Special Advisor for Camp Ashraf Ambassador Daniel Fried today U.S. seeks a safe, secure, humane resolution of the impasse at Camp Ashraf.
“Our interest is humanitarian and independent of our views of the MEK’s past record. Thanks to intense efforts by Ambassador Martin Kobler, the head of the UN Mission in Iraq, a reasonable path forward for a safe and secure relocation from Ashraf to Camp Liberty is at hand.” – Mr. Fried
He stated that on Christmas Day, Kobler signed with the Government of Iraq an MOU that provides details of the transfer and commitments from the Iraqi Government for the safety and security of the residents of Camp Ashraf.
He reported that the residents of Camp Ashraf will be moved from Camp Ashraf to former Camp Liberty, which used to be a U.S. military facility and is located near the Baghdad Airport. He added that UNHCR will begin immediately to process these people for refugee status.
“The UN will conduct 24/7 monitoring at Camp Liberty a'” or former Camp Liberty. In addition, Embassy Baghdad will visit former Camp Liberty on a frequent basis to provide robust observation.” -Mr. Fried
He stressed that the Government of Iraq has agreed in the MOU to the safety and security of Camp Liberty and those there and not to forcibly repatriate any resident of Camp Ashraf/former Camp Liberty to Iran. He said the Government of Iraq accepted many of Ambassador Kobler’s suggestions, and the plan agreed now reflects major progress since the discussions began. Secretary Clinton, the EU, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon have all publicly welcomed the signing of the MOU and have urged that it be implemented in good faith by all sides.
“This is Iraq we’re talking about, however. We must be realistic about the difficulties. We’re also acutely aware of the mistrust and even animosity between the MEK and many Iraqis, given the MEK’s history in Iraq. We’re concerned by the recent series of rocket attacks on Ashraf and we condemn them.” -Mr. Fried
Mr. Fried noted that the UN has expressed its concerns about these attacks to the Iraqi Government. He said the United States welcomes the willingness expressed yesterday by the MEK to cooperate with implementation of the MOU, specifically their announcement that they are prepared to move the first 400 persons to Camp Liberty.
He noted that the UN is putting its assets in place for monitoring and refugee processing. He said it’s up to the Iraqi Government to prepare Camp Liberty, to receive the first residents of Ashraf.
He stressed that it’s important that the first move be followed by other moves from Ashraf to former Camp Liberty. He said Ashraf is relatively isolated and less secure than Liberty will be with its UN monitoring and a frequent U.S. presence.
“The good news is that we are finally entering a phase of implementing an agreement that’s been painfully negotiated and is understood by all sides. But implementation will take sustained cooperation and patience by all. The U.S. will remain closely engaged in all stages of this process.” -Mr. Fried