Last week, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said he requested that the U.S. embassy in Baghdad ask Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and his accompanying GOP congressional delegation to leave Iraq because Rorhabacher had told the Iraqis to repay the U.S. for the war it started there in 2003. “Those people are not welcome in Iraq,” al-Dabbagh said.
Rohrabacher subsequently said he would not apologize for his comments and that the delegation was not kicked out of Iraq. “We were not officially told to leave the country before we left and were never told or warned not to come back,” he said in a statement.
Yet the Hill reports today that Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX), who was also a member of the delegation that included Rohrabacher, said the group was indeed booted from Iraq:
Six House lawmakers were asked to leave Iraq last week by that country’s prime minister, according to Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas).
Gohmert, who was on the trip with three other Republicans and two Democrats, told The Hill that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki ordered the group out of Iraq after it asked for access to Camp Ashraf, which houses 3,000 Iranian dissidents. […]
“When we were leaving Irbil, we got word that Maliki had contacted the embassy and had said he wanted our group out of the country,” Gohmert said.
So at this point it’s unclear why the Iraqis kicked the GOP delegation out. The Iraqis say it was because of Rohrabacher’s comments and Gohmert claims they got booted because they wanted to visit Camp Ashraf.
The “dissidents” at this camp are the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), a longtime armed revolutionary group that was previously allied with Saddam Hussein’s regime and currently designated by the U.S. as a foreign terror organization. After being forcibly disarmed by the U.S. in the immediate aftermath of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the MEK publicly renounced violence and sought to promote itself as the sole legitimate opposition to the Islamic Republic of Iran, winning plaudits among those in the U.S. promoting regime change.
Since then, the group has undertaken a campaign to get de-listed in the U.S., including a bevy of paid speeches by former U.S. officials and politicians. The group is also known for having a robust presence in the halls of Capitol Hill, where lawmakers have promoted the MEK as both the victims of human rights abuses by the Iraqis and as an ally against Iran.