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U.S. passes safety bill for Camp Liberty, home to Iranian opposition

In the first resolution of its kind, the bipartisan United States House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved a resolution calling for “safety and security” of Iranian dissidents living in Camp Liberty, Iraq.

The resolution was drafted in response to a 2015 attack and intelligence suggesting the likelihood of a new attack on the camp. Camp Liberty has seen persistent threats of attacks and has faced deadly rocket strikes in 2013 and October 2015.

The former U.S. military installation in Baghdad has been used to house the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI, also called MEK), Iran’s primary opposition group, since their removal from Camp Ashraf, its previous headquarters-in-exile in Iraq.

The resolution calls on the U.S. government to work with the government of Iraq to ensure proper vetting for security personnel at Camp Liberty, as well as ensuring that it does not employ members of Iraq’s Revolution Guard. Its eventual goal is the resettling of the PMOI members in a country where they will not be targeted for attack, such as Albania.

The draft resolution also calls on the U.S. and the government of Iraq, in coordination with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to help the PMOI members sell their property and assets at Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty to facilitate their resettlement.

“The residents of Camp Liberty deserve to live in dignity and without fear of violence,” said the Committee’s Ranking Member, Eliot Engel (D-NY), describing the 2015 rocket attacks on the group by the Iranian regime’s affiliated militia as “the height of cowardice.”

The U.S.’ strong role in supporting the government in Iraq gives it the leverage to accomplish such goals, says Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA).

Opposition to the regime that has held power in Iran since 1979 has been a rare source of bipartisan agreement in Washington D.C., where the ideological rift between Republicans and Democrats runs deep.

Support for the PMOI in U.S. government is quite high, particularly because of the risks it took to provide the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the U.S. with sensitive information about Iran’s nascent nuclear program.

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