- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 25, 2010

MESSAGE TO IRAQ

A leading Iranian exile in Washington is praising Congress for a resolution demanding that Iraq fulfill its promises to protect Iranian dissidents held in a former rebel camp north of Baghdad and guarantee that none will be deported to Iran to face certain execution.

“Since the June uprising in Iran, this is the first major act of support for the Iranian democracy movement by a majority of members of Congress,” Alireza Jafarzadeh told Embassy Row.

The bipartisan resolution is endorsed by 125 Democrats and 96 Republicans, guaranteeing its passage by the full House when it comes up for a vote. The supporters include nine committee chairmen, two committee chairwomen and 30 members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“This will certainly get the attention of Tehran, Baghdad and Washington, and, most importantly, the Iranian streets,” said Mr. Jafarzadeh, president of Strategic Policy Consulting and the Iranian dissident who exposed Iran’s secret nuclear facilities in 2002.

Twelve congressional leaders last week announced they had reached 221 supporters for the House resolution that “deplores the ongoing violence by Iraqi security forces” against the Iranian dissidents in Camp Ashraf and calls on the Iraqi government to “live up to its commitment to the United States to ensure the well-being” of the camp’s 3,400 residents, who include 1,000 women. The resolution also urges President Obama to take “necessary and appropriate” measures to prevent inhumane treatment against the camp residents who are recognized as “protected persons” under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Rep. Bob Filner, California Democrat and co-chairman of the House Iran Human Rights and Democracy Caucus, said the residents of Camp Ashraf are an “inspiration for millions of Iranians” who oppose the brutal theocratic regime in Tehran.

“Increased [political] suppression in Iran and the attempt to destroy Camp Ashraf are two sides of the same coin: Tehran’s unsuccessful drive to contain the uprising of the Iranian people,” he said.

Iran has been pressuring Iraq to return the camp residents, who are members of the previously armed resistance called the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), also known as the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran. In July 2009, Iraqi security forces invaded the camp, killed 11 people and wounded 500 only seven months after the United States transferred control of the camp to Iraq. The MEK surrendered its weapons to U.S. forces after the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

For years, Iran has been demanding that any foreign government that wants to deal with it must first list the MEK and the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the political umbrella group of Iranian exiles, as terrorists. The United States placed the resistance on its terrorist blacklist during the Clinton administration when it was trying to open talks with Iran. The European Union last year removed the resistance from its own terrorist list, after a European court ruled there was insufficient evidence to accuse them of terrorism.

DIPLOMATIC FIRSTS

The first black U.S. ambassador to the Philippines is preparing to replace the first female American ambassador to the southeast Asian island nation.

Harry K. Thomas is expected to take up his post “sometime in the coming weeks,” a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman told reporters in the Philippines. He will replace Kristie A. Kenney, the first woman to represent the United States in Manila. Mrs. Kenney completed her tour as ambassador earlier this year.

Mr. Thomas, a career diplomat, most recently served as director-general of the Foreign Service and director of human resources at the State Department. He was the ambassador in Bangladesh from 2003 to 2005.

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

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