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Whose agenda is the U.N. ambassador pushing in Iraq?

By BRIAN BINLEY, UPI Outside View Commentator   |   July 31, 2012 at 6:30 AM   |   Comments

LONDON, July 31 (UPI) -- It is a sad day when a U.N. ambassador becomes the stooge of a repressive regime but it's happening. Martin Kobler, the United Nations' Iraq envoy, has brought shame on the institution by allowing himself to be duped into doing Baghdad's dirty work.

His recent report to the U.N. Security Council on Camp Ashraf was a turning point in Kobler's tenure. It raised fundamental questions regarding his fitness to continue in this crucial role.

The 3,400 defenseless residents of Ashraf and Camp Liberty have been dismayed by Kobler's distortion of the truth. There is however one politician who is certain to have been happy to read his report: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. This is the man who, to please his allies in Iran, ordered troops to storm Camp Ashraf, a raid that resulted in dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries. Maliki has been seeking any excuse to condemn the refugees who survived his deadly incursion and Kobler has now given him new ammunition.

To claim, as Kobler did, that the Ashraf representatives have somehow complicated negotiations with the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq is to deliberately distort the picture. It is rather the Iraqi side that needed singling out for appointing murderers to its negotiating team.

Col. Sadeq Mohammad Kazem, the same officer who ordered the Ashraf raids of 2009 and 2011, was sent by Maliki to negotiate with the Ashraf residents. Given that this officer was responsible for murdering and maiming their kin, can you blame them for refusing to sit in the same room?

Why did Kobler not report this to the Security Council? Rather than remind the world that innocent people lost their lives, the U.N. envoy decided to put further pressure on Ashraf residents by urging them not to "provoke" their armed keepers.

"Responsibility also falls on many international supporters. It is of great importance that they contribute positively to influence the residents' position," Kobler said in his report.

Does he want the international community to stand by and watch silently when the Iraqi government launches its next attempt to massacre Ashraf residents? Their membership in the People's Mujahedin of Iran, the main Iranian resistance, is the real issue here. The mullahs want these people finished off because they know they are a beacon capable of inspiring regime change in Tehran.

Sadly Ambassador Kobler places political considerations above human rights and in so doing totally demeans one of the underlying principles of the organization he purports to represent.

Kobler referred to Camp Liberty -- where the majority of the Ashraf residents are now based -- as a "temporary transit location." If only this were true!

As he also said in his report, no third country has come forward with an offer to resettle the refugees. The Ashrafians are consequently destined to spend a long period of time at the ironically named facility, which thanks to Maliki and his cronies resembles a concentration camp.

"For the remaining 1,200 residents of Camp Ashraf, you are not obligated to go to Camp Liberty until the United States and the United Nations keep their word to protect and meet their obligations," former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., the son of late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, said at a seminar in a meeting in the U.S. Senate earlier this month.

"The residents of Camp Ashraf are not breaking their word," he said. "It's the United States and the U.N. who are breaking their commitment to the people of Camp Ashraf."

John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, talked of "getting the United States to do the right thing and delist the PMOI and take affirmative steps to begin the relocation process out of Iraq, which is the only solution that's going to be fair and equitable to the residents of Ashraf and Liberty and their families around the world."

Even though it is considered a lawful political party across Europe, the PMOI still languishes on the U.S. list of designated terrorist organizations. This illegitimate designation is another hurdle in the way of a peaceful solution to the Ashraf crisis.

Kobler told the Security Council that the patience of the Iraqi government is "wearing thin."

Let me tell Mr. Kobler that our impatience with him grows greater by the day. Whilst he fires Baghdad's propaganda bullets, the people of Ashraf are being robbed of their human rights and their material possessions. Thanks in large part to Kobler's intransigence, there has been no progress on the residents' legitimate requests to sell the property they are required to abandon in the town they built up from literally nothing. Why should they be forcibly dispossessed of all their worldly belongings worth around $500 million?

Kobler has shown himself to be incapable of taking an impartial line or of protecting the weak as his institutional role requires. The people of Ashraf and Liberty need the U.N. secretary-general to appoint an interlocutor who is both objective and competent.

Given that Kobler has failed at his task, he should be replaced.

If there is any interest in maintaining the credibility of the United Nations, now is the time to act. The United Nations' reputation is constantly being undermined and sullied by their own ambassador and he should go.

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(Brian Binley, a Member of Parliament from the United Kingdom's Conservative Party, is a member of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom.)

--

(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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