A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Camp Ashraf and Iraq's Ultimatum to the PMOI

With so much happening it's been some time since I've said anything about Iraq. One development over the past few days probably deserves comment: the recent clash with and ultimatum to the People's Mujahidin Organization of Iran. The PMOI, also known as the \Mujahdidin-e Khalq (sometimes MEK), which has had a base at Camp Ashraf in Iraq since the 1980s. The Iranian exile group enjoys the rare distinction of having been called a terrorist group by both the US and Iranian governments.

Patronized by Saddam Hussein, the PMOI fought alongside Iraqi forces in the Iran-Iraq war, and are deeply hated by many Iranians, including those not fond of the present government. With the fall of Saddam and the political ascendancy of Shi‘ite parties in Iraq, they have been in a vulnerable position, generally confined to their camp. US forces in Iraq never quite figured out what to do about them.

The recent violence broke out when Iraqi forces moved into the camp and were met with resistance; the PMOI claims Iraqi troops opened fire, killing 34 people. In response to the violence, the Iraqi govrnment has announced that the PMOI will be disbanded and must leave Iraq by the end of the year.

The PMOI has always waged an active public relations campaign in the West, and its supporters abroad, especially in the UK, have rallied to its defense. But despite some supporters in the US Congress, successive US Administrations have continued to treat it as dangerous. The Iraqi ultimatum was read by some as hinting that if the PMOI did not leave Iraq on its own, it would be forcibly expelled: the implication being it might be turned over to Iran, which has pressured the Maliki government to neutralize the PMOI. Its members could face execution in Iran.

1 comment:

Tim said...

One man's terrorist is another man's useful tool.