|Washington agencies agreed that the MeK should be disarmed and compelled to surrender, though they did not direct that the MeK be dismantled. According to press reports, USCENTCOM directed that “MEK forces will be destroyed or compelled to surrender, leading to disarmament and detention.”|
Consolidation of the MeK at Camp Ashraf
Washington agencies agreed that the MeK should be disarmed and compelled to surrender, though they did not direct that the MeK be dismantled.11 According to press reports, USCENTCOM directed that “MEK forces will be destroyed or compelled to surrender, leading to disarmament and detention.”12
In an attempt to carry out the order, coalition officers endured a two-day negotiation with the MeK in early May. Again, the MeK presented itself sympathetically and negotiated tenaciously, succeeding in dissuading the coalition from forcing its surrender. Instead, the new agreement of May 10—which supplanted the April 15 agreement— allowed the MeK to continue to claim neutrality and to accept a lasting cease-fire. The principal differences between this agreement and the April 15 cease-fire agreement were the disarmament of MeK forces and the consolidation of all MeK personnel in Iraq at a single facility, Camp Ashraf in Diyala Province.13
The agreement also required each member of the MeK to sign a document renouncing terrorism and the use of violence. In announcing the terms of the agreement, Major General Raymond Odierno commended the MeK’s cooperation, and he recommended that the group’s FTO status be reviewed.14 First Tasks at Camp Ashraf Numbering more than 3,800 members, the MeK was, at the time, the largest body of detainees under coalition control. The 530th Military Police (MP) Battalion was assigned to oversee implementation of the May agreement that, in addition to requiring disarmament and consolidation, protected the MeK from possible violence from Iraqis. Using MeK buildings approximately 500 yards from Camp Ashraf, the battalion established an FOB that would house additional coalition units that provided security in the region.15
In light of Abu Ghraib, it was unfortunate that one of the few MP units in Iraq that had experience with the internment of POWs and civilians was assigned to manage the assigned residence of the MeK rather than a theater internment facility. The 530th would remain there for a year.
11. Kessler, 2003a.
12. Meixler, 2003.
13. The official Army history incorrectly states that consolidation at Camp Ashraf was a result of capitulation to special operations soldiers (D. Wright and Reese, 2008). The MeK never capitulated, and consolidation at Camp Ashraf was a result of this second agreement.
14. “U.S. Should Hand over People’s Mujahedeen: Iranian Official,” 2003; Coates, 2003.
15. Reflecting the practice of naming bases after the different units in command of the base at a given time, the site has been named FOB Spartan, FOB Red Lion, and FOB Barbarian. This monograph refers to the base by its final name, FOB Grizzly. Some observers incorrectly identify Camp Ashraf as a regular coalition detention facility, like Camp Bucca or Camp Cropper. However, Camp Ashraf is a MeK facility.