A "Mass Murderer" Invited to the White House

The disputable meeting between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and US President Barack Obama will be held later today in the White House Oval Office, as was announced some time ago.

Mr. Maliki will be accompanied by Hadi Ameri, a government minister, who has been the Commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards 9th Badr corps, responsible for many terrorist operations in Iraq. Badr Organization is the military wing of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council with close ties with Iran.

The trip will be the first of its kind by the Iraqi premier to the US since he took office six years ago. But the timing of the meeting coincides with Mr. Maliki's highly controversial plan to evict 3400 Iranian refugees from their homes in Camp Ashraf, where they have lived for the past 25 years.

After US led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the people of Ashraf were all granted the 4th Geneva Convention "protected persons" status by the US Forces.

However in 2009, as Obama took office in Washington -- and to the ignorance of warnings by international observers including European Parliament and UN mission to Iraq -- the security of Ashraf was handed over by US to the pro-Tehran government of Nouri Al-Maliki. Two months later in a meeting between Iranian supreme leader and Iraqi president, a secret mutual agreement between Iran and Iraq to close down Ashraf and expel the residents was unveiled.

Ashraf has since been the scene of gross human rights violations including an inhuman blockade of food, medicines, fuel and other basic necessities. The Camp is officially off-limits to media and visitors including parliamentarians, lawyers and even family members of the residents.

At the gaze of the international community, the Iraqi military under the command of Prime Minister Maliki twice attacked Ashraf in July 2009 and April 2011. Live ammunition was used to hunt defenseless refugees. Some were crushed under Humvees and tanks, leaving 47 dead and a total of 1070 wounded.

At a press conference in Washington, former Democratic party leader and presidential candidate Howard Dean called Nouri Al-Maliki a "mass murderer" for the cold-blooded murder of unarmed refugees including eight young women.

Two days after the April attack, in a blatant effort to void international calls for independent investigation into that crime, Maliki announced his unilateral deadline to close Ashraf by the year's end.

Subsequent international efforts by UN, EU and other international bodies to help resettle the residents in other countries remain blocked as Iraq refuses access to UN Refugee Body (UNHCR) to register the residents and verify their applications for asylum.

The clock is fast ticking and unless a solution is found within the remaining 19 days, a new human tragedy of a much larger scale could very well be on the plate for the New Year's Eve.

Last week US Congress again warned Maliki for any further bloodshed at Ashraf while reminding President Obama that he should honor US obligations to protect the Camp as the current fragile situation of the Camp was a result of US written assurances of protection to the refugees in exchange for their voluntarily disarmament in 2003.

"If they are deported and subjected to another massacre, the blood in the sand will also stain the Gucci shoes of our State Department," Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Chairman of Subcommittee on Oversights and Investigations, told the State Department officials during the hearing of December 7th.

"The overriding objective of Obama administration's dialog with Iraq on the matter of Camp Ashraf should first and foremost be to encourage the protection of Camp residents and ensure appropriate humanitarian aid is provided to the residents," Congressman Steve Chabot, Chairman of Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia told the hearing.

Democrat Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a vocal human rights defender, called on Obama to abstain from meeting with Maliki until he has given assurances to that no further human rights abuses will be committed by his forces at Camp Ashraf. "I want to cut off funds for Maliki. I believe he should not have an Oval Office meeting with the President until he agrees before he walks into the Oval office that he will not murder, kill or maim the people of Camp Ashraf."

Whether Obama will be wise enough to follow Congress' advice when he meets Prime Minister Maliki later today is unclear. What is clear, though, is that if he fails, his human rights legacy and the Nobel Peace Prize he received at the beginning of his term might very well lose its shine for good.