Friday, December 07, 2012

Iraq snapshot

Friday, December 7, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, a day after bad reporting finds AP looking even more foolish with their false 'report' as tensions continue between Baghdad and Erbil, a Shi'ite leader explains how Shi'ites end up siding with the Kurds over Nouri's current attack, we look at Syrian refugees in Iraq, and more.
The month isn't even ten days old yet, through Thursday, Iraq Body Count counts 39 people killed from violence in Iraq so far this month (13 alone yesterday).   Violence continues today.  Alsumaria notes a Diwainya armed dispute lead to 2 people dead and a third injured, and a Baghdad home invasion killed 1 SahwaAll Iraq News adds a Mosul attack left 1 police officer dead and two more injured, a Musayyib mortar attack left six people injured, a Mosul internet cafe owner was shot dead and 1 person was shot dead outside their Mosul home. and a Babylon roadside bombing left one person injured.
Yesterday, Al-Shorfa reports, Nouri al-Maliki's Baghdad government announced that 7 previously armed groups were joining the political process and they "include the 20th Revolution Brigades, Malek al-Ashtar Brigade, Khalid Bin al-Walid Brigade, Arab Tribes Sons Brigade, Omar Bin al-Khattab Brigade, Children of Iraq Brigade and Saqr Quraish Brigade." This as Al-Bayyna reports a member of the Parliament's National Reconciliation Committee issued a statement declaring that reconciliation does not mean bringing in former Ba'athists. He asserts that de-Ba'athifcation is the law of the land. De-Ba'athification is the policy Paul Bremer oversaw in Iraq that forced Iraqis out of jobs. That was the military, that was the government. The reason? Belonging to the Ba'ath political party. That's a part that Saddam Hussein would eventually head in Iraq. It's also a player throughout the Middle East and part of a pan-Arab movement. De-Ba'athifcation is seen as a huge mistake. And Nouri agreed to what we call de-de-Ba'athifcation. He agreed to that in 2007. But he never implemented it and, judging by the remarks today, there is no governmental interest in healing that division.

Alsumaria reports that Minister of Transportation Hadi al-Amiri declared today that 15,000 families have suffered as a result of the refusal to implement Article 140.  al-Amiri states that this has led some families to be denied Iraqi nationalities. As the leader of the Badr Organization, al-Amiri is part of the National Alliance (also known as the Ntional Iraqi Alliance which is led by Ibrahim al-Jaafari).   What is going on?  Why are so many Shi'ite politicians turning on Nouri publicly as he goes after the Kurds and the threat of a war with the Kurds looms?   Qassim Khidhir Hamad (Niqash) spoke with the Islamic Supreme Council's Bashir Adel Gli this week.  The Islamic Supreme Council is another Shi'ite political party which belongs to the National Alliance.

NIQASH: How do you feel about the current relationship between the Shiite Muslims of Iraq and Iraq's Kurdistan people?


Bashir Adel Gli: The relationship between Iraq's Shiite Muslims and the Kurdish people is a historic one. It goes back to the time that [religious leader] Grand Ayatollah Muhsin al-Hakim [the grandfather of Ammar al-Hakim, current leader of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council] issued a fatwa [religious edict] in 1965 that forbade Shiite Muslims to fight with the Kurdish.  

This decree was copied and distributed all over Iraq and it had a big impact on Shiite Muslim soldiers.

He issued that decree after some Sunni Muslim clerics issued a totally different fatwa saying that their followers were allowed to kill the Kurdish. The [Sunni Muslim-dominated] authorities were trying to find some way of justifying their ethnic cleansing and killing of the Kurdish people. And what al-Hakim said at the time made them very angry.

As a result, 70 members of al-Hakim's family were arrested and later killed.

Basically Shiite Muslim ideology says that Shiites must support the oppressed at all times; and that they must not support the dictator, no matter who that dictator is.



NIQASH: So how do you see the current problem between Erbil and Baghdad: is it a Shiite Muslim-Kurdish problem?


Bashir Adel Gli: No, it is the problem between the Dawa Party [headed by Nouri al-Maliki] and the government of Iraqi Kurdistan. It is not a problem between Shiites and Kurds in general.

And that is part of the how and why Nouri is losing ground at present on this issue.  Turning to a Twitter conversation.  Derek Brower is the editor-at-large of Petroleum Economist and he just left the KRG.

If Maliki still pushing idea of Peshmerga replaced in territories by local force, don't see KRG accepting that since implies Pesh withdrawal

@IraqiPolitics I agree. Just returned from Kirkuk, where the two sides are v close to

a scrap. Either serious brinkmanship or impending war.

@derek_brower hi, thanks for your coverage, AP now reporting initial agreement between both sides, any signs from the ground.

@jamesbr01 I'd be sceptical, unless things changed in the few hours since I've returned from Kirkuk. But always possible.

"I'd be skeptical" of the AP report "unless things changed in the few hours since I've returned from Kirkuk" Twetted Derek Brower yesterday afternoon.  Apparently we're all going to have to learn to be skeptical of AP because their report was wrong.
There has been no agreement.  Tonight, Alsumaria reports that KRG President Massoud Barzani issued a statement stating that the only way to end the current crisis is to implement Article 140.  The main part of Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution reads:
The responsibility placed upon the executive branch of the Iraqi Transitional Government stipulated in Aerticle 58 of the Transitional Administrative Law shall extend and continue to the executive authority elected in accordance with this Constitution, provided that it accomplishes completely (normalization and census
and concludes with a referendum in Kirkuk and other disputed territories to determine the will of their citizens), by a date not to exceed the 31st of December 2007.
That's from Iraq's 2005 Constitution.  In the spring of 2006, after the Iraqi Parliament wanted Ibrahim al-Jafaari as prime minister (it would have been his second term) and the White House nixed the choice and insisted that Nouri al-Maliki be made prime minister, Nouri took an oath to uphold the Constitution.  Article 140 is a part of the Constitution and it is very clear in its wording that it must be implemented by December 2007.  Yet for Nouri's entire first term he refused to honor the Constitution.  Kirkuk is oil-rich and it is claimed by Nouri's central government out of Baghdad and by the Kurdistan Regional Government with both set of players making historical arguments on why they should be the one to lay claim to Kirkuk.  The way to settle it, as the Constitution made clear, was a census and a referendum.  But Nouri refused to implement Article 140.  His term came to an end in early 2010.  Iraq held parliamentary elections in March 2010.  Nouri's State of Law came in second to Iraqiya.  2010 saw the continuation of a trend that emerged in the 2009 provincial elections.  Iraqis were not interested in sects.  They were interested in a national identity. 
Having come in second to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya, Nouri quickely stepped down -- and, no, he didn't.  He refused to.  He refused to let Iraqi move forward.  From the November 1, 2010  snapshot:
March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's seven months and twenty-five days and still counting.
The stalemate would continue for over a week more.  Nouri was able to stamp his feet and stop the political process because the US government refused to side with the Iraqi voters.  Instead of calling for the will of the people to be honored, the Barack Obama White House demanded that Nouri get a second term.  From  John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast) last September:

Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq's first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."
When your preferred candidate loses the vote, how do you install him to a second term?  You ignore the Constitution and create a new 'understanding.'  So in November 2010, the White House brokered a new contract known as the Erbil Agreement.  The contract was signed by the leaders of Iraq's various political blocs.  In the contract, Nouri agrees to give political party A various concessions if political party A will allow him a second term as prime minister.  So Nouri promises various things to the various parties.  To the Kurds, he promises, among other things, that he will finally implement Article 140.
The US government vouches for the contract with the White House pledging they will uphold it.  But Nouri pretty much breaks it immediately.  Iraqiya calls him out and the US press treats it as a misunderstanding and swears Nouri's going to honor the contract. But he doesn't.  And months turn into a year and he still hasn't and his State of Law is insisting the contract is illegal (if Nouri was installed prime minister by an illegal contract, grasp this, then Nouri is not prime minister).  By the summer of 2011, those calling for Nouri to honor the contract include Iraqiya, the Kurds and cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr.   That's when the second political stalemate is evident.  This is kicked up to a crisis in December when, following the departure of most US troops, Nouri decides to go after Iraqiya.  For weeks, he'd been targeting Sunnis and Iraqiya members (sometimes they are the same thing) in various provinces, having them rounded up as terrorists.  But now he was demanding that Iraqiya's Tareq al-Hashemi be arrested and that Iraqiya's Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his post.  Tareq al-Hashemi is Iraq's Vice President.  Saleh al-Mutlaq is Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister.  To remove either from their post requires the consent of Parliament.
Nouri couldn't get the votes.  But he does control the Baghdad judiciary.  Which is how Iraq ended up the only country in the world with a sitting Vice President convicted of terrorism.  Tareq remains the Vice President -- despite being found guilty of 'terrorism' and despite being sentenced to death multiple times.  That crisis sent off alarms in Iraq and out of Iraq as a Sunni dominant region looked askance at Nouri and his puppet court in Baghdad. 
It created a major crisis and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi (a member of Iraqiya) and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (a Kurd) both started calling for a National Conference on December 21, 2011.  But Nouri refused it.  Iraq was still dealing with that unresolved crisis -- which the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler called a political stalemate when reporting to the United Nations Security Council back in his July 19th presentation to the UN Security Council (see the July 19th snapshot and the speech is also covered in the July 20th snapshot).  But Iraq is the land where Nouri piles crazy on top of crazy so with an ongoing stalemate already taking place as a result of a crisis Nouri caused, he set out to create another.  After refusing for years to implement Article 140 to resolve the dispute of Kirkuk and other disputed lands, Nouri, a few months ago, sent a new group of forces under his command (Tigris Operation Command) into the disputed areas.  The Kurds saw this as an attempt by Nouri to 'settle' the dispute in Baghdad's favor by having Nouri's forces occupy and control the areas.
The tensions increased and increased until last month the Kurds sent the Peshmerga into the same areas.  The military standoff continues.  Al Mada reports Islamic Superme Council of Iraq leader Ammar al-Hakim is calling for calm.   As the report continues, you'll note something in all the Iraq reporting today on this topic, consider it the Iraqi press saying "Suck it, AP," that Nouri al-Maliki has spoken with Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi about what al-Nujaifi spoke to KRG President Massoud Barzani on Tuesday about; however, Nouri's not spoken to Barzani.  Translation, there is no deal.  We noted it yesterday, the AP got it wrong when they 'reported' that Nouri said a deal had been reached.  That is not what he said.  Sadly, some US outlets have picked up on AP's garbage and have presented as fact. 
Rudaw reports:

As many Iraqis worry about a possible war between Iraqi troops and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in the disputed northern territories, the country's senior Shia clerics have issued religious prohibitions against such a conflict. 
The latest reaction came on Wednesday from the Najaf Hawza, the prominent Shia religious institution, which issued a fatwa saying that, "Fighting the Kurds is haram (religiously prohibited)."
"Those Iraqi soldiers who die in battle against the Kurds are not considered martyrs," the Hawza said in a statement. Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ignited tensions by sending in his controversial Dijla forces into the northern disputed territories that are also claimed by the Kurds. 
The autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government dispatched thousands of its own Peshmerga forces into the territories, setting off a tense stand-off that has endured for weeks.

All Iraq News reports that this morning Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalai, in a prayer sermon, declared that the conflict should be resolved by the Constitution.  Juma Abdulla (Al-Bayyna) adds that Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has warned that Nouri al-Maliki is playing with fire by his actions.  Last night, Al Mada filed a lengthy report on the press conference that AP distorted.  Al Mada notes -- as other Iraqi outlets did yesterday -- that Nouri's remarks were that there were two proposals currently -- not that the situation had been resolved (as AP falsely reported) and that he declared this at the joint-conference he held with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (AP also 'forgot' that fact). (For Ban Ki-moon's remarks at the news conference see yesterday's snapshot.)  All Iraq News adds that the Secretary-General spoke with KRG President Massoud Barazni over the phone yesterday.  Al Mada reports that Ban Ki-moon also met with Osama al-Nujaif and Parliament.  UNAMI provides the remarks he made to Parliament:
Your Excellency, Osama al-Nujaifi, Speaker of the Council of Representatives,
Distinguished Heads of Political Blocs,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for your warm reception. I am honoured to be here. 
The democratic transition over the past decade has advanced thanks to the leaders and people of this great country. Iraq has re-emerged as a leader on the regional and global stage. And as current Chair of the Arab League, you are steering the region at a critical time in its history.
Iraq is making important progress in strengthening its state institutions. I welcome the establishment of the independent Human Rights Commission and the Board of Commissioners of the Independent High Electoral Commission. Your task now is to guarantee the independence of these bodies.
You face many challenges. I am especially concerned about strained relations among Iraq's main political leaders. This problem hampers the adoption of necessary reforms and constitutionally mandated legislation. It impedes effective governance, the delivery of services and the fair distribution of resources.
Above all, I worry that increased political polarization could stoke sectarian violence and reverse the precious security gains against terrorism in recent years.
 To guard against this, I urge all political leaders to engage in an inclusive dialogue to resolve their differences in the spirit of the Constitution.
 Your role is critical. As elected representatives of the people, you have immense responsibility to promote democracy, safeguard political freedoms and advance social progress and well-being.
There is no alternative to national reconciliation and peaceful co-existence for all communities in a united, federal Iraq. There is no alternative to reaching a mutually agreeable understanding over the issues of wealth-sharing and disputed internal boundaries.
The Iraqi people will have another important chance to choose their representatives during the Governorate Council elections.
Credible elections will be crucial to consolidating the democratic transition.
This is particularly important for the overdue elections in Kirkuk. I urge the communities there to forge consensus on a way forward.
The United Nations remains steadfast in supporting the Government and the new Board of the Independent High Electoral Commission to ensure fair and credible elections across Iraq.
Excellencies, This is a time of tremendous challenge across the region. There is a real threat of a destabilizing spill-over of the violence in Syria. This crisis is at the forefront of international concern -- and it is a legitimate source of worry for Iraq.
I thank Iraq for its constructive engagement in the search for a solution, and for its generosity in hosting numerous Syrian refugees. The United Nations will continue working to provide humanitarian assistance.
On the important goal of normalizing relations between Iraq and Kuwait, I was encouraged earlier this year by steps taken under the leadership of Prime Minister al-Maliki and the Emir of Kuwait. But I am concerned that progress could be threatened by the lack of confidence between the two countries and lack of progress on outstanding issues.
It will take courage and statesmanship to move beyond a difficult past and embark on a new era of cooperation. I have made this clear in my meetings with leaders from both countries. Today, I again call on you to unite behind this goal so that Iraq – a founding member of the United Nations – can regain its rightful place in the community of nations.
I am confident that decisive steps to fulfil this country's outstanding international obligations on boundary maintenance, compensation for farmers and missing persons and property will enable the Security Council to positively consider restoring Iraq's international standing. I – along with my Special Representative – will spare no effort to help achieve this goal.
Excellencies, Iraq has vast human resources, especially the country's youth. Half of all Iraqis are under the age of 18. I hope you will nurture these future leaders.
Women are another powerful force -- but they are still marginalized. Quotas have made it possible for women to make up one quarter of the Council's representatives, but there is only one female electoral Commissioner and one female State Minister. Iraqi women are bright and talented. They should be empowered to engage in building the future of this great country.
The United Nations is also working with Iraq to protect the environment,  preserve natural resources and fight the menace of dust storms.
I have just come from the Doha Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
I am committed to advancing progress on climate change and to addressing the challenges it poses for Iraq. Dust storms have doubled over the past two years and they are expected to double again in the next two. This is a serious regional issue which demands a regional response.
In all these areas, the United Nations will continue to be your partner.
As always, we will listen to your concerns and your ideas. We are here to support you as the Iraqi people forge a shared future of lasting stability and peace.
Thank you very much.
Shukran Jazeelan.

All Iraq News reports al-Nujaafi and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani discussed ways to resolve the crisis late yesterday evening.  Osama al-Nujaifi issued a statement afterwards thanking Talabani for his continued efforts at resolving the crisis.   And the outlet notes that MP Susan Saad (with the al-Fadhila Party) issued a call today for direct dialogue to end the crisis, noting that it does not serve Iraqi interests for the crisis to continue.  In her statement, she uses "we" and makes clear she is speaking on behalf of the al-Fahila Party. None of the above is needed if, as AP wrongly 'reported' yesterday, an agreement between Baghdad and Erbil had been reached.

November 29th (see that day's "Iraq snapshot"  and the November 30th "Iraq snapshot"), the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq, Martin Kobler, addressed the UN Security Council on the state of Iraq.  We'll wrap up his presentation today.
Martin Kobler:  The exploitation of the environment and natural resources has far-reaching implications for the future of Iraq, encompassing political, security and developmental priorities.  In particular, the generation of harmful dust storms in the region continues to increase, bringing with them associated health hazards and hampering economic activities.   UNAMI and the UNCT continue to work closely together on this important issue.  I have attended several meetings to promote regional approaches to such transboundary issues and I am actively working with the governmnt of Iraq and UNEP to hold a symposium on dust storms in southern Iraq in early 2013.  Complimentary efforts by UNAMI and the Humanitarian Country Team have ensured a timely and effective response to the humanitarian dimension in Iraq of the ongoing conflict in Syria, including a range of protection and relief activities.  The flow of refugees has already exceeded projected numbers.  As of 18 November, there were more than 50,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq.  In addition, almost 55,000 Irais have returned from Syria since 18 July 2012.  We anticipate that the influx will continue thus swelling the numbers of those displaced. The UN is working closely with the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration to respond to the situation.  The Humanitarian Country Team continues to monitor the situation, and coordinates regularly with partners and government authorities to ensure preparedness and an efficient and timely response.  It has developed contingency plans in-line with the UN's Syria Regional Refugee Response Plan, which are continuously updated in response to emerging developments.  Efforts are also taking place to ensure that camps are fully equipped and prepared for the coming winter and necessary equipment distributed to refugees and returnees (like distribution of blankets and kerosene, prefabricated structures instead of tents).  I also call on the government of Iraq to reopen al-Qaim crossing point so that vulnerable persons in need of protection are able to leave Syria.  Only 30 percent of the third Refugee Response Plan is covered and many refugees continue to pour into Iraq on a daily basis and I, therefore, appeal to all member states to step up and cover the remaining 70 percent of the plan. 
In the middle of the week, Refugees International released a field report on Syrian Refugees which noted that there are 400,000 know Syrian refugees in Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.  Known?  Many refugees will never attempt to register with the United Nations.  Registering with the UN provides a document, a paper trail, and refugees often fear such a trail -- they fled due to fear and may fear being found by those in Syria that they fled, they fled for safety and may fear that a host country will force them to leave.  There are many reasons why you will never have 100% registration among refugees of any crisis.   On Iraq, the report notes:
Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has declared Syrian Kurds to be their brethren and has welcomed them into northern Iraq with a tremendous amount of goodwill. The KRG has done a laudable job of integrating urban refugees fleeing Syria into the national systems, and offers them the same benefits as their own nationals. However, the KRG's social services structure is feeling the strain of serving this extra population and needs outside support. To ensure that assistance is available to both camp and urban Syrian refugees in northern Iraq, the international community must support the KRG's generosity by designating funding for humanitarian assistance in northern Iraq.
When significant numbers of Syrian refugees began arriving in Iraqi Kurdistan early in 2012, they were generally well-received by their host communities. About eight months ago, the KRG opened Domiz camp in Dohuk Governorate, hoping it would help it provide for everyone more efficiently and make the best use of limited resources. Unfortunately, some of the camp's structures and programs have been slow to develop and many residents lack the assistance they need. Similarly, in the urban areas, Syrian refugees' needs have outstripped the KRG's ability to address them. While refugees have access to the KRG's own social services, those services themselves are underdeveloped in some cases and unable to serve additional clients.
[. . .]
As in other countries hosting Syrian refugees, the three governorates of Iraqi Kurdistan -- Dohuk, Erbil, and Suleimaniyah -- are feeling the strain of hosting their guests. The Domiz camp in Dohuk alone has 15,000 refugees in residence, and tens of thousands more are living in the nearby cities. The KRG has been struggling for the past year to provide for everyone. In keeping with the best practices recommended by the UNHCR, Syrian refugees outside of the camp have access to the national services of the KRG. However, the reality is that once people run out of financial means to rent a residence, they are very likely to have to move to Domiz in order to have a place to live. Getting services in the camp is a challenge in itself, as the space is overcrowded and service provision is still developing. In order to promote self-sufficiency, and to avoid creating tensions in either an overcrowded camp or an overburdened community, services in both settings must be made adequate and sustainable. 
Refugees International's report on Iraq only notes what the Kurdistan Regional Government is doing.  Kobler is calling for the al-Qaim crossing point to be re-opened.  That's not a KRG issue.  Most refugees coming into the KRG from Syria are doing so through the Rabi'aa crossing.  al-Qaim is in Anbar Province (which is not in the KRG).    October 21st, Nouri closed the al-Qaim crossing point.  In one weekly report after another, the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) has repeatedly noted that al-Qaim refugees do not have freedom of movement. 
"Winter is already here and UNHCR and its partners still lack 50 percent of the funds needed to get everyone through the next few difficult months," declared Angelina Jolie who, with Brad Pitt, made a $50,000 donation to UNHCR Thursday.  "Despite all the good work being done so far, it's clear here on the ground that all resources are now stretched to the limit.  This is going to be a very tough few months.  Winter can be harsh here, even dangerous for refugees who may already be weakened by their ordeal.  Many have been brutalized in unimaginable ways.  They deserve all the support we can give them."  Anyone who would like to dnate -- at any level -- can visit this UNHCR page.  It's a bad economy, no one has to feel guilty or justify how they're spending their money.  I won't know if you donated or not and it's your business not mine.  But at this time of they year, many people look for places to donate and the UNHCR helps refugees around the world. 
September 28th, the US State Dept, under court order to reconsider their opinion that Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) were terrorists, announced that they had reviewed the classification and "decided, consistent with the law, to revoke the designation."  This decision is important with regards to Iraq because approximately 3,400 MEKs were in Iraq, invited in by Saddam Hussein.  When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, these people were disarmed by the US military and were told this would be in exchange for US protection.  As  CNN noted after the State Dept took the MEK off the terrorist list, "since 2004 the United States has considered the group, which has lived for more than 25 years at a refugee camp in Iraq, 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions." Despite being re-classified, however, the MEKs in Iraq remain, at present, unable to find asylum in other countries.  Kobler ended his presentation to the Security Council last week by noting this group of people.
Martin Kobler:  Finally, Mr. President, I wish to emphasize that Camp Liberty, also called Camp Hurriayah, was only meant to be an interim facility to facilitate the Refugee Status.  Determination and subsequent resettlement in third countries.  As this process is now well in progress, I should like to take this opportunity to reiterate the Secretary-General's appeal to Member States to offer resettlement opportunities to former residents of Camp Ashraf.  Without such an undertaking, there can be no sustainable solution for the residents.  Currently, only 100 residents remain in Camp Ashraf, while over 3,100 residents have been peacefully transferred to Camp Hurriyah near Baghdad.  The government of Iraq insists to close Camp Ashraf in the next days.  It requested the last 100 residents be relocated to Camp Hurriyah.  For obvious reasons, UNAMI cannot be directly involved in negotiations on the property of Camp Ashraf residents.  My colleagues and I, however, have spared no efforts over the last weeks to facilitate meetings between various merchants and the government of Iraq.  These various merchants and the government of Iraq.  These efforts, regretfully, were unsuccessful, leading to a stalemate over the last weeks.  The government of Iraq considers this stalemate as an attempt by the residents to delay the relocation of the remaining 100 persons.  The government of Iraq's patience is, therefore, wearing thin.  I call on the residents of Camp Ashraf to cooperate with the government of Iraq to solve all outstanding questions related to property.  We have come a long way. I also call upon the government of Iraq to maintain the peaceful relocation of the residents as stipulated in the Memorandum of Understanding, to demonstrate restraint, and be as flexible as possible when it comes to resolving property related issues.  UN monitors in Camp Hurriyah monitor the human rights and humanitarian situation of the residents on a daily basis.  They are, however, often denied access to certain areas of the camp by the residents.  This hinders the performance of their duties.  They are working hard in an impartial manner under very difficult circumstances.  They have my full confidence.  I urge the residents to engage constructively with the government of Iraq and the United Nations so that Camp Ashraf can be closed peacefully and efforts can focus on the residents' resettlement to third countries.  Mr. President, coming to the end, on the face of the many challenges ahead I outlined earlier in my briefing, it is imperative that Iraq stays the course to complete its transition to an inclusive democracy, provides stability and prosperity for its people and exercises a positive influence throughout the region.  With Member States' support, UNAMI will continue to assist the people and the government of Iraq in these truly worthy endeavours.  The substantial cut of USD 30 million, I regret to say, to UNAMI's budget next year will require that we do more with less.  I know I can count on UNAMI's dedicated staff to work on behalf of you towards these goals and I would in particular thank the government of Iraq for its coooperation during this year 2012 and I am looking forward to another year of good cooperation in 2013.  Last but not least, I do thank the Security Council for its continued support throughout the year.  Thank you very much.