In a move that has shocked world public opinion and has raised questions for both Iran and Iraq, the US commander of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" reportedly struck a deal with the MKO allowing them to retain their military camps in the war-town nation and assuring them security by American troops.
It is to be noted that the US-led forces bombed MKO bases, which had initially declared its neutrality in the war but later agreed to a ceasefire with the rebels, allowing them to move into war areas in a "non-combat formation."
The MKO has been blacklisted by the US and the UK as a "terrorist" group. It set up bases in Iraq in the mid-1980s and fought with the Baghdad regime against Iran during the eight-year imposed war. Since then it has been openly armed, backed and funded by Saddam Hussein until his ouster.
The outfit served the Iraqi regime in return for financial assistance and weapons. Its agents were trained by the Iraqi intelligence service and the army.
The MKO has not only been launching terrorist operations inside Iran but has also helped Saddam's regime quell the rebellious Kurds in northern Iraq and the Shiites in the south during the 1991 uprising of these Iraqi groups, the paper noted.
Documented reports released by American and European sources say it that the MKO cooperated with Saddam's elite Republican Guards and his Fedayeen paramilitary forces to suppress the Iraqi people.
American media and politicians have time and again underscored the terrorist nature of the group and have recently said it is among American targets in Iraq.
However, "it seems America now wants to protect the MKO by allowing it to keep the weapons given by Saddam to fight the Iraqis, it noted.
"Those adequately familiar with MKO characteristics are certainly not surprised about America's deal with the group," suggested the daily.
Washington's "scandalous" deal with the group now raises questions as to "whether Washington, like Saddam's regime, intends to use the banned group to confront the Iraqis who have legitimate demands about their rights of sovereignty?" said the daily.
It said America will have to answer to the Iraqi people, especially the Kurds in the north, who have been victims of MKO atrocities for so many years."
Undoubtedly, the US might use the terrorist MKO, Iran's main rebel group to pressure Iran into preventing it to do anything in favor of the Iraqi Shiites in the war-torn nation.
However, "if America looks deeper into the issue, it will realize that the group cannot be used as a threat against Iran's national security," pointed out the paper.
No wonder the despotic ruler of Baghdad so generously used the MKO elements for terrorist missions inside Iraq, it said.
Clearly, a deal with one of the most vicious groups which waged a bloody campaign in the early 1980s to topple the newly-born Islamic Republic with wave after wave of assassinations of the country's top officials in addition to helping Saddam murder his own people questions Washington's sincerity in its anti-terror campaign, blasted the daily.
It said the US will pay directly for the costs of keeping and protecting MKO agents inside Iraq which it knows to be a terrorist group.
What remains to be seen is what reaction the European Union, especially the UK will adopt towards this scandalous and destabilizing move, the daily concluded.
Tehran wants no friction with Washington on Iraqi issues: Rowhani
Secretary of Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Hassan Rowhani said on Saturday that Tehran does not want any friction with Washington over issues concerning Iraq, IRNA reported.
In a meeting with Indian National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra in Tehran, Rowhani said that Iran believes in Iraq's territorial integrity, democracy, good neighborly relations and non-interference in Iraqi internal affairs.
Rowhani said that the United States unilateral approach on the international scene and its ignoring the key role of the United Nations posed a serious threat to global peace and security.
He called on the international community to work together under the aegis of the United Nations for bolstering peace and international cooperation.
Rowhani said that Iran does not accept presence of the US and British troops in Iraq or installing a puppet regime in Baghdad.
He said that Iraq's future government should have a friendly and good neighborly relationship with its neighbors adding that Iran favors establishment of a broad-based government in Iraq.
He condemned the US army commander in the area for signing a deal with the terrorist Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) and said that the United States and Britain should honor the United Nations Resolution 1373 on international campaign against terrorism adding that Iran does not accept any collaboration with the terrorist group.
On Tehran-New Delhi relations, Rowhani said that Iran's strategic relations with India serve to develop regional and international cooperation in Asia.
On Iran-India defense cooperation, he said that Iran never considers interference in other country's internal affairs and that cooperation with India for bolstering defense capability is because of the outbreak of five wars in the region in the past two decades.
He called for Iran-India cooperation in the campaign against terrorism and said that the judicial, security and intelligence sectors from the two countries would also foster cooperation.
Rowhani said that the topics of energy, transit of goods and transport as well as North-South Corridor and technology would be the best areas of economic cooperation and called for Iran-India joint investment.
Mishra said that the United States enjoys military superiority adding that only military power is not enough for resolving the international crises. Only international cooperation can help resolve the crisis, he said.
He said that India is willing to develop multi-faceted cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Mishra voiced concern about reorganization of the terrorist Taliban group and said that he would convey his concern about Taliban to the Afghan government in his upcoming visit to Kabul.
He said that New Delhi government is keen on macro-economic cooperation with Iran adding that India gives importance to Iranian security.
The Indian national security adviser said that Tehran and New Delhi have the same concern about Iraqi territorial integrity and believe that any infringement of Iraqi territory would adversely effect the region.
Mishra said that the United States will not be able to restore peace and security in Iraq without seeking cooperation from the neighboring countries.
He said that security of the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean are inter-related adding that Iran and India are two strategic partner for maintenance of regional security.
... Payvand News - 4/26/03 ... --