JFP News 7/30: Honduran Coup Leader Signals Acceptance of Zelaya's Return
Just Foreign Policy News
July 30, 2009
Rep. Grijalva Urges Greater U.S. Pressure on the Coup Regime in Honduras
Rep. Raul Grijalva is circulating a letter to President Obama, calling on him to freeze U.S. assets and suspend U.S. visas of coup leaders. [The Administration has taken a good first step by canceling the visas of four coup leaders.] Signers of the letter include Reps. McGovern, Conyers, Serrano, Fattah, Honda, and Barbara Lee. Urge your Representative to sign the Grijalva letter calling for more U.S. pressure on the coup regime.
Support the Work of Just Foreign Policy
Your financial contributions to Just Foreign Policy help us create opportunities for Americans to advocate for a just foreign policy.
1) The head of Honduras' coup government, Roberto Micheletti, has expressed support for a compromise that would allow the ousted president of his country to return to power, the New York Times reports. Officials said Micheletti warned President Arias he had not been able to persuade other parts of the Honduran government, or leaders of the Honduran business community, to go along with the proposal. So he asked Arias to consider sending a prominent international political figure to help him stem the fierce opposition. The call from Micheletti to Arias came one day after the US increased pressure on the de facto Honduran government by withdrawing diplomatic visas from four high-level officials, the Times notes. [See #6 below for continued opposition by the coup government to Zelaya's return - JFP.]
2) A pending agreement that would give the US military broad access to several Colombian bases is rattling relations in the Andean region, where Venezuela "froze" relations with Colombia, the Christian Science Monitor reports. President Chavez said the deal was "opening the doors to people who constantly attack us and are preparing new aggressions." Ecuadoran Security Minister Carvajal said that "increased military tensions" between Colombia and Ecuador were a possibility. Analysts say the move is increasing tensions, but a US official said he was "not going to lose any sleep" if an increased US military presence in Colombia irked its neighbors.
3) Foreign Policy examines Secretary Clinton's statement that Iran does not have "the right to have the full enrichment and reprocessing cycle under your control." The explicit assertion that Iran does not have the right to enrich has not been previously publicly expressed by the Obama administration, some nonproliferation experts asserted. "The NPT does give members states the right to enrich uranium, as long as they comply with their other obligations," said one official. "The Bush administration position … was that Iran forfeited this right by concealing many of its nuclear activities for 18 years, but Iran asserts that the right is still inherent there. So, in essence, she was restating the Bush position that Iran no longer has the right to enrich."
4) A senior US military adviser has concluded in an unusually blunt memo that the Iraqi forces suffer from deeply entrenched deficiencies but are now capable of protecting the Iraqi government, and that it is time "for the U.S. to declare victory and go home," the New York Times reports. Col. Timothy Reese argues Iraqi forces are competent enough to hold off threats to the Iraqi government. Extending the American military presence in Iraq beyond 2010, he argues, will do little to improve the Iraqis' military performance while fueling a growing resentment. "We should declare our intentions to withdraw all U.S. military forces from Iraq by August 2010," Col. Reese wrote.
5) The push to restore President Zelaya has reached a tense deadlock, writes Greg Grandin in The Nation. Rumors are swirling that the military is pressuring Micheletti to agree to Arias's proposal to allow Zelaya to return as president. Fernando "Billy" Joya, a former member of Honduras's infamous Battalion 316, a paramilitary unit responsible for the deaths of hundreds in the 1980s, has resurfaced as "special security adviser" to Micheletti's government. At least nine people have been assassinated or disappeared in the past month, with one body dumped in an area used by death squads in the 1980s as a clandestine cemetery. Among the executed, disappeared and threatened are trade unionists, peasant activists and independent journalists. The US press has focused on Zelaya's efforts to build support for a constitutional assembly; the proposal to revise the Constitution was broadly supported by social movements as an effort to democratize Honduras's notoriously exclusive political system. The business community didn't like Zelaya because he raised the minimum wage. Conservative evangelicals and Catholics detested him because he refused to ban the "morning-after" pill. The mining, hydroelectric and biofuel sector didn't like him because he didn't put state land at their disposal. And the generals didn't like it when he tried to assert executive control over the military. Zelaya likewise moved to draw down Washington's military presence; Honduras, alone among Central American countries, hosts a permanent detachment of US troops at the Soto Cano air force base, a holdover from the Contra war.
6) The coup government insisted Thursday it would not allow ousted President Manuel Zelaya to return to office, cooling hopes of a deal to end a political crisis following a coup last month, Reuters reports. Rafael Pineda, No. 2 in the coup government headed by Micheletti, told Reuters the administration was "firm, unchangeable" against Zelaya's return to power. It was unclear whether Micheletti's request to Arias for an envoy showed a genuine opening to a deal that would include Zelaya's return, or was rather a tactic to buy time for the Honduran leadership, Reuters says.
7) Secretary of State Clinton described the Iraqi government raid on the anti-Iran MEK compound at Camp Ashraf as a legitimate act by a sovereign nation, the Washington Post reports. "Although the U.S. government remains engaged and concerned about this issue, it is a matter for the government of Iraq to resolve in accordance with its laws," she said. The State Department classifies the MEK as a terrorist organization, but Washington has interacted with the group since it agreed to disarm in 2003 in return for U.S. military protection.
8) The Iraqi government rejected suggestions that Iranian pressure had prompted the raid on the MEK camp, the Los Angeles Times reports. "The Iraqi government is determined to establish its sovereignty over all positions and facilities that were under the control of foreign forces," government spokesman Ali Dabbagh told reporters. Dabbagh said Iranian citizens in the camp would not be forced to return to Iran.
1) Honduran Leader Backs Return of President
Ginger Thompson, New York Times, July 30, 2009
Tegucigalpa - The head of Honduras's de facto government, Roberto Micheletti, has expressed support for a compromise that would allow the ousted president of his country to return to power, according to officials in the de facto government and diplomats from the region.
But the nation is so polarized over the possible return that Micheletti is reaching out to other regional leaders for help in building support for such a deal, especially among the country's elite, the officials said.
Micheletti has repeatedly refused to consider the reinstatement of the ousted president, Manuel Zelaya. But on Wednesday, the officials said, Micheletti called President Óscar Arias of Costa Rica, who has tried to mediate a diplomatic solution to the Honduran political crisis, to express his support for a plan Arias presented. The 12-point plan, known as the San José Accord, would allow Zelaya to return as president, although with significantly limited powers.
The officials said Micheletti warned President Arias that he had not been able to persuade other parts of the Honduran government, or the leaders of the Honduran business community, to go along with the proposal. So he asked Arias to consider sending a prominent international political figure to help him stem the fierce opposition.
Micheletti confirmed Wednesday night in a statement that he had asked Arias to send an international envoy.
One of those whom officials mentioned as a possibility was Enrique V. Iglesias, a former president of the Inter-American Development Bank.
"Today is an important day," said one of the officials who spoke about Micheletti's call to Arias. "President Arias essentially has Micheletti calling to say he thinks the San José Accord is a good framework, but that to make the accord work, he needs help building political support inside the country."
The call from Micheletti came one day after the United States increased pressure on the de facto Honduran government by withdrawing diplomatic visas from four high-level officials, and as members of the Honduran Congress began their own examination of Arias's proposal.
The call was the clearest signal yet that Micheletti might not be primarily responsible for the stalemate. Diplomats close to the negotiations said there was broad opposition to Zelaya's return, led by some of the most powerful political and business leaders in Honduras.
According to Arias's proposal, Zelaya would be allowed to finish his term, which ends in January, although elections would be moved up by one month. Zelaya would also be exempt from prosecution until after leaving office.
2) Possible US-Colombia Military Deal Raises Regional Tensions
Venezuela and Ecuador have strongly condemned the pending agreement, which would allow the US to use three bases for counternarcotics and counterinsurgency surveillance.
Sibylla Brodzinsky, Christian Science Monitor, July 29, 2009
A pending agreement that would give the US military broad access to several Colombian bases is rattling already shaky relations in the Andean region, where Venezuela "froze" relations with Colombia Tuesday.
The agreement, which is in the last stages of negotiation, would allow the US to run surveillance from three different air bases in the central Andes for both counternarcotics and counterinsurgency operations.
President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela declared the agreement an affront to his country, adding that the deal was "opening the doors to people who constantly attack us and are preparing new aggressions."
Ecuadoran Security Minister Miguel Carvajal said that "increased military tensions" between Colombia and Ecuador were a possibility. The US lost surveillance capability when it ended flights out of a base at Manta, Ecuador, after that country refused to renew the lease.
John Lindsay-Poland, of the California-based Fellowship for Reconciliation, says the planned increase in US presence in Colombia "raises the stakes in the region enormously."
"The wounds are still raw" from the 2008 diplomatic crisis, says Adam Isacson, an analyst with the Washington-based Center for International Policy. "If the idea is to reduce tensions in the region, this [the US-Colombian military agreement] does the opposite," he says.
Colombia, Washington's greatest ally in South America, has tried to assuage some fears by saying that under the agreement, which could be finalized by the beginning of August, US forces would not be authorized to launch operations against third countries from Colombian soil.
Colombian officials insist the current US troop cap of 1,400 soldiers and contractors would remain, and those troops would ultimately be under the command of the Colombian military.
Former Defense Minister Rafael Pardo, a presidential hopeful in the 2010 elections, told the El Tiempo newspaper that the deal was "like lending your apartment's balcony to someone from outside the block so that he can spy on your neighbors."
A Senate committee has called for hearings on the agreement at the three bases that will be used in the deal, but the dates have not been set.
US officials have been tight-lipped. But one US official said even before formal talks began that he was "not going to lose any sleep" if an increased US military presence in Colombia irked its neighbors.
The agreement would not set up a US base in Colombia, but rather grant US forces the use of existing facilities. Five facilities in Colombia currently have a semipermanent US presence.
3) Clinton's nuclear talking points
The Cable, Foreign Policy, Wed, 07/29/2009 - 9:53pm
Addressing Iran, Clinton said, "You have a right to pursue the peaceful use of civil nuclear power. You do not have a right to obtain a nuclear weapon. You do not have the right to have the full enrichment and reprocessing cycle under your control."
Whether Iran, as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has a right to enrich depends on whom you ask. (Iran insists it does under the NPT, as do many international nonproliferation experts. Others believe the Islamic Republic has essentially forfeited that right for being found by the U.N. Security Council to have violated its obligations under the same NPT treaty.) But the explicit assertion that Iran does not have the right to enrich has not been previously publicly expressed by the Obama administration, some nonproliferation experts asserted.
"That statement [by Clinton on Meet the Press] also perked up my ears," one U.S. government expert said on condition of anonymity.
"The NPT does give members states the right to enrich uranium, as long as they comply with their other obligations," he continued. "The Bush administration position, which was supported by the U.N. Security Council, was that Iran forfeited this right by concealing many of its nuclear activities for 18 years, but Iran asserts that the right is still inherent there. So, in essence, she was restating the Bush position that Iran no longer has the right to enrich. But it is because Iran was deemed to have forfeited the right through its behavior."
"I think she was being telegraphic," said the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's George Perkovich, who thought her remarks merited attention.
"The argument on which the Security Council resolutions rest is that Iran violated its safeguard obligations ... and its violations suspended its rights," he continued. "But that battle was lost politically in the broader international community. Most people say Iran has a right to enrich, and they don't acknowledge the conditionality of that right."
Such disputes over language may seem arcane, but they can have international consequences, Perkovich said.
An administration official dismissed such concerns. "Nobody at State has raised concerns over this," the official e-mailed in response to a query on Clinton's remarks on Meet the Press. "Nobody in any other part of the USG has communicated to State or anyone that this is an issue. She stated existing USG policy, verbatim. So your folks are just plain wrong."
"Iran says the NPT gives it the unconditional right to enrichment for peaceful purposes," said Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, a U.S.-based foundation that promotes the elimination of nuclear weapons. "But no, that's not true. There are conditions on conforming to other aspects of the treaty. Clinton was reasserting the U.S. position held under the Bush and Obama administration that Iran's access to nuclear technology is conditioned on its other obligations."
4) U.S. Adviser's Blunt Memo on Iraq: Time 'to Go Home'
Michael R. Gordon, New York Times, July 31, 2009
Washington - A senior American military adviser in Baghdad has concluded in an unusually blunt memo that the Iraqi forces suffer from deeply entrenched deficiencies but are now capable of protecting the Iraqi government, and that it is time "for the U.S. to declare victory and go home."
Prepared by Col. Timothy R. Reese, an adviser to the Iraqi military's Baghdad command, the memorandum asserts that the Iraqi forces have an array of problems, including corruption, poor management and the inability to resist political pressure from Shiite political parties.
For all of these problems, however, Colonel Reese argues that Iraqi forces are competent enough to hold off Sunni insurgents, Shiite militias and other internal threats to the Iraqi government. Extending the American military presence in Iraq beyond 2010, he argues, will do little to improve the Iraqis' military performance while fueling a growing resentment.
"As the old saying goes, 'Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days,' " Colonel Reese wrote. "Since the signing of the 2009 Security Agreement, we are guests in Iraq, and after six years in Iraq, we now smell bad to the Iraqi nose."
Colonel Reese, who could not be reached for comment, submitted his paper to General Odierno's command, but copies have circulated among active duty and retired military officers and been posted on at least one military-oriented Web site.
Referring to the Iraq Security Forces, the memo said: "The massive partnering efforts of U.S. combat forces with I.S.F. isn't yielding benefits commensurate with the effort and is now generating its own opposition. We should declare our intentions to withdraw all U.S. military forces from Iraq by August 2010. This would not be a strategic paradigm shift, but an acceleration of existing U.S. plans by some 15 months."
Before deploying to Iraq, Colonel Reese served as the director of the Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, the Army's premier intellectual center. He was an author of an official Army history of the Iraq war - "On Point II" - that was sharply critical of the lapses in postwar planning.
5) Waiting for Zelaya
Greg Grandin, The Nation, July 28, 2009
[Grandin is professor of history at New York University.]
The push to restore Honduran president Manuel Zelaya - dragged out of bed a month ago by soldiers and bundled onto a plane to Costa Rica - has reached a tense deadlock. After negotiations between coup leaders and Zelaya's representatives brokered by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias broke down last week, the deposed leader vowed to return to his country over land, setting out from Managua, Nicaragua, in a jeep. He arrived at the border on Friday, symbolically stepping foot on Honduran soil before returning to Nicaragua, where he remains camped just a few feet from Honduras.
For his part, Roberto Micheletti, Honduras's de facto president, has vowed to arrest Zelaya if he tries to enter the country again. Soldiers have set up a cordon on roads leading to Nicaragua and have aggressively sought to contain Zelaya supporters, launching tear gas into gathering crowds and detaining hundreds. On Saturday a protester captured by troops the day before turned up dead. A twenty-four-hour curfew for southern Honduras remains in effect. About 500 Zelaya supporters have avoided the main roads, however, entering Nicaragua over mountainous paths to join the ousted president.
It's a dramatic showdown, a fight for which Zelaya, who goes by the name Mel and likes to dress in a white shirt, black leather vest and white cowboy hat, seems perfectly cast. No one knows how it will end - rumors are swirling in Tegucigalpa that the military is pressuring Micheletti to agree to Arias's proposal to allow Zelaya to return as president, as head of a reconciliation government - but it does feel that the monthlong fight to win over public opinion is coming to a head.
Honduras's new regime has gone to great lengths to present itself to the world as democratic and constitutional, in line with the values of an open society. Micheletti and his backers claim to have acted procedurally, intervening on behalf of the courts to stop Zelaya's Hugo Chávez-like lunge for power. The coup's business backers even hired Lanny Davis, a former adviser to Hillary Clinton, to lobby his old boss to recognize the new regime. "This is about the rule of law. That is the only message we have," Davis said.
But in Honduras, paranoia reigns, redolent of a time when death squads ruled and anticommunism justified widespread murder. Then the perceived threat was Moscow. Today it is Caracas. "I'm against the way Zelaya was forced out of the country," said one prominent television host the other night, "but I'm also against Hugo Chávez coming here and conscripting my son to serve for six years in his army."
Then there's Fernando - a k a Billy - Joya, a former member of Honduras's infamous Battalion 316, a paramilitary unit responsible for the deaths of hundreds in the 1980s. Joya had previously fled the country on charges of, among other atrocities, having kidnapped and tortured six university students in 1982. But he's resurfaced as "special security adviser" to Micheletti's government. He's been seen walking side by side with Micheletti in a pro-coup "March for Peace and Democracy," and he's appeared on local talk-shows as an "international analyst," justifying the overthrow of Zelaya by invoking his admiration of Augusto Pinochet (lucky for Lanny Davis, Joya stays off CNN). And none other than Pinochet's daughter Lucia has endorsed the coup, praising Micheletti for continuing her father's legacy, fittingly so since the International Observation Mission - made up of representatives from fifteen European and Latin American human rights organizations - has warned of ongoing "grave and systematic" political persecution.
At least nine people have been assassinated or disappeared in the past month, with one body dumped in an area used by death squads in the 1980s as a clandestine cemetery. Among the executed, disappeared and threatened are trade unionists, peasant activists and independent journalists. They include Gabriel Fino Noriega, a reporter for Radio Estelar, in the department of Atlantida, shot dead leaving his work, and Roger Ivan Bados, a former union leader turned reformist politician, pulled off a bus following a pro-Zelaya demonstration and killed. Progressive Catholic priests have likewise been targeted, including Father José André s Tamayo Cortez, a prominent advocate of environmental and social justice, who went into hiding after receiving death threats following his participation in an anti-coup protest, in the department of Olancho. The Jesuit Ismael Moreno, director of the independent provincial Radio Progreso, has also been harassed by the military.
Reading the major Honduran newspapers or watching news on Honduran TV is like entering a time warp back to the censorious days of the cold war, with one story after another trumpeting Micheletti's virtues. After Honduran troops shot and killed a 19-year-old protester, La Prensa, a major daily, ran a doctored photo of the boy's limp body, with the blood that was still pouring out of his head airbrushed away. Billboards with smiling faces of well-fed peasants (more than 40 percent of Hondurans live on a dollar a day) thanking Micheletti for defending democracy adorn major thoroughfares. Alternative media outlets - mostly radio and television stations in the provinces, not owned by a coup-supporting family - have been occupied and threatened. CNN was shut down for a period, and Telesur, the Spanish-language news network sponsored by, among other countries, Venezuela, Argentina and Bolivia, is off the air (in covering the border standoff, CNN in Spanish is primarily using video feed from Telesur, which highlights the importance of that network as an information source). Every evening, the government takes over cable and broadcast channels to announce the hours of the next day's curfew.
What specifically did Zelaya do to conjure these malevolent spirits of the cold war past? The US press has focused on his efforts to build support for a constitutional assembly, misrepresenting the effort as a power grab when in fact the proposal to revise the Constitution was broadly supported by social movements as an effort to democratize Honduras's notoriously exclusive political system. The business community didn't like Zelaya because he raised the minimum wage. Conservative evangelicals and Catholics - including Opus Dei, a formidable presence in Honduras - detested him because he refused to ban the "morning-after" pill. The mining, hydroelectric and biofuel sector didn't like him because he didn't put state funds and land at their disposal. The law-and-order crowd hated him because he apologized on behalf of the state for a program of "social cleansing" that took place in the 1990s, which included the execution of street children and gang members. And the generals didn't like it when he tried to assert executive control over the military. Similar to the armed forces in Guatemala and El Salvador, the Honduran military after the cold war diversified its portfolio, with its officers investing heavily in both legitimate and illegitimate businesses, such as the narcotics trade, illegal logging, and illicit adoptions. In 1993 the general who carried out the coup, Romeo Vasquez Velasquez - trained in the School of the Americas - had been arrested and charged with running a car-theft ring.
Zelaya likewise moved to draw down Washington's military presence; Honduras, alone among Central American countries, hosts a permanent detachment of US troops at the Soto Cano air force base, a holdover from the Contra war. Zelaya's government also picked at cold war wounds not yet healed. Among his top advisers are Milton Jiménez Puerto - who in the 1980s was one of the students tortured by Joya - and Patricia Rodas, daughter of Modesto Rodas Alvarado Zamora. In the 1960s Rodas Alvarado represented the developmentalist wing of the Liberal Party, and in 1963 he was prevented from becoming president in a coup Hondurans insist was engineered by the CIA. Zelaya himself comes from a family with a deep history in the cold war: some in Honduras speculate that his reformism stems from a desire to atone his father's involvement in the 1975 massacre of fifteen activists, mostly peasants and two priests - one from Colombia, the other from Madison, Wisconsin - on his family's hacienda, in the northeastern department of Olancho. In the 1980s, an anti-coup activist told me, Zelaya was one of the few Liberal Party members to speak out against the Contra war, which the CIA organized and ran from Honduras. "History is pushing Mel," a journalist, critical of Zelaya during his tenure for a certain degree of demagogy yet firmly in favor of his return, told me.
6) Honduran rulers insist Zelaya cannot be president
Gustavo Palencia, Reuters, July 30, 2009
Tegucigalpa - The de facto Honduran government insisted on Thursday it would not allow ousted President Manuel Zelaya to return to office, cooling hopes of a deal to end a political crisis following a coup last month.
Rafael Pineda, who as minister of the presidency is No. 2 in the interim government headed by Roberto Micheletti, told Reuters the administration was "firm, unchangeable" against Zelaya's return to power.
Micheletti, named by Congress as president after Zelaya was ousted in a coup on June 28, asked on Wednesday for a special envoy to come to Honduras "to cooperate in the start of dialogue in our country."
The coup leaders are under pressure from the United States to reinstate Zelaya and a source close to the de facto government said on Wednesday that Micheletti might be willing to consider letting Zelaya come back if there were assurances the ousted president did not try to derail democracy.
But Pineda rejected a return to office for Zelaya, who upset conservative critics by allying with socialist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. "The position of the government in this issue is firm, unchangeable," Pineda told Reuters. "The agreement, if there has to be one, can only happen if President Zelaya is not reinstated in the presidency of the republic," he said.
Pineda earlier told a morning show on Honduran television that the de facto government was committed to dialogue but also ready to hold out until a presidential election set for November if talks do not produce a deal.
Washington this week revoked diplomatic visas for four members of Micheletti's administration to pressure it to reverse the coup, which has has also been condemned by Latin American governments and the U.N. General Assembly.
Micheletti on Wednesday asked Arias to send a high-profile envoy, possibly former Inter-American Development Bank head Enrique Iglesias, to Honduras to breathe life into crisis talks.
It was unclear whether the request showed a genuine opening to a deal that would include Zelaya's return, or was rather a tactic to buy time for the Honduran leadership.
7) Iraqi Raid Poses Problem For U.S.
Fighting Continues at Camp for Iran Exiles
Ernesto Londoño, Washington Post, Thursday, July 30, 2009
Baghdad - Violent clashes continued for a second day Wednesday between Iraqi troops and members of an Iranian opposition group whose camp the Iraqis stormed Tuesday, presenting the first major dilemma for the U.S. government since Iraq proclaimed its sovereignty a month ago.
At least eight Iranians have been killed and 400 wounded since Tuesday, when hundreds of Iraqi police and soldiers in riot gear plowed into Camp Ashraf, northeast of Baghdad, using Humvees donated by the U.S. military, according to group leaders and Abdul Nasir al-Mahdawi, the governor of Diyala province.
The raid, ordered by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, coincided with an unannounced visit by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who left Iraq on Wednesday.
In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton described the raid as a legitimate act by a sovereign nation. "Although the U.S. government remains engaged and concerned about this issue, it is a matter for the government of Iraq to resolve in accordance with its laws," she said.
Clinton said Iraq had given assurances that camp residents would be treated humanely and would not be relocated anywhere they would have a well-founded fear of persecution. She urged the Iraqis to "show restraint."
The stated goal of the Ashraf operation was to set up an Iraqi police station inside the camp, a move Iraq has described as the first step toward evicting the more than 3,000 residents.
Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh defended the raid Wednesday, telling the Associated Press that the government "intends to assert its sovereignty on all sites and facilities that were controlled by foreign troops, and Camp Ashraf is no exception."
The State Department classifies the MEK as a terrorist organization, but Washington has interacted with the group since it agreed to disarm in 2003 in return for U.S. military protection. The Baghdad government assumed nominal control of the perimeter of the camp Jan. 1, when a U.S.-Iraqi security agreement took effect.
8) Iraq says raid on militant group's camp wasn't Iran's idea
Seven members of the Iranian opposition faction Mujahedin Khalq were reportedly killed by Iraqi security forces in Iraq's Diyala province, but officials said outside pressure was not a factor.
Liz Sly, Los Angeles Times, July 30, 2009
Baghdad - The Iraqi government Wednesday rejected suggestions that Iranian pressure had prompted a raid on a camp belonging to an Iranian opposition group, saying that Iraqi security forces were merely seeking to extend sovereignty over all Iraqi territory.
"The Iraqi government is determined to establish its sovereignty over all positions and facilities that were under the control of foreign forces," government spokesman Ali Dabbagh told reporters. "The government wants to open an Iraqi police station inside the camp to impose the rule of law and establish the rule of the state."
Dabbagh said Iranian citizens in the camp would not be forced to return to Iran, where they fear they would be punished.
Just Foreign Policy
Just Foreign Policy is a membership organization devoted to reforming US foreign policy so it reflects the values and interests of the majority of Americans.