The Iraqi government recently warned the 1200 or so remaining residents of Camp Ashraf in Iraq that they must immediately begin to move to a temporary transit facility, Camp Hurriya near Baghdad, in accordance with a U.N.-supported plan for their peaceful relocation out of Iraq.
Camp Ashraf is operated by an Iranian dissident group known as the Mujahadin-e Khalq, which opposes Iran’s clerical regime. About 2000 individuals have already relocated from Ashraf to Hurriya, but the process has stalled since early May. The government of Iraq has set multiple deadlines for closing Ashraf, which were not met due to the stalled moves.
The United States, while noting the considerable spirit of cooperation demonstrated by the Government of Iraq, is concerned by its reference to the possible closure of Camp Ashraf by involuntary relocation of its residents.
State Department Acting Deputy Spokesperson Patrick Ventrell urged the Iraqi government “to remain patient and flexible in seeking a voluntary arrangement for continued relocations, as only a peaceful resolution to the situation at Camp Ashraf is acceptable. This requires,” he said in a statement, “that continued dialogue be pursued in place of forcible measures and that all sides act in accordance with the December 25, 2011 Memorandum of Understanding between the Iraqi Government and the United Nations.”
Mr. Ventrell also called on the leadership at Camp Ashraf “to immediately resume cooperation with the relocation of residents to Camp Hurriya.” He noted the Iraqi Government’s recent delivery of a cargo convoy of goods which had been demanded by Camp Ashraf residents, and said that “allegations of dire humanitarian conditions at Hurriya are inconsistent with observations made by U.S. Government officials who have visited…as well as reporting from U.N. monitors.
Based on these reports and other information, it is clear,” said Mr. Ventrell, “that the quality of life at Hurriya exceeds accepted humanitarian standards. The continued intransigence of the residents’ leadership in…making demands prior to any agreement to relocate further Ashraf residents is unacceptable.”
A peaceful way forward for Camp Ashraf’s closure has been provided by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, said State Department Acting Deputy Spokesperson Ventrell. ”The United States,” he said, “urges adherence to this process to finally and peacefully close Camp Ashraf. Ashraf’s closure will allow [the United Nations], the United States, and our partners to focus attention and efforts on a durable solution for the residents’ relocation outside of Iraq.”