reports on Iranian armed opposition group's base in Iraq
Text of report by
London-based newspaper Al-Hayat on 12 May
The Americans and Mojahedin-e
Khalq Organization [MKO] are imposing a blackout on the security
arrangements that have started to be implemented
in Al-Ashraf Camp where the largest Iranian opposition group has hundreds
of armoured and mechanized vehicles in Iraq.
Officials manning a
checkpoint at the camp entrance where two US Abrams tanks and two military
jeeps were stationed refused to allow us into the camp or take photographs.
An MKO official who manages
the checkpoint where all the organization members' weapons had disappeared
said: "The orders we have since the morning is to ban correspondents from
Despite the constant efforts
by correspondents who had arrived at the camp, the MKO members manning
the checkpoint refused to let them in, claiming each time that the military
commander's orders included not talking to them and no meetings with any
The US 2nd Armoured Division
deployed at the air base in Ba'qubah, only four kilometres from Al-Khalis,
entered Al-Ashraf Camp three days ago in a step that aimed at neutralizing
the heavy weapons of the MKO, which has stored all its equipment and
armoured vehicles in this camp that was regarded as the organization's
principal one of the three camps it still has in Iraq.
A first sergeant in the tank
positioned at the entrance told Al-Hayat: "This place is not safe. There is
fire from armed persons who pass in speeding vehicles."
Four US military jeeps
entered the camp while Al-Hayat was trying to negotiate to meet an official
spokesman. The platoon commander greeted Lieutenant Zini, the MKO officer in
charge of the checkpoint, and thanked
him for "his high level of professionalism."
The armoured force commander
said it was possible to enter the camp in the afternoon "when the soldiers
we sent this morning inside leave." This
suggested that the MKO and Americans were not keen to let the press witness
the measures being taken inside Al-Ashraf Camp where seizure of the MKO's
weapons means the end of a long period of freedom that its members had
enjoyed in Iraq since they entered it in 1985 to become one of the main
military units that supported the former Iraqi regime.
At the air base in Ba'qubah,
Capt Valker, the 2nd Armoured Division's public affairs officer, avoided
meeting the correspondents. After letting a convoy of them, which included
Al-Hayat, to enter, he closed the camp's gate. Capt Chris Romero, the
official in charge of civilian affairs, came to assert that the public
relations officer was not present and "busy" and pointed out that "I do not
know anything" and that "things will become clearer later on."
US sources that Al-Hayat
spoke to said the reason for the blackout is the
mutual agreement between the Americans and the MKO not to humiliate the
Iranian opposition group or to present control of its main base as a
The MKO is a bargaining card
in the deliberations between Washington and Tehran over the new regional
arrangements that the United States wishes to impose in the Middle East. The
US administration believes that the Hezbollah's role in Lebanon, which has
Iranian support, should be curtailed and it should be prevented from
influencing developments in the conflict with Israel.
Source: Al-Hayat, London, in
Arabic 12 May 03