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Let's Rethink What We Wish For...


By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich


More than a quarter of a century ago, people of all social classes took to the streets and wanted the Shah gone.  The sentiment of the Iranian people was: ‘ better a monkey than the Shah’ or as they literally said: “a dog would be better than the Shah.”.   The 1979 revolution saw their wish fulfilled as it chased many Iranians into exile along with the Shah.  Before long, countless Iranians began a futile effort to reverse time, uncompromising in their effort, and failing to learn from history.


When the Shah allied himself with the United States at the expense of his country, his cronies who left with him never lost sight of Iran, nor of their possessions and the hope of one day returning to the days of past glory and wealth.  They set up ‘shop’ in Beverly Hills and other areas of affluence and set to work to influence American policy makers who were all too eager to accommodate them.  They thought ‘America’ would listen and given them back Iran, the young Shah, and they would have their old lifestyle back.  They were not the only ones flirting with the U.S. government.


The Mojahedin-e Khalg who had long been opposed to the Shah and conducted several attacks against U.S. military personnel and civilians working with the Shah in the 1970’s, as well as attacks against the Iranian government at the time, and who had also participated in the capture of the U.S. Embassy during the revolution, has been actively lobbying on Capital Hill.  Declared a terrorist organization in 1997 by the State Department, a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter challenging their status as a terrorist organization in 1998.  Further, some House Members have suggested that the United States should support the group as an alternative to the Islamic regime in Iran.[1]


Their success of lobbying is alarming –  On April 6, 2005, a think tank called Iran Policy Committee (IPC) convened on Capitol Hill to discuss the removal of the MEK from the terrorist organization list.  The meeting was organized at the invitation of the Iran Human Rights and Democracy Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives.    Congressman Tom Tandredo (R-CO) and Congressman Bob Filner (D-CA.) chaired the meeting. 


Tancredo said of the MEK, and it was concurred by IPC “[T]he need to remove it from the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization List”.    The IPC panel continued to say that “Rather than depending on diplomatic or military options, a third alternative – relying on the Iranian people to play a major role in determining their own future.  In doing so, the panelists suggested that the U.S. government support European Union diplomatic negotiations with Iran, keep military options on the table, and provide a central role for the Iranian opposition to facilitate regime change.”.[2]


There are several issues here.  The United States has long maintained a policy of not negotiating with terrorists.  Yet, the Congress of the Unites States is lobbied by terrorist organizations and the U.S. is showing willingness to co-opt a known terrorist organization.


It is also interesting to note that the U.S. alleges that Iran is the foremost state-sponsor of terror.  Yet members of the United States House Representatives have no qualms about replacing the Islamic regime with the MEK who has carried out direct terrorist acts against Americans.  The U.S. accuses Iran of supporting Hezbollah, a militant organization, and hence calls Iran a state sponsor of terrorism, yet not only does a foreign terrorist organization openly lobby on Capitol Hill, it is so successful at it that numerous House Representatives put their signatures to paper to support this group – Is sponsoring of terrorism justifiable by a superpower?


If past sins are so forgivable, that is, if terrorism against Americans (and indeed against any nation) can be erased from a nation’s history, why is it that American men and women are sent to Iraq only to return in body-bags? 


For those who think that Iran cannot be had from within, think again.  As Rumsfeld rightly noted, democracy is a painful birth. Iran has a long way to go, and the practice of statecraft and religion impedes the process.  However, in its 25 years of inception, the Islamic Republic has not betrayed Iran. The MEK have fought alongside Iraqis and killed fellow Iranians.  The Shah sold out Iran to hold on to his Peacock Throne.  Iran could have started its democratic birth in the early 1950’s.  If we are to have a democracy, it must be molded from within.  Those who betrayed us and continue to do so with the help of  ill-advised politicians whose ambitious are not only-serving but whose views are warped through years of breeding contempt and bias, will only destroy Iran further and exploit a country that only true Iranians love, appreciate, and deserve.   We can counter their lobbying, if lobbying is what it takes.


[1] CRS Report for Congress, received through web, Order Code RL32223, February 6, 2004 Cronin, A.K. Foreign Terrorist Organizations:65-68


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