By Lord Maginnis
Despite a possible new round of nuclear talks with Iran, it’s increasingly difficult to understand exactly what the U.S. administration’s policy is toward that country.
As ever it’s all tough talk from President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton – sanctions, warnings and demands for other nations to fall into line. Obama’s latest pronouncement suggests that the U.S. will even impose restrictions on U.S. allies, who buy oil from Iran. That ultimatum to the mullahs in Tehran is obviously intended to convey, “Give up on your nuclear ambitions or you will not be able to participate in the world’s financial marketplace”. The intention is to weaken the mullahs’ internal authority at home and to create a situation where the populace will get more restless as domestic conditions worsen.
But the problem is that there is no encouragement to Iran’s indigenous opposition who see the People’s Mujahedin of Iran/Mujahedin e-Khalk (PMOI/MEK) still being classified by the U.S. as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) despite the fact that they have dedicated themselves to rally international support under Mrs Maryam Rajavi’s inspired leadership and clearly based on democratic objectives.
The issue is very simple – does the West still pursue the fanciful notion that a negotiated settlement of the Iranian nuclear crisis is possible or does it recognise that only regime change will resolve the difficulties and remove the threat of escalating Middle Eastern crises.
It would seem to any objective observer that the U.S. State Department’s continuing placement of MEK on the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations is inevitably a hindrance to progress. That was originally tried in order to appease the mullahs at a time U.S. officials thought negotiations could be fruitful. The world has seen the failure of that policy and the continuing nuclear development in Iran to the point where a bomb is probably imminent.
The U.S. listing of the MEK was, from the outset, naïve to the point of being fraudulent, just as were similar listings by the EU and UK. But the latter’s designation has been overturned by the Courts and no longer exists. Yet, in the U.S., the State Department still chooses to ignore its courts, or even to re-examine its own policies. Why?
The original allegations that MEK assassinated Americans in the 1970s, which MEK steadfastly denied, have never been substantiated. The fact is that today there are U.S. officials who were directly involved in the listing in 1997 who acknowledge that is was done to mollify the mullahs.
The loose allegation that “warmongers” back the MEK can only be treated with contempt. Let’s examine the “who’s who” of MEK supporters and compare them to the few State Department apologists who cannot admit that they were wrong and thus target the MEK as a cult and its supporters as “warmongers”.
I have had the privilege of sitting at PMOI/MEK conferences with former heads of the CIA, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security. There, also, a former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, several other generals, and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Present too were former U.S. representatives and senators, plus other political leaders from both parties.
And let me not forget the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the daughter of another, as well as other human rights activists. Warmongers indeed! Hardly - Elie Wiesel has seen more of the horrors of war than that to which any human should ever be subjected.
The fallacy of the anti-MEK approach is apparent. When, in 2008 and 2009, the EU and UK courts reviewed the case and examined the classified documents, they concluded that any justification for retaining MEK on a terrorist list was perverse.
But most convincing of all is that virtually all the U.S. military commanders in charge of protecting the MEK residents of Camp Ashraf from 2003 to the end of 2008 have called for the delisting. These are the people who have seen the situation at firsthand - who lived side-by-side with the MEK during those years.
Significantly, the MEK has advocated that the solution to the Iranian crisis is neither appeasement (the policy of the West vis-a vis Tehran for the last two decades) nor foreign military intervention. Mrs Rajavi, the Iranian Resistance leader, has convincingly argued during the past several years that organized resistance within Iran, where increasingly the ordinary Iranian people are seeking a change to democracy, is the only viable solution for Iran crisis. Trying to depict the MEK as the advocates of war and warmongers is a total fabrication.
All the MEK asks is an end to its immoral, unjust and illegal shackling so the Iranian political dynamic can play itself out. The MEK is a popular movement, with grass roots support in Iran and among the diaspora. Increasingly it is earning respect in Western democracies. That is why the mullahs are trying every method to combat it and why more than 100,000 of its members and supporters have been executed – for wanting freedom.
Last year 36 defenseless residents of Camp Ashraf, including women, were massacred by the Government of Iraq at the behest of Tehran’s tyrants. Iraq’s only superficial justification was the FTO listing of the MEK by the U.S. State Department.
A year later after the carnage is it time to say, enough is enough. Surely the U.S. must follow Europe’s lead and the informed opinion of its own soldiers who have, loyally, served their nation in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
To unshackle the MEK is not to provoke war but to avert it.