THE WASHINGTON TIMES
By A leading member of Congress is accusing the Iraqi government of failing to protect unarmed Iranian dissidents from terrorist attacks in a refugee camp near Baghdad.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen wrote Iraqi Ambassador Jabir Habeb Jabir to complain that his government had done nothing to prevent rocket attacks on Camp Hurriya, formerly known as Camp Liberty. The camp was hit by about 20 rockets last week, and an attack in February killed six people and wounded dozens.
The dissidents blame the Iranian regime for the attacks and accuse the Iraqi government of complicity in the assaults.
Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen denounced Iraq’s government for relocating the dissidents from Camp Ashraf to Camp Hurriya, where they are exposed to “poor safety and living conditions.” The Florida Republican called for the relocation of the dissidents back to Camp Ashraf, which is “equipped with a better infrastructure and safer facilities that can sustain future attacks.”
“I also call on the Iraqi government to immediately investigate this vicious attack [of April 29] and to use all measures to prevent future attacks on these defenseless residents,” said Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen, former chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and now chairwoman of the Middle East and North Africa subcommittee.
The dissidents surrendered their weapons to U.S. forces in 2003 after the overthrow of dictator Saddam Hussein, who had sheltered them as part of his proxy war against Iran.
The United States last year removed the dissidents, part of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, from a terrorist list after a federal court ordered the State Department to justify their retention on the black list. The Clinton administration put them on the list in 1997 as part of an effort to open talks with Iran.
Meanwhile, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq criticized Baghdad for suspending the licenses of 10 satellite television channels, including the Arab network Al-Jazeera, on charges of “encouraging violence and sectarianism.”
“We must recognize that is unacceptable to attack freedom of expression or limit the media by suspending operating licenses,” Ambassador Stephen Beecroft said Friday on World Press Freedom Day.