Iran becomes more aggressive after Obama's 'historic' nuclear deal

The massive giveaways to Iran in the nuclear deal it struck with the P5+1 on July 14 were premised on the false assumption that concessions would render Tehran more docile.  U.S. President Barack Obama has spoken on several accounts on how economic regrowth would convince the Iranian regime to shift away from its nuclear and regional ambition and to become a more constructive actor in the region and across the globe.  But there are already indications that the mullahs ruling Iran are becoming bolder in their regional venturing and meddling in neighboring countries, with the first signs appearing in Iraq.  

According to the National Council of Resistance of Iran, simultaneous with the declaration of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) in Vienna, elements of the Iranian regime in the Iraqi government ratcheted up repressive measures against Camp Liberty, an obsolete U.S. military compound in the adjacency of the Baghdad International Airport which houses thousands of Iranian refugees.

The residents of the camp, members of the Iranian opposition group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MeK), have been living under harsh, prison-like conditions by the orders of Faleh al-Fayyadh, National Security Advisor to the Iraqi Prime Minister, a holdover from the cabinet of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a staunch ally of the Iranian regime.

While temperatures in Iraq are soaring at around 50 degrees Celsius (122 deg. Fahrenheit), Iraqi security forces are preventing the entrance of vital necessities into the camp, including food, fuel, medical, and logistical supplies.  Given the camp’s worn infrastructure and lack of facilities for storage, the blockade is threatening to trigger a humanitarian crisis in the camp as life in the camp will soon come to a halt.  It is noteworthy that the forces ostensibly in charge of the camp’s protection are deeply affiliated with the Iranian regime and are responsible for a number of attacks and massacres against the residents.

In 2013, similar measures undertaken by Iraqi forces eventually culminated into the mass-slaughter of 52 of the camp’s residents, an operation carried out by special forces under the strict orders and control of the Iraqi Prime Ministry Office and in coordination with the Iranian embassy in Baghdad.  There is grave concern that a similar atrocity will occur if quick action is not taken to prevent further violation of the rights of the residents.

The residents of Camp Liberty have been recognized as “persons of concern” by the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, and designated as “protected persons” under the Fourth Geneva Convention by U.S. forces after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.  Yet the U.S. embassy in Baghdad and the UN (which happen to be the only bodies that have direct access to the camp aside from the Iraqi government) are effectively sitting out the disaster while it develops and while Iran-backed forces tighten the noose around the camp.

The intensification of persecution of Camp Liberty takes place in the backdrop of increased Iranian influence in Iraq as Tehran moves to strengthen its proxy militia units and expand its influence over Iraqi soil and politics, an endeavor that has driven a wedge through the sectarian divide plaguing the country and has effectively deadlocked the U.S.-led effort to roll back the advances of the Islamic State, an extremist group that has rampaged through Iraq and Syria in the past year.  Regrettably, the Obama administration is taking the issue lightly and is giving tacit approval to Iranian meddling in Iraq.

The MeK was the first party to sound the alarm on Iran’s covert nuclear program in 2002 -- the focus of a standoff between Tehran and the international community which has lasted to this day -- and has since been the source pertinent information regarding secret aspects of Iran’s nuclear and regional ambitions.  The plots being carried out against the group are a worrying sign of Tehran might be trying to neutralize the opposition in order to pave its way for cheating on the nuclear accord without fear of being exposed.

The lack of interest of the U.S. and the UN in addressing this issue sends a bad signal to Tehran, one that implies the international community has let its guard down and Iran is free to increase its transgression at its leisure.  In particular, the U.S. government is both morally and legally responsible to take action in this regard and prevent another disaster from coming to pass.  But on the broader scale, the idleness of the Obama can have dire implications on its own efforts to rein in Iran’s nuclear and terrorist venturing.

Amir Basiri is an Iranian human rights activist and supporter of democratic regime change in Iran.  He tweets at @Amir_bas