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Thread: U.S. Troops Watch As Iraqi Soldiers Kill Iranian Exiles

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    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default U.S. Troops Watch As Iraqi Soldiers Kill Iranian Exiles

    U.S. troops watch as Iraqi soldiers kill Iranian exiles
    Kim Gabel
    Associated Press

    The women formed a human chain while the men chanted, confronting Iraqi troops moving into their compound. Gunfire rang out, and the soldiers waded in with batons, wooden bats and automatic weapons.

    By the end, officials said, 11 Iranian exiles were dead - shot, beaten or run over by military vehicles.

    Throughout the July 28 confrontation, American soldiers who once protected the Iranian opposition group stood by. According to U.S. officials, they had no legal authority to intervene. One video taken by the exiles even shows soldiers get into a white sport utility vehicle and roll up their windows as the bloodied men plead for help.

    The deadly melee at Camp Ashraf, the base of the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, provides a glaring example of what can go wrong as the U.S. military scales back and the Shiite-led Iraqi government flexes its muscles.
    Not sure what to think about this report. Thoughts?

    v/r

    Mike

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    Default Iraqis will be Iraqis ....

    and Iraqi governance will be Iraqi governance - not US governance.

    It is now their show and the SOFA spells out their sovereignty. The Iraqis will take a different view of the Geneva Conventions (at a minimum, Common Article 3 applies and, for civilians, GC IV) than the US, the UK or Germany.

    Regards

    Mike

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    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    and Iraqi governance will be Iraqi governance - not US governance.

    It is now their show and the SOFA spells out their sovereignty. The Iraqis will take a different view of the Geneva Conventions (at a minimum, Common Article 3 applies and, for civilians, GC IV) than the US, the UK or Germany.
    Hi Mike.

    That's probably the best way to put it. Ashraf has long been a point of contention. Thankfully, as bad as that incident was, it was only 11 killed. It could have been much worse. Hopefully, the military and political advisors will be able to influence the situation in the upcoming months towards a better outcome and hopefully a sustained resolution.

    Doesn't make it easy though. I would not want to have to stand around and not be able to take any action (another example of my own GPF indoctrination and mentality that I alluded to with Bob's World the other day).

    v/r

    Mike

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    Default Google up Mujahedeen e Khalq...

    and you will know why a shiite (and probably pro Iranian) iraqi govt does everything to get rid of them.

    OTOH as stalwart opponents of the religious iranian regime they were mostly pro US. Probably until know.
    Nihil sub sole novum.

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    Default Nothing wrong with

    your "GPF indoctrination and mentality". There are just situations into which GPF should not be put. As you correctly state, the task is one for military and political advisors to handle - with more emphasis on the political.

    Iraq will present many political questions in the upcoming months - some of them could be very serious (hopefully not).

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default My question is why, knowing what was going to happen

    any US Troops were even in the vicinity? I agree that it is now Iraqi business and not ours so perhaps the troops were left in a witness mode in an effort to get the Iraqis to play nice. If so that was dumb, as the Iraqis were more likely to increase rather than decrease their use of force just to get one on the Mrekai. Regardless of whether it was a local or a DC decision it wasn't smart and wasn't fair to the troops.

    Bottling up the MeK initially made sense but we had six years to figure out that they were not a bargaining chip with Iran, they were not going to overthrow the Mullahs and they were going to be a problem. We've had over a year to figure out that the Iraqis were not going to be nice..

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    Bottling up the MeK initially made sense but we had six years to figure out that they were not a bargaining chip with Iran, they were not going to overthrow the Mullahs and they were going to be a problem. We've had over a year to figure out that the Iraqis were not going to be nice..
    Absolutely.. it seemed at times as if Washington was just hoping that the problem would somehow magically resolve itself (although I do recognize that they were caught between some sympathy for the MeK in some quarters in DC, and no easy solutions on the Iraqi end).
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


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    According to U.S. officials, they had no legal authority to intervene. One video taken by the exiles even shows soldiers get into a white sport utility vehicle and roll up their windows as the bloodied men plead for help.
    I'm skeptical of this. I'd like to know where the video is. I saw other videos when the story first came out (bunch of links here - full disclosure: it's my blog). I also wonder about the quote above - perhaps JMM or someone else here knows the answer. On every deployment that I went on in two countries - peacekeeping, HIC, or COIN - our ROE included the right to intervene in a situation to defend the life of a noncombatant. Indeed, such actions accounted for the majority of our actions in 2003, when we occupied Baghdad. Most of the shots that we fired in the summer of 03 were in defense of civilians being assaulted by criminal gangs (attempted kidnappings, robberies, murders, etc).

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    Default Legal analysis of "legal authority" ....

    depends on whether the ROEs for that unit were this...

    .... our ROE included the right to intervene in a situation to defend the life of a noncombatant.
    or something else. The applicable ROEs (and other command guidance) are most likely classified; in which case, armchair analysis is not possible.

    In cases like this, I apply the presumption of innocence re: US troops, until proved otherwise.

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    Just to be clear, I'm not suggesting that the troops shirked their duty. I'm just a bit leery of the legal analysis in the article. I spent a fair amount of time in Iraq on multiple deployments that spanned from invasion/occupation to 2005 goat rodeo to pre-, during, and post-"surge" and encountered a slew of situations ranging from routine to WTF. I cannot imagine a situation where I would have observed noncombatants being seriously harmed or their lives put in danger and not being able to intervene to stop it. I suspect that perhaps the folks getting into the SUVs were not Soldiers, or perhaps they were not as close to the action as suggested, or perhaps some chronological error was made in the article, or something else. It just sounds a bit odd.

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    Default Schmedlap, I really admire ...

    your dogged persistence[*]; but, after re-reading the article (twice), it simply is not a basis for a reliable legal analysis (which it doesn't do - merely stating a few legal conclusions based on unidentified "agreements" and "orders").

    The general rule in the SOFA is that detainees are turned over to the Iraqis. In effect, the MEK folks were in an Iraqi detention center under Iraqi authority. That's as far as I'm ready to go without access to original records.

    [*] You must have been one hell of a bulldog as an infantry officer.

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    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default Agreed

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    Just to be clear, I'm not suggesting that the troops shirked their duty. I'm just a bit leery of the legal analysis in the article. I spent a fair amount of time in Iraq on multiple deployments that spanned from invasion/occupation to 2005 goat rodeo to pre-, during, and post-"surge" and encountered a slew of situations ranging from routine to WTF. I cannot imagine a situation where I would have observed noncombatants being seriously harmed or their lives put in danger and not being able to intervene to stop it. I suspect that perhaps the folks getting into the SUVs were not Soldiers, or perhaps they were not as close to the action as suggested, or perhaps some chronological error was made in the article, or something else. It just sounds a bit odd.
    I'm not assuming anything, and I am skeptical of the reporting. I posted this piece b/c it highlights particular flashpoints for GPF soldiers as Iraq regains sovereignty. I'm not an expert on the current ROE or SOFA, but it seems that the rules are more akin to those in the Phillipines and Colombia rather than the Balkans. If that is the case, then this example is worthy of study.

    It beckons discussion over SFA and the roles of regular Army soldiers in fragile, sovereign states where the use of force is strained and limited.

    v/r

    Mike
    Last edited by MikeF; 09-04-2009 at 05:26 AM. Reason: spelling

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    ... it simply is not a basis for a reliable legal analysis (which it doesn't do - merely stating a few legal conclusions based on unidentified "agreements" and "orders").
    That was the issue that I saw. I guess I should have just summed up my prior two posts in one sentence: where are they getting these legal conclusions?

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    Default As I told a personal client, ...

    and old friend, recently ...

    "I haven't the foggiest f***ing idea."

    Broke him up cuz he's used to getting polished "answers" from the high-priced corporate lawyers who represent his high-priced corp.

    Same here.

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