By Nina Hamedani, Press TV|
||The United States of America has
consistently and historically championed itself as a preeminent nation
in the world. However, since recent international and domestic events
left the US in a more precarious position, they are desperately making
friends with unlikely groups.
Post 9/11 US Befriending the MEK or MKO
President George W. Bush, his administration, and the mass media have carried
the banner of an age-old mantra post-September 11, 2001: "The enemy of my enemy
is my friend." Along with this mantra, the aforementioned have also propagated a
polarizing theory with public statements declaring, "You're either with us, or
against us." However, political situations are not always so black and white -
but neither are friends and enemies.
The relationship between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the US has remained
strained since the 1953 British and US Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA)
orchestrated coup d'état of Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq, who had aims of
nationalizing Iran's oil. Along with the following 1979 Islamic Revolution and
ensuing 444-day student takeover of the US embassy in Tehran, Iran and the US
continued to grow apart and remain isolated from one another.
US-Iranian political atmosphere and dominant American philosophies have
encouraged the US government to forge a friendship with an Iranian opposition
group that is living in exile, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK, MKO or PMOI for the
People's Mujahedin of Iran).
BBC's Newsnight on January 17, 2007 uncovered an offer that Tehran sent to
Washington in 2003, stating Iran would abandon supporting Hamas and Hezbollah if
the Western countries would ensure the MEK be disbanded. Many officials in the
US government saw an enormous potential of working with Iran, but the offer was
stopped in its tracks by Vice President Dick Cheney - and remained unsigned.
Instead of attempting to bridge the gaps between Iran and the US, the American
government has been funding the MEK under a guise of 'democracy promotion' in
Iran. Reported amounts of money differ, but consider the following:
July 16, 2008 the House of Representative's Subcommittee on State, Foreign
Operations and Related Programs met to go over the 2009 International Affairs
budget. Noted in a section, Function 150, was $65 million allocated as Economic
Support Funds For Iran. Included in this same section, was $1.2 million to
launch US-backed Radio Free Europe (a.k.a Radio Liberty Azerbaijani) broadcasts
Jason Leopold, of The Public Record, wrote on July 10, 2008 that Congress has
appropriated over $120 million to fund 'democracy promotion' projects inside
Investigative journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, Seymour Hersh, revealed in
his July 7, 2008 article for The New Yorker that the US has been
operating with a covert budget of $400 million, he writes, for plans to
"destabilize the country's religious leadership." This information was found in
a highly classified Presidential Finding that "focused on undermining Iran's
nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change
working with opposition groups and passing money." Hersh also writes that both
the CIA and American Special Operations groups have had "long-standing ties" to
A Pentagon consultant told Hersh "the MEK has no CPA [Certified Public
Accountant] auditing the books, and its leaders are thought to have been lining
their pockets for years. If people only knew what the MEK is getting, and how
much is going to its bank accounts - and yet it is almost useless for the
purposes the [US] Administration intends."
Even if this is true, the US steams ahead with its aid to the Mujahedin.
Congressmen Bob Filner (D-CA) and Tom Tancredo (R-CO) co-chair a bi-partisan
Iran Human Rights and Democracy Caucus - which is the main group lobbying for
MEK support and removal from the US list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
Most recently Representative Tancredo stated in the House of Representatives
that "it's time to take the handcuff's off the MEK" on July 14, 2008. At the
same meeting, Rep. Filner claimed "the MEK provided significant intelligence
that helped blow the whistle on Iran's clandestine nuclear weapons and missile
development programs" - neglecting to note that the National Intelligence
Estimate deemed Iran did not have a nuclear weapons program since 2003.
Not only do Representatives Tancredo and Filner (and the rest of the MEK
supporters in the US government) speak about the group as idealized forbearers
of democracy, they also equate the MEK to Iranians en masse. Often times with
statements like Filner's from the aforementioned meeting, "we must...shift our
support to the Iranian people" - herein he assumes the almost 70 million strong
population of Iran aligns themselves with the MEK, an exiled fringe group.
The MEK in Camp Ashraf
The MEK were active in efforts to displace the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, but
eventually severed their ties with followers of the Grand Ayatollah Rouhollah
Khomeini, becoming a violent, militant opposition group inside Iran - one that
carried out bombings, attacks and assassinations on both Iranian and Western
targets. At the end of 1981, most MEK members were in hiding or exiled in
France. In 1986, with developing Iranian-French relations, the Mujahedin were
declared 'undesirable aliens' and relocated to Iraq.
Camp Ashraf, or Ashraf City, is north of Khalis in-between Baghdad and the
Iranian border. It contains the largest consolidation of MEK members with a
population around 4,000.
The 2003 US invasion of Iraq included air strikes on the Mujahedin. After the
two parties came to terms on a ceasefire, in June 2003 US forces claim to have
successfully disarmed Camp Ashraf. In tandem, seven US agencies screened
individuals in Ashraf for past terrorist activities. A July 6, 2008 Washington
Post article mentioned the FBI fingerprinted 3,800 individuals, and more than 40
already had previous records of known criminality in the FBI's database.
Despite this finding, the American government concluded the Mujahedin did not
have a terrorist basis, and the members of Ashraf City would be protected
citizens under the Fourth Geneva Convention in July 2004. On the contrary, the
MEK remains among 42 groups on the US State Department's list of Foreign
Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) since 1997. Their status on the list has to be
renewed every 2 years, suggesting the US has consistently re-categorized the MEK
as a terrorist group for over a decade.
Again, regardless of an FTO classification, the large monetary endowments from
the US have allowed the MEK to turn Ashraf from a shanty desert town into a camp
"made up of a complex of roads and buildings. It contains all sorts of
educational, social and sports facilities. These include 4 Olympic size swimming
pools, a shopping centre, a zoo, a park, 2 universities, a full size football
pitch, a mosque and even a cemetery" - boasted MEK literature handed out at an
Iran Human Rights and Democracy Caucus meeting on February 11, 2008.
The Mujahedin on the Terrorist List
Seeking legitimacy, the MEK is actively campaigning to be removed from lists
designating it as a terrorist group.
After 7 years of efforts in the United Kingdom, the British Court of Appeals
upheld the Proscribed Organizations Appeal Commission ruling that the MEK is not
a terrorist organization in May 2008. The ruling was based on the finding that
the court lacked evidence to conclude the MEK would resort to terror tactics in
This de-listing means the group now has more freedom to meet, fund-raise, and
conduct their operations. For example, one month after the British ruling, the
Paris-based National Council Resistance of Iran (the umbrella group of which the
Mujahedin is the main part) held a rally outside of Paris where many political
figures were present to show solidarity.
How do the MEK represent themselves? They claim to be nonviolent, advocate a
democratic, pluralist and secular system of government; advocate normalized
relations with all the governments of the region and the world; advocate
elimination of all forms of discrimination against religious and ethnic
minorities; guarantee the individual and social rights stipulated in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights; guarantee the separation of Church and
State; and guarantee autonomy for Iranian Kurds. They also contend to have a
'president in waiting,' Maryam Rajavi, for the fulfillment of MEK's ultimate
goal: overthrowing the current Iranian government.
Conveniently ignored is a historical viewpoint of the group, an explanation of
why they were exiled from Iran or justifications for their terror listing over
time in various nations. Such as the May 2005 Human Rights Watch report that the
MEK are rampant in human rights violations, naming them a 'cult' that runs
'prison camps' in Iraq, implementing physical and psychological abuse to prevent
members from leaving.
All in all, a group with governmental overthrow as their main objective combined
with a consistent terrorist designation would make a least likely ally, if the
US considered it rationally.
A Misguided Union
Desperate with a bad economy, high oil prices, a sub-prime market lending
debacle that is only worsening, wars waging on in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a US
budget that will reach a record $482 billion in the upcoming year according to
Bloomberg - the US is grappling for a way out.
Americans should be opening dialogue with the Iranian government, not opposition
groups, as many believe that Iranian engagement in Iraq is the primary
stabilizing factor that could allow a US withdrawal.
However, the MEK have become a friend of convenience, but not a friend offering
any promising outcomes. Especially in a time where both Iran and the US have
mounting levels of distrust for one another; how would supporting an enemy of
Iran make Iran want to be a co-operative friend to the US?
Acts of War
By Scott Ritter, TruthDig.com
The war between the United States and Iran is on. American taxpayer
dollars are being used, with the permission of Congress, to fund
activities that result in Iranians being killed and wounded, and Iranian
property destroyed. This wanton violation of a nation's sovereignty
would not be tolerated if the tables were turned and Americans were
being subjected to Iranian-funded covert actions that took the lives of
Americans, on American soil, and destroyed American property and
livelihood. Many Americans remain unaware of what is transpiring abroad
in their name. Many of those who are cognizant of these activities are
supportive of them, an outgrowth of misguided sentiment which holds Iran
accountable for a list of grievances used by the U.S. government to
justify the ongoing global war on terror. Iran, we are told, is not just
a nation pursuing nuclear weapons, but is the largest state sponsor of
terror in the world today.
Iran: Exiled Armed Group Abuses Dissident Members; Opposition Group Seeks
Recognition and Support in Western Capitals
(Paris, May 19, 2005) -- An armed Iranian opposition group in
exile, the Mojahedin Khalq Organization, has subjected dissident members to
torture and prolonged solitary confinement,
Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The 28-page report,
"No Exit: Human
Rights Abuses Inside the MKO Camps," details how dissident
members of the shadowy Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) were tortured,
beaten and held in solitary confinement for years at military camps in Iraq
after they criticized the group's policies and undemocratic practices,
UK: MKO ruling will isolate you
Iran says a decision by the British court to remove a ban on Mujahedin Khalq
Organization (MKO) would only isolate the UK government... "By adopting a policy
of supporting terrorist groups, it (Britain) is pursuing certain provisional
interests." -Press TV (June 2008)
Iran Interlink: Iran
Interlink has been established as a point of contact for families and friends of
members of the Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (aka MKO, MEK, PMOI, NCR, NCRI, NLA,
MISS) which is now based in Iraq. Among its aims is "to inform as widely as
possible about the real nature of the Iranian Mojahedin Khalq cult and to act as
a pressure group in this regard."
... Payvand News - 08/02/08 ... --
© Copyright 2008 NetNative
(All Rights Reserved)