- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 6, 2009

PROTECTION DEMAND

A bipartisan group of House members Wednesday criticized Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for failing to demand protection for Iranian dissidents attacked last week by Iraqi security forces in apparent violation of promises to U.S. authorities.

Twenty-one Democrats and 11 Republicans noted that the United States designated the 3,000 to 4,000 Iranians in Iraq’s Camp Ashraf as “protected persons” under the Fourth Geneva Convention and that the Iraqi government guaranteed that status when U.S. forces turned over control of the site.

A State Department spokesman last week promised that U.S. authorities would monitor the situation to ensure that the Iranians “are treated in accordance with Iraq’s written assurances that it will treat the residents humanely.”

“Madam secretary, this response is clearly inadequate,” the House members said in their letter.

They added that they fear Iraq might try to deport the Iranians to Iran, where they would face prosecution and possible execution for their past attacks against the theocratic regime.

“A community of protected persons has been set upon by security forces of the state to which we relinquished their protection. We believe there is cause to fear the forced expulsion of the Ashraf residents by Iraqi forces,” the lawmakers said.

They called on Mrs. Clinton to direct the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill, to demand that Iraq comply “with international law and with the assurances Iraq gave the U.S. regarding Ashraf residents.”

The Iranians in Camp Ashraf are members of the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, the formerly armed wing of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which the U.S. listed as a terrorist organization when the Clinton administration was trying to improve relations with Iran in the 1990s. U.S. forces disarmed the rebel army after overthrowing Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The George W. Bush administration, after lengthy internal debate, decided to leave the Iranian resistance on the terrorist list. The European Union removed the resistance from its terrorist list last year.

The signatories to the House letter included eight members of the Foreign Affairs Committee - Democrats Barbara Lee of California, Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, Brad Sherman of California and Diane Watson of California; and Republicans John Boozman of Arkansas, Bob Inglis of South Carolina, Ted Poe of Texas and Dana Rohrabacher of California.

They also include two committee chairmen - Carolyn B. Maloney, New York Democrat and chairman of the House-Senate Joint Economic Committee, and Edolphus Towns, New York Democrat and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Relations Committee.

MELODRAMA ENDS

The Senate this week closed the curtains on a diplomatic melodrama by confirming a new U.S. ambassador to the Vatican and ending months of frustration by the Obama administration, which floated several possible nominees that the Holy See privately rejected because of their abortion views.

The Senate confirmed Miguel Diaz, a professor of theology at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn. The Cuba-born, pro-life Democrat actively supported President Obama, whose pro-abortion views anger many mainline Catholics.

Mr. Diaz was acceptable to the Vatican, which, according to Italian news reports, earlier rejected Caroline Kennedy, a pro-choice Democrat, and Douglas Kmiec, a law professor at Pepperdine University who had urged pro-life Catholics to vote for Mr. Obama last year.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.

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