As the United Nations mandate that legitimizes the presence of US forces in Iraq expires on December 31, a humanitarian and strategic disaster is coming into view. The fate of about 3,500 anti-regime Iranians will be decided in the course of status-of-forces negotiations between Washington and Baghdad.
They are members of the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK; it is also called the People's Mojahedin of Iran, or PMOI), the leading Iranian opposition group. Based at Camp Ashraf in central Iraq where they are recognized as "protected persons" under the Fourth Geneva Convention, they have since 2004 been under the protection of US military forces. According to the Convention Against Torture of 1984, to which the US government is a party, expiration of the UN mandate does not end the American obligation to continue to protect MEK members in Iraq.
Further, the MEK's network of supporters inside Iran has provided invaluable intelligence. For example, it exposed Teheran's nuclear ambitions and its shipments of roadside bombs to Iraq.