Outside View: Why Obama shouldn't meet Maliki

By RYSZARD CZARNECKI, UPI Outside View Commentator  |  Oct. 31, 2013 at 7:23 AM
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BRUSSELS, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has formally announced plans to visit the United States and meet with U.S. government officials on Thursday.

For U.S. President Barack Obama to meet with Maliki under current conditions would be inexcusable. It would be a shameful acknowledgement of the United States' complicity in bringing to power a man who is a confirmed hostage-taker and architect of campaigns of murder.

With seven former residents of Camp Ashraf still imprisoned in Baghdad and denied contact with the outside world, any friendly diplomatic interactions between the United States and Iraq would represent further abdication of the West's responsibility to people it had formerly vowed to protect.

The Obama administration has also remained callously silent about Maliki's hostage- taking and the massacre of 52 other residents of Camp Ashraf on the same day.

On Oct. 10, the European Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution condemning recent violence in Iraq, in which it specifically referenced this.

"The European Parliament strongly condemns the attack on Camp Ashraf of 1 September, 2013, by Iraqi forces, in which 52 Iranian refugees were killed and seven residents abducted, including six women who, as stated by Vice President/High Representative Catherine Ashton, are believed to be held in Baghdad, and calls for their immediate and unconditional release," the resolution stated.

Last week more than 150 members of the European Parliament, including six vice presidents called on European Union's leadership "to make Iraq fulfill this demand."

It is difficult to fathom why people in positions of great power, such as Obama and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon haven't made this equally clear.

Struan Stevenson, MEP and chairman of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq, said, "This resolution is a warning to the government of Iraq that if the seven hostages are not released, the EU will no longer have business as usual with Maliki's government and we will use all measures to restrict Europe's trade links with Baghdad."

The United Nations has also acknowledged the Camp Ashraf attack but only so as to make the absolutely foolish recommendation that the government of Iraq conduct an investigation! Who would ask a murderer to investigate the crime he has been accused for?

Meanwhile, there is every possibility that Obama will formally meet with Maliki without the precondition that the seven hostages be released. So far Obama has maintained utter silence.

That silence brings with it shame for the United States, which during its occupation of Iraq offered Protected Persons status to the residents of Camp Ashraf in return for their voluntary disarmament. That protection was later revoked without a word to the people who were then left defenseless against multiple attacks by Iraqi forces.

We can only regret that Obama has been so silent on this issue and hope that he will refuse the Nov. 1 meeting with Maliki and take it as an opportunity to pressure him for the release of the hostages.

If action isn't taken soon, these hostages will surely be transferred to Iran and placed at the feet of the brutal regime they have devoted their lives to opposing, which equals certain death for these six women and one man.

If Obama remains silent long enough for that to happen, then this will stain his human rights legacy for good.


(British-born Polish politician and former journalist, Ryszard Czarnecki is a member of the European Parliament and former European Minister of Poland. Follow him on twitter: @r_czarnecki)


(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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