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Outside View: Indictment against aide taints Iraqi PM Maliki

By STRUAN STEVENSON, UPI Outside View Commentator   |   Dec. 20, 2013 at 12:04 AM
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BRUSSELS, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- News that the Spanish courts have indicted Faleh al-Fayad, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's top security adviser, for "offenses against international community," is clear confirmation of Maliki's role in these crimes against humanity.

Spanish courts have accused Fayad as the "person responsible for grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention (GCIV) and First Additional Protocol committed as from May 2010 in the latter's capacity as Chairman of the 'Ashraf Committee' attached to the office of Prime Minister al-Maliki, and in particular for his alleged involvement in the massacres of 8 April 2011 and 1 September 2013 of 'protected persons' under IV Geneva Convention residing in the city of Ashraf (Iraq), .... in conjunction with the reported offences of 35 murders and 337 cases of willful injury on 8 April 2011 and 52 murders and 7 abductions on 1 September 2013, along with torture and bodily harm to Ashraf residents."

The order also states that "killings, injuries, noise bombardment, denial of food and healthcare -- nothing can happen at Ashraf without the knowledge of the Committee members and in particular of Faleh al-Fayad. In the civil and military hierarchy he was the person in charge of the operation on 8 April 2011 under the orders of the Prime Minister, who is commander in chief of the Iraqi armed forces. In security matters throughout the country, including Ashraf, Faleh al-Fayad is the person in charge."

The court decision says that on Sept. 1, "Iraqi military forces surrounding and occupying Ashraf permitted the cold-blooded massacre of 52 residents -- of the roughly 100 residents who had not been forced to move to 'Camp Liberty,' all with protected person status under the Fourth Geneva Convention. A further seven 'protected persons' were abducted during this assault and have yet to be released and neither have the Iraqi authorities said where they are."

This breakthrough indictment will come as a blow to Maliki, who has continued to lie and deny involvement in the series of massacres and abductions that have targeted the unarmed and defenseless refugees in camps Ashraf and Liberty.

The charges will also be an acute embarrassment to the U.S. State Department officials in Washington who, instead of holding the Iraqi prime minister to account, have accepted Maliki's lies and lamely tried to provide cover for his crimes.

Maliki has, contrary to the Erbil Agreement signed shortly after the last Iraqi elections, retained control of all of the key Iraqi ministries of Defense, Internal Security, Intelligence Services, police, etc.

He cannot, therefore, deny responsibility for atrocities carried out, almost on a daily basis, by his military and intelligence networks, including the series of attacks on Ashraf and Liberty and the abduction on Sept. 1 of seven people, six of whom are women.

Sadly, many EU governments and even the European Union's high representative for Foreign Affairs -- Catherine Ashton -- have taken their lead from the State Department and uttered pathetic comments about a lack of evidence to prove Maliki's guilt. The Spanish court's decision has blown such comments out of the water.

These charges by the Spanish courts open a new chapter, which may in due course lead directly to an indictment of Maliki himself.

As such, I applaud the initiative of Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council for Resistance in Iran, who has called on the hundreds of hunger-strikers worldwide, many of whom have been on hunger-strike since the most recent massacre of Ashraf residents on Sept. 1, to call off their protest.

I applaud the hunger-strikers for their courage and fortitude in bringing global attention to these horrific crimes against defenseless Iranian dissidents, who were supposed to have been under the protection of the Iraqi government. With 8,000 Iraqis dead so far this year in almost constant terrorist outrages, Maliki's answer is a system of secret prisons, mass executions, torture and repression, for which he should be held accountable.

The Iraqi government has grown deaf to the grievances of the Sunni minority and has tried to sideline the Kurds. Maliki turns a blind eye to the daily murderous attacks on Turkmen, Shabaks, Christians and other minorities.

But in the wider Middle East, there is a growing fear that fundamentalist Islam, which is rooted in Iran, has secured a lethal stranglehold on Maliki and now threatens to overwhelm Iraq, Syria and countries further afield, spreading Tehran's hegemony over a wide area.

This is why a nuclear-armed Iran poses such a threat to Middle East and world security.

It would have extremely dangerous implications, because Israel won't tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran and if the West fails to prevent this from happening, Israel will strike.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, will be encouraged to build its own nuclear weapons and we will see an escalating Middle East arms race.

The West, once again led by U.S. President Barack Obama, has cravenly accepted Iranian pledges to de-escalate its nuclear enrichment program, believing the smiling President Hassan Rouhani is somehow a moderate liberal.

Rouhani is by no means a moderate. He is cheating the West and buying time to complete Iran's building of a nuclear weapon.

The strategic importance of Iraq because of its central position between Syria, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey cannot be underestimated.

That is why it is essential to see the election of a moderate, non-sectarian government in Baghdad, which could play a pivotal role in resolving conflict in the Middle East and ending the spiral of violence in Iraq itself.

But none of this can happen unless the West wakes up to the malignant threat that Maliki's continued presence as Iraqi prime minister embodies.

The West must insist immediately on the release of the seven Ashraf hostages and for the deployment of U.N. peacekeepers to protect the 3,000 Iranian refugees in Camp Liberty. There must also be immediate action to airlift these 3,000 refugees out of Iraq to places of safety before another, even more savage massacre takes place.

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(Struan Stevenson is president of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq. Follow him on Twitter: @StruanStevenson.)

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(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.)

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