New Europe -Dr Barry Morgan: When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon assigned Martin Kobler to be his special ambassador to try to resolve a major impasse in Iraq, there was finally hope that something might be accomplished. Unfortunately, Ambassador Kobler, instead of working to resolve the situation involving 3,400 Iranian dissidents in Iraq, has made their plight even worse.
It is ironic that Mr. Kobler’s titles include being head of UNAMI, the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq, because one must wonder who he is assisting. In his almost year-long mission, he has found nothing wrong with the actions of the government of Nouri al-Maliki, even though those actions do nothing but assist the mullahs in Iran.
The UN ambassador is therefore helping the Iraqis to squelch Iranian dissidents who want to free their homeland while the UN Security Council is trying to bring pressure to bear on the Iranian government the dissidents are opposing.
At issue is the plight of these Iranian dissidents, members of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK) who had been living peacefully at a place called Camp Ashraf, between Baghdad and the Iranian border. They were safe as long as US troops were present in Iraq, but after they withdrew, the Iraqis stepped in to do Tehran’s bidding.
Twice since 2009, Iraqi forces attacked the camp, killing 49 people and wounding more than 1,000. Then, the Maliki government demanded that the residents leave Iraq, and finally as a result of a massive humanitarian international campaign it agreed to transfer them to a former U.S. base nearer Baghdad called Camp Liberty, where they were meant to be processed as refugees for transfer to other countries.
Because the UN and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised to protect them, Iranian Resistance leader Mrs. Maryam Rajavi persuaded the dissidents to accept the transfer. So far, about 2,000 have made the move, but they certainly did not find what they expected.
Conditions are squalid. There is little running water or air conditioners although temperatures are above 57° degrees Celsius; there are no facilities for the handicapped and they are surrounded by Iraqi forces.
And not a single person has been processed for transfer.
Ambassador Kobler has accepted everything the Iraqis have told him. Everything is fine at Camp Liberty, according to him. It is the Iranian dissidents who are the problem. They are the ones who will not cooperate, he told the Security Council last week. These claims were in sharp contrast with the Secretary General’s report dated 11 July and Mr. Kobler’s own previous reports.
The ambassador blames everyone but those responsible.
He has ignored the growing humanitarian tragedy while talking about the complications and problems in the “dialogue between UNAMI and the residents and between the residents and the Government of Iraq.” Mr. Kobler is well aware that the residents of Ashraf and Liberty have caused no problem or complications in meetings with the UNAMI or Iraqi officials.
He also targets the Iranians dissidents’ supporters worldwide: “Responsibility also falls on many international supporters. It is of great importance that they contribute positively to influence the residents’ position.”
Mr. Kobler is annoyed with the international community’s efforts to prevent the Iraqi government and the Iranian regime’s plot to force the residents of the camp into submission.
Even though he refuses to honor the universal values of human rights that are the foundations of the UN, the defenders of the Camp Ashraf residents will do our utmost to support and defend their rights. Their demands are very reasonable and easily achievable, but sadly, Mr. Kobler’s one-sided actions have been instrumental in the Iraqi government’s refusal to realize these legitimate demands.