Thursday, October 8, 2015

Iran-US Senate hearing :Iranian Influence in #Iraq and the Case of #CampLiberty


: PMOI believe in freedom. They are a moderate Muslim group  
  More Iranians executed under Rouhani than predecessor. At US Senate hearing on 

 At US Senate hearing : ’s regime has a malign influence in & is destabilizing the region 
 We must follow through with our promises 2 protect residents

Gen James Jones:Our country made a solemn but unkept promise to protect

WASHINGTON D.C. (10/7)- Members of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Armed Forces was briefed on the imminent threat posed by the Iranian influence in Iraq, targeting Iranian dissidents and pro-democracy leaders.

Camp Ashraf is home to some 3,400 members, relatives, and sympathizers of Iran’s main opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). The camp rests in Iraq’s Diyala Province, 60 miles northeast of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, and about 44 miles from Iran’s Western border.

Senator Jack Reed opened the event by stating,"The United States has had a special relationship with the MEK residents dating back to the height of the Iraq war in the mid-2000s. This stems in part from the MEK’s agreement, at the U.S. military’s request, to disarm and move into Camp Ashraf in northeastern Iraq. The U.S. military extended protections under the Geneva Conventions to the Camp Ashraf residents. However, as the United States drew down its forces, consistent with its obligations under the 2008 Security Agreement signed by President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki, U.S. forces were no longer in a position to provide for the safety and security of the Camp Ashraf residents.

In December 2011, the Government of Iraq signed a memorandum with the United Nations, in which the Iraqi Government committed to ensure the safety and security of these residents as part of the process of relocating them to Camp Liberty outside Baghdad to facilitate the resettlement process. However, the United States, through the State Department, has had to repeatedly press the Government of Iraq to live up to its obligations to provide for the safety and well-being of the Camp Liberty residents. And camp residents remain in fear that the Government of Iraq will extradite them to Iran at Tehran request.

The State Department now is the lead U.S. Government agency advocating on behalf of the Camp Liberty residents. The State Department is working with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to find resettlement options for these residents outside of Iraq. It is my understanding that as of the beginning of this month, nearly 800 Camp Liberty residents have been processed by the UNHCR and resettled outside of Iraq. Unfortunately, this resettlement process has dragged on for years, and much more still needs to be done to find homes abroad for the remaining Camp Liberty residents. I would urge all participants in the resettlement process to cooperate fully to advance the relocation of these vulnerable residents.

One issue that I expect will arise this morning is whether the United States should accept more Camp Liberty residents for resettlement. While the MEK was removed from the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations in 2012, group members continue to be barred from admission to the United States because of their “Tier III” status under U.S. anti-terrorism laws. Nonetheless, I understand that the Administration has adopted a policy that would allow Camp Liberty residents to be paroled into the United States if they renounce their affiliation with the MEK. Under this policy, some 29 Camp Liberty residents have ultimately resettled in the United States, making the United States one of the larger recipient countries.

I hope the testimony of our witnesses this morning will help shine a light on what more can be done to accelerate the resettlement process so that the residents of Camp Liberty can be brought to safety outside Iraq once and for all. ..."

In testimony by General James L. Jones (ret.), USMC, the general stated,"I would like to briefly address the larger hearing topic of Iran’s influence and objectives in Iraq. It will surprise no one when I say that the Iranian regime remains among the world’s most consistent threats to global peace and stability.It is a regime that artfully dodges its commitments, generates international friction to exert greater domestic control on its citizens, and constantly hardens its grip on the country. The Mullahs’ government serially violates human rights, UN Security Council resolutions, and international law. They reject the right of Israel to exist by opposing and actively undermining the Middle East Peace Process. And, Tehran remains the chief antagonist of democracy and liberalization across the Middle East where a better future for millions of people struggles to emerge.To the Mullahs, the concepts of human rights, rule of law, international norms of responsibility, and modernity are threats to be snuffed out, rather than virtues to be embraced. Their retrograde doctrine is one of power, dictatorship and domination over its people and the region, no matter the human cost. Its goal is the consolidation of the revolution which is martially enforced at home by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and prosecuted abroad by the Quds Force and Iran’s many proxy groups...."

Citing the current crisis in Syria, the general stated that,"The Iranian regime knows that the fall of Assad and the loss of Syria as a client state would be an enormous strategic loss. It continues to do everything within its power to avert that end, and to satisfy its hegemonic ambitions – in part, by supporting international terrorist groups that pose a clear and direct threat to the United States and our allies.Unquestionably, Iran’s grand strategy – one that constitutionally compels it to export its brand of Islamic Revolution—entails consolidating the hold it has gained in Iraq—a grip it seeks to tighten, directly and through proxies; and by stoking the sectarian fires that have been such a gross impediment to the brighter future for which the Iraqi people, the United States, and our allies have sacrificed so much...."

This came as reports from the NCRI officials are reporting,"In an unlawful act, on Wednesday, September 30, Iraqi agents once again prevented entry of repair and maintenance items for Camp Liberty infrastructure. These forces that were carrying out orders of the Governmental Committee tasked to suppress Camp Liberty residents that functions under Faleh Fayyad also prevented basic supplies of residents from getting to the camp returning them from the camp’s entrance. Some of these items were stationeries, clothing, nylon table covers, welding electrodes to repair worn out black water tanks, and simple electrical items such as plugs, cables…

Moreover, many spare parts for various equipment s have also been blocked since two months ago (August 4).

Additionally, it is over two years now that the Governmental Committee has prevented contractors from coming to the camp for the repair of air-conditioning systems and heaters. These anti human measures are flagrant violation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Government of Iraq and the United Nations on 25 December 2011 according to which residents should be able to seal contracts with various contractors for renovation or repairs in the camp.

Obstructing entry of basic needs that are wholly paid for by the residents is a breach of humanitarian and human rights standards. Regretfully, the United Nations has not taken any serious steps to end this siege despite the fact that the residents of the camp have constantly reported these actions to UNA MI.

The Iranian Resistance calls on the United Nations and the U.S. government that have repeatedly and in writing committed themselves to the security and well being of Camp Liberty residents and also the European Union to take immediate steps to end this anti human siege...."

According to Hamid Azimi of the Organization of Iranian American Communities - OIAC and the Iranian American Community of Northern California,"It is amazing how US promises made to the people of Ashraf has been so blatantly broken and although everyone on both side of the political isle in the Congress agree that something should be done, State Department and White House are not taking any action to protect the Iranian refugees who have ended up in Camp Liberty Iraq.The least White House can do is to assist relatives of Camp Liberty residents to be able to travel from US to visit them.The fact that Iraq is not allowing relative from US to enter Iraq is yet another absurd reality..."

This sentiment was echoed by former UN Ambassador Bill Richardson, former DNC Chairmen Ed Renell and Howard Dean in a letter that stated, “The truth is that the residents of Camp Liberty have fulfilled every assurance requested and received by the United States Government, while the United States, for its part, has failed to fulfill every important assurance it has extended to the residents.”

- Jose Ricardo G. Bondoc

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