December 8, 2011

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [“Building a stable Iraq,” op-ed, Dec. 6] made clear the pretext that has been used to justify his country’s policy of brutality against the approximately 3,400 members of the Iranian dissident group the Mujahedin el-Khalq (MEK), located at Camp Ashraf, 60 kilometers north of Baghdad. “The camp’s residents,” he stated, “are classified as a terrorist organization by many countries, and thus have no legal basis to remain in Iraq.”

This is untrue. Only the United States and Canada — and, of course, Iran — continue to maintain the MEK on their respective lists of terrorist organizations. More than two years ago, an appellate court in Britain threw out that designation as baseless, and the European Union soon followed suit.

Nearly three years ago, the United States formally relinquished sovereignty over Camp Ashraf to the Iraqis. In July 2009, and in April of this year, Iraqi forces invaded Ashraf, killing nearly 50 residents and injuring hundreds. More recently, Mr. Maliki has insisted that the people of Ashraf leave the country, although he knows that there is nowhere for them to go, largely because of the U.S. terrorist designation. In apparent preparation for a mass deportation, he proposes to consolidate them in a remote location. With deportation, they quite likely will be left to the tender mercies of the Iranian regime.

In this context, Mr. Maliki’s expressed interest in seeing the fate of the MEK “resolved peacefully and with the help of the United Nations” will have to await the test of credibility: Actions speak louder than words.

Allan Gerson and Steven M. Schneebaum, Washington

The writers are lawyers representing the Mujahedin el-Khalq in the United States in its efforts to remove the group’s designation as a terrorist entity.