Houston Chronicle: Texas GOP Rep. Ted Poe prepared a letter to U.N. Secretary General on Monday asking the international organization to consider deploying blue helmeted U.N. peacekeepers to Iraq to prevent further attacks on Iranian exiles who had been promised protection by the United States.
By Stewart M. Powell and Steve Kuhlmann
WASHINGTON – Texas GOP Rep. Ted Poe, a frequent critic of the United Nations, prepared a letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday asking the international organization to consider deploying blue helmeted U.N. peacekeepers to Iraq to prevent further attacks on Iranian exiles who had been promised protection by the United States.
The lawmaker from Humble, a former prosecutor and criminal court judge in Harris County, told the top U.N. official the killing of 52 Iranian dissidents and the kidnapping of seven others in an attack on Sept. 1 were carried out by Iraqi forces tied to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
“It should be evident to all by now that the government of Iraq cannot be trusted to keep these refugees safe,” Poe said in a draft letter to the U.N. secretary general. “If we do nothing and keep the status quo, there will surely be more bloodshed. We respectfully urge you to explore the feasibility of placing a United Nations peacekeeping force in Camp Hurriya and report back to the Security Council.”
Poe is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and chairman of the panel that handles terrorism issues.
Poe, joined by 12 Republican House colleagues including Rep. Randy Weber of Friendswood, also prepared a letter urging Secretary of State John Kerry to “reduce our assistance to the government of Iraq until they make clear and verifiable efforts to protect this group of innocent people that have been brutally attacked and killed on multiple occasions.”
Poe told Hearst Newspapers the United States “says the killing is awful and then nothing happens,” adding: “The U.S. should cut off aid to Iraq because of these murders. Then they’ll stop.”
Poe’s efforts followed a memorial service in Washington, D.C., over the weekend for victims of the massacre. Amir Emadi, a U.S. citizen who lived with the refugees in Camp Ashraf, site of the attack, during his childhood, lost his father in the attack.
Most of the Iranian exiles had moved from Camp Ashraf, near Iraq’s border with Iran, to Camp Hurriya, former known as Camp Liberty during the U.S. presence in Iraq.
Symbolically addressing President Barack Obama during the memorial service, Emadi said: “If you want to stop Maliki’s killings against the unarmed residents of Camp Liberty, you know how to do it – keep your damn promise.”
Emadi added: “The United States is legally and morally responsible for the safety and security of the residents of Camp Liberty.”
After the massacre, the Obama administration sought to pressure Iraqi authorities to bolster security for the 2,800 Iranian exiles by dispatching the top U.S. Iran-Iraq envoy to meet with survivors and leaders of the Iranian-dissent organization Mujahedine-e-Khalq. Brett McGurk, chosen by Obama to serve as ambassador to Iraq before McGurk withdrew from consideration, emphasized U.S. security concerns during his meeting with officials from the dissent organization.
McGurk, a former Iraq specialist on the staff of the White House National Security Council, also “discussed issues related to the safe, permanent and secure relocation of the camp’s residents outside of Iraq, and affirmed the U.S. policy to take active measures in support of such relocation to third countries as soon as possible,” the State Department said.