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Reader comment on item: Iraq - A Province of Iran?

Submitted by Francis Brooke (Iraq), May 12, 2011 at 06:35

Baghdad, May 12, '11

Daniel,

You know better than this. The MEK is hated in Iraq for its central role in Saddam's serial internal genocides (@180,000 Kurds, @250,000 Shi'a -lest we forget). This is an internal Iraqi political issue with great resonance for millions of mourning families.

Most Ashrafis have European passports and are free to travel. Many are US citizens. They are free to live where they want, even in Iraq, but their camp's existence as a no go zone for the Iraqi government is greatly resented. Further, your intimations that the MEK can act as proxy force against Ir\an does not help their case; no Iraqi (or Iranian) wants a return to the Iran/Iraq war with its mor than a million dead.

Don't worry about Iran in Iraq. The Iraqis are tough enough to take care of themselves.

If you want to see for yourself, you know you have a standing invitation. Just let me know. We'll even go to Ashraf if you want.

Francis

Submitting....

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Daniel Pipes replies:

Dear Francis:

Thanks for your comments on my article about Camp Ashraf. I will reply to three of your charges.

"The MEK is hated in Iraq for its central role in Saddam's serial internal genocides (@180,000 Kurds, @250,000 Shi'a - lest we forget)."

Kurds: First, Jonathan Wright obtained a document (which he wrote up for Reuters in 2002) from a civil suit conducted in the Netherlands. It stated that the MeK had no part in Saddam Hussein's military operations against the Kurds in northern Iraq. "[We] can confirm that the Mujahedin were not involved in suppressing the Kurdish people neither during the uprising nor in its aftermath."

Second, an inquiry by the International Educational Development/Humanitarian Law Project, a United Nations roster non-governmental organization, concluded that allegations about the MeK suppressing the Kurds were "false," and that there was "compelling evidence" that the charges were propagated by agents of the Khamene'i regime seeking to discredit the MeK. (See International Educational Development, "Implications of Humanitarian Activities for the Enjoyment of Human Rights." UN Document # E/CN.4/Sub.2/1995/NGO/55, August 22, 1995.)

Shiites: Sami Ghazi al-Assadi, secretary general of the Intifidiya Movement of Sha'baniya, an Iraqi Shiite group, wrote a letter to then-EU foreign policy head Javier Solana indicating that the MeK did not play the role you attribute to it in the uprising in southern Iraq: "The People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran had no participation in suppressing the Shiite movement against the previous government in 1991."

"Most Ashrafis have European passports and are free to travel." "Many [Ashrafis] are US citizens. They are free to live where they want, even in Iraq,"

Regardless what passports Ashraf residents carry, they are not free to return to most of these countries because of the U.S. terrorist tag against the MeK. Although the European Union removed its terrorist designation of the MeK, EU countries hide behind the fact that U.S. antiterrorism legislation forbids entry into the United States of members of a terrorist organization. Because of the terrorist designation of the MeK, residents of Ashraf have a high bar to jump to make the case for entry into the United States or EU states.

"Don't worry about Iran in Iraq. The Iraqis are tough enough to take care of themselves."

See Michael Eisenstadt, Michael Knights, and Ahmed Ali, Iran's Influence in Iraq: Countering Tehran's Whole-of-Government Approach (Washington Institute for Near East Policy, April 2011) for an in-depth analysis why I "worry about Iran in Iraq." Getting back to the subject at hand, Iraqi treatment of the residents of Camp Ashraf illustrates precisely this influence.

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