The Obama administration is facing a difficult foreign policy and humanitarian challenge that could have serious implications for its relationship with Iran.
It concerns 36 Iranian dissidents, promised protection by the United States, held captive in Iraq by Iraqi soldiers. Without American intercession, they may be returned to Iran, where they face dire retribution from a regime that has shown how brutal it can be to those who defy it.
The 36 dissidents are part of a force of more than 3,400 members of the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran who once mounted military operations against the Tehran regime from sanctuary in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. During the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, the U.S. military surrounded the PMOI’s Camp Ashraf, some 60 miles north of Baghdad. The
PMOI surrendered their weapons and the Americans pledged protection of the camp and its inhabitants.