US officials are reportedly “not happy” with the situation unfolding in the MEK’s Camp Ashraf, following yesterday’s deadly raids by Iraqi forces. Today, the Iraqi government says that it plans to close the camp down entirely.
It remains unclear what the closure will mean to the thousands of Iranian exiles which reside in the camp, and which enjoy the status of “protected persons” under the Geneva Convention. The camp was turned over to the Iraqi government’s control in January, and yesterday’s raid killed at least eight and injured over 400 according to the governor of the Diyala Province.
The raid on the camp and the detention of several members of the anti-Iranian militant group has been welcomed by Iranian officials. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said the move “came late” but was still a welcome chance to clear Iraqi territory of terrorists.
Though the MEK is recognized as a terrorist organization by the US State Department, it has a complex relationship with the US. The Saddam-backed group has supplied the US with considerable information regarding Iran, though there is doubt over whether the information is accurate or simply an attempt to foment a US invasion and regime change.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged both sides to “exercise restraint” in the wake of the clashes, and House Foreign Affairs Committee members released a statement accusing the Iraqi government of not living up to its commitments. Other US officials concede that since they turned the camp over to Iraqi control there is very little they can do about the clashes.