Concerns raised at the US Senate hearing about Camp Ashraf

In a hearing at the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services on February 3, Mr. James Jeffrey, US Ambassador to Iraq, gave testimony on the US policy toward Iraq.

During the hearing, Senator John McCain raised concern about the plight of Camp Ashraf residents and said:
“There is a place in Iraq that is inhabited by Iranian refugees called Camp Ashraf and it has been under the protection of American troops. I am concerned about the welfare and well-being and security of these people. I hope that we can address this issue in a way that would reassure them of America and Iraqi’s government’s commitment to their security.”

Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Carl Levin, thanked the point raised by Sen. McCain and said: “We share your concern also about the group that you mentioned.”

Senator John McCain addressing Ambassador Jeffrey said: “I hope that Ambassador you make some representations to the Iraqi’s government concerning situation in Camp Ashraf.”

The hearing continued on Ashraf as follows:

Senator Levin: “There is another unresolved issue which is the future of the group that is at Camp Ashraf, which is an Iranian dissident group and ambassador, I want to know whether or not you believe that the government of Iraq has the obligation to provide adequate protection for these people and whether or not they are doing it and whether you are confident that if they are providing adequate protection and that they will continue to do so after the December.”

Ambassador James Jeffrey: “First of all, Mr. Chairman, they do have obligations both under international law and a specific written agreement with us from 2008 to both provide adequate humanitarian protection and care of these people and not to do force them to go to a country where they get legitimately expect to be mistreated.

The Iraqis generally are providing adequate security and protection for these people. We have had numbers of unfortunate incidents. We are on this and the United Nations and we go up there every week and we are in constant contacts with Iraqis and we talk with them all the time.”

Senator Carl Levin: “How confident are you that they are going to provide the protection after December?”

Ambassador James Jeffrey: “I absolutely think that they will continue to provide, I mean, there are no US forces there Senator, and I don’t think that whether we are present or after we are gone that will change their position, the international community has a certain basic expectation of all members of the international community and one of them is not to mistreat people who are in these conditions.”

Senator Carl Levin: “Can you give us a confidence level? Are you very confident of providing protection? Are you very confident?”

Ambassador James Jeffrey: “On the scale of not confident to a very confident, I am confident.”

Senator Carl Levin: “On the scale?”

Ambassador James Jeffrey: “As I said confident would be one level below very confident.”

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