Embassy Row: Message to John Kerry

From Capitol Hill to Brussels, supporters of the Iranian opposition are urging Secretary of State John F. Kerry to take action against Iraq for the massacre of 52 Iranian exiles by Iraqi gunmen.

Thirty-four House members urged Mr. Kerry to cut funds for Iraq until Baghdad takes “clear and verifiable efforts” to protect more than 3,000 dissidents in a refugee camp near the international airport.

They called on Mr. Kerry to demand the release of seven hostages taken during a Sept. 1 raid on Camp Ashraf, a smaller camp north of the capital.

The House members and other lawmakers noted that most of the victims were shot in the head and many had their hands tied behind their backs.

Sen. Roy Blunt said in a separate letter to Mr. Kerry that the U.S. is obligated to protect the dissidents, the former armed wing of the National Council of Resistance of Iran. U.S. troops disarmed the exiles in 2003 and promised to guarantee their safety. The Obama administration turned them over to Iraq in 2009.

“We have a moral, if not legal, obligation to follow through on that commitment,” said the Missouri Republican, a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services.

Sen. Jerry Moran, Kansas Republican, called on Mr. Kerry to “redouble” efforts to resettle the dissidents outside of Iraq, whose government is increasingly pro-Iranian.

From Brussels, a member of the European Parliament warned Mr. Kerry about the possible extradition of the seven hostages to Iran, where they would be executed.

“If these asylum-seekers are now forcibly returned to Iran to face certain torture and execution, the U.S. will share responsibility for their fate,” said Struan Stevenson, a Scottish Conservative and president the parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq.

NO SNUB TO OBAMA

The president of Sierra Leone caused a bit of a mystery when he canceled his visit to Washington last week. But there was no hidden agenda and no snub to President Obama, whom he had met in March.

Ernest Bai Koroma called off his trip because of a sports injury, a close aide said Sunday.

The timing was just a coincidence. His cancellation came the same week that Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff scrapped a state visit to Washington to protest U.S. electronic spying on her country.

Mr. Koroma’s special executive assistant, Dr. Sylvia Blyden, said the president of the West African nation injured an ankle playing squash, and doctors ordered him not to travel.

Dr. Blyden and Information Minister Alpha Kanu came to Washington to represent Mr. Koroma, who was scheduled to meet with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and speak at the National Museum of African Arts.

Mr. Koroma delivered the keynote address at a World Bank meeting by videoconference.

Foreign Minister Samura Kamara will deliver a speech on his behalf at the U.N. General Assembly this week.

DIPLOMATIC TRAFFIC

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Tuesday

Enrico Giovannini, Italy’s minister of labor and social policies, who addresses the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Mona Makram-Ebeid, a former member of the Egyptian parliament, who speaks at the Woodrow Wilson International Center.

Wednesday

Joaquin Almunia, a vice president of the European Commission, who addresses the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Friday

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India, who holds talks with President Obama.

Embassy Row is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. James Morrison can be reached at jmorrison@washingtontimes.com or @EmbassyRow.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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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