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 Situation at Camp Ashraf in Iraq

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كاتب الموضوعرسالة
Dr.Hannani Maya
المشرف العام
المشرف العام

الدولة : العراق
الجنس : ذكر
عدد المساهمات : 37306
مزاجي : أحب المنتدى
تاريخ التسجيل : 21/09/2009
الابراج : الجوزاء
التوقيت :

مُساهمةموضوع: Situation at Camp Ashraf in Iraq    السبت 09 أبريل 2011, 12:57 am

Situation at Camp Ashraf in Iraq

The U.S. Government is deeply troubled by reports of deaths and injuries resulting from this morning's clash at Camp Ashraf. Although we do not know what exactly transpired early this morning at Ashraf, this crisis and the loss of life was initiated by the Government of Iraq and the Iraqi military.

The U.S. Embassy, United States Forces-Iraq, and United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq are in regular contact with Iraqi officials at the highest levels to repeatedly urge them to avoid violence and show restraint. We reiterate our call for the Iraqi government to live up to its commitments to treat the residents of Ashraf humanely and in accordance with Iraqi law and their international obligations.

The United States Department of State

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Attack on Iranian camp

Iraqi forces have stormed a camp of Iranian dissidents in north-eastern Iraq amid warnings that the US government may have broken international law by failing to protect the camp.

An Iraqi general, Ali Ghaidan, confirmed that an operation took place in the early morning at Camp Ashraf, home to 3,500 Iranian exiles, all members of the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) militia. He said no one was killed, but representatives of the group in London said 23 people died, including six women.

A hospital official in Baquba, capital of the Diyala province, reported three deaths and 13 wounded. The figures could not be confirmed as access to the camp, whose residents have "protected persons" status under the Geneva convention, is restricted.

Ghaidan said troops were responding to exiles who had been throwing stones and throwing themselves in front of soldiers' trucks over the past several days. The group's supporters in London, who had been warning of an attack, said Iraqi forces used metal bars, sticks and batons to beat the residents and opened fire on the camp. The supporters called for urgent UN and US intervention.

"This is a massacre, a catastrophe," said Behzad Saffari, who has lived at Ashraf for nine years and acts as the camp's legal adviser. "They came inside the camp and attacked people with grenades and teargas, and then they started to shoot people. When people saw the attack was about to begin, they lined up to defend their homes."

The raid was the latest in a series of interventions at the camp since jurisdiction was passed from the US to the Iraqi government in 2009. A WikiLeaks cable uncovered by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism at City University in London showed the US was aware the Iraqi government planned to crack down on the MEK, with potentially grave humanitarian consequences.

"If the government of Iraq acts harshly against the MEK and provokes a reaction," warned the US deputy chief of mission in Iraq, Patricia Butenis, in a cable in March 2009, "the USG faces a challenging dilemma: we either protect members of a foreign terrorist organisation against actions of the Iraqi security forces and risk violating the US-Iraq security agreement, or we decline to protect the MEK in the face of a humanitarian crisis, thus leading to international condemnation of both the US government and the government of Iraq."

Phil Shiner of the UK law firm Public Interest Lawyers, which represents some Ashraf residents, said: "I have not seen these cables. However, from what I can gather their content is quite astonishing and shows that the US – and by implication the UK – knew Iraqis were treating residents inhumanely, foresaw the possibility of serious injuries in clashes at the camp, and knew what was happening at the time of the deaths but did absolutely nothing."

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Interrogated by Iranians in Iraq

The Iraqi government gave Iranian officials access to former MEK members under house arrest in Iraq, a defector from the group has alleged.Shahram Parvin, a member of the MEK’s political leadership who left Ashraf in April 2009 along with some twenty others, claims the defectors were individually interviewed by an Iranian official while under the custody of the Iraqi government in a hotel in Baghdad.

He said: “After I decided to leave the camp, I was taken by armed guards to a hotel in Baghdad, where I was told a member of the Iraqi human rights ministry would meet me. On arrival, I was ushered into a small room where a man asked me various questions. Some of the questions made me suspicious and I refused to answer. I later learned this man was from the Iranian embassy.”

He added that the same official promised to help him move to the West if he collaborated “in activities against the MEK”, and interviewed other members of the group from a desk set up in the hotel corridor.Parvin alleged that the UNHCR and ICRC were aware of the situation but failed to act effectively to prevent the interrogations. A US diplomatic cable sent in December 2009 notes that the UNHCR had been denied access to the defectors for two weeks and had commented that the Baghdad hotel was “accessible to Tehran”.

The claims are also supported by several suggestions in leaked US diplomatic cables that Tehran was interfering in Iraq’s governance at that time.In September 2009 a cable from US ambassador Christopher Hill quoted Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki complaining that Iran was “intervening increasingly boldly in the Iraqi political process”. Mr Hill was prompted to comment that Maliki’s remarks about Iranian involvement in Iraqi internal affairs were “the strongest we have heard”.

Commenting on the defectors in a different cable, Mr Hill said most claimed to feel betrayed by the MEK and had asked to be resettled in the West.

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Gates indicates US troops to stay

During what will likely be his last visit to Iraq as US defense secretary, Robert Gates suggested Thursday that combat soldiers would stay on past the end of 2011, the date the Obama administration has claimed would see the end of the American military presence in the country.

Well over 1 million Iraqis have died as a result of the illegal 2003 invasion and occupation of their country, several million have been made refugees, real unemployment remains close to 50 percent, and basic infrastructure—including water, sewerage, and electricity—has never recovered from US bombing.

Gates suggested, in the mendacious language of imperialism, that the continuation of a large-scale American military presence would be provided only if requested by the Iraqi government.

"We are willing to have a presence beyond [2011], but we’ve got a lot of commitments," Gates said, referring implicitly to US military operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya. "So if folks here are going to want us to have a presence, we’re going to need to get on with it pretty quickly in terms of our planning."

"I think there is interest in having a continuing presence," he added in remarks delivered to soldiers at Baghdad’s Camp Liberty. "The politics are such that we’ll just have to wait and see because the initiative ultimately has to come from the Iraqis."

In fact, there has never been any serious doubt that the US would carry on a large-scale and long-term military presence in Iraq, which has the world’s fourth largest proven oil reserves and is in a critical strategic location in the Middle East. Under Obama, who capitalized on broad popular anger over the US war on Iraq to win the presidency in 2008, a significant share of the US "drawdown" of combat troops has been done by giving new names to the same roles.

The US’s real intentions in Iraq are revealed by its recently completed embassy in the exclusive Green Zone in central Baghdad. The heavily fortified 104-acre campus is the largest embassy in the world. It includes a large Marine detachment and even its own power supply station.

Speaking to reporters in Baghdad on Thursday, Army General Lloyd Austin was less vague than Gates. He said that the inability of the Maliki government to appoint a defense minister in the wake of recent parliamentary elections showed it was incapable of making "informed decisions about whether to ask the Americans to stay longer," according to one media account.

Austin and Gates were both indirectly expressing frustration over the massive popular opposition in Iraq to the US military presence, which makes it politically explosive for Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to openly request the continuation of a large-scale occupation. Maliki’s thin parliamentary majority depends on the backing of political forces loyal to cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, which claim to speak for the urban Shiite masses bitterly opposed to the American presence.

Gates is reportedly concerned over the possible emergence of civil war between Arabs and Kurds in the north, and Sunnis and Shiites in the middle third of the country. These ethnic and sectarian tensions have in fact been inflamed by Washington for decades.

In reality, Gates is more worried about the potential for a social explosion over mass joblessness, a decrepit infrastructure and police abuse. These conditions are far more pronounced in Iraq than in Egypt and Tunisia, where popular revolts in February drove from power long-time US-aligned dictators Hosni Mubarak and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, respectively.

Expressing a combination of disdain for human suffering and imperialist hubris, Gates exclaimed that people all over the Arab world "would be happy if they could get to where Iraq is today—it isn’t perfect, but it’s new and it is a democracy and people do have rights."

These "rights" are tolerated only to the extent they do not challenge the US or its stooge government. In early March, security forces violently repressed anti-government demonstrations, beat journalists, and seized the offices of two opposition formations, the Iraqi Nation Party and the Iraqi Communist Party. State-sponsored disappearances, killings, and torture remain a daily feature of life (see "Violent crackdown on Iraqi opposition").

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Situation at Camp Ashraf in Iraq
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