Thursday, February 05, 2015

Mladenov's failures earn him a promotion

Edith M. Lederer (AP) reports the unconfirmed news that Nikolay Mladenov is out of his current post: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's special representative in Iraq.  Instead he will now be Ban Ki-moon's Mideast envoy.

In August 2013, Mladenov replaced Martin Kobler who had angered several groups in Iraq with what they saw as his toadying to thug Nouri al-Maliki at the expense of the many victims of Nouri's targeting.  Criticism also came from outside of Iraq and the most vocal group outside of Iraq would have been the MEK which saw the Ashraf community struggling to survive.

Many members of the Ashraf community remain in Iraq.

As of September 2013, Camp Ashraf in Iraq is empty.  All remaining members of the community were moved to Camp Hurriya (also known as Camp Liberty).  Camp Ashraf housed a group of Iranian dissidents who were  welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. This is key and demands the US defend the Ashraf community in Iraq from attacks.  The Bully Boy Bush administration grasped that -- they were ignorant of every other law on the books but they grasped that one.  As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp repeatedly attacked after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released in the summer of 2013 entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out."  Those weren't the last attacks.  They were the last attacks while the residents were labeled as terrorists by the US State Dept.  (September 28, 2012, the designation was changed.)   In spite of this labeling, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."  So the US has an obligation to protect the residents.  3,300 are no longer at Camp Ashraf.  They have moved to Camp Hurriyah for the most part.  A tiny number has received asylum in other countries. Approximately 100 were still at Camp Ashraf when it was attacked Sunday.   That was the second attack this year alone.   February 9, 2013, the Ashraf residents were again attacked, this time the ones who had been relocated to Camp Hurriyah.  Trend News Agency counted 10 dead and over one hundred injured.  Prensa Latina reported, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release."  They were attacked again September 1,2013.   Adam Schreck (AP) reported that the United Nations was able to confirm the deaths of 52 Ashraf residents.  In addition, 7 Ashraf residents were taken in the assault.  November 2013, in response to questions from US House Rep Sheila Jackson Lee, the  State Dept's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq and Iran Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Brett McGurk, stated, "The seven are not in Iraq."

The MEK were very unhappy with Martin Kobler.

But the reality is things are pretty much worse for the Ashraf community today.

Very few homes outside of Iraq have been found for these members.  The head of Iraq's Ministry of Human Rights publicly loathes them and insults them constantly -- and insults them publicly.  They're prisoners at Camp Hurriyah which really does not meet legal requirements for refugee housing.

And Mladenov has been of no help to the Ashraf community.

So while Mladenov's departure is needed, we shouldn't act like the MEK and foolishly believe that a new Iraq representative is going to mean good news.

Failing in Iraq led to Mladenov's promotion.  As did a series of meetings over the last five weeks that Ban Ki-moon had with various present and former European parliamentarians who complained about Mladenov's record of no success in Iraq.

The Secretary-General defended Mladenov and noted that he did many important symbolic things such as on interfaith issues (culminating in the speech he gave days ago).  Mladenov's most recent Tweet is on that aspect of his work:

Justice for all, democracy, end sectarianism- some of the messages from meeting on national unity in
10 retweets9 favorites

When Ban Ki-moon raised that symbolic work, it was countered that symbolic might be good for another post but Iraq needed someone on the ground working with rolled up sleeves to address the issues.

Ban Ki-moon is said to be considering 3 people for the post Mladenov is leaving.

Meanwhile, we've noted the reaction of the Jordanian kingdom to an execution carried out by the Islamic State.

Were we not covering the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in yesterday's snapshot, we would have noted the idiot CNN featured as an 'expert' who insisted Jordan was kicking ass and it was a good thing.  Today, they feature someone a lot smarter, Lina Khatib of the Carnegie Middle East Center who explains:

All this is playing into the hands of ISIS, which has been calculating its moves carefully -- the Jordanian pilot had been executed weeks before, Jordanian authorities believe, during which time it had been fooling the Jordanian government by demanding the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, in a build-up towards the final planned humiliation that came with the release of evidence of al-Kassasbeh's murder.
Jordan's revenge, then, marks a major shift in the war against the Islamic State. It is a shift that is likely to change the nature of the actors in the Syrian conflict as ISIS and al-Nusra move closer to one another. It is also a shift that will trigger wider regional repercussions, and drag members of the anti-ISIS coalition into an open-ended confrontation on a wider scale than before. In the midst of all this, the moderate Syrian opposition risks becoming extinct.
The international coalition therefore simply cannot afford to continue to act in the Syrian conflict without having in place a harmonized, long-term, and proactive strategy that takes into account the urgent need to end the conflict through a political-military plan rather than a reactive one based on irrational retaliation and limited military activity. 

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