LONDON, March 2 (UPI) — The mullahs ruling Iran have had little reason to be happy with the United Nations in recent weeks, being forced to cope with crippling sanctions because of their pursuit of nuclear weapons and being further isolated by the world community with every passing day.
And, at home, the government is divided and the people are restless, especially having seen the Arab Spring force long-term dictators from power. So the mullahs are happy to get any good news and find any friends. On top of the list of these friends is the government of Iraq, which is doing its best to carry out Tehran’s campaign to eradicate its main opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran and its main component, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran.
Some 3,400 PMOI members have been living peacefully in Iraq for a quarter of a century but since the United States agreed to leave Iraq their life has been in turmoil. Acting to please his bosses in Tehran, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has engaged in a campaign of harassment and then murder to drive these dissidents from their homes in Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad.
Finally, with assurances from the United Nations and United States and after pleas by Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the Iranian opposition, Ashraf residents agreed to be transferred to Camp Liberty, a former U.S. Army base near Baghdad Airport, where they would be processed by the U.N. refugee agency before being relocated in third countries.
It sounded too good to be true — and it was. The devious Maliki, either with complicity or sheer ignorance by U.N. officials, had turned “liberty” into imprisonment. What was supposed to be a temporary home with all the freedoms and dignities of Camp Ashraf became a walled enclosure with Iraqi police stations, rampant presence of Iraqi armed forces, sophisticated Iraqi listening devices atop the walls and living conditions unfit for animals, much less humans.
How did this all happen? How did the U.N. Assistance Mission to Iraq determine that the conditions at Camp Liberty met any humanitarian standards? How could the secretary-general’s special representative, Ambassador Martin Kobler, declare his satisfaction with the arrangements at Camp Liberty that has all the markings of a prison?
Why won’t the Iraqi government allow a bipartisan delegation of former high-ranking U.S. officials to go to Camp Liberty and see for themselves the conditions that Kobler and Maliki consider suitable?
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has continued to promise to fulfill America’s legal and moral commitment to these disheartened dissidents. But promises are no longer sufficient, especially when the U.N. officials who should be the first to complain are turning a blind eye.
If Ambassador Kobler and the UNAMI officials will not act, the United States must. The 400 PMOI members at Camp Liberty should be sped through to new homes without delay. And no more of the remaining 3,000 dissidents at Camp Ashraf can be expected to proceed to Camp Liberty.
Encouraged Rajavi, by the NCRI president-elect, to show the good will of the resistance, the first 400 now sit in deplorable conditions not in “liberty” but in virtual prison.
And, according to secret Iranian documents, that’s all part of the mullahs’ long-term plan.
Given what has happened in the PMOI members’ first few days at Camp Liberty, there’s no reason to disbelieve these documents.
Not only should the United States demand — very strongly — that Maliki keep his promises and that UNAMI and Ambassador Kobler recognize the true situation but Secretary Clinton should move to unshackle the PMOI from its unfair designation as a foreign terrorist organization. That not only will make more places accessible for the Ashraf dissidents to relocate but it will serve as further notice to the mullahs, and to their puppet Maliki, that the noose is closing.
If Iran is a terrorist state — and few in the world community would disagree — then those who desire a free Iran should do everything possible to allow an “Iranian Spring,” which not only would return democracy to a nation that had enjoyed it for thousands of years but remove the threat of a nuclear theocracy from the world stage.
If ever there was a win-win situation, this is it.
(Brian Binley is conservative member of British Parliament for Northampton South and a leading member of British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom.)