|General Hugh Shelton: Always Fighting For What Is Right|
|Friday, 17 February 2012 15:46|
Thank you, thank you. Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and thank you Congressman for your very kind words.
It is a real pleasure to be with you here today. It's also a real pleasure to share the dais with such a distinguished group of colleagues. Colleagues who are nonparochial, colleagues who span the breath of our great government, and have worked in their profession, and today, stand here in support of the Iranian American community. But more importantly stand here in support of the Ashraf.
And to those residents in Camp Ashraf today that are watching, I say, so long Maliki. I also send greetings to your magnificent leader, President Rajavi. And I know that she would love to be with us here today. You know, throughout my thirty-eight years in the U.S. Armed Forces, I spent my entire time fighting for what was right often against greater odds, often against an outnumbered position, but always knowing that I would fight for what was right. And in that entire time, our U.S. military was never defeated except, on occasion, by the political process. And that's where I think we find ourselves today.
The MEK and the President Elect has a ten-point program that would rifle any country in the west and the MEK is willing to fight for it to ensure that every individual in Iran, man, woman, and child, can live under this type of a program, under a democracy, under a free Iran. But to do this, the fate of the residents of Ashraf are very important, they are key to restoring democracy in Iran. Yet, I embarrassed to say today that the Obama administration, President Obama and Secretary Clinton, have chosen to remain on the wrong side of this issue. Even as the Mullah control Iranian regime challenges the sovereignty of the United States by threatening to continue to develop their program of missiles, as an example, missiles that can even reach this hotel.
On the other hand, what's the MEK been doing? The MEK gave up their arms for the guarantee of U.S. protection. The MEK provided invaluable intelligence during the conflict in Iraq to show that the Iranians were infiltrating the parts required for the IEDs. The MEK has provided invaluable information regarding Iran's nuclear program and their attempts to develop a nuclear weapon. Why while the MEK was cooperating with the United States, what were the Iranians doing? Let me recap that for a second. The Iranians tried to blow up our under our nose of the State Department in the Washington D.C. and then tried to blame that on the MEK. It's kind of ironic that the State Department then came out to defend the MEK and say, no, that was the Iranian regime that did that. Iran, as we speak, is the threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, the most strategic passage point in the world today. Iran's threatens U.S. naval warships in the Persian Gulf. Iran continues their efforts to develop nuclear weapons, which is not lost on the rest of the world. I think everyone has spoken of that very clearly. And Iran remains the only significant backer of the murderous Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
It is ironic that the U.S., if pressure ports are correct, is considering providing weapons to the rebels that are fighting al-Assad while, at the same time, they are failing to support the best organized, best resistance movement, in the world against the terrorist exporting regime in Iran today.
And I think the State Department should take note that the Iranians in attempting to develop their missile capabilities, are attempting to develop missiles that can even reach far yay bottom. And all long, Iran remains the most terrorist exporting nation in the world. Yes, we've joined other nations in imposing economic sanctions and all exports against the Iranian regime, but that's a very weak signal, I believe, for a regime that has spent the entire time of this current administration's time in office failing to cooperate and carrying out, at the same time, very significant operations against U.S. interests around the globe. It is not pleasant to find myself, much less my nation, in a position of being on the wrong side. But you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that President Obama and Secretary Clinton clearly stand on the wrong side today.
As Judge Mulcasey said to the D.C. Court of Appeals asked the Department of State to provide their facts as to why the MEK had been denied due process. And what have we seen from that? Nothing. Why? Because there are no facts to provide. The U.S. Congress sent Secretary Clinton a resolution encouraging them to take the MEK off their FTO list. What did we get from that? Dead silence.
For over a year now, my colleagues and I have been publicly showing our support for doing what is right and delisting the MEK. What's the response we get from that? A very bureaucratic quote, we're reviewing it. Wouldn't it be nice if they lay out the facts so that we could all review it, instead of working with administration that's asleep at the wheel. We need some real leadership in this case and issue so that America can do what's right and do it quickly and delist the MEK.
I spoke to this issue, the delisting, because I think that it's key to America's leadership role within the U.N. in making sure they were able to push the U.N. to do the right thing as well for the sake of the Ashraf residents. The Ashraf residents right now are up against a Maliki government that is Iranian controlled and we want to make sure that he does the right thing. Because as we all know, the Maliki government doesn't really want to resettle the Ashraf residents, he doesn't want things to go smoothly, the Maliki government wants to dispose of the Ashraf residents. That's his goal. Let's make no mistake about it. He is a puppet of the Iranian regime and that's what the Iranians would like to have happen. Otherwise, why has he not already allowed the U.N. Commissioner for Refugees to come in and do the screening process, get it done, even while they were in Ashraf. Because that's not what he really wants.
The U.N. agreement that Ashraf residents agreed to must be enforced to the letter of the law. The commitment that we made to the MEK to play an active role in insisting that Ambassador Kobler, as well as in spirit, is key in this issue. It will take the United States pushes, and shoving, and fighting for what's right in making sure that Ambassador Kobler understands that we will not be a party to a watered-down agreement.
Ambassador Kobler must understand that the Ashraf residents will only move into this so-called Camp Liberty when the conditions of the agreement are met. And that was the agreement, provided the conditions are met. And as of yet, the Maliki government has failed to achieve that.
I also join Judge Mulcasey in saying that this is more like a concentration camp that they plan on than a prison. I will also submit to you today that the terrorist that the United States holds today and the alleged terrorist in Guantanamo has far better conditions than we are asking the Ashraf residents to move into. I've had the change to walk through the federal prison at Kennedy Fort Levenworth, Kansas. I can assure you, far better conditions in that prison than exist in Camp Liberty today. And so the conditions that were agreed to in the MOU must be met before we can move the Ashraf residents into it.
I appreciate the work that Ambassador Fried is doing, has done, and is doing on behalf of the United States in this regard. I will also say and some of my colleagues has said that as he continues to fight for better living conditions for the Ashraf residents, for resettlement issues, or for any other issue, when we send him to do the United States bidding, it's like sending an unarmed man into a knife fight as long as the MEK remains on the FTO list. We must delist them.
For example, asking the Europeans to accept other people into their countries, when we, ourselves, are saying that we would not accept the residents of Ashraf into our country, it reminds me of the old saying, do as I say and not as I do. We know that doesn't work for children and it certainly doesn't work for other nations. We must delist the MEK and we must agree to take some in our own country.
You know, the State Department should be smarter than that. They should know that you don't as I say, and not as I do. That's what sets the example. That's what leadership is all about. It's doing the right thing, it's setting the example for others. Come on, Secretary Clinton, come on, President Obama, and move into a leadership role in the United Nations.
Personally, I think the State Department's delay their silence and their inaction on this case is incomprehensible. More importantly, what kind of a message is that sending to Tehran and also to the Iranian controlled Maliki government who twice has used this to carry out unprovoked attacks against the residents. Ironically, Secretary Clinton can fix this overnight, it could be done with a stroke of the pen, and she would have done what was right.
We won the battle to extend the deadline at Camp Ashraf because we have a combined campaign between the United States and our European partners and allies and also because of the great leadership of President Rajavi who crafted this agreement in such a manner that it could be carried out by the Ashraf residents and simultaneously bring a peaceful resolution to the issue that was on the table.
Today I think we still have to continue to deal with the issues with the Iranians, with the Iraqis, and Camp Ashraf. And winning the war starts with acknowledging who your enemy is and I think all of is who it is and who should be number one on the Obama administration's list of enemies or terrorist states, and that is Iran and the Mullahs of that regime.
It is time for this administration to openly and publicly acknowledge that Iran is an enemy of the United States and it will be treated accordingly. And then inside Iran, of course, you got the Mullahs that are very concerned about what effect that will have on their longevity. And they are particularly concerned as they look back on Iran's disenchanted young population, millions of whom poured into the streets in 2009, calling for a regime change. And also when the Iranian people cry for freedom, they know that the MEK is the voice of opposition. And by keeping the MEK on the FTO list, the State Department tends to muzzle the voice of the resistance a Democratic Iran at a time when it's needed the most.
Let's make no mistake about it, keeping the MEK on the FTO list is also a humanitarian list, it's a concern. Because it has provided covered for both the Iranians and the Iraqis to carry out their attacks and it severely limited the options that the United States has to find a more permanent solution for Camp Ashraf. We should immediately delist because that puts a big tool in the MEK's kickback. And we must of course that Maliki honors the MOU and allows the MOU, the United Nations, to quickly and efficiently process the residents of Ashraf for resettlement, and only moving them to Liberty as a very temporary condition, and also only when the conditions of the MOU have been carried out.
We designated Liberty as a temporary facility, but it still must meet the requirements of the MOU, it still must provide a safe and secure environment, and it also must provide for those that are sick and disabled to be cared for.
Ambassador Kobler and the United Nations have the overall responsibility in making sure that that happens. But I would say that the United States must play a very strong leadership role in this regard in making sure that the standards specified in that MOU are met. When dealing with Maliki, it is obvious that the Iranian-controlled Maliki government has been more affected in many cases in dealing with Maliki than the United States has, the Iranians have been. And they continue, yet at the same time, we in the United States continue to pour millions of dollars into Iraq. I find it hard to believe that we have not used a coercive diplomacy when dealing with the Maliki government. It is a tyrannical leadership and many millions gave their lives fighting in Iraq to provide the Iraqi people with freedom and the type of leadership that is by far cry from the tyranny that we see in Iraq today.
Above all, today, I would hope that President Obama and President Clinton remember that the United States made a commitment to the MEK and that commitment did not end when we turned Camp Ashraf and the area that it was in over to the Iraqis. And nor did it end when we finally got the United Nations involved in the plight of the Ashraf residents. We still have that responsibility to make sure we live up to our commitment.
Our word is our bond. And therefore, we cannot stop, we cannot rest, rest until this issue is resolved.
Thank you very much.
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