It started out as a series of written promises from the United Nations, the U.S. State Department, and the Government of Iraq.  In return for the residents of Camp Ashraf, Iraq accepting relocation to Camp Liberty, a former U.S. Army base co-located with Baghdad International Airport, they were assured of a safe and humane environment, the right to sell their property at Ashraf, the right to purchase and receive life support items, and the assurance of quick resettlement out of Iraq.  Not a single promise made was fulfilled.

Located fifty miles north-east of Baghdad, Camp Ashraf was the home of 3,500 Iranian dissidents opposed to the fundamentalist government of Iran.  Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, security of Ashraf became the responsibility of the U.S. military.  The enemy of the Iranian government would seem like a natural ally of the United States.  That is certainly what the American Soldiers and Marines stationed at Camp Ashraf believed.  These Iranian dissidents continually accompanied American forces outside the perimeter and did everything possible to keep U.S. warriors from harm.


In 2009, the U.S. State Department agreed to turn Camp Ashraf over to the pro-Tehran Government of Iraq.  After two ground assaults by the Iraqi government, resulting in 48 residents killed, in 2012 the United Nations and U.S. State Department brokered a deal with the Iraqi government to move the residents to Camp Liberty.  In the agreement, a 100-person custodial team remained at Ashraf pending sale of the property.  In September of 2013, an Iraqi SWAT team entered Ashraf and murdered 52 custodians, kidnapped seven more, and forced complete relocation to Camp Liberty. 

That assurance of quick resettlement out of Iraq has yet to occur.  Four rocket attacks on Camp Liberty have resulted in 15 residents killed and hundreds wounded.  Each of the attacks were conducted by Iraqi military forces or militias operating in support of the government.  The most result occurred this week, on July 4th, when 50 rockets struck the camp and the same number of residents were wounded.  Fortunately, the residents have become very accustomed to reaching the safety of bunkers during rocket attacks.  No one was killed. (Related story: Maryam Rajavi: Urgent action needed to safeguard Camp Liberty | Iran Focus)

This latest attack followed an eight-day Iraqi government imposed logistics blockade.  In spite of written agreements, this still on-going blockade has resulted in fuel, food, and medicine being prevented from delivery.  Logistics blockades and other hostile actions have almost always been precursors to previous attacks.  The Iraq government is always testing to determine what actions it can take against the residents while the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union remains silent. 

The west did remain silent during the last eight days.  Now what will follow is the United Nations and the U.S. State Department repeating the oft told lie, “There is no evidence the Iraqi government was involved.”  Even after the 2013 Ashraf massacre, U.S. State Department made the “no evidence” claim in spite of photographs, video footage, and statements from survivors proving beyond all doubt that the Iraqi SWAT team entered Ashraf from the adjoining Iraqi military compound while under direct observation of Iraqi guards and police.

The Government of Albania has long since agreed to accept all the residents. Over the past two years, residents have slowly been relocating to Albania.  Several months ago, the U.S. State Department provided the United Nations with all necessary funding to commence mass moves and quickly finish the resettlement process.  The United Nations has yet to conduct a single mass move.  The residents continue to endure a hostile environment, while the United Nations operates at what one of its own officers identified as “The pace of a startled snail.”

Mayor Rudy Giuliani refers to Camp Liberty as a “concentration camp.”  I identify it as an “extermination camp in waiting.”  Unfortunately both of us been proven correct.  It is time for the United Nations to place humanity in front of appeasement of the Government of Iraq and immediately move these people to safety. (Related story: Maryam Rajavi Tells UN & US: Fulfill Your Commitments to Camp Liberty | Iran News Update)

Through multiple combat assignments in Iraq Colonel Martin served as the Senior Antiterrorism Officer for all Coalition Forces, Senior Operations Officer of Task Force 134 (Detention Operations, and Commander of Camp Ashraf.

Colonel (Retired) Wes Martin is a former Antiterrorism/Force Protection officer for Coalition Forces–Iraq.