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Iranian terrorist group has close US allies

Posted by alanmirs on August 5, 2011

Al Jazeera English

The Mujahedin-e Khalq, which the US designates a terrorist group, has the backing of prominent American conservatives.
Jasmin Ramsey Last Modified: 04 Aug 2011 15:00
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Members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq lobby US politicians to remove their organisation from the terrorist list [EPA]

Something strange is happening in Washington. In August, the Obama administration is expected to announce whether it will keep the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an exiled Iranian group that killed American civilians and officials in the 1970s, on its foreign terrorist organisations (FTO) list.

Known for its cult-like behavior, the MEK (also known as the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, PMOI or MKO) fought alongside Saddam Hussein’s regime against its own country during the bloody Iran-Iraq war. This is one reason why it has almost no Iranian support, even if it refers to itself as the “most popular resistance group inside Iran” on its official website. It does, however, enjoy the backing of several US heavyweights with high national security credentials.

George W. Bush’s attorney general Michael Mukasey has described MEK members as “courageous freedom fighters”. President Barack Obama’s former national security advisor, General James L. Jones, gave a speech at a MEK conference dominated by non-Iranians. Their events have also been attended by former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge, former NATO supreme commander Wesley Clark and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.

MEK supporters point to the humanitarian issues at its headquarters in Camp Ashraf near the Iran-Iraq border as the reason for their advocacy. But it also has a “parliament in exile” called the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) with a “president-elect” named Maryam Rajavi who intends to rule Iran for a “transitional period” after the government is “overthrown”. The calls to protect Camp Ashraf have merit, but the Obama administration is being simultaneously lobbied to delist a FTO with a known anti-Iran agenda, thereby upsetting the already delicate political balance between Iran and the US.

The president does not want to be accused of being soft on Iran while it is pounding its chest in Iraq, but succumbing to the MEK’s well-organixed lobbying effort will not only further harm US-Iran relations, it will also negatively affect Iran’s internal opposition. Since the FTO list is seen as a diplomatic weapon rather than
a national security tool, the delisting of the MEK will be read in Iran as an escalation in hostilities and force President Obama into a position that is not his own.

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