The Iranian regime is definitely the biggest loser of Minister Nouri Al-Maliki withdrawing his candidacy for a third term as Iraq’s Prime Minister. During eight years of divisive and sectarian rule, Maliki had proved himself to be the Iranian regime’s greatest ally in the region, dedicating his power and resources to furthering Iran’s agendas in Iraq and the region.
It had been under Maliki’s tenure that the mullahs in Tehran succeeded in tightening their grip on Iraqi soil and policy. It was through Maliki that the mullahs managed to flow weapons, supplies and forces to the embattled Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, Tehran’s other ally in the region. And above all, it was on Maliki’s watch that the Iranian regime managed to carry out seven brutal massacres and stage an inhuman siege against members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the main opposition to the Iranian regime.
Now, with its hold on Iraq is slowly slipping through its grip, Tehran is making frantic attempts to avoid losing its hegemony. Testament to the fact is thousands of Iranian regime forces surging in Iraq in recent months, including high-ranking commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). The brutal murder of 70 Sunnis in the city of Baquba by militiamen tied to Maliki’s office and backed by the Iranian regime further betrays the real feelings of the mullahs about recent developments in Iraq.
Tehran is also seizing every opportunity to strike at its opposition and possibly carry out another vicious massacre against PMOI/MEK members through its operatives in the Iraqi Prime Ministry Office and its affiliates.
On July 26, the Iranian resistance unveiled information about unofficial meetings between Iranian officials, including terrorist Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani, and top Iraqi officials, in which the Iranians required of Iraqi authorities to increase pressure against Iranian refugees in Camp Liberty and set the stage for another massacre.
Naturally, Maliki and his associates obliged and started preparing the ground for a humanitarian disaster.
Camp Liberty, an obsolete U.S. military outpost in the vicinity of Baghdad International Airport now under the control of the Iraqi government, is home to nearly 3,000 Iranian refugees, members of the PMOI/MEK. While these refugees – all recognized as “Persons of Concern” by the UNHCR and as Protected Persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention by the government of U.S. – have been enduring harsh restrictions imposed by the government of Iraq since their arrival at Liberty in 2012, in the past month, the blockade on the camp has been intensified to abnormally intolerable levels.
Since August 13, agents of the Iraqi Prime Ministry office have blocked the entrance of fuel to the camp. With the camp’s electricity being exclusively provided by local power generators, the fuel blockade has effectively deprived the residents of their only means to produce electricity which, under the searing-hot August weather of Iraq, jeopardizes their lives. All activities in the camp rely on the much-needed fuel blocked by Iraqi forces, and when what little reserves remain become exhausted, life in the camp will come to an abrupt halt.
Their thirst for tormenting Camp Liberty residents not quenched by the fuel blockade, Iraqi forces further tightened the noose around the residents by preventing food and medicine supplies from being delivered to the residents since August 20. Moreover, cancer patients and other residents with acute and sometimes terminal illnesses are being denied medical treatment by Iraqi forces. The medical blockade is perhaps the most tragic and outrageous part of the siege on the refugees in Camp Liberty. During the past years, the illegal restrictions imposed by the Iraqi government have claimed the lives of twenty residents in a most painful manner.
The residents have given full accounts of the situation to UNAMI, the UN body in Iraq, and U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, but to no avail: The U.S. and UN have to date refrained from taking concrete action to improve the conditions surrounding the residents of the camp. It is noteworthy that the residents were lodged in Camp Liberty after receiving promises by the U.S. and UNAMI about their safety and well-being, promises that have yet to be materialized.
Absent a firm and determined reaction by the international community – especially the UN and the U.S. government – the government of Iraq sees itself open to further ratcheting up repressive measures against the residents of Camp Liberty.
There is precedent for logistical and medical restrictions by Iraqi government eventually culminating in more violent actions, and therefore there is credible fear that recent measures by Iraqi forces are prelude to another massacre against the residents.
Last year, in late August, Iraqi forces proceeded with cutting off power, water, and food supplies to Camp Ashraf (where 100 PMOI/MEK members were residing). At that time, the U.S. and UN paid no heed to the warnings issued by the residents and refrained from taking proper action. Subsequently, on September 1st, Iraqi Special forces affiliated with the Iraqi Prime Ministry Office conducted a brutal raid on the camp, murdering 52 residents and abducting seven others. The crime was never investigated, the hostages were never released, and the bodies of the victims – the main evidence to the crime committed by the Iraqi government – were secretly buried.
Now, a year after the September 1 massacre, all facts hint at a similar plot behind the recent rise of Iraq’s suppressive measures against the Iranian refugees in Camp Liberty. The inaction and lack of intervention by the UN and the U.S. serve as stimuli to continued illegal activities by the Iraqi government against the residents.
The question is, “Will the U.S. and UN intervene before irreparable damage is done and innocent lives are lost?”
Amir Basiri is an Iranian human rights activist and supporter of Iranian opposition movement seeking regime change in Iran.
Follow him on Twitter at @Amir_bas