|General Hugh Shelton - Ambassador Kobler, Must Bring MOU Violations to Attention of the Secretary General and Security Council|
|Sunday, 22 January 2012 19:36|
In the international conference held in Paris on Friday, January 20, 2012 in defense of Ashraf, General Hugh Shelton, The 14th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1997 to 2001made the following remarks:
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. It definitely is a great privilege and pleasure to be with you here in Paris today and to share the dais with such a distinguished group of colleagues. And for the residents of Camp Ashraf let me say that to those of you who may be watching, salaam alaikum. [applause] As has already been said, but I’ll say it again, we share your pain and we will be with you throughout. As a General, one of my responsibilities—[applause]
Thank you. As a General, one of my responsibilities includes knowing how to use overwhelming and appropriate force to win a war or to win battles. Today we’re here to celebrate, in some respects, winning one battle that is the battle to make sure we extended the deadline of Camp Ashraf. But we also must be aware that there are other battles to be fought. I would tell you that we won the battle to extend the deadline because of the combined efforts of the European and U.S. campaigns that created an awareness of the plight of the Ashraf residents along with, and I would say first and foremost in my mind, the brilliant leadership of Mrs. Rajavi, who fought to protect the rights of residents while also simultaneously orchestrating a peaceful solution to the situation in Iraq. Let’s give her a big round of applause. [applause] And if Ambassador Kobler and the UN enforce the agreement, or if Maliki honored the agreement, then we would not have a reason to be here today. But that is not the case. Today we still must deal with other unfinished business, and that unfinished business includes battles still to be fought. Battles to be fought with Iran, with Iraq, and of course the battle over Camp Liberty.
First, Iran. You’ve heard me quote Sun Tzu, the Chinese strategist and warrior before who said, “If you know yourself and you know your enemy you need not fear the outcome of a thousand battles. If you know yourself but not your enemy then for every victory you will also suffer a defeat. And if you know neither yourself nor your enemy then you are a fool and you’ll suffer defeat in every encounter.” We know who the enemy is. But when it comes to dealing with Iran it appears that the United States State Department doesn’t have a clue as who the real enemy is. [applause] And this could spell disaster, not only in the near term but for the future as well.
As we know, the Obama administration started off with its policy of engagement. Engagement was their goal. But today I think even they have to recognize that it has been a complete and total failure. The first three weeks, just looking at the first three weeks of this year in 2012, which a little bit less than three weeks, I think three weeks ends tomorrow, we see Iran boldly announcing that it intended to pursue its underground nuclear facility enriching uranium, indicating more clearly its ominous intent to obtain nuclear weapons. We see Iran in the first three weeks sentencing to death a former U.S. Marine. We see them threatening to choke off the Straits of Hormuz, the most strategic passage of oil supply in the world. We see the IRGC, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, testing missiles and even being so bold as to threaten the United States if they sent carriers back into the international waters of the Persian Gulf. And even today the Iran remains the major supporter of Assad in Syria. That’s just in the first three weeks.
Both the United States and our European allies have been trying to change the behavior of this nation-state, so to speak, by threatening or by using the tools of the Central Bank, and its oil. These sanctions against both, these are long overdue, but they are not nearly enough. If you consider the gravity of the situation today, we have got to use some of the other tools in our kit bag of national power. Doing nothing or using the slow motion bureaucratic tools that we have used up to this point is almost a total waste of time when it comes to dealing with Iran. It is time to publicly and openly acknowledge our enemy, and the Tehran mullahs are clearly our enemy. [applause] They obviously have not been convinced that Iran should behave like a mature nation-state. And I think the Arab Spring made them somewhat jittery to start with, and probably even more paranoid because they are now so very uncertain about what the disenchanted restive young population, the millions of whom poured into the streets in 2009, their young people, will do today.
And this brings me really to my key point in this regard, and that is that the United States must, we must address, should address and indeed must address the fact that we’ve got to use every tool in our kit bag when we deal with Iran. The Obama administration can with the stroke of a pen, just one stroke, make Tehran even more jittery. We can send shock waves to the mullahs and we can certainly energize the Iranian people without having to spend a dime or without having to send one Marine or U.S. soldier into harm’s way.
Understanding our enemy includes understanding that to Iran it is the enemy within. The mullah’s nightmare is to see the United States remove the MEK from its list of terrorist organizations, since the MEK is Tehran’s archenemy. [applause]
And when you look through Iran’s eyes and you see Mrs. Rajavi with her ten point program designed to ensure that the people of Iran enjoy the same rights, freedoms and privileges that other democratic nations around the world enjoy, you can see why it causes them to be paranoid. But for Mrs. Rajavi’s program to be effective it has to be implemented, which can only happen when the Iranian people change this theocratic, autocratic regime that they live in today. [applause]
And that starts with the U.S. and this handful of other nations taking the MEK off the FTO list. It must be done and it must be done immediately. [applause]
When you ask people in the United States why are they on the list, and I’m talking about high level government officials, you get a shrug of shoulders. No one can produce any evidence. Why? There is no evidence. Not a shred. Therefore it would seem to be a rather simple thing to do. But yet our state department’s delay, silence and inaction in this case is incomprehensible.
More importantly, what kind of a message does this send to the Tehran mullahs and even to Iraq’s Maliki when they see that we have them on the FTO list and twice Maliki has used that message as a reason for his unprovoked attacks against the unarmed residents of Ashraf. Disarming the MEK is why we guaranteed them protected person status initially, and it’s why the U.S. should feel, must feel like they have an obligation to ensure that they are not attacked again. And the first thing they could do to ensure that is to take the MEK off the list.
You’ve got a group of my distinguished—[applause] There are a large number of former officials in the U.S. government that have spoken out publically and very strongly in favor of doing this. You have a group of distinguished colleagues here from the U.S. that you’ve heard from and that you will hear from, that will say the same thing today. Hundreds of members of our Congress that have sent the same word to the State Department. So indeed I think the State Department’s unfair listing has been what has muzzled a very strong voice for the Iranian people when their voices need to be heard the loudest. When the Iranian people cry for freedom, the MEK is the voice through which they should be heard. [applause]
And then finally there’s the very pressing issue of Camp Liberty. As we have seen form the Maliki government in recent days, they have not honored the agreement that they signed up to. And now we see Maliki’s true colors flying when it comes to honoring the commitment he made to the UN regarding the movement of Ashraf residents to Camp Liberty.
Recently Maliki referred to the residents as terrorists and criminals and stating publicly that none of Ashraf residents will remain in Iraq by April. He established a deadline. And the sad fact is that the U.S. by default is in collusion with this heavily influenced Maliki president by our own terrorist designation.
Recently we saw Maliki issue the arrest warrants that were referred to earlier for 121 Ashraf residents on the charge of involvement in terrorist actions. Last week he and his forces denied entry of special beds for paralyzed patients residing at Ashraf. In my book that one action alone constitutes inhumane treatment, and if not in the category of cruel and unusual punishment against humanity. It just shows what the UN is now dealing with in terms of the Maliki government.
And today in spite of the UN agreement that Maliki signed, the conditions at the camp are deplorable and not even close to being fit for human beings to reside in. You know, Camp Liberty was never, at its height, a very pretty place. It in fact was a former U.S. base, and that U.S. base was looted when the U.S. departed. It now has dilapidated trailers, no water, no electricity, it lacks basic infrastructure, no recreational areas, not a tree in sight. It resembles a prison camp. And as Mayor Guliani said earlier, it’s a half a kilometer large. And now the Iraqis are constructing a 3.6 meter concrete wall around that .5 kilometer area. It truly resembles a prison. It makes me wonder if the area inside is so bad that the wall is being constructed to keep people out rather than let people in.
So what must happen? Ambassador Kobler, the UNSG special rep, must bring the violations of the MOU to the attention of the secretary general and to the Security Council. That’s what Ambassador Kobler gets paid to do if Maliki doesn’t comply with the MOU. The Iranians are behind the breaches in the MOU. So, dealing with Maliki as if he’s an honorable man is not going to lead to an honoring of the MOU rather than it’s going to lead to a downward slide in terms of preparing the camp for the residents.
The Iranians do not want a peaceful solution. In fact, we all know what the Iranians want. The Iranians want to destroy the MEK. So by not letting Maliki agree, and by Maliki not agreeing, then they in essence are setting the stage for another crisis in April. If the UNHCR, if UNAMI, if the United States remain silent on this issue then we are complicit. We are as guilty as Maliki is. We need to insist on a timeline or a schedule for completion of Camp Liberty as quickly as possible. You know the Iraqis are very quick to establish timelines. They established 31 December initially for closing Ashraf. Now they’ve extended that to the end of April. They know how to establish timelines, but not when it comes to something that works against them, which is bringing Camp Liberty up to standards so that in fact—up to the MOU standards so that the people in Ashraf can be moved in order to meet the deadline that the Iraqis established themselves and as is called for in the MOU.
The U.S. must play a more active role using coercive diplomacy where required rather than a laid off or hands off type of diplomacy which we have been using with the Maliki government up ‘til this point. Dealing with Maliki it is obvious that the Iranian approach is considerably more effective than the United States’ is, and yet United States continues to pour millions of dollars into Iraq, not to mention the lives and the blood of our U.S. service men and women that went there to give the Iraqi people a chance at democracy and freedom. And certainly never did we envision that it would turn out that we replaced Saddam Hussein with one who acts like Saddam Hussein.
In the United States, only when the Obama administration and the State Department strategists start dealing with the facts about the Iranian regime and its opponents only when we delist the MEK and only when we use more forceful diplomacy to ensure that Maliki honors the UN agreement will we encounter success and be in a position to win the war. Thank you very much. [applause]
[end of audio]
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