On Friday, the remaining 280 members of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) — also known as the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) — who were stationed in Camp Liberty (Hurriya) in Iraq were relocated to Albania, officially closing the camp which was a place of refuge for the dissidents against the Iranian regime since the 1980s.
Albania has a history of accepting refugees. During the Holocaust, the country took in many Jews seeking refuge from the massacre targeting them by the Third Reich.
The MEK renounced violence in 2001 and in 2012, the State Department, under Hillary Clinton, delisted them as a terrorist organization. They were initially placed on the list under President Bill Clinton in 1997; a move that some suggested was highly politicized by the administration in an attempt to garner favor with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
MEK has been credited with revealing Iran’s nuclear program in 2002.
Upon news of the relocation of the Iranians, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) issued a joint statement on the occasion, noting, “the safety and security of the residents has always been our primary concern, and they have now been effectively placed beyond the immediate reach of Iran and its terrorist proxies operating in Iraq.”
The relocation was also welcomed by 28 top former U.S. officials, which included Amb. John Bolton, Newt Gingrich, Lincoln P. Bloomfield, Jr., Frances Townsend, Joseph Lieberman, Tom Ridge, Howard Dean, Marc Ginsberg, and Rudy Giuliani.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) expressed that he will “continue to stand with the people of Iran and the Iranian-American community who yearn for a free Iran.”
The spokesman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also issued a statement thanking member states and international organizations for “the successful resolution of this humanitarian issue.”
Other politicians also weighed in:
— Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (@RosLehtinen) September 9, 2016
— Judy Chu (@RepJudyChu) September 9, 2016
PMOI spokesman Shahin Gobadi said:
“The successful conclusion of the relocation process of the residents of Camp Liberty, members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK), out of Iraq was a major blow to the clerical regime and a major victory for the Iranian Resistance.” He added, “One has to keep in mind that this happened despite all the conniving and conspiracy and obstructions by the clerical regime which sought to force the residents to either give up resistance and succumb or to be massacred.”
Over the past few years, one of the main objectives of the MEK has been to protect its members in Iraq. The release and relocation of them on Friday, physically steering them out of danger, will likely embolden the group to focus on their main task, which is to overthrow the Iranian regime.
Camp Liberty has been attacked at least eight times since the 1980s. Gobadi noted that this consisted of “three massacres, five rocket attacks [and] two abductions.” Over 100 MEK members lost their lives as a result. The most recent attack on the site was on July 4. While no casualties resulted in the rocket fire, did not result in casualties although it resulted in produced injuries and extensive damage. This attack was also linked to the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
However, news of the resettlement was not received well by the Iranian regime which considers MEK to be a terrorist organization. On Saturday, they issued a statement saying the MEK members were “humiliated” and expelled from Iraq in a “heroic” move.
Iranian state-controlled Tasnim News Agency reported that Majed Ghamas, a representative of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), suggested “the MKO terrorists’ left Iraq on Friday ‘in a humiliating way.'”
Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, issued a statement in response to the release of her constituents. In it, she stated her renewed vigor to see that the Iranian regime is overthrown and replaced with a secular democracy. “The schemes and conspiracies to destroy and annihilate the PMOI/MEK have been foiled,” Rajavi said. “And the mullahs’ religious dictatorship, its Intelligence Ministry, the terrorist Quds Force and its various hirelings and proxies in Iraq who sought to eliminate the PMOI/MEK have been left despondent and miserable.”
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