Tom Ridge | Apr 14, 2015
Already 24 Camp Liberty residents have died because they were prevented from getting timely access to needed medical care and 1,300 are still coping with injuries from past attacks. Another resident, Safar Zakery, has been taken hostage since mid-March under the pretext of being involved in a car accident.
Ignoring these human rights violations just encourages the Iranians to sustain their physical and psychological pressure against the Camp Liberty residents as long as Bagdad ignores it. Iran-backed Shiite militias in Iraq are also flaming the fans of sectarian strife. Such concerns should be raised on April 14 by President Obama, who ought to make it clear to Prime Minister Abadi that Washington will not collude or cooperate with Tehran, and that Baghdad should not either.
Abadi’s visit is a crucial opportunity for the President to reaffirm the obligation that the U.S., the UN and Iraq made to the residents.
It is not too late for the U.S. to join its Arab allies in simultaneously standing up against ISIL and its Shiite counterpart ruling in Tehran. Hopefully, such a strategy is the explicit focus of the meeting between Abadi and President Obama. It is absolutely imperative that the Administration use this opportunity to forge a stronger relationship with the new Iraq government and in doing so restore our credibility in the region, refocus our efforts to reduce Iranian influence throughout the region, and recommit both governments to the safety and security of the residents of Camp Liberty.
This critical meeting can serve to rebuild a partnership between a responsible United States and an autonomous Iraq, it will be a long-delayed step in the direction of a prudent and realistic Middle East policy that truly promotes peace and stability.