Meet the actual nature of MKO


Reference IDCreatedClassificationOrigin
08BAGHDAD40062008-12-22 14:57SECRETEmbassy Baghdad
DE RUEHGB #4006/01 3571457
R 221457Z DEC 08
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 07 BAGHDAD 004006 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/20/2018 
BAGHDAD 00004006  001.2 OF 007 
Classified By: Political Military Minister Counselor Michael H. 
Corbin for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 

1. (U) This is an action request.  Please see para 16. 
2. (S) SUMMARY.  National Security Advisor (NSA) Dr. 
Mowaffak al-Rubaie led a joint GOI-USG delegation to Camp 
Ashraf December 20 to discuss the assumption of security 
responsibility for the camp, home to over 3000 Mujahedin 
e-Khalq (MEK) members in Iraq.  Commanding General 
Multinational Corps - Iraq (MNC-I) LTG Lloyd Austin led the 
U.S.  delegation for the meeting.  Dr. al-Rubaie noted 
emphatically that while the GOI would assume security 
responsibility as of January 1, the physical security 
transition from Multinational Force - Iraq (MNF-I) to Iraqi 
Security Forces (ISF) would continue into the new year.   Dr. 
Rubaie laid out only two options for Camp Ashraf residents 
(CAR):  to either voluntarily return to their home country 
(primarily Iran) or resettlement in third countries.  In no 
case would MEK members be allowed to remain in Iraq, although 
he emphasized that no resident would be forcibly deported. 
GOI'S ultimate goal for Camp Ashraf, according to Dr. 
al-Rubaie, is to close down the camp.  MNF-I is considering 
recommending SECDEF issue a statement noting that the GOI is 
assuming responsibility for Camp Ashraf and that, as a 
result, the USG will discontinue its policy of treating the 
CAR as Protected Persons.  As Washington deliberates whether 
to remove the MEK organization from the U.S. list of Foreign 
Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), the perspective from the 
Embassy is that the organization should not be delisted.  The 
GOI released a press statement December 21 reiterating the 
GOI points.  MEK supporters will likely launch a new and 
vigorous campaign protesting the GOI decision to not allow 
the CAR long-term residence in Iraq.  END SUMMARY. 
Prime Minister's Directive on MEK 
3. (S) After months of prevarication, the GOI has finally 
taken decisive action on assuming responsibility for Camp 
Ashraf and its residents.  In accordance with a Prime 
Ministerial Directive dated December 15, NSA Dr. Mowaffak 
al-Rubaie has been given full authority to "supervise the 
ending of the MEK terrorist organization's presence in Iraq." 
Specific duties of the NSA as declared in the directive 
effective December 15 are to: 
-- Supervise and coordinate between the Iraq and the U.S. the 
transfer of security responsibility for Camp Ashraf from 
American to Iraqi forces. 
-- Establish, in coordination with the ISF, appropriate 
mechanisms to ensure the flow of basic supplies to the 
members of the organization during their temporary presence. 
-- Coordinate the work of the relevant Iraqi ministries and 
offices to establish an appropriate plan to end the presence 
of the organization in Iraq and follow-up on the 
implementation of that plan. 
4. (S) In accordance with the Directive and in coordination 
with Embassy Baghdad and Task Force-134 (TF134), Dr. 
al-Rubaie invited representatives from relevant ministries 
and his staff to meet with Camp Ashraf leaders December 20 to 
present the GOI position on Camp Ashraf to its residents. 
GOI representatives were: 
-- Staff Major General (SMG) Alaa Salman Jassim, Ministry of 
Defense (MOD) Chief of Military Intelligence (MI) 
-- Brigadier General (BG) Mehdi Jark Zair - Baghdad 
Operations Center 
-- BG Shakir Hamid Abd - Iraqi National Intelligence Service 
Q-- BG Shakir Hamid Abd - Iraqi National Intelligence Service 
-- BG Nabeel Saeed - Ministry of Interior (MOI), Information 
and Investigation Agency 
-- COL Uday Mohamed Jassim Mohammed - MOD Deputy Chief of MI 
-- Dr. Salam Dawwod Jassi - Ministry of Displacement and 
-- Ibrahim Jassim Mohamed - Ministry of Justice 
-- Saad Kati' Dakhil - Ministry of Human Rights 
-- Waad Zainal Salih - National Operations Center 
-- Saeed Nima Jabir - National Security Council (NSC) 
-- Zainal Abu - NSC 
-- MAJ Haider Nasrat - NSC 
-- Mohammed Amin Abbas - NSC 
-- Ahmad Muzahim - NSC 
Principal USG representatives present were: 
BAGHDAD 00004006  002.2 OF 007 
-- LTG Lloyd Austin - CG MNC-I 
-- Michael Corbin - Pol-Mil MinCouns 
-- MG Richard Barrons - DCG MNC-I 
-- BG David Quantock - CG TF134/MNF-I DCG-Detainee Operations 
Preparation Briefing for GOI Officials 
5. (S) Prior to meeting with Camp Ashraf leadership, the GOI 
participants were briefed by the U.S. side on the current 
situation at the camp, after which LTG Austin noted that 
opportunists (either Shi'a, Sunni, or others) could take 
advantage of the situation and that all sides needed to work 
together for a smooth transition of security responsibility. 
LTG Austin and MinCouns stressed that the GOI must be mindful 
that the world is watching and that the GOI has provided 
assurances of humane treatment, and it must live up to its 
6. (S) During the preparatory briefing, Dr. al-Rubaie said 
the following: 
-- "The GOI must put forth rules and regulations for the CAR; 
the nature of business has changed now that the GOI is taking 
full control of its sovereignty. 
-- The CAR must understand that things are not the same as 
with the previous government or with the Coalition Forces 
(CF); they are dealing with a sovereign GOI. 
-- The CAR will be treated humanely and the GOI will support 
their logistical and medical needs. 
-- The GOI has provided assurances and will act in accordance 
with Iraqi, Islamic, and International Law. 
-- The GOI believes the world's eyes are on them.  This is 
the new Iraq and the International Community wants to see how 
the GOI deals with situations like this. 
-- The GOI must present to the CAR what the GOI wants and how 
things will work.  The GOI wants assurances that they will 
cooperate with us. 
-- The GOI's other expectations include that the CAR cease 
political activities, including production and transmitting 
of propaganda inside and from Iraq. 
-- The Prime Minister wants the MOD and MOI to work together. 
 The MOD will have external control and the MOI internal. 
They will work together, but MOD is in charge. 
-- For the past five years there have been no security 
problems at Camp Ashraf.  How would it look if there were 
security problems after the GOI takes over? Eyes are upon us. 
 We have to be sensitive, especially during the early period 
of the security transition. 
-- The MEK are undesirable in every way, but were inherited 
from the previous regime.  The GOI needs to elevate itself to 
a higher standard until the problem goes away. 
-- Understanding the prohibition on officially dealing with 
the CAR, SMG Alaa has been appointed by the GOI to talk on 
their behalf, especially with regard to logistical and 
medical support." 
Joint Meeting 
7. (S) The USG and GOI delegations then met with the Camp 
Ashraf leadership, during which Dr. al-Rubaie outlined the 
GOI position: 
-- "The GOI has determined that its desired end state is the 
closure of Camp Ashraf and the voluntary departure of the 
residents either back to Iran or to third countries.  (NOTE: 
No timeframe for either was set by al-Rubaie.  END NOTE.) 
This will be accomplished based on the assurances the GOI 
presented to the USG.  The GOI promises it'll deal with this 
problem with the highest level of humanity without causing 
additional suffering. 
-- The GOI requires that the CAR cease all political 
activities, such as propaganda or political rallies, with the 
Iraqi people or tribes.  This is considered unlawful.  If 
QIraqi people or tribes.  This is considered unlawful.  If 
they continue, the CAR will be subject to Iraqi Law. 
BAGHDAD 00004006  003.2 OF 007 
-- The GOI will not deal with the MEK as an organization, but 
as individuals.  Each male or female individual is 
responsible under Iraqi Law.  At the same time, the Iraqi 
people and the GOI consider the MEK a terrorist organization. 
 It conducted operations in Iraq a long time ago.  This is 
against Iraqi Law.  There must not be any operations run in 
-- Prior to 2003, there was a deal between you and the 
previous government of Saddam Hussein.  From April 9, 2003 
until now you have had a deal with the CF and the USG.  As of 
January 1, the relationship will reach a new phase.  You will 
deal with the new sovereign GOI in charge.  CF will help the 
GOI.  Our friends will be with us to facilitate the 
-- The complete security transition will not happen right 
away - not months, but days - in order to reach full Iraqi 
responsibility for your protection from any threatening 
elements from the outside.  (NOTE:  Once again, no firm 
timeframe was set for the completion of the security 
transition by Dr. al-Rubaie.  END NOTE.) 
-- Security will be totally a GOI responsibility, for which 
MOD has the lead with MOI in a supporting role.  SMG Alaa 
Salman Jassim has been given charge of overseeing the 
transition from CF and the provision of support to the CAR. 
SMG Alaa will appoint a Liaison Officer as the main 
point-of-contact on site and will report to the NSA and a 
committee in Baghdad formed between the NSA, MOI, MOD, MOJ, 
MoHR and Immigration, which would meet twice-weekly.  The 
3/37/9 IA BN may now coordinate with CF/MEK under SMG Alaa's 
-- The Ministry of Displacement and Migration, MOI and MoHR 
will put forth a plan to communicate with other countries, 
including Iran.  The CAR must decide whether to return to 
their home countries (primarily Iran) or elsewhere, if 
accepted.  The GOI will not forcibly expel the CAR.   (NOTE: 
Once again, no timeframe was established by Dr. al-Rubaie for 
the determination of the individuals' status.  END NOTE.) 
-- Visits to Camp Ashraf by foreign officials or 
international organizations (IOs) must be coordinated with 
the GOI.  Visits by IOs to assist in repatriation or travel 
to other countries would be allowed, but visits by others 
would be determined on a case-by-case basis." 
8. (S) Madame Mojgan Parsaie, the Chief Spokesperson for the 
CAR, showed considerable surprise not only by the level and 
size of the U.S. and GOI delegations, but also by the GOI 
delegation's message, which she described as "shocking." She 
responded as follows to Dr. al-Rubaie's presentation: 
-- "You only gave us two options.  To only have two options 
is illegal according to International Law." 
-- These new goals are shocking.  If it's a unilateral 
decision, there is no room for discussion.  We've been 
suffering for five years." 
-- To close the gate to Camp Ashraf, we can do so today, but 
to change the camp into a detention center - why then are we 
-- During 16 months of screening by U.S. agents from the FBI 
and the Departments of State, Defense and Homeland Security, 
none of the CAR were found to have ties to terrorism." 
-- The UNHCR, Amnesty International, the European Parliament, 
the Council of Europe, and other IOs have all expressed their 
opinion that the transfer of security responsibility should 
not occur.  You are acting based on pressure from the Iranian 
-- We know that Iraq is a government of laws.  We have been 
Q-- We know that Iraq is a government of laws.  We have been 
here for 23 years; our presence was not illegal.  We came 
based on an agreement with the GOI.  When governments change, 
the rights of those in the country do not change." 
-- In order to discuss security, the CAR need to know their 
status.  The CAR have not been given the chance to establish 
their status with the GOI." 
9. (S) Dr. al-Rubaie responded to Madame Parsaie's comments 
firmly by noting: 
-- "Let me assure you, we think that Iraq is our property. 
BAGHDAD 00004006  004.2 OF 007 
We do not allow others to share.  We have full control of our 
-- You must change your way of thinking - this is a new GOI. 
-- There will be a step-by-step transition of security 
responsibility from the CF to the GOI. 
-- There is no discussion on this point - you are not 
refugees. Likewise, you are not the armed movement you were 
in the past.  You must cooperate to get to a final 
determination starting now, either to your families in the 
countries you cam from or to resettle other countries. 
Remaining in Iraq is not an option. 
-- The decision to transfer security responsibility is not my 
decision; it is the Iraqi people's decision.  This is our 
country.  Iraq is the Iraqi people, those who chose the 
government and the Prime Minister.  This is a decision of the 
Iraqi people and should be respected. 
-- Your organization attacked the Islamic Government in Iran. 
 Iraq is a democratic country and we are trying to build a 
friendly relationship with our neighbor - Iran.  We don't 
want interference.  To allow such interference will allow 
them to interfere in our business. 
-- You said the MEK is not a terrorist organization.  The GOI 
and Iraqi Law classify the MEK as a terrorist organization. 
-- We have no intent to make Camp Ashraf a detention center. 
You are residents and you will stay residents until, with 
God's will, we reach a complete solution. 
-- Even though we don't agree, there is a benefit from 
holding this meeting.  We must work together to protect the 
CAR from outside threats.  A smooth transfer of security 
responsibility is important. 
-- We give you the same assurances that we gave to the USG. 
We will maintain your rights in accordance with Iraqi and 
International Law and Islamic culture.  Our relationship is 
based on this. 
-- As of today, we have authorized SMG Alaa to talk with you 
for coordination of medical and logistical assistance - 
water, food - anything else that is necessary. 
-- The goal of coming to Camp Ashraf today was to try to 
assure you and make you feel comfortable, to put forth the 
GOI position, and to introduce the representatives of the 
ministries involved. 
-- After the transfer, you will coordinate with the GOI vice 
the CF.  This will be difficult at first, but after days, 
weeks, perhaps it will become easier. 
-- We think we can get to the final goal of transferring 3400 
people either home or to a third country." 
Meeting with SMG Alaa 
10. (S) After Dr. al-Rubaie and LTG Austin left the large 
group meeting, a follow-on meeting with CAR leadership was 
held, chaired by SMG Alaa.  Important points clarified by SMG 
Alaa included: 
-- "As soon as possible, we need to begin the process of 
transferring security responsibility.  When CAR 
representatives leave the camp, it will be our responsibility 
to protect them.  Everything the U.S.  provides, we will 
provide.  Until the end of the year, we will monitor how 
things progress and we will work jointly with the U.S. 
forces.  Iraqi forces will take full responsibility as of 
January 1 and CF forces will transition to a supporting role. 
 Iraqi forces will be in control, but we will always need the 
help and support of the CF. 
-- We will make sure that nothing bad happens.  There are 
many forces outside that don't want this to work.  We will 
make sure there are no threats within 5 km of the camp. 
-- Our hearts are with you.  We understand your difficult 
Q-- Our hearts are with you.  We understand your difficult 
position, but you must understand our problem.  We urge you 
to work with us to relocate to Iran or somewhere else.  It is 
your decision.  In the meantime we will work with the U.S. 
side.  We will work with our ministries to contact Iran and 
BAGHDAD 00004006  005.2 OF 007 
other countries.  May the Lord help you and us." 
U.S. / CAR Leadership Meeting 
11. (S) During a follow-on meeting, MinCouns and CG TF134 
reiterated points from previous visits about the means the 
transition would happen, and it is the U.S. position that 
with the end the UN mandate the GOI would assume control of 
Camp Ashraf.  PMinCouns summed up the following points for 
the CAR leadership after the Iraqi delegation departed for 
-- "We cannot determine CAR's status with the GOI. It is 
something for the CAR to negotiate with the GOI.  No 
international law will allow the CAR to remain at Camp Ashraf 
against the wishes of the government. 
-- The NSA put forth some very important points, to include: 
Iraq will live up to its promises internationally; the ISF 
will provide security at the same level as the U.S. has; Camp 
Ashraf will not become a detention center; and the basic 
needs of the CAR will be met. 
-- Don't conduct political activity that would place the CAR 
in a poor position with the GOI." 
12. (S) Madame Parsaie summed up her feelings as "shocked" 
and noted that the GOI had left them no options.  She said 
the leadership would have to regroup before deciding how to 
move forward in cooperating with U.S. and Iraqi forces.  USG 
representatives pressed Madame Parsaie to have a CAR 
representative begin coordination meetings with the ISF and 
U.S. sides.  She apparently understood the urgency, but said 
the leadership would need to gather its thoughts based on the 
GOI position that had just been placed before them. 
Termination of Protected Persons Status 
13. (FOUO) MNF-I plans to consider raising the official 
termination of Protected Person Status with SECDEF.  Although 
as a matter of law, protected person status no longer 
applies, the U.S., since the end of occupation, had continued 
to apply Fourth Geneva Convention (GC IV) protections to MEK 
members at Camp Ashraf as a matter of policy.  Given the 
December 31, 2008 expiration of the United Nations mandate 
authorizing MNF-I, and given the January 1, 2009 entry into 
force of the bilateral security agreement between the U.S. 
and Iraq, the USG will no longer be in a position to continue 
to provide Protected Persons Status to the CAR.  GC IV 
provides that protected persons retain their status and will 
benefit from the Convention through the time of their 
"release, repatriation or re-establishment."  The USG will 
have re-established the CAR when it restores them to the same 
basic circumstances in which they were situated before the 
armed conflict - that is, living in Iraq under the 
sovereignty and responsibility of the GOI.  That point will 
occur on January 1, 2009.  MNF-I will recommend that a public 
statement be made noting that the GOI has taken over 
responsibility for Camp Ashraf and that MNF-I will not treat 
CAR as Protected Persons. 
No Delisting of MEK 
14. (FOUO) While Washington considers whether to keep the MEK 
organization on the U.S. FTO list, as the Embassy deals with 
the MEK at Camp Ashraf it is our view that for our dealings 
it is important that the organization remain listed. 
Delisting the MEK could hinder our cooperation with the GOI 
(which considers the MEK to be a terrorist organization) and 
would encourage the CAR to continue to stall the 
Qwould encourage the CAR to continue to stall the 
determination of their legal status in Iraq. 
Public Statement by GOI 
15. (FOUO) Dr. Al-Rubaie's office released a public statement 
December 21 recounting the meeting at Camp Ashraf and 
reiterating the GOI points on Camp Ashraf and the MEK.  The 
statement, while a fair representation of the event and the 
GOI stance, will spur MEK supporters abroad to renew their 
campaigns against the transfer of security responsibility, 
plans to voluntarily repatriate CAR to Iran or transfer to 
BAGHDAD 00004006  006.2 OF 007 
third countries, and the plans to eventually close Camp 
U.S. Media Plan 
16. (FOUO) Embassy recommends the use of the following points 
in a broad-based public affairs campaign emphasizing USG 
handling of the Camp Ashraf issue and underlining GOI 
commitments to CAR.  Request also that the Department ask 
Embassies in major European captitals to approach host 
governments at the appropriate level to deliver the following 
-- The Government of Iraq announced on December 20 that it 
will assume security responsibility for Camp Ashraf and its 
residents as of January 1, 2009.  This announcement comes in 
the context of the end of the UNSCR mandate for the Coalition 
Forces in Iraq . 
-- The Camp Ashraf population represents an extremely 
sensitive issue for Iraq.  This group, representing the MEK 
in Iraq, is considered by both the USG and the GOI as a 
terrorist organization.  It was allowed to open Camp Ashraf 
by Saddam Hussein's regime.  The U.S. took over security 
responsibility for the camp and its inhabitants after the 
invasion of Iraq in March, 2003. 
-- The transfer of security responsibility from Coalition 
Forces to the Iraqi Security Forces has begun and will 
continue into 2009.  U.S. Forces will remain at Camp Ashraf 
in a supporting and monitoring role. 
-- The GOI has provided the USG written assurances of humane 
treatment of the Camp Ashraf residents in accordance with 
Iraq's Constitution, laws, and international obligations.  To 
that end, the GOI has agreed to treat the residents humanely 
and not to transfer them to countries where they fear 
persecution on account of their political opinions or 
religious beliefs or where they face torture. 
-- The GOI's ultimate goal is to repatriate those residents 
who wish to return to Iran or assist in the resettlement to 
third countries before closing Camp Ashraf.  The GOI has 
stated that no Camp Ashraf resident will be forcibly 
transferred to countries where they fear persecution on 
account of their political opinions or religious beliefs or 
where they face torture. 
-- Camp residents will be subject to Iraqi law and will be 
prohibited from conducting political activities in Iraq. 
-- The USG, through its Embassy in Iraq and the military 
forces present under the new bilateral security agreement, 
will continue to work to ensure a smooth transition for the 
camp residents.  The USG will work with appropriate 
international organizations, including UNHCR, to assist the 
camp residents in securing a safe future. 
Aren't the Camp residents entitled to "protected persons" 
-- Following the invasion of Iraq in 2003, MEK members at 
Camp Ashraf laid down their arms to Coalition Forces.  In 
June 2004, the Department of Defense designated members of 
the MEK who qualified under the Fourth Geneva Convention as 
"protected persons," confirming that the MEK were then 
civilians and non-combatants under the laws of war.  Since 
that time, the U.S. has continued to provide protected 
persons status to the MEK as a matter of policy.  The Iraqi 
Government, however, has announced it will assume full 
responsibility for the security of the Camp residents as of 
January 1, 2009.  Because the MEK will be re-established in 
Iraq as of that date (i.e., living in Iraq under the 
sovereignty of the Iraqi government), the United States will 
discontinue its policy of according them protected persons 
Qdiscontinue its policy of according them protected persons 
May the GOI lawfully "close" Camp Ashraf? 
-- The GOI has no international legal obligation to continue 
to allow the residents to live together at Camp Ashraf.  In 
closing Camp Ashraf, however, the GOI must continue treat the 
residents of Camp Ashraf humanely and must not transfer them 
to any state where they may face persecution for their 
political or religious beliefs or where they face torture. 
BAGHDAD 00004006  007.2 OF 007 
The GOI may seek to voluntarily resettle the MEK in their 
home states or in third states that may be willing to accept 
The MEK is no longer a terrorist organization, why won't the 
GOI allow its members to remain in Iraq? 
-- The U.S. designated the MEK a terrorist organization in 
1997, and the U.S. continues to recognize the MEK as such. 
The new Government of Iraq also considers the MEK a terrorist 
organization.  The organization has a troubled history in 
Iraq and is alleged to have been involved in activities with 
Saddam Hussein's forces against his own people. 
-- The GOI also has said that it will not allow aliens who 
conduct political activities on its territory to remain in 
The Iraqi government will allow Iranian agents to persecute 
the CAR.  How can the U.S. allow a humanitarian catastrophe 
to occur? 
-- The Government of Iraq has committed publicly to guarantee 
the safety of the camp Ashraf residents.  The Government has 
assigned well-trained professional soldiers to complete the 
same mission conducted by the Coalition forces over the last 
five years.  The GOI is working with international 
organizations, including the ICRC and UNHCR, and seeks a 
humanitarian solution to allow the Camp residents to either 
return home or possibly be resettled in a third country. 
These organizations, plus the USG, will continue to monitor 
the status of the Camp Ashraf residents as the GOI fulfils 
its commitments. 
Why can't the USG arrange for resettlement of the Camp Ashraf 
-- As members of a designated foreign terrorist organization, 
the Camp Ashraf residents do not qualify for refugee status. 
By law, the US cannot accept them as refugees.  We will, 
however, continue working with the international community 
and the residents to find a solution to their situation. 
17. (S) The high-level meeting with the CAR shows that the 
GOI has finally come to terms with the situation and 
understands that it must move ahead with this precarious 
issue.  While the GOI, namely the MOD, will assume overall 
security responsibility for Camp Ashraf come January 1, TF134 
security forces would remain for an unspecified time in a 
supporting and monitoring role.  Camp Ashraf leadership 
showed shock and dismay that they were not offered the right 
to stay in Iraq; previous GOI visitors, including the 
Minister of Human Rights, had said there may be possibilities 
to remain in Iraq.  Nevertheless, although there was no 
agreement between the GOI and CAR sides, it appears as if the 
Camp Ashraf leadership did receive the message that the GOI 
will be in charge and they will have to cooperate and 
negotiate with the GOI for any possible concessions. 
18. (S) The GOI has made clear it will not force CAR 
residents to go to any country and has said it will treat 
them humanely in Iraq.  The Embassy has received diplomatic 
assurances from GOI to this effect that include the right to 
monitor and inspect.  TF134 Military Police forces will work 
with professional Iraqi Army soldiers in place on a measured 
transition phase of at least 30 days after January 1.  The 
GOI has full responsibility as of January 1 for the CAR until 
another country agrees to take them (likely a long process). 
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