Daniel Pipes has an excellent piece today at Big Peace focusing on the Iranization of Iraq -- long, long a subject of great interest to me.
Pipes cites the recent massacre of Iranian dissidents (MeK) in Iraq by Iraqi regulars which took place one day after MeK released evidence of Iran's growing capacity to enrich uranium, and during the recent visit to Iraq by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Pipes continues:
On April 11, the advisor for military affairs to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamene’i (according to a news report) “praised the Iraqi Army for its recent attack on the strongholds of [the MeK] and asked Baghdad to continue attacking the terrorist base until its destruction.”
On April 24, despite United Nations insistence that “Camp Ashraf residents be protected from forcible deportation, expulsion or repatriation,” Baghdad and Tehran signed an extradition agreement which state-controlled Iranian media interprets as a mechanism forcibly to transfer MeK members to Iran, where they anticipate a horrific fate.
Iraqi maltreatment of Iranian dissidents both raises humanitarian concerns and points to the MeK’s larger importance as a mechanism to thwart the U.S. goal of minimizing Tehran’s influence in Iraq.
That said, Washington – which granted “protected persons” status to the Ashraf residents in 2004 in exchange for their surrendering arms – bears partial responsibility for the attacks on Ashraf; in 1997, it threw a sop to Tehran and, contrary to both fact and law, wrongly listed (and continues to list) the MeK as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization.”
Baghdad exploits this terrorist tag. For example, Congressman Brad Sherman (Democrat of California) reports that “in private discussions the Iraqi ambassador’s office has said the blood is not on the hands of the Iraqi government but is at least partially on the hands of the State Department because the MeK is listed as a terrorist group and accordingly, Iraq doesn’t feel that it has to respect the human rights of those in the camp.” The terrorist designation also offers Baghdad a pretext to expel Ashraf’s residents and possibly extradite them to Iran.
Pipes offers some suggestions, beginning with delisting MeK as a terrorist organization. But what is truly eye-catching is his suggestion for the EU, which is Iraq's second largest trading partner:
Impose economic sanctions on Iraq if Baghdad continues to block an EU parliamentary delegation from visiting Ashraf....
Isn't that where we came in?
It's probably too late for such measures to save lives. The AP reports that the EU parliament official who heads a delegation on Iraq is going to propose re-locating the 3,400 MeK men, women and children away from Iraq, Our Great Ally, to save them from another massacre ... by Iraq, Our Great Ally.
Gee, that COIN surge led by Gen. Petraeus sure worked wonders, didn't it? Good thing we're repeating the same COIN strategy in Afghanistan.