Members of the banned Iranian faction Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MeK) claim that a Friday raid on their Camp Ashraf in Iraq’s Diyala Province has left at least 31 people dead and hundreds of others wounded.
Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh claimed that the MeK members had actually left the refugee camp and attacked security forces first, throwing stones at them. Dabbagh insisted the raid was required to impose “law and public order” on the camp.
The MeK is recognized by the US State Department as a foreign terrorist organization, but the group’s status as a rebel faction in Iran has made it a darling to many hawkish Congressmen, who have designs on using MeK claims as a pretext for war.
At the same time, the Maliki government is believed to be under considerable pressure from his allies in Iran’s government to crack down on the MeK, and the group’s history as an ally of the Ba’athist regime has made it extremely easy to justify doing so.
The MeK has been calling for the US or possibly the UN to intervene on their behalf to stop the “massacres” in the camp, but the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between Iraq and the US makes any such intervention extremely difficult. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates did insist that the US was maintaining a “nearby presence,” however.