As the American military drawdown in Iraq continues, the issue of protecting our Iraqi allies is at a critical stage. This week, the List Project released an advocacy paper, Tragedy on the Horizon, which examines how the American withdrawal from Iraq will impact the thousands of Iraqis who are currently working for th U.S. and surveys the history of withdrawal by Coalition allies in Iraq, as well as a number of historical examples. Despite the decline in day-to-day violence, the List Project foresees a disastrous ending for many U.S.-affilaited Iraqis if there are no contingency plans for their evacuation in the final stages of the U.S. withdrawal.
The List Project offers specific recommendations to the Obama administration, Congress, and to various Government departments to ensure that we do not repeat the tragic mistakes of the past as we leave Iraq. The paper's chief recommendation calls for a Presidential ordered operation to airlift our Iraqi allies to a military base such as Guam for safe and expedited resettlement. As the most hunted group in Iraq, these allies have served as interpreters for our troops, civil society experts for reconstruction agencies, and are loyal allies who have risked their lives to help us.
As history has shown, the "Guam Option" provides the ideal solution for swiftly processing high priority refugees. They are taken out of immediate danger and placed in an optimal environment in which the Departments of State and Homeland Security can process their case without the myriad of bureaucratic hurdles that emerge when operating in a war zone or in neighboring countries. Other countries in the Coalition, such as Britain, Denmark, and Australia have all airlifted their interpreters and Iraqi allies to safety. As a dedicated volunteer of The List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies, I urge you to support the recommendations put forth in the List Project’s plan.
The List Project maintains the largest list of Iraqis who are imperiled because they stood by America. It is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that utilizes three top U.S. law firms (Holland & Knight, Proskauer Rose, and Mayer Brown) and volunteers to help with the resettlement and care of Iraqi allies. Many of the Iraqis on the List Project’s List have been languishing for over a year while the glacial pace of refugee resettlement affords them no peace from continual death threats, torture, and violence against family members.
Robustly helping the Iraqis who helped us is not only a moral imperative, but is also a matter of national security: how we treat these Iraqi allies will inform future potential allies’ choice to support the U.S. Consequently, I strongly urge you to support the recommendations put forth in Tragedy on the Horizon.