Sanam Vakil's article published on May 5th , "Cease-fire Hurts U.S. Stance on Terror" is another regurgitation of claims based on unfounded information, politically charged accusation, and outright misinformation. The article purports to augur the future of American foreign policy on terror in the wake of its truce signing with MKO and admonishes the administration for this policy from the perspective of an American. That the writer is only nominally "Iranian-American" and her objection to such truce is from the perspective of an "American" helps to define the line of argument that I need to follow in order to engage my interlocutor. Ms Vakil writes her article out of concern for the credibility of current U.S. administration war on terror policy; nowhere in the article, she expresses slightest interest to speculate or analyze the impact of such "shocking development" on the political situation in Iran. After all such interest is only spurred by concern for the plight of the Iranian people under the Islamic regime, and Ms Vakil is in short supply of that. Therefore I elide over analyzing the consequences of her advised policy on the lives of Iranian people and proceed to show how that policy exacerbates the unstable situation in the Middle East
After proclaiming that the U.S. foreign policy continues to be shortsighted, an assertion that gets no argument from me, she lists out various names that MKO goes by, among them, "the People's Movement" (a name that any political novice would know does not exist even in the broadest form of mistranslation, hence her level of knowledge on the subject), and proceeds to re-introduce it as a group that has been on "the State Department's Foreign Terrorist Organization list since 1992". She is conveniently uninformed: MKO was added to the list in 1997, as goodwill gesture to Khatami's so-called reform policy. This "oversight" to quote an erroneous date, 1992, is significant as it helps the writer to give substance to her argument: the 1992 inclusion date flows very nicely from the MKO alleged participation in 1991's suppression of Kurds and Shiites in Iraq, and pre-empts any attempt to establish connection between the inclusion of MKO in the list and the defunct 1997 Albright-Khatami rapprochement policy.
Her purview of concern widens beyond the discussed perspective (i.e., as an American who is concerned for her government's credibility) only when the welfare of the Islamic regime is at stake. Yet even here she manages to stay on the same vantage point; for instance she ruefully puts an American-perspective spin, i.e., the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, on the advice that the United States should continue to engage Islamic regime even after some insiders of the regime attested to its futility. Furthermore, when the reputation and credibility of the Islamic regime is challenged, she remembers to adhere to journalistic impartiality: the established fact of Islamic regime intelligence agents' presence in Iraq to destabilize the political situation is worded as Iran's "alleged" attempt to influence Iraq's Shiites.
In order to examine Ms Vakil's prescribed policy of engaging the Islamic regime and punishing MKO from the perspective of an American, we need to know the nature of these political entities. 1. Islamic regime of Iran is the godfather of many large and small fundamentalist groups in the Middle East. It has been actively supporting and financing groups such as Hizbollah since 1982.
2. Islamic regime has been implicated in many overseas terrorist bombings including the Buenos Aires bombing and Khobar Towers bombing which killed nineteen U.S. servicemen. Iran's ex-Intelligence minister and few other officials have been indicted for the Buenos Aries bombing.
3. Islamic regime terrorists have assassinated hundreds of Iranian dissidents in Europe and Asia since 1982. The list of victims includes ex-prime minister, singers, human right activists, and political figures.
4. Islamic regime has secretly pursued an aggressive nuclear program. It recently admitted to have built two clandestine facilities in central Iran only after MKO exposed the program to the world community.
5. Islamic Republic of Iran is a brutal theocratic regime that has violently imposed its will on Iranian people for the last 24 years. Numerous American officials from both Republican and Democratic parties have alluded to this fact and expressed sympathy with the struggle of Iranian people to establish democracy.
6. Anyone who is familiar with the history of the1979 revolution in Iran will be able to testify that armed resistance was forced on political opposition (which, incidentally, included many groups other than MKO) by the religious rulers. Many members and supporters of various opposition groups were murdered by the state paramilitary forces without these groups resolving to take up arms against the religious dictatorship. It was only after the regime officially denied opposition groups (including MKO) the protection of the law and in fact made membership and support of these groups punishable by death that groups like MKO resorted to armed resistance. Who must accept the responsibility for the existence of an armed resistance if not a regime that not only pursued a systematic physical elimination of political opposition but did not even tolerate the existence of any independent political group as such? When in 1981 the murderous machine of the mullahs set out to liquidate all opposition groups, the Tudeh Party of Iran and the Iranian People's Fedaian (Majority) extended their general support of the religious regime to its brutal crackdown of opposition, thinking perhaps this would guarantee their political existence. But they were wrong: they, in turn, were liquidated in the following year and lost many members and supporters. As you will agree, even this general sketch of the circumstances makes clear that armed resistance against Iran's religious rulers is historically justifiable.
7. Aside from the origins and reasons of armed resistance, one may also consider whether, and the conditions under which, an armed resistance organization is willing to join a peaceful political process as a measure of its civility. MKO has repeatedly declared their willingness to put down their arms and participate in the political process of a democratic Iran. In particular, they have asked for a general election under UN supervision, whose outcome would determine the new political order. Is this not a reasonable condition? Moreover, is this not what Iranians have been asking for years, witness the demand of recent student demonstrations?
8. On the allegation of the suppression of Kurds, Massoud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party-Iraq (KDP) signed an affidavit exonerating MKO from any alleged involvement in the suppression of the 1991 Kurdish uprising. On the other hand PUK's claim that implicated MKO in that event could and should have been investigated in the context of its close relationship with Iran's Islamic regime.
As an Iranian-American, I believe that the lasting peace in the Middle East is achieved by supporting the political solution of establishing a secular liberal democracy in Iran. All political groups, including MKO, that strive for such outcome should be supported. The ruinous policy of engaging the Islamic Republic prolongs the misery of Iranian people within and endangers the stability of the Middle East without. The inclusion of MKO in the State Department's Terrorist Organization list only emboldens a brutal and medieval regime that has no legitimacy among Iranian people.
"In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved."
About the author:
Amin Boroumand lives in the Bay Area.
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