What the ambassador forgot
Thursday, 14 July 2011
By Lord Corbett
The US is all over the place in its country-by-country response to the Arab Spring. Here support for military action, there a slap access the wrists – and in some cases simply silence.
In Syria, US Ambassador Robert Ford goes to Hama, the centre of the pro-democracy uprising against the brutal Assad. But in Iraq, US Ambassador James Jeffrey tells Iranian pro-democracy refugees at Camp Ashraf, 60 km north-east of Baghdad, to disband their Resistance movement and volunteer to forcibly transfer elsewhere in the depths of the country.
Poor Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Not so much mixed messages as very mixed up ones.
Ambassador Jeffrey seems to have forgotten that once the US handed over responsibility for the 3,400 Resistance members at Ashraf, the Maliki government, under Iranian instruction, decided that Ashraf would be demolished by the end of this year with whatever force is needed.
Last April, Iraqi and Iranian thugs in army uniforms at Ashraf killed 36 defenceless residents and wounded 350 others. Compounding this savage breach of international humanitarian law, they refused to let residents bury their dead, denied hospital treatment to most of those seriously injured – and then continued to restrict drugs and other urgent medical supplies from entering the camp.
The effect of what Ambassador Jeffrey is proposing is that Iran extends its already malign interference in Iraq, after funding, training and arming the militias which cost so many British and US lives after Saddam Hussein was removed.
Earlier this month, Mr. Mohammad Reza Rahimi, Iran’s First Vice President, led a so-called private sector delegation across the border to boost trade with Iraq – in defiance on UN sanctions. Much of Iran’s “private sector” is owned and headed by senior officers of the Revolutionary Guards Corps, the mullahs’ private army, kept obedient through lucrative economic privileges.
Iran has already penetrated Iraqi business. The Etka Company is owned by a section of the mullahs’ army pretending to be a private company. The Saneer and Farab companies are owned by the Energy Ministry, with many more disguised under similar camouflage.
As the elite army Quds Force said in a report to the country’s Presidential Economic Development HQ: “The current insecurity in Iraq is the best opportunity to enter its market because insecurity frightens Western countries…”
Behind this export push is the fact that a compliant Iraq is one of the few countries through which Iran can evade the UN sanctions imposed because of its illicit nuclear weapons development.
This is the quagmire into which Ambassador Jeffrey has strayed.
And what do the Iranian Resistance members at Ashraf get out of this?
The certainty that if they are not slaughtered in another Srebrenica-style attack on their home for more than 25 years, they will be picked off at a new base deep in the desert, far away from the eyes of the world.
Time to think again, Ambassador – and maybe Mrs. Clinton should insist he urgently does so.
The best answer to another slaughter at Ashraf is for a UN monitoring ream to be placed there while attempts be made to resettle residents in democratic countries before they can return to a post-mullah, free and democratic Iran.
Lord Corbett of Castle Vale is Chairman of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom. He is a former Chairman of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.