(Back in October all hope looked lost. While it seems promising that the UN is spearheading the relocation of Camp residents to the former US Camp Victory, this story series was the number one story throughout 2011. Let’s hope its ending is safe and prosperous in 2012. -Ed.)
While most in the US and around the globe cheer the imminent departure of US troops from Iraq, there are 3,400 men, women and children, Iranian refugees inside Iraq Camp Ashraf, wondering if they are only 68-days from extinction? While late headlines from CNN Sunday night said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Iran to keep its hands off Iraq, there is little likelihood that rogue nation state will heed her warning.
Located 60 km NW of Baghdad and about the same distance from the Iranian border to the west, Camp Ashraf is a constant target of harassment and bloody attacks from Iraqi troops and Iranian secret police. Earlier this spring a coordinated Iraqi police and Iranian Qod led attack left 36 refugees dead and more than 350 injured. Massive loudspeakers blare pro-Iranian government slogans night and day into the camp and residents are denied medical care. Around the world Ashraf refugees receive speeches of support from UK and EU parliamentary humanitarian committees, yet no one seems able to take responsibility for solving the humanitarian crisis which could now aptly be called a pending genocide.
Tuesday morning in Westminster there will be yet another cross-parliamentary Committee meeting to study what to do in light of what the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) call credible threats of another planned assault on Camp Ashraf. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki has ordered the camp closed by 31 December in violation of international law. President in exile Madame Rajavi has said any bloodshed caused or witnessed by the Al Maliki government is the direct responsibility of the US and UN. Both parties (and, more importantly, their mainstream media) barely cover this story… on page A27, below the fold.
Everybody continues talking past each other, there is a growing sense of hopelessness and the clock continues to tick on a story most journalists are afraid to cover because the US still considers NCRI (their Arabic name is the PMOI) a terrorist organisation. This designation is a holdover from the 1990s despite universal agreement it was spurious from the beginning. It was designed by the Clinton Administration as a red herring condemnation trade-off with which to normalise relations with Iran who had, in theory, elected a moderate leader. Of course that is also when they began their secret nuclear programme. So the ‘terrorist’ designation, since renounced by the UK and EU, has been used as a cover to ignore the crisis and blame anyone who speaks out in their favour as “soft on terrorism.”
Despite support for Madame Rajavi and NCRI from (noun, verb and 9/11) former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former head of US Homeland Security Tom Ridge, former Democratic Congressman Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island and dozens of other world, Congressional and Parliamentary leaders, the crisis continues. The world though continues to obsess on the death of Qadaffi, the Eurozone financial crises talks, cross-governmental spats between England and France and whether or not the troubled movie actress Lindsay Lohan shows up Monday for her court-ordered community service.
It’s time for people to move yet the landscape is filled with obstacles:
- Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki is clearly in bed with NCRI’s Iranian government tormentors (the price of a very shaky internal peace between Sunni and Shia Muslims).
- Iraq does not want the responsibility or cost of maintaining the 25-year old camp.
- The Iranian regime wants this opposition group of former fighters eliminated.
- The UN continues to drag its feet when peacekeepers should already be on the ground dismantling loudspeakers and protecting the camp, instead they hope someone else will take care of the issue.
- The US government sees their military exit as the Iraqi government’s issue thus closing the book on the issue.
- The EU and UK Parliaments have held meetings but while quick to militarily stop Qadaffi from slaughtering 70,000 people in Benghazi; will not likely do anything other than issue proclamations to help the people of Camp Ashraf.
We’re not talking Eagle Scouts on any side of this discussion. Everyone has their horse in this race but there is one agenda missing from the discussion. That of those without a voice, the real 99%, the people of Camp Ashraf. So the clock ticks down to zero. The NCRI warn of a Srebrenica-style massacre if the world does nothing but wag its jaws.
This is a collective failure of will.
The Syrian people did not get help and protection from the sadistic Basheer. Now the worry is 3,400 people in the Iraqi desert will also be let down because no matter how hard they try, their voices are constantly lost in a sea of “more important” news.
Denis G Campbell is the author of 6 books including 'Billionaire Boys Election Freak Show,' 'The Vagina Wars' & 'Egypt Unsh@ckled.' He is the editor of UK Progressive Magazine and provides commentary to the BBC, itv Al Jazeera English, CNN, MSNBC and others. His weekly 'World View with Denis Campbell' segment can be heard every Thursday on the globally syndicated The David Pakman Show. You can follow him on Twitter via @UKProgressive and on Facebook.
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