European Initiative on Camp Ashraf – A Long-Term Solution

Nima Sharif
Five weeks after a deadly attack on members of the Iranian opposition in Iraq by the Iraqi forces, the international community is yet to take decisive action to prevent another tragedy.  While worldwide condemnations poured in moderately quick, little has been done to avoid another crisis. 

Iraqi assault on the Iranian dissident’s Camp Ashraf sparked a wave of condemnations from all around the world.  Major Right groups including Amnesty International, European and US parliamentarians, and a number of governments deplored the actions of the Iraqi, Nouri al-Maliki government. 

As the situation at Camp Ashraf is far from resolved, lack of action could put more lives at risk.  Specifically the United Nations and the Security Council are mainly silent about this.  That is something that cannot continue.

On May 11, Europe’s High Representative Catherin Ashton, speaking at the European Parliament Plenary session in Strasburg, deplored the actions of the Iraqi government and called for strong and united EU response.

International attention and solidarity has played a major role in preventing further assaults on the camp until now.  But residents still live under gunpoint and are in danger of another massacre at any time.  A blockade on the camp by the Nouri al-Maliki forces continue full force disallowing reporters, lawyers of the residents, and family members from entering the camp.  Iraqi agents create and maintain major obstacles for medical care and supplies reaching the residents.

In the meantime a delegation of the Members of the European Parliament led by Struan Stevenson visited Iraq on 26-29 April.  They met top officials of the Nouri al-Maliki administration and members of Iraqi Parliament discussing, among other things, the massacre at Camp Ashraf. Stevenson said in a statement released later that the delegation was denied access to the camp in order to assess the situation. 

Returning to Europe, the delegation proposed a resolution for Camp Ashraf, calling on lifting the ban on the camp to eliminate possibility of further bloodshed and working to resettle the residents in European countries, Australia and North America.  The proposal deserves to receive considerable attention as a major step forward for a long-term solution to the crisis.

A major factor in making the resolution work is to insure protection for the camp residents by the United Nations.  Iraqi forces are still present inside the camp and no solution can be achieved while the residents are living at gunpoint.  The danger of another massacre must immediately be eliminated.

Furthermore, any talk of a temporary resettlement to another location in Iraq is dangerous as it will create distractions and will divert international attention to gives way to Iraqi forces provoked by the Iranian regime to commit another mass murder.  The Iranian regime aims to destroy its opposition and a displacement of the camp within Iraq will provide it the opportunity and open hand to do so.

The European resolution provides a long-term solution to the crisis and deserves the support of the United Nations, the United States government and international community.