The US has so far ignored calls to assert its authority via the UN, leaving its hapless envoy Mr Lawrence Butler appointed to help resolve the matter to make things even worse and aid preparations for another murderous assault on the defenceless refugees. Mr Butler's biased comments about the PMOI resistance in an article in the New York Times (23 July) puts him on the side of the Iraqi Prime Minister's forces as, under Iranian orders, they plan another attack.
It was expected that following the last attack against Ashraf in April, the US and Mr Butler would publish the report of a visit by American political, military and medical personnel to the camp, their observations on the bodies of the murdered and the state of the injured, denied adequate medical assistance. It was also expected he would not obstruct visits to Ashraf by member of the European Parliament and US Congress.
Instead, Ambassador Butler, after 3 months of negotiations with the Camp leadership breached a pledge to keep the talks confidential and by smuggling a New York Times journalist into Ashraf whose article helped justify the failure of the US to prevent another massacre and further crimes. Astonishingly Mr Butler rounded on residents asserting they were guilty of "crimes" and lying, were dangerous and "had blood on their hands".
No one told him that in 2003 US Security officials individually interviewed the 3,400 residents clearing them of any breaches of US law and issuing them with cards confirming their status as "protected persons" under the 4th Geneva Convention. That lasts until their future has been secured.
Tehran's mullahs could not have been more pleased with Mr Butler's comments. "Washington is trying extremely hard to save the members of the PMOI and Camp Ashraf, but these efforts have been without result so far" chorused the state-run media. And the deputy assistant secretary of the US State Department echoed this by describing the PMOI as "a dangerous group". This, despite the fact, that a branch of the UK's Court of Appeal, ruled that the proscription of the PMOI was "perverse" in the light of the evidence and the government's refusal to de-proscribe the group and ordered them to do so in 2008. The EU followed suit.
Mr Butler tries to excuse the executioner of the Ashraf outrages and blames the PMOI for the blood spilt so far, and that which is to be shed, as Iraq uses whatever force is needed to demolish the Camp by the end of the year on the orders of Iran.
The New York Times article by Mr Butler's mouthpiece Tim Arango, reported: "Mr Butler is keen to puncture what he believes is the false narrative that is spouted around the group since the American invasion (of Iraq in 2003) which has helped it secure such prominent support" without a shred of evidence - which in any event the UK court said did not exist - Mr Butler is quoted as saying, he thought out of earshot of PMOI representatives: "They have blood on their hands."
Mr Butler is quoted as asserting that the PMOI never provided any useful intelligence about the Iranian government or its nuclear programme and that for 6 years it provided unreliable information to the Defence Intelligence Agency which amounted to "a slew of lies."
Strange then that a former US President, Vice-President, Secretary of State and National Security Advisor acknowledged Iran's atomic projects were revealed for the first time by the PMOI as well as details of Iran's murderous meddling in Iraq.
Mr Butler's proposal to resettle Ashraf residents elsewhere in Iraq seems to have only the backing of Iraq and Iran. The US Foreign Affairs Committee, the European Parliament, the Speaker of the Iraqi parliament and 4,000 Parliamentarians around the world believe this would simply expose residents to even greater risk. The UN Secretary-General at the Security Council urged member States to support a resolution agreed by Iraq and Ashraf residents.
The winner in all this are the mullahs in Tehran. This cannot be what the US Secretary of State wants and she should recall Mr Butler and replace him with an envoy who backs the widespread calls to resettle residents in third countries. While the fundamentalist Iranian regime has stepped up efforts to obtain nuclear weapons and its lethal meddling in the Middle East, current US policy is deeply harmful. Its continuation incites Iran and endangers the interest of the West and those millions inside Iran who cry freedom.
British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom
26 July 2011