After a lengthy and troubled relocation process, the last residents of Camp Liberty, a U.S. military installation now used as refuge in Iraq for exiled members of the Iranian opposition, have left the site.
The 280 remaining residents left from Baghdad, Iraq for Albania. Albania has hosted the majority of the political refugees that have been relocated from Camp Liberty and Camp Ashraf in Iraq.
The resettlement process, which has taken four and a half years, has seen nearly 2,000 Liberty residents relocated to Germany, Norway, the U.K., the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, Italy and Spain on 2016. Iranian authorities have attempted to disrupt this process through the issuance of arrest warrants through the Iraqi judiciary. They particularly targeted officials and well-known members of the Iranian resistance.
Camp Liberty has been subject to five missile attacks and an eight-year long military siege. The attacks have been conducted by Iraqi security forces, but members of the Iranian resistance claim that these were proxies for Iran.
Regarding the political situation in Iran, Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the NCRI has said that “owing to explosive public discontent, the regime is continuously gripped by fundamental instability. Additionally, it has come face-to-face with a capable and vigilant alternative force. It is aware that this very alternative has the ability to steer the crises in the direction of overthrowing the entire regime.”
“Where can we see this reality? More vividly than anywhere else in the regime’s own behavior. On October 29 last year, eight days after Khamenei wrote a letter to his president to approve the retreat from the nuclear program, he ordered the largest-ever missile attack on Camp Liberty in Iraq, home to Iranian dissidents. As a result of this crime, 24 Mojahedin members were killed. But, as with other instances, it was proven that Khamenei retreated from the bomb-making program the moment he feared the PMOI and of the alternative to the regime.”
The site was established as a U.S. military during the invasion of Iraq. It became a home for exiled members of Iran’s main political opposition group, the People’s Mojahiden of Iran (PMOI, or MEK) in subsequent years (the PMOI is banned in Iran.)
The relocation of the last remaining Liberty residents is the culmination of years of work by the Iranian resistance to remove them from a threatening and unsafe environment. Liberty residents have been subject to physical bombardment and psychological torture, including blaring loudspeakers at all hours and the use of threatening rhetoric by Iran.
The aggressive and violent tactics used by Iran against Liberty residents may be indicative of its weakened position vis-à-vis the Iranian resistance. Tehran’s political isolation and its growing domestic problems contrast with the momentum of the resistance movement, whose events have attracted major international delegates and drawn increasing exposure on television.
The successful removal of the last residents of Camp Liberty has demonstrated that while Tehran may have a great deal of control within its own borders, it can only do so much to limit a resistance movement which has no borders and is drawing more and more attention from the international community.