Feller, Ben, AP, Obama Complete Troop Withdrawal from Iraq, Oct.21, 2011
[2] ibid
[3]Dagher, Sam, Wall Street Journal, Maliki Takes Hard Line on American Withdrawal, Oct.23, 2011
[4] ibid
[5]Aswat-al-Iraq, Maliki, Kopler discuss evacuation Iranian Ashraf Camp, Oct. 16, 2011
[6]Fars News Agency, Moqtada Sadr Reiterates Iraq’s Demand for Expulsion of MKO, Sep.19, 2011
[7]Lord Corbett, The Huffington Post, MPs Demand UN protection at Camp Ashraf Oct.25, 2011
[8]Kalbasi, Bahman, BBC, Iran Exile Group seeks US Terror de-listing, Sep.24, 2011
[9] ibid
[10]Singleton, Ann, Open Letter to Catherine Ashton on hostages in Camp Ashraf, Oct26, 2011
[11] ibid

By Mazda Parsi

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