Friday, December 23, 2005

What's Going On In Camp Ashraf?

What do you make of this one then?

Sofia. The Bulgarian army is prepared to perform mission for the guarding of the Ashraf camp in Iraq, provided that there is a political decision for this, the Chief of the General Staff of the Bulgarian Army Gen. Nikola Kolev said during an informal meeting with journalists, a reporter of FOCUS News Agency informed.

Gen. Kolev explained that the mission in Ashraf will include guarding of an internal refugee camp, maintaining order and rendering assistance to the refugees, living there. According to Gen. Kolev, there would be less risks in Ashraf than during the recent participation of Bulgaria in Iraq.
Someone has seriously misinformed the good Bulgarian general. The "refugees" his troops would be guarding are not some bunch of itinerant homeless who need coddling and love. Ashraf camp is home to 4,000 members of the Mujahideen e-Khalq or MEK, the armed and terror-loving wing of the National Council of Resistance of Iran. Yup, the guys who keep coming up with "evidence" about Iran's alleged nuclear weapons programs.

GlobalSecurity.org has some interesting things to say about the MEK and Camp Ashraf.
The fall of Saddam Hussein‘s regime affected the circumstances of the designated foreign terrorist organization Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). The MEK was allied with the Iraqi regime and received most of its support from it. The MEK assisted the Hussein regime in suppressing opposition within Iraq, and performed internal security for the Iraqi regime.

...By mid-May 2003 Coalition forces had consolidated 2,139 tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery pieces, air defense artillery pieces and miscellaneous vehicles formerly in the possession of the Mujahedin-E Khalq (MEK) forces...The 4,000 MEK members in the Camp Ashraf former Mujahedeen base were consolidated, detained, disarmed and were screened for any past terrorist acts.

...Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) is the largest and most militant group opposed to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Also known as the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, MEK is led by husband and wife Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. MEK was added to the U.S. State Department’s list of foreign terrorist groups in 1997.

...Although the group took part in the 1979 Islamic revolution that replaced the shah with a Shiite Islamist regime, MEK’s ideology, a blend of Marxism and Islamism, put it at odds with the postrevolutionary government...During the 2003 Iraq war, U.S. forces cracked down on MEK’s bases in Iraq, and in June 2003 French authorities raided an MEK compound outside Paris and arrested 160 people, including Maryam Rajavi...in 1981, she was elected its joint leader and later became deputy commander-in-chief of its armed wing.
So what the Bulgarians would be guarding is a brigade-sized military outfit of once well-armed Marxist-Islamist nutcases. Nutcases who used to help Saddam keep his people down and happily switched sides when the Americans came along because their primary mission is seizing control of Iran. The CS Monitor reported in 2003 on the groups Stalinesque leaders and their brainwashing of group members. It also says the MEK leader believes himself to be the 12th Imam. Nice mission, general!

An article from the Chickasaw Nation's newspaper puts even more perspective on the task (and incidentally the nature of a group the US is trusting in building its case against Iran):
“These people did all the dirty work for Saddam Hussein. They’re not nice people,” said Major Scott. “We were the second unit to be there for the security and safety of the Iranian population that was there. It was a difficult job.”...U.S. troops at Camp Ashraf were also responsible for guarding one of the largest ammunitions storage areas in Iraq.

“It was huge,” said Major Scott. “It’s hard to envision that much munitions. Our storage area was big enough that you could put an aircraft in it, a 727. And there are 100 of those. And they are stacked from the floor to the ceiling.

“And right now, starting in November 2003, they are detonating 100 tons a day in three different locations in Iraq to destroy this stuff. And they figure this will last for 10 years.”
In other words, just over the wire lie more arms and munitions than the MEK have ever dreamed off.

What's going on here? I find it most passing strange that the US thinks 120 Bulgarian troops is sufficient to guard these people, who mostly still retain their small arms. Bulgarians are being told that "The Ashraf operation will consist of more police-type tasks. The camp houses Iraqi prisoners charged for murder and rape." This is patently false, as the AP report which clearly says they will be guarding "Ashraf refugee camp" makes clear, while also saying Bulgaria thinks this is a "non-combat mission"!

Don the tinfoil for a moment.

Its long been known that the Bush administrations neocon hawks like the way the MEK's political wing keeps coming up with "revelations" about Irans nuclear program - even though many of those revelations have later been shown to be entirely fictitious or generously embellished. Further, those same hawks were the ones who argued against breaking up the MEK just in case it could be useful against Iran one day.

When US troops are guarding the MEK, there is instant communication with air-power or artillery and armor that could contain a wholesale breakout. When the Iraqi civil war officially breaks out (and it is when, not if) then the MEK won't be inclined to stay in a camp in a part of Iraq where many well-armed groups have good cause to hate them. With the Bulgarians in place, a breakdown in communications should the MEK go over the wire would be believeable, plausible and "unfortunate".

Could the Bush administration be plotting to unleash the MEK on Iran again...at the expense of 120 Bulgarian troops?