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No Good Deed Goes Unpunished — Washington Threatens Iranian Dissidents in Iraq, Says Iran Policy Committee

WASHINGTON, July 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On the Fourth of July in Baghdad, terrorists fired a Katyusha rocket at the U.S. Embassy as Americans were celebrating despite the fact the embassy is inside the heavily-fortified Green Zone. The following day, double blasts from a car bomb and a roadside bombing in a parking lot outside a city council building north of Baghdad killed at least 35 people. The explosions in Taji, a Sunni-dominated town about 12 miles north of Baghdad, are the most recent in a series of attacks across Iraq. Last month, bombs ripped through Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad, killing at least 40 people. Two days before, double blasts occurred that included a suicide car bombing outside a government compound south of Baghdad, which killed 22 people.

In an interview with Bloomberg News, former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Iran is furnishing new, more deadly weapons to Shiite militia groups in Iraq that are targeting American  troops in advance of their scheduled exit from the country at the end of this year. As a result, Gates said, about 40 percent of the deaths of American soldiers since the official end of U.S. combat operations almost 10 months ago have occurred in the past few weeks. Iran is "facilitating weapons, they're facilitating training, there's new technology that they're providing," Gates said. "They're stepping this up, and it's a concern."

As violence against Americans escalates in Iraq, what is the U.S. response? Inexplicably, Washington seeks to compel unarmed Iranian dissidents in Camp Ashraf, Iraq to leave their homes for an even more insecure facility leaving them further vulnerable to Tehran's proxies whose aim is to massacre all the dissidents.

Threatening that the U.S. military soon will stop its regular visits to Ashraf to escort staff of UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, American Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey insisted the dissidents stranded in Iraq as a result of U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 dissolve what he called their "paramilitary organization." Jeffrey said Washington was working with the United Nations to move the over 3,400 Iranians "to a place that is a bit safer, a bit further from Iran," but he insisted they disband and register as refugees with the U.N. High Commission for Refugees.

Professor Raymond Tanter Founding President of the IPC and former member of the National Security Council senior staff at the White House said, "During my research visit to Camp Ashraf in October 2008, I did not detect any 'paramilitary organization' referenced by Ambassador Jeffrey. Assuming such an entity would manifest a capability and intent to use violence, Ambassador Jeffrey's comment also contradicts the Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism (CRT) of 2007, 2008, and 2009, all of which omit any allegation the MeK maintains capacity and will to conduct terrorist acts. And CRT 2009 does not accuse the MeK of having further developed any paramilitary skills." Professor Tanter added, "To call the members of an organization that turned over all its weapons to the U.S. military in 2003 and was fully protected by our military a 'paramilitary organization,' could only be interpreted by Tehran and its Iraqi proxies as invitation to attack the group as the U.S. is abandoning them."

According to Lt. General Tom McInerney (ret.), former Assistant Chief of Staff of the Air Force, "It is ironic for Washington to pressure Iranian dissidents in Iraq because they have provided intelligence to the U.S. military, which according to our military commanders helped save American lives." McInerney added, "While the U.S. should be empowering the organized opposition to Tehran, calling for a leading Iranian dissident group to dissolve itself is tantamount to asking it to stop opposing the Iranian regime — America has no right to make such demands, much worse, it helps our enemies." McInerney added, "Sadly to say, the principle, 'No Good deed goes unpunished' is alive and well in our relations with those who assist us."

Major General Paul Vallely (ret.), former Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army Pacific, acknowledged the importance of moving the Iranian dissidents outside of Iraq to third countries. Vallely stated, "Risks to the Iranian dissidents are higher if they are relocated within Iraq, e.g., to an encampment that would serve as a de facto prison, away from the prying eyes of the international press, UN Mission, and the U.S. military. The United States must work with our European allies to quickly move the MeK members to third countries, rather than making them even more vulnerable to attacks by Iranian proxies." In the interim, Vallely said, "America should ensure full protection for the MeK members who are our allies, and prevent Iraqis from eliminating them."

Captain Chuck Nash, (ret.) U.S. Navy and President of Emerging Technologies International expanded on the idea of moving the Iranian dissidents to a location within Iraq. Nash said, "Moving the Iranian dissidents within Iraq would also be an out of sight out of mind prelude to repeated attacks of the kind that occurred against Ashraf in July 2009 and April 2011. At least during those assaults, the dissidents could communicate with the outside world. But within a desert prison, they would be totally isolated and subject to the whims of the Iraqi Security Forces and armed militias acting on behalf of Tehran."

According to Bruce McColm, President, Institute for Democratic Strategies and former Executive Director of Freedom House, "The statement of Ambassador Jeffrey to relocate the Iranian dissidents 'to a place that is a bit safer, a bit further from Iran,' is out of the question and a recipe for an international humanitarian disaster." McColm asked, "Does 'a bit safer' mean fewer than the 36 people who were killed by Iraqi forces in April would be killed in the next assault? Does 'a bit further from Iran' mean proximity to the Iranian border is the problem, which makes no sense, because the Iraqis attacked Ashraf in 2009 and 2011 with the assistance of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security personnel already on the ground and did not have to cross an international border."

SOURCE Iran Policy Committee




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