MEK expert Anne Singleton outlines plan to close Camp Ashraf
Al-Mostanseriah University Baghdad, April 2011
Anne Singleton visited Iraq as representative of Iran-Interlink at the invitation of the Baladiyeh Foundation, a human rights NGO based in Baghdad. The Baladiyeh Foundation, headed by Mrs Ahlam al-Maliki, provides humanitarian assistance to a wide range of deprived sectors of Iraqi society arising directly from the invasion and occupation of Iraq by allied forces in 2003.
Baladiyeh Foundation is concerned by the humanitarian crisis at Camp Ashraf caused by the group’s leaders who are refusing to allow access to human rights organisations to verify the wellbeing of all of the camp’s residents.
Anne Singleton, a leading expert on the Mojahedin-e Khalq terrorist cult, was invited to speak at al-Mostanserieh University in Baghdad to address the problem of removing the group from Iraq.
Singleton outlined the problem which the Government of Iraq faces, telling the audience that the MEK has been used, particularly by neoconservatives and Zionists in the west, to interfere in the internal affairs of Iraq since 2003 when the group mistakenly came under the protection of US forces (the MEK is listed as a terrorist entity in the USA). Since that time, Camp Ashraf has remained the only part of the repressive infrastructure of the former dictator Saddam Hussein which has not been dismantled. In this respect, explained Singleton, the camp has been the locus for training and facilitating violent insurrectionists determined to derail the democratisation process of Iraq. The aim of the violence has been to create sectarian, tribal and religious divisions in Iraqi society which would prevent the unification and progression of the country under a freely elected government. The MEK have acted in conjunction with various Saddamists (Iraqis loyal to the beliefs of the former dictator) and elements in the west in this respect.
Since 2009 when the government of Iraq took over responsibility for protecting the camp from the US military, it has been possible to clamp down on this activity and the result has been a dramatic reduction in the amount of violent activity in the country. However, efforts to remove the group from Iraq as demanded by the Iraqi constitution have been hampered for several reasons.
Singleton explained that while there is no doubt in anybody’s mind that the MEK must be removed from Iraq by the end of 2011 – as three successive democratically elected governments have demanded since December 2003, as the Iraqi constitution demands and as the status of forces agreement (SOFA) dictates – it is becoming clear that the MEK is a unique phenomenon which cannot be treated as a normal political or military entity and therefore its removal will not be a straightforward mission. Evidence of this has already been seen in the violent resistance to attempts by Iraqi security forces to bring the MEK into line with Iraqi law both in July 2009 and on April 8 this year.
Negotiations with the MEK will not resolve the problem explained Singleton, since these talks only address the interests of one person, that is, the MEK leader Massoud Rajavi who is still in hiding in Camp Ashraf. Although he has ordered his loyal followers to violently resist any attempts by the government of Iraq to impose Iraqi law on the camp, it has become clear that only a small number of the camp’s residents are involved in these violent activities. Tens of individuals who have escaped the camp since the 2009 handover all report that most of the camp’s residents are no longer willing or able to continue as members of the terrorist group. It is vital therefore, said Singleton, for an independent agency such as the United Nations Human Rights Commission, to be able to enter the camp without interference, and to conduct a survey of the camp’s residents. This can only be achieved if the MEK leaders are separated from the rank and file and each individual is given the freedom to choose their own future. In this way, the residents of the camp can be removed from Iraqi territory without the violence and bloodshed which is being threatened by Massoud Rajavi.
Iraq is a sovereign country and is capable of resolving this issue in a humanitarian way which will reflect well on this new democracy. The involvement of human rights groups like Baladiyeh Foundation, said Singleton, is a sure sign that the country of Iraq has the confidence and competence to deal with the problem of the MEK effectively and peacefully. The sticking point will be the reaction of western governments which can either help or hinder this process. Above all, it is vital that the UN and other international human rights agencies fully comprehend that the only legitimate human rights position in relation to Camp Ashraf and its residents it to demand the immediate and unconditional organisational disbandment of the group, and to deal with each of the residents as a separate person and not as a slave belonging to Rajavi’s terrorist group.