Embassy Row: Prison camp Liberty

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Iranian dissidents in the U.S. are preparing for the Persian New Year with a major push in Washington for the removal of the brutal, theocratic regime in Iran and for the relocation of 3,000 Iranian refugees confined to a squalid camp in Iraq where they are targeted by pro-Iranian terrorists.

Supporters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran hosted a conference this week at the Capitol with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and other national security analysts. The resistance has a luncheon scheduled Friday with other congressional supporters.

Rep. Ted Poe is drawing endorsements from Democrats and Republicans for a resolution condemning a Feb. 9 attack against the Iranian refugees in the ironically named Camp Liberty, near the Baghdad airport. The Texas Republican is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on terrorism, nonproliferation and trade.

The State Department, meanwhile, is warning American travelers in Iraq of increased dangers since the attack.

A new Islamic terrorist group called the Mukhtar Army claimed credit for the assault with rockets and mortars that killed seven people and wounded hundreds of other camp residents. An eighth Iranian dissident who was critically injured in the attack died this week.

Mr. Gingrich blamed the increasingly pro-Iranian government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for failing to the stop the attacks on the refugees, who formed the armed wing of the resistance until they surrendered their weapons to U.S. forces after the overthrow of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003. The U.S. promised to protect the disarmed fighters and treat them as internationally recognized refugees.

“These attacks on Camp Liberty aren’t accidents. They aren’t the behavior of bandits,” Mr. Gingrich told about 300 resistance supporters, congressional staffers and diplomats at a forum in the Capitol Visitors’ Center on Tuesday. “This is a deliberate effort by the Maliki regime to humiliate the United States to prove our impotence and to curry favor with the Iranians.”

The Obama administration supported Mr. al-Maliki’s demand last year that the Iranian refugees be relocated from Camp Ashraf, a larger and more secure compound, to Camp Liberty, a smaller and more vulnerable site with poor sanitation.

“Let’s be clear,” Mr. Gingrich said. “The sheer hypocrisy of calling a camp ‘Liberty’ should tell you everything you need to know about how bad this is.”

Retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, a former national security adviser under President Obama, told the conference that the facility should be called “Camp Shame.”

“All continue to live in poor and oppressive conditions, deprived of proper medical care and legal rights,” he said. “The facility has become more of a prison than a camp.”

Gen. Jones, who served in the White House from 2009 to 2010, described a meeting he held last year with Mr. al-Maliki, who said that Iran never interferes in Iraqi domestic affairs.

“It was among the most discouraging meetings I have ever attended,” Gen. Jones said. “Frankly, given our enormous sacrifice over the past decade, it was insulting.”

More than 4,400 U.S. troops died liberating Iraq.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, noted that Mr. Obama has “made clear he would be prepared to use military force” to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

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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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