US to investigate Iraqi raid on Iranian camp-Csmonitor

1 08 2009

(Photograph)

Washington – The US is investigating a raid by Iraqi security forces on a camp of thousands of Iranian dissidents in northern Iraq earlier this week that resulted in deaths and injuries.

Tuesday’s raid on Camp Ashraf – home since the 1980’s to more than 3,000 members of the Mujahadeen-e Khalq, or People’s Mujahideen of Iran – is seen as a declaration of sovereignty by the Iraqi government in the wake of the recent agreement on US military operations in Iraq. Camp Ashraf was previously guarded by US forces in Iraq.

But Iraq’s military action against a camp that has long been a thorn in the side of its relations with Iran is also seen by some regional experts as reflection of Iran’s growing influence with Iraq’s Shiite-led government. The Mujahadeen-e Khalq (known by the acronyms MKO or MEK) allied with Saddam Hussein in the 1980s.

US officials are portraying the raid as the legitimate action of a sovereign government. “This action … on the part of the government of Iraq is entirely consistent with their rights as a sovereign country to establish control over the area,” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Wednesday.

But he also called reports of deaths and injuries in the raid “disturbing,” and said US officials are pressing the government of Iraq to fulfill a written agreement it gave the US earlier this year concerning the camp. In that agreement, Iraq committed to protecting the camp residents and refrain from transferring them to a country where they might face prosecution.
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