WASHINGTON, June 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Several former U.S. Government officials spoke to the need for the Obama Administration to focus more on the Persian Spring as the administration is calibrating its new Middle East initiative to adapt to the realities in the region, during a symposium in Washington, DC, entitled "New U.S. Middle East Initiative and the Policy on Iran," organized by Human Rights and Democracy International.
P.J. Crowley, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs until March 2011, said, "Change is going to occur from the bottom up. It's not going to be imposed from the outside in but we have to be in a position where we can help shape change and support people and institutions that can bring democratic governance to the region as a whole, including to Tehran." Addressing the protection of Camp Ashraf, where 3,400 members of Iran's main opposition, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) reside, he said, "It is up to the international community…beginning with the United Nations, supported by the United States and the European Union, to begin a process to find a solution that allows people at Camp Ashraf to depart Iraq and take up residence in other countries and that should be the policy of the United States and it should be under the leadership with the intervening protection of the United Nations as the international community works to resolve this crisis."
Nancy Soderberg, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, concurred. "The government of Iraq absolutely must stand by its obligation to protect those in that border and U.S. must push it harder to do so," she said, adding, "I am confident the Obama administration's current review [of MEK's designation] will be decided on the merits. Having spoken to a variety of people in the administration, I do think this will be decided on the facts."
Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, former Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, said in part of his remarks, "It is important to strengthen the democratic opposition. It is Iran which is the terrorist state. That's where the terrorism emanates. The State Department is going through their process as the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia required them to do and I hope as they do so they will expedite their decision and that they will reflect on the fact that the UK and the EU to which I was an Ambassador, have both lifted their restrictions with respect to the MEK."
"It's long past time for this country to act based on its principles, to delist MEK and thereby encourage those in Iran who are struggling for regime change and to make certain that the residents of Ashraf are either permitted to remain where they are with security provided by international force or that they are permitted to leave Iraq for other countries," Judge Michael Mukasey, former United States Attorney General emphasized.
Former CIA Director, Porter Goss said, "We can't kick down the situation on the MEK anymore. We've got a deadline coming up… [W]e have to encourage our Department of State to come up with the answers on what they are going to do to finish this review. The FTO designation is an impediment to the final solution of relocation and I think, therefore, the sooner we get a judgment on that, that is what I think where common sense will lead us….There's not any justification based on what I've seen… I think if the case is adjudged that they should no longer be on the list, it will make it simpler to deal with the relocation question [of Camp Ashraf residents]… I think the first thing to do is get the FTO question resolved and the second thing to do is say these folks [Camp Ashraf residents] deserve a future."
"There is nothing that is likely to be more decisive and more influential in reducing the strategic threats from Iran's current regime than having a vigorous democratic opposition in Iran. It should be a central goal of EU policy to support the democratic opposition in Iran and the U.S. should be prepared to do so with as much aid as is required and without any concessions," stressed John Hillen, former Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs.
SOURCE Human Rights and Democracy International