Today, President Barack Obama has available the same rationale that justified intervention in Libya to justify a non-military response to avert a humanitarian disaster in Iraq where 3,400 Iranian dissidents — members of the principal Iranian opposition movement, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK) — have been subjected to regular shootings and harassment by Iraqi soldiers. Located at Camp Ashraf, northeast of Baghdad, they are threatened with deportation to Iran. Yet, the Obama Administration seems oblivious to their fate, writing them off presumably as the price of better relations with Iraq or perhaps an opportunity for „engagement“ with Iran.
On Dec. 31, 2011, the day that the last American soldier is due to leave Iraq, Camp Ashraf is under orders by the Iraqi regime to close down and for its residents to be dispersed to prisons or concentration camps, or to the tender mercies of Iranian executioners. Two unprovoked armed assaults by the Iraqi Army on Camp Ashraf in 2009 and last April resulted in over forty dead and hundreds injured by Iraqi soldiers carrying US-made weapons. There is no reason to hope that the impending closure will be either peaceful or humane, despite the fact that the Ashraf residents were granted protected persons status under the Fourth Geneva Convention by the US military.
Following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Ashraf residents were provided with written guarantees by US authorities that, in return for disarming voluntarily, the US would protect them. But, since early 2009, when the US handed over responsibility for the security of Camp Ashraf to Iraqi forces, that guarantee has become a cruel hoax as the Iraqi Army continues to impose a punishing blockade, depriving residents of basic services, including access to medical care.