Embassy Row

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A leading member of the European Parliament on Tuesday appealed to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to disavow remarks by a U.S. diplomat dealing with imperiled Iranian dissidents in Iraq.

Struan Stevenson, president the parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq, complained in a letter to Mrs. Clinton that Ambassador Lawrence Butler undermined the safety of the Iranians in an interview last week in the New York Times.

Mr. Butler is foreign policy adviser to Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the top U.S. commander in Iraq. He has been negotiating with the disarmed rebels of the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran on relocating them from their stronghold in Camp Ashraf in northern Iraq to somewhere else in the country before resettling them in other nations.

Iraq has pledged to close the camp by the end of the year.

Leaders of the 3,400 dissidents fear their lives will be at greater risk if they leave the compound, even though Iraqi forces have attacked them there several times since the United States transferred control of the camp to the Iraqi government in 2009. Iraqi soldiers killed at least 30 camp residents and wounded 320 in the latest attack April 8.

Mr. Stevenson, a Scottish conservative, asked Mrs. Clinton: “Why does Ambassador Butler insist on a plan that only makes the Iranian regime and its proxies in Iraq happy?”

He told Mrs. Clinton that many members of the European Parliament were alarmed by Mr. Butler’s comments.

“Ambassador Butler’s remarks and conduct have put the residents of Ashraf in much greater peril,” Mr. Stevenson said.

He added that the state-run Iranian media have “enthusiastically welcomed Mr. Butler’s venomous remarks … .”

In the New York Times interview, Mr. Butler denounced the Mujahedeen for actions attributed to them more than 30 years ago. The State Department, which lists the Iranian resistance as a terrorist organization, accused the dissidents of killing U.S. officials in the 1970s.

“These people have slaughtered Americans,” Mr. Butler said in the interview. “They have blood on their hands.”

Mr. Stevenson is part of a large group of European and U.S. legislators who are demanding that the State Department remove the group from the terrorist list. The European Union took them off its list in 2009, and a federal court last year ordered the State Department to take the group off the U.S. blacklist.


The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday postponed a vote on President Obama’s nominee for ambassador to Nicaragua, after two senators accused the diplomat of being soft on Cuba.

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About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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