Testimony of Amb. Lincoln P. Bloomfield, Jr. before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia
“Camp Ashraf: Iraqi Obligations and State Department Accountability”
7 December 2011
My thanks to the Committee on Foreign Affairs for inviting me to testify today, and to the Chairman and Ranking Minority Member of each subcommittee for welcoming me to this hearing. It is an honor to be invited to testify to the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.
The focus of today’s hearing is the fate of 3,400 unarmed persons at Camp Ashraf, Iraq who may face imminent danger from Iraqi and Iranian forces. UN officials are working hard to uphold protocols and guidelines in seeking to resolve the status and future of these Iranian exiles as they would help any at risk population. But the United States’ role is more complicated. For this is not a group of people without any connection to the US. Rather, it is a group of people belonging to an organization – the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) – that our government lists as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and has long accused of heinous actions against America and patterns of behavior deemed despicable by civilized standards.
At the same time, it is a group of people who were targeted in 2003 by American forces in fulfillment of an assurance explicitly sought and received from US diplomats by the Iranian government at the negotiating table in Geneva prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom. I have been told that about 120 bombs were fired by the US on Camp Ashraf, killing 50 MEK personnel, even though, as the US Government later confirmed, the MEK were not belligerents in that conflict. US forces negotiated and signed a ceasefire agreement with MEK representatives at Camp Ashraf, removed all their weapons, facilitated individual investigative interviews with each resident by US law enforcement and intelligence personnel, collected signed contracts from each resident forswearing violence, and granted each resident a protected persons identity card. When the US handed control of Camp Ashraf over to Iraqi authorities in January 2009, the Commander of the US/Coalition Force, General Petraeus, sought and received assurances from the Iraqi government that the security of Camp Ashraf residents would continue to be be guaranteed.
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