By Ginger Thompson
Republican legislators pressed the Obama administration on Wednesday to remove an Iranian opposition group known as the M.E.K. from its list of terrorist organizations and to do more to resettle about 3,400 members of the group who are confined in a camp in Iraq.
The lawmakers said Iraq's close ties to Iran put the residents of the camp, Camp Ashraf, in danger, pointing to two incursions by Iraqi security forces that left dozens of people dead. And they demanded that the administration commit to guaranteeing the safety of the camp's residents as Iraq prepares to close it by the end of the year.
Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California, said that without such guarantees, the entire camp was at risk of being massacred by Iraqi forces, adding, "the blood in the sand will stain the Gucci shoes of those in the State Department."
Ambassador Daniel Fried, who was recently appointed to oversee United States efforts on this matter, said diplomats were working to persuade Iraq to keep the camp open long enough to allow the United Nations to resettle residents to other countries.
Mr. Fried said the State Department was reviewing its terrorist designation against the M.E.K. He reminded lawmakers that during the 1970s, the M.E.K. had been involved in a campaign of attacks, including the assassination of six Americans and the bombings of American companies in Iran.
He also called on the M.E.K.'s leaders in Iraq and around the world to do their part to resolve the conflict over the camp in a peaceful and orderly way.
"A humane and secure relocation is possible," Mr. Fried said, "but it will take intense and serious efforts by all parties."