When Americans say we are going to do something, we do it. When we make a promise, we keep it. Our word is our bond.
Sadly, that is not the case right now regarding a group of Iranian dissidents in Iraq who are living in an extermination camp under constant threat of attack. Indeed, not only has the U.S. failed to keep its word regarding the dissidents’ safety, but so has the United Nations.
The abandonment of pledges by the U.S. and U.N. is a clear breach of faith. These people run the risk of being slaughtered for the sake of a questionable nuclear agreement with Iran.
The only real way to assure that Iran does not achieve nuclear weapon capability is to replace the present rulers of Iran with Iranians who want true democratic principles, women’s rights and free elections.
Those are the goals of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and the umbrella organization of Iranian dissidents, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, and I am pleased to join with countless other leaders across the political spectrum to support their aspirations.
The mullahs will do anything they can to undermine these efforts, and unfortunately, they have the support of the regime in Iraq that we put into place.
Talk about winning the war and losing the peace.
Right now the Iranian dissidents in Iraq are confined to what the Iraqis call a “relocation camp” known as Camp Liberty (how’s that for a misnomer?) after having been moved from the peaceful city they developed called Camp Ashraf.
Camp Liberty is not a relocation camp; it is a concentration camp. Only a couple of months ago, more than 50 Iranians were murdered at Ashraf and seven more were taken hostage, six of them women. These people at Ashraf and Liberty were promised protection by the U.S. and U.N., and they spend every day in legitimate fear of imminent death. This is a critical time for the people of Liberty and for their safety and survival.
The agreement itself seems tragically mis-timed. It almost appears as if, right at the very last moment, we snatched the defeat from the jaws of victory. Iran was being crushed by the sanctions; it was encountering such isolation that it elected as president a so-called moderate — all of which came about because of the effectiveness of the sanctions.
The sanctions were crippling; their devastating effects pushed Iran to do something it had not done in many years. Iran was desperate for an agreement and, I believe, ready to make substantial concessions. You never know if your adversaries will make substantial concessions until you demand that they do.
So what happened? Did we demand that Iran give up all its nuclear facilities? Did we demand that it disclose a complete list and allow inspections of all facilities? Did we demand that the agreement make clear that the six United Nations resolutions that Iran has violated — agreements that say Iran must not enrich uranium — finally be regarded as valid?
We did not demand anything. What was the result?
Well, everybody in the regime in Iran is celebrating. You don’t see too many celebrations in Iran, do you? Yet, they are celebrating; even as everybody in France and the United Kingdom and the rest of the free world is angry. Here in the U.S., we don’t have much bipartisan concern. And a consensus has emerged that this hollow agreement was a victory for Iran and a defeat for the United States. Republicans are saying that; Democrats are saying that.
Are we going to learn anything from history or are we destined to repeat the same mistakes over and over and over again?
One thing that shouldn’t happen is to link a willingness to negotiate with the Iranian regime with abandoning our promises to the people of Camp Liberty. These two things are not connected. But I fear that the State Department thinks these two things are connected. They believe that fighting too hard to protect the people of Liberty will undermine these negotiations. Indeed, on Dec. 26, another deadly missile attack on Camp Liberty which left three residents dead and more than 50 wounded, drew praise from the State Department for Iraq’s help to treat the wounded, instead of holding Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accountable for complicity in the assault or failing to protect the residents.
We must not abandon these innocent people being slaughtered in Iraq by a government that is under the yoke of Tehran.
We must keep the promise that we made almost 10 years ago to protect these people and to get them out of Camp Liberty and into countries where they will be safe and can work to free their homeland.
Rudy Giuliani was New York City mayor from 1994 to 2001.