Procrastination, the Fancied Chance of MKO (aka; Mojahedin Khalq, MEK, Rajavi cult)
Procrastination, the Fancied Chance of MKO
(aka; Mojahedin Khalq, MEK, Rajavi cult)
There is no formula to banish MKO’s procrastination that has delayed the process of transfer
... There is not plenty of time for MKO and it is well aware of the fact that despite it is procrastinating, it will eventually have to actually submit to the transfer of the reminders. Massoud Rajavi, the leader of the group, in his message addressed to residents before the transfer of the third group, asked them to abide by the promises to be relocated to TTL; however, he never terms it transfer or relocation but “battle”: “today you have fought your first and second battles and two groups have already gone to Liberty. Now we are getting ready to fire the third big shot to send the third group. Congratulations!”...
The best way to get something done as easy as possible is to begin it in due course, but if you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it. Everything is ready according to already reached agreements to relocate the sixth group of Mojahedin Kgaq Organization MKO/MEK members residing at Camp Ashraf to the Temporary Transit Location TTL near Baghdad. But so far there has been found no magic formula to banish MKO’s procrastination excuses that has delayed the process of transfer. However, MKO has no other option but to get past procrastination founded on ungrounded excuses otherwise it will be swimming against the current it has already set running itself.
There is not plenty of time for MKO and it is well aware of the fact that despite it is procrastinating, it will eventually have to actually submit to the transfer of the reminders. Massoud Rajavi, the leader of the group, in his message addressed to residents before the transfer of the third group, asked them to abide by the promises to be relocated to TTL; however, he never terms it transfer or relocation but “battle”: “today you have fought your first and second battles and two groups have already gone to Liberty. Now we are getting ready to fire the third big shot to send the third group. Congratulations!”
Thus, MKO considers the peaceful and humanitarian issue of relocation another battle that has to be fought to the end. And of course, a battle is not an easy job to accomplish and must be made as hard as possible for those on the opposite front. Asserted by the US officials even before the relocation began, who testified before the House Foreign Affairs Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, that efforts to peacefully resolve the standoff are being rebuffed by MKO leadership. The US Special Adviser on Camp Ashraf Daniel Fried also said “MEK leadership has impeded a refugee resettlement process and interfered with the UN’s ability to conduct interviews with individuals at the encampment”.
Calling it a battle or anything else, Rajavi has no other option but to let it be accomplished and all the residents be fully relocated to TTL because. Even those the group expects protection from voice that relocation of residents it is a humanitarian issue that should be made as easy and peaceful as possible to accomplish. In December 2011, Ambassador Daniel Fried, Special Advisor for Camp Ashraf for the State Department, made the cause clear and promised to monitor the process of the transfer: “Embassy Baghdad will visit former Camp Liberty on a frequent basis to provide robust observation. The US seeks a safe, secure, humane resolution. Our interest is humanitarian”. And the promise has been kept so far both by the US and UN as well as by the Iraqi government.
Immediately after that announcement, however, MKO advocates argued that the group should be allowed to stay at Ashraf beyond the agreement. And now, it has become evident that MKO is obstructing the process. The big impediment to the process is the group itself that turns a humanitarian issue into a subject for dispute and battle. That is how MKO defines “good will gesture” when Maryam Rajavi, living far from the regional afflictions and hardships of Iraq in the cool, luxurious comfort of her residence in France, agreed to relocate residents as a goodwill gesture.
Some say Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin. That is true from the angle that by refusal of transferring Ashraf residents MKO is assassinating their granted opportunity of regaining their freedom. But the group will also lose the opportunity of the promised immediate post-relocation interests atop of which stands its removal from the terror list. But there is none if MKO is expecting for the better. Although it is acknowledged that the MKO leadership can be helpful in reaching a humanitarian resolution, which he completely disregards, he has unilaterally resisted de-politicization of Camp Ashraf and grabbed at a vague, faint hope that procrastination is the fancied chance to retard the progress of losing members. He just keeps putting off complying to make it hard both for the insiders and outsiders.
For the escapees of Ashraf, MKO’s cracked shell is no more a serious impediment to freedom
... The escape of more than a score of MKO’s members from its military base, Camp Ashraf, while being transferred to a temporary transit center near Baghdad has faced the group with another grave crisis among many other that have already challenged it. Even more overwhelming, majority of them are old, experienced veterans and ranking members of the group. But what is particularly noteworthy about these escapes is that neither the group makes any allusion to them nor takes any antagonistic position, as did in the past, to call them infiltrated Iranian agents or other names. However, as they had provoked an angry backlash from the group, it directed its anger at other people and bodies cooperating in the process of relocation. For instance, we witnessed a new wave of strong condemnation ...
The escape of more than a score of MKO’s members from its military base, Camp Ashraf, while being transferred to a temporary transit center near Baghdad has faced the group with another grave crisis among many other that have already challenged it. Even more overwhelming, majority of them are old, experienced veterans and ranking members of the group. But what is particularly noteworthy about these escapes is that neither the group makes any allusion to them nor takes any antagonistic position, as did in the past, to call them infiltrated Iranian agents or other names. However, as they had provoked an angry backlash from the group, it directed its anger at other people and bodies cooperating in the process of relocation. For instance, we witnessed a new wave of strong condemnation of Martin Kobler, UN representative in Iraq, ICRC, UNHRC, and even the US State Department and being labeled of collaborating with Tehran against MKO. Silly as it may seem, the group even squawked about the UNHRC processing of individuals at Temporary Transit Location (TTL) and blamed it for asking tendentious questions that the group believed to be totally irrelevant to the individuals’ refugee status.
No doubt, these escapes are the consequence of the internal functioning of a terrorist group in terms of dynamics that are typical of a cult. Rajavi, as the leader of the cult, had already anticipated what would happen if a crack in the internal relations of the organization would appear. As a result, he would insist to safeguard the internal relations of the group from any outside interference. The first step, after the fall of Saddam, was to reach at an agreement with American forces in Iraq to keep its internal structure intact.
Rajavi has repeatedly announced in his meetings with the group’s leadership council that his organization has solved problems with American forces; they are free to do what they will in Camp Ashraf and in return, they have promised to “leave us to ourselves” and have no interference in our internal relations. In fact, when MKO surrendered its arms, it knew what precious reward it was being granted in return. It could do nothing more with the arms, but having the control of Ashraf in its own hands could well guarantee the survival of an organization destined to fall.
In contrast to Americans, the Iraqis are well aware where to target to destabilize the group. And that is why MKO’s leader insisted to have the control of Ashraf returned to American forces and strongly reacted against the transfer of the camp’s security to Iraqi forces in January 2009. Since the transfer of Camp Ashraf’s security from the US military forces to Iraqi government, there has been an ongoing wave of clashes between the insiders and Iraqi forces mainly because the former have insisted to penetrate into the camp to take the internal control of Ashraf in their hands, a move that seriously threatened the internal cultic relations and which provoked insiders into violent reaction that left tragic casualties.
Rajavi did anything in his power to protect and save its ideological-cult bastion, to keep members altogether under his cultic spells and practices inside the camp. But the best means at hand were always the members of the organization themselves who have been victimized as human-shields to bulwark Rajavi’s cult bastion. The watching and controlling measures that monitor the members even in their privacy never permit any risk of leaving a member alone with an outsider, be it a health caretaker or a member of his/her own family. That is why Rajavi has so far objected to letting the members out of the camp or meeting their families alone and unsupervised.
Despite raising huge fuss about its internal ideological revolution as the group’s greatest achievement, the flimsy, fragile walls of the group’s post-revolution framework have become even thinner. In fact, its structure can be analogized to a spider‘s house as the most feeble; a high-wind will sweeps it away altogether. And there are winds of crises blowing one after another. Now the control of Ashraf being removed through the process of transfer of the members to TTL, the members find an opportunity to breathe a fresh air they have long been deprived of. The thinned wall of the closed egg shutting them up from the free world outside is just before them to crack and pop it open. And there have been braves among them to try it out. For sure, there will be more escapes as the number of the encouraged is growing and the thin, cracked shell of the organization is no more a serious impediment to freedom.
Testimony of Ambassador Daniel Fried on the Status of Processing of Camp Ashraf Residents
... Accompanying each convoy are UN human rights monitors, who also observe the screening of residents and property as each convoy loads from Camp Ashraf and provide useful, neutral reports following each convoy movement. The preparation of each convoy is lengthy and disagreements, sometimes heated, have occurred between the Iraqi authorities and the residents about cargo, screening procedures and other issues. The U.S. Embassy and Department of State of followed the progress of each convoy closely, often in real time, in support of the UN; we are well aware of the difficulties involved ...
House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations May 16, 2012
Chairman Rohrabacher and Ranking Member Carnahan, thank you for the opportunity today to testify before this Subcommittee. I welcome this occasion to report on the significant progress made in the Administration’s ongoing efforts to support a humane, peaceful, and durable solution for the residents of Camp Ashraf, as well as on the challenges that remain.
In early December 2011, when I last appeared before this Subcommittee to discussthe situation at Camp Ashraf, the potential for a humanitarian crisis appearedominous. The Government of Iraq had announced its intention to close Camp Ashraf by December 31, and there were valid concerns, based on previous incidents, that this could result in bloodshed. At that time, the United States and the UN recognized the need to develop and support on an urgent basis a mechanism to achieve the safety and security of Ashraf’s residents. Members of this Committee appeared to share such concerns. It was under these circumstances that Secretary Clinton instructed me to work with Ambassador Jeffrey and the United Nations to avert a humanitarian catastrophe.
Given that context, I am relieved to report significant progress, while recognizing that the job is not yet done. On December 25, the Government of Iraq and the United Nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that provides the mechanism and path forward for the safe relocation of Ashraf’s residents out of Iraq. Secretary Clinton quickly and publicly announced our support for this MOU, and we were shortly joined in this support by key partners in the international community, especially the European Union. We called upon the Iraqi government to respect the terms of the MOU and upon the residents of Camp Ashraf to cooperate in its implementation. With the signature of the MOU, the Iraqi government lifted the December 31 deadline for Ashraf’s closure.
Under the terms of the MOU, the residents of Camp Ashraf have been provided a temporary transit facility – Camp Hurriya (formerly called Camp Liberty) adjacent to the Baghdad International Airport – to which to relocate under guarantees of security. The MOU also provided for regular, in-person human rights monitoring by the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), headed by the able and energetic Ambassador Martin Kobler, and the ability to participate in a Refugee Status Determination (RSD) process to be undertaken by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Additionally, through the MOU, the Iraqi Government made a commitment to the principle of non-refoulement. These were important steps forward by the Iraqi government.
Following conclusion of the MOU, the Iraqi Government worked with the UN and the residents of Camp Ashraf to begin the moves to Camp Hurriya. The first convoy to Hurriya occurred February 18, with nearly 400 people. Despite some complications and delays, it took place peacefully and was observed by U.S. officials from Embassy Baghdad in addition to UN monitors. A second and similar convoy of nearly 400 residents occurred on March 8, followed by a third convoy on March 19, a fourth on April 16, and the fifth and most recent convoy on May 5. Together, nearly 2000 residents of Ashraf have moved to Camp Hurriya, which is well over half the total.
After the fifth convoy, the Department of State publicly welcomed the progress to date, including the continued cooperation of the Iraqi Government and the residents of Camp Ashraf with UNAMI in implementation of the MOU. Our statement also noted the need to increase our focus on our ultimate objective: the safe relocation of the residents from Camp Hurriya out of Iraq, and we joined the UN’s call to member states to assist in this effort.
The process of relocating residents to Hurriya has had challenges. Each convoy, carrying approximately 400 Ashraf residents, their personal effects, and large quantities of cargo to Hurriya, has been a significant logistical undertaking. The Iraqi government has provided dozens of coach busses and cargo trucks and literally thousands of Iraqi security forces to provide for the convoy’s security on the road. Accompanying each convoy are UN human rights monitors, who also observe the screening of residents and property as each convoy loads from Camp Ashraf and provide useful, neutral reports following each convoy movement. The preparation of each convoy is lengthy and disagreements, sometimes heated, have occurred between the Iraqi authorities and the residents about cargo, screening procedures and other issues. The U.S. Embassy and Department of State of followed the progress of each convoy closely, often in real time, in support of the UN; we are well aware of the difficulties involved. Given the history of Camp Ashraf, the emotions involved, and the fact that many of those at Camp Ashraf have resided there for years, this should not surprise us. Indeed, the fact of continued progress is more remarkable than the difficulties. Patience and compromise have been required, and will still be required, as the last convoys needed to close Camp Ashraf are organized.
Living conditions at Camp Hurriya have also had their challenges. Camp Hurriya, when under U.S. control, was part of the largest coalition base in Iraq, housing thousands of American and coalition forces during military operations in Iraq. The containerized housing units (CHUs), which the former Ashraf residents now occupy, previously housed our service personnel. Hurriya also includes among its living spaces a large dining facility, fitness facility, a mosque, and recreational space for the residents. The UN studied the infrastructure before the first convoy and judged that the facility met or exceeded international humanitarian standards for such encampments to support the relocation of all Ashraf residents.
Nevertheless, some legitimate concerns were raised about conditions at Hurriya. There were early issues with water, sewage and electric power, though many of these have been resolved. There were early concerns about the location and size of Iraqi police units at Camp Hurriya, though here, too, a satisfactory resolution was worked out. Both Camps Ashraf and Hurriya have internet connectivity to the world.
Still, some issues remain. For example, greater attention needs to be paid to the repair of air conditioning units by the Government of Iraq, and other basic welfare needs, such as accommodations for the disabled, ought to be addressed. With the onset of hot weather, requirements of electric power and water deliveries will increase, and the number of needed utility vehicles for provision of water and removal of sewage therefore will grow. The Iraqi government needs to work with the UN to address ongoing humanitarian concerns as the population at Camp Hurriya grows amid hot weather. The residents meanwhile need to engage with the Iraqi government, the UN, and others on these serious issues in a focused manner.
The UNAMI monitors, who visit Hurriya daily, and U.S. Embassy officers, who also visit frequently, have been invaluable in working out problems and keeping us informed about the details of issues that develop. UNAMI, with active U.S. support, is working at high-levels with the Iraqi government to ensure the welfare of the residents is not compromised and to resolve issues that arise. Continued efforts will be needed, especially now that the hot season has arrived.
It is important that the final convoys from Ashraf take place and that Camp Ashraf be closed. Our efforts do not end, however, with Camp Ashraf’s closure. Indeed, we must not lose sight of our purpose: the relocation of Camp Ashraf residents out of Iraq. The way for residents out of Iraq lies through the UNHCR process. With start-up issues largely resolved, the UNHCR has intensified its efforts and increased its resources to interview and review residents for refugee status eligibility, the Refugee Status Determination (RSD) process.
The next great task in this effort requires continued participation of the residents in the UNHCR process, and the diplomatic work of relocating those residents out of Iraq. For our part, the United States has informed the UNHCR and our international partners that we will receive UNHCR’s referrals of some individuals.
These referrals will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, consistent with applicable U.S. law. Other governments have stated their intention to take similar actions, and some have begun the process of reviewing residents.
Let me be clear: it will be critical for the United States to demonstrate leadership in this area. Our doing so will be essential to finding a solution. We hope to have the support of the Congress and all who in the past have expressed concern for the welfare of the residents of Camp Ashraf. We will also need the continued cooperation of the remaining Ashraf residents to move swiftly to relocate to Hurriya, and the cooperation of the residents of Camp Hurriya with the UNHCR.
The next stage of the process will be challenging. Some in Camp Hurriya may choose to return voluntarily to Iran. Others may find that they have credentials and connections to European or other nations and can resettle there. Still others will require resettlement as refugees or other permission to reside in third countries through the UNHCR’s good offices. Some of our European partners have already indicated that they will interview residents to determine eligibility for resettlement within their respective countries. In all these cases, the United States will encourage prompt and secure relocation of the residents of Hurriya and, again, we must be prepared to do our part, hopefully with support of Congress.
I want to commend the extraordinary work being done by the UNAMI and UNHCR missions in Iraq, and the intense engagement of U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey and his dedicated team. Their diligence, creativity, and commitment have been essential to the progress made thus far. They routinely mediate disputes – from the mundane to the more serious – and without their leadership at all levels this process would be immensely more difficult, and human lives would be in greater jeopardy.
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member, this is in the nature of an interim report. Much has been achieved since last December’s hearing. Much remains to be done. This is a complex and dynamic issue, and it consumes an enormous amount of resources, for UNAMI, for UNHCR, and for the UN writ large; and the U.S. is devoting attention commensurate with the need.
Our paramount interest in this situation is humanitarian. We have much still to do, and the potential for serious trouble remains. The difficult history of the MEK in Iraq is a matter of record. But at last we are on a road to resolve this problem through the relocation of Ashraf residents out of Iraq.
Thank you for this opportunity and I welcome your questions.
Martin Kobler (U.N.), Daniel Fried (U.S.) discuss Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty in European Parliament
(Remains of Mojahedin Khalq, MKO,MEK, in Iraq)
... On Wednesday, 21/03/2012 Martin Kobler, the UN Special Representative for Iraq and Head of the United Nation Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), reported to the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee on the work of the UNHCR and UNAMI in Iraq and the current situation of the Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) in Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty. As part of his description of the problems of resettlement of the Ashraf residents Kobler said that it demanded a cooperative attitude from the residents. Also the U.S. special envoy for Camp Ashraf, Daniel Fried, said that the information that the United States has of the situation in Camp Ashraf and Liberty is consistent with Kobler's descriptions. The conditions at Camp Liberty are not nearly as bad as described by the MEK ...
American Special Advisor, Daniel Fried: Take a look at RAND and HRW reports on
Mojahedin Khalq, MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult
... QUESTION: Well, I mean, like the North Koreans, are they running around kidnapping people and bringing them to Camp Ashraf? How do you get there involuntarily? How would one get there? AMBASSADOR FRIED: There – well, let me refer you to some of the outside studies that have been written – the Rand Corporation report, for one. Take a look at that, or Human Rights Watch. They’ve described what they think are some of the problems. The MEK denies it. Right now, our concern is humanitarian and getting the people out of Ashraf over to Liberty, and then we’ll deal with the next set of really tough problems, which is repatriation/resettlement of these folks ...
Special Briefing Ambassador Daniel Fried, Special Advisor for Camp Ashraf
Washington, DC, December 29, 2011
MR. VENTRELL: Okay. So we’ll go ahead and get started. Everybody, this is Ambassador Fried. This session is on the record, unless otherwise indicated. We do have the director of our Iraq office here to go into some further detail if necessary. But as we start, this is all on the record, unless otherwise indicated.
So Ambassador Fried, please go ahead.
AMBASSADOR FRIED: I’ll start out with some prepared remarks and then take your questions if that’s all right. Oh, and forgive me if I speak a little slowly. This is the result of Novocain and the dentist this morning.
The U.S. seeks a safe, secure, humane resolution of the impasse at Camp Ashraf. Our interest is humanitarian and independent of our views of the MEK’s past record. Thanks to intense efforts by Ambassador Martin Kobler, the head of the UN Mission in Iraq, a reasonable path forward for a safe and secure relocation from Ashraf to Camp Liberty is at hand. On Christmas Day, Kobler signed with the Government of Iraq an MOU that provides details of the transfer and commitments from the Iraqi Government for the safety and security of the residents of Camp Ashraf.
The residents of Camp Ashraf will be moved from Camp Ashraf to former Camp Liberty, which used to be a U.S. military facility and is located near the Baghdad Airport. UNHCR is – will begin immediately to process these people for refugee status. At the same time, those wishing to return voluntarily to Iran as, by the way, several hundred from Ashraf have already done, will be able to do so.
The UN will conduct 24/7 monitoring at Camp Liberty – or former Camp Liberty. In addition, Embassy Baghdad will visit former Camp Liberty on a frequent basis to provide robust observation. The Government of Iraq has agreed in this MOU to the safety and security of Camp Liberty and those there and not to forcibly repatriate any resident of Camp Ashraf/former Camp Liberty to Iran. The Government of Iraq accepted many of Ambassador Kobler’s suggestions, and the plan agreed now reflects major progress since the discussions began. Secretary Clinton, the EU, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon have all publicly welcomed the signing of the MOU and have urged that it be implemented in good faith by all sides.
This is Iraq we’re talking about, however. We must be realistic about the difficulties. We’re also acutely aware of the mistrust and even animosity between the MEK and many Iraqis, given the MEK’s history in Iraq. We’re concerned by the recent series of rocket attacks on Ashraf and we condemn them. While these have not caused injuries or damaged property, they heighten and underscore the risks in this situation. U.S. facilities in the area have also been under attack recently.
The UN has expressed its concerns about these attacks to the Iraqi Government. We are doing so as well. Nevertheless and for – perhaps especially because of these attacks, it’s important to move ahead with the MOU. We welcome the willingness expressed yesterday by the MEK to cooperate with implementation of the MOU, specifically their announcement that they are prepared to move the first 400 persons to Camp – to former Camp Liberty. That move is being prepared now.
The UN is putting its assets in place for monitoring and refugee processing. It’s up to the Iraqi Government to prepare Camp Liberty, to receive the first residents of Ashraf, and this is likely to take several more days at least. It’s important that this first move be followed by other moves from Ashraf to former Camp Liberty. Ashraf is relatively isolated and, frankly, less secure than Liberty will be with its UN monitoring and a frequent U.S. presence. We also hope the day-to-day issues of camp management can be worked out on the ground as, hopefully, confidence grows.
The good news is that we are finally entering a phase of implementing an agreement that’s been painfully negotiated and is understood by all sides. But implementation will take sustained cooperation and patience by all. The U.S. will remain closely engaged in all stages of this process.
So with that, let me take your questions.
QUESTION: So how many people in all are we talking about moving? You said a few hundred have gone back to Iran.
AMBASSADOR FRIED: The MEK says there are about 3,200 people at Camp Ashraf. Years ago, when the – in the early phases of the Iraq conflict, we identified about that number of people, but we don’t know how many people are there now. We don’t know how many have left.
QUESTION: Okay. But several hundred, you said, have gone back to Iran?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: We – yes. We believe several hundred have gone back to Iran voluntarily over the years, not recently. Recently, a number of people at Camp Ashraf have gone back to European countries where they have either citizenship or long-term residency. This has been relatively small in numbers, but it’s picked up in recent weeks.
QUESTION: And do you get the sense that some of these people that will be moving over to Liberty are going to want to move on further or that could be their --
AMBASSADOR FRIED: Well, they all want to move out of Iraq. That seems to be – well, let me back up by saying we don’t know actually what the residents of Camp Ashraf want. We know what their leaders say they want. And what they say they want is for them to leave Iraq in safety and security. There is some number – and estimates vary very widely – of how many will actually want to go back to Iran.
Our view is that if residents of Camp Ashraf want to go back to Iran, this is their right, but it has to be really voluntary and not, quote, “voluntary.” That’s why I mention that some hundreds have gone back already. According to international organizations, there is no evidence that they have been mistreated by the Iranians, but we can’t verify that independently for ourselves.
QUESTION: Have they – have the Camp Ashraf group – have they given you any sort of timeline that – you said the first 400 are going to be ready to move. When do you expect them actually to move? When is the camp going to be able to accept them? And do you have a sense that there’s going to be a clear follow-on from that, that they’re going to keep on moving more and more people? Or is this first 400 sort of a test group?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: In the last 48 hours, we have been heartened by the increased willingness of the leaders of Camp Ashraf and the MEK leadership in Paris to participate in this process. We believe that the first 400 are ready to move soon. The – as I said, former Camp Liberty has to be set up, the infrastructure has to be put in place, and this will – it’ll take, we think, at least several days for this to be done. But under the circumstances, we think that the 400 should move as soon as possible, and this should be followed up by more moves.
There are issues of how the new facility will run. Some of these issues were addressed in the MOU. But in reality, they can be worked out on the ground. It’s important now that people start leaving Camp Ashraf, which is really not a secure place, and move to a place where they can be processed by the UNHCR. So we very much hope that as many people will move out as fast as can be accommodated. The first 400 is a good start; it needs to be followed up.
QUESTION: Well, just on the resettlement issue. I understand in the past there was some demands on the part of the Camp Ashraf or MEK that they be done in groups, that they want (inaudible) all go together. What can you – just walk us through what the current understanding is of how and where they might go?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: You are correct that the MEK in the past made many demands, and it wasn’t until recent weeks that it started working with Ambassador Kobler in a serious way. We are very glad that they decided to do so. Late is far better than never, and it’s never too late to do the right thing. So they have done the right thing by working with Ambassador Kobler.
Specific to your question, the UNHCR does not do group refugee designations. They’ve made it clear that they are prepared look at them as individuals and to begin immediately to process them. We’ve also encouraged the people at Camp Ashraf to send in this – in the early group, in the group of 400 and other early groups, those with the strongest ties to the outside world - that is citizens of European countries, citizens of the United States, if there are more still there. We know of only two left there, but we – there could be more. If they send out those with the strongest ties, those will be the easiest to move out of Iraq. And it’s important to show the Iraqi Government and Iraqis and the people of Camp Ashraf this process can work all the way, meaning from Ashraf to former Camp Liberty and out of Iraq safely.
QUESTION: But isn’t there some risk in that, that if you’re starting with the easiest cases then the hard cases are just going to sit there, right?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: Well, the hard cases aren’t going to get any easier with – easier if you move them up front. Move – our view is move those who can most easily move. There are – in terms of numbers, there are a lot of unknowns. But if you start with a topline of 3,200 people, there is – you have to subtract the number of people who may have left. We don’t have it accounted for, so it’s 32 minus X. Then it is minus those will really want to go back to Iran, and there’ll be arrangements in place for them to do so. Then you take away the number of people with citizenship or strong compelling ties to foreign countries. Then you – what you have left is the group which will be interviewed individually for refugee status by the UNHCR. So hopefully those groups subtracted from the topline number will be as big as possible, but we just don’t know.
QUESTION: Is there a risk that you’re just moving – even if it’s Liberty as a more secure place, you’re just moving the problem a few miles?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: Well, there is no way that Ashraf was going to be the venue for the UNHCR interviews. And for reasons having to do with history and the history of the MEK in Iraq, there was no way that the Government of Iraq was going to allow a Camp Ashraf to exist as it was. So for those reasons, this move is critical to start the process in earnest.
QUESTION: Why do you think the MEK has changed its tune? Have you offered them anything? Like, will it be easier for them to get off the terrorism list if they cooperate?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: We have not offered them anything, but it is, I think – and I can’t read their minds, but I think that it became very clear that the United States was (A) concerned with their welfare and willing to put substantial efforts into this process, and (B) quite serious that we could do nothing if they were going to stand pat with maximalist, unachievable positions.
So I think they realized that they had a reasonable offer made by one of the strongest UN officials I’ve ever worked with, Ambassador Kobler. They had the full engagement of the U.S. Embassy in Ambassador Jeffrey. They had the strong interest of Secretary Clinton and other senior people in the U.S. Government. And I think they realized that now was the time to deal seriously.
QUESTION: Does the designation affect their migration status at all, their eligibility to go to any other country, let alone the U.S.?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: One of the enduring urban legends of this process is that the MEK’s current status as a foreign terrorist organization, so listed by the American Government, is in itself a great impediment to resettlement and that removing them from that list would suddenly make many more eligible that are not now eligible. That apparently, as it has been explained to me by those very familiar with American immigration laws, is not true.
The FTO designation process is quite independent from my office and what we’re doing. I haven’t participated in this, in the paperwork. We will – the United States will look at people at Camp Ashraf or future Camp – those who will be at former Camp Liberty on a case-by-case basis. The status of the MEK as a foreign terrorist organization is not, by itself, disqualifying to any particular individual. And removal of the MEK from that list, if it were to happen in the future, would not necessarily make eligible someone who is now statutorily ineligible.
QUESTION: So you can be a member of a foreign terrorist organization and not an American citizen and be given political refugee status in the United States?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: That isn’t what I said.
QUESTION: Right. But I’m asking --
AMBASSADOR FRIED: What I said was it is not – we are going to look at these people on an individual basis. They may have arrived at Camp Ashraf under all sorts of circumstances.
AMBASSADOR FRIED: The reason I’m hesitating and being very careful is because interpretation of our immigration laws is not my business at all, and the Department of Homeland Security has, let’s say, a very great deal to say on this subject. But I’ve – in my conversations with them, it’s clear that they’re prepared to look at individuals, but against, obviously, our immigration laws.
QUESTION: They’re going to look at an individual and then say, “No,” right?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: I’m not going to pre-judge how they look at individuals. I will say that people may have found themselves in Ashraf on a variety of circumstances.
QUESTION: Unwillingly, perhaps?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: I don’t want to characterize it that way or any way, but just say what I said.
QUESTION: Okay. Now the UNHCR – I understand when they do their interviews, they have to be private. So they won’t have like a MEK superior watching over them and hearing what they say. But this determination of which ones want to return to Iran – is that done somehow through a private interview process? Because then otherwise you might get the groupthink and the “don’t say you want to go back to Iran” and the numbers would be far smaller than you’d expect maybe.
AMBASSADOR FRIED: Without getting into the details of how individuals will be processed by international organizations, it’s not the U.S. doing it on the ground, I should point out. I would say that the UN and other international organizations are very well aware of the potential problem of, as you said, groupthink or group pressure, and they’re very well aware of the many reports about the atmosphere at Camp Ashraf and the character of that place. And I really shouldn’t say any more than that, but --
QUESTION: So they would be doing it, and – UN and international organizations would handle all of the --
AMBASSADOR FRIED: Well, it’s --
QUESTION: Even the part related to the Iran question, not --
AMBASSADOR FRIED: It’s not the United States doing it.
QUESTION: No, I understand, but --
AMBASSADOR FRIED: Everyone is aware of the problem you identified. I should say also that the MOU does contain an Iraqi commitment not to forcibly repatriate anyone to Iran.
QUESTION: Dan, have you seen these latest statements from the MEK in Paris? There was one this morning that says that they have information that the IRGC is going to launch some new rocket attacks tonight. Whether you’ve seen it or not, the other thing they say is that they’re asking for U.S. and UN monitors at the – at Camp Ashraf until it’s been emptied. Is that something from – at least from the U.S. side, is that something that you guys would be willing to consider, sending people to observe?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: The UN has said that it will monitor the former Camp Liberty. Not Ashraf; that’s not your question. But they’ll be at Camp Liberty on a 24/7 basis. The United States is prepared to mount a very robust monitoring – or I should say observation – a robust observation operation at the former Camp Liberty. It’s not practical, for a number of logistic and security arrangements, for us to be out with anything like that intensity at Camp Ashraf, which is one of the reasons people need to think seriously about moving fast.
QUESTION: Why? Why is it not practical?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: Well, it’s a lot farther away, for one thing.
AMBASSADOR FRIED: And the move – it is harder to move people back and forth. I don’t want to say much more because that involves the logistics of these kinds of things, but we’re going to be at Camp Liberty a lot – at former Camp Liberty a lot more than we are at Ashraf.
QUESTION: Wait, who – I mean, so in other words, you’re not – that’s not in the cards, this latest request for --
AMBASSADOR FRIED: That’s not in the cards. That’s not – that’s right. That’s not in the cards.
QUESTION: And who runs Liberty now? Is it the Iraqi army or --
AMBASSADOR FRIED: It’s an Iraqi – that’s right. We turned over Camp Liberty to the Iraqi military. They’re there. There have been some – a lot of discussions about the security arrangements in future Camp Liberty, and Ambassador Kobler has had these in some detail with his – with his Iraqi counterparts. It will be an Iraqi facility. It’s not going to be a kind of independent, self-governed, autonomous, extraterritorial facility, which is what Camp Ashraf has been for many years.
And the – Ambassador Kobler has had extensive and detailed discussions with both the people at Camp Ashraf – well, the leaders at Camp Ashraf and with – and in Paris. So the MEK knows very well what he is – what the circumstances will be and what the arrangements are.
QUESTION: Are these two Americans who remain?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: We know of two American citizens that are still at Camp Ashraf.
QUESTION: Are they high-level or more of the --
QUESTION: Okay. If they were to return, would they face possible prosecution?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: I can’t talk about any of that. Now there are some at Camp Ashraf – some of the leaders say there are more American citizens there, that there are more permanent residents. We know of just two that remain.
QUESTION: Have others come here?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: Yes. Recently, two have come here from – American citizens have come here from Camp Ashraf. And the – I think I can say that the Iraqi Government facilitated that, and it was – when they finally left, it was very smooth.
QUESTION: Are these Iranian-Americans or Americans of Iranian descent?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: I believe they are, but I’m not sure.
QUESTION: As far as you know, there isn’t anyone who’s a non-Iranian in Camp Ashraf, are – I’m just curious. You said there are – some people might have gotten there by very – in different ways.
AMBASSADOR FRIED: Different means, that’s right.
QUESTION: Can you --
AMBASSADOR FRIED: I just don’t know. I don’t think so. I have not heard reports. But I’m not trying to prove a negative. I don’t think so, but I don’t know.
QUESTION: And when you talk about it, can you just say, I mean, just for example, what kind of means would one have gotten there other than voluntarily going in?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: Sorry?
QUESTION: Well, I mean, like the North Koreans, are they running around kidnapping people and bringing them to Camp Ashraf? How do you get there involuntarily? How would one get there?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: There – well, let me refer you to some of the outside studies that have been written – the Rand Corporation report, for one. Take a look at that, or Human Rights Watch. They’ve described what they think are some of the problems. The MEK denies it. Right now, our concern is humanitarian and getting the people out of Ashraf over to Liberty, and then we’ll deal with the next set of really tough problems, which is repatriation/resettlement of these folks.
QUESTION: Some of those other reports that you mentioned have also discussed potential threats to the residents of Camp Ashraf may be internal rather than external. Without going into what your assessment is of where the threats are, is it the U.S. Government sort of understanding or feeling now that the immediate threats that they may have been facing to life and limb in the camp have decreased significantly? Are they not as at-risk as they were prior to this MOU being signed?
AMBASSADOR FRIED: Well, certainly the developments of the – the good developments of the past several days – that is, the signing of the MOU and the MEK’s expressed willingness to work with Ambassador Kobler on the basis of the MOU and move 400 people out – have the effect of lowering the temperature and putting us on an implementation track rather than a negotiation and imminent disaster track.
Now that’s better, right? That’s a better place to be, but implementation is not easy. It’s fraught with the problems we can imagine and probably some we can’t. So no one who’s working on this issue is putting their feet up and saying, well, job is now done, we can just – it’s just on autopilot. Far from it. It will take a lot of work, a lot of work.
Kaleme: Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK); The symbol of Treason, Violence and Terror in Iran
(Support for MEK a reminder of anti-Iranian policies)
... In the modern history of Iran, there is no organization, no party and no cult more infamous than the MEK amongst the Iranian nation. The Iranian people are yet to forget how their beloved children were terrorized and martyred in the worst ways possible. And, thousands of family members and children of those murdered are still alive and witnesses to these crimes. The Iranian nation does not forget how this organization, along with Saddam Hussein, craved for the lives and honor of Iranians and assisted him in the suppression and massacre of the people of Iran and Iraq. Iranians are proud of the years they stood against the MEK and Saddam and ...
I am saying, as someone who cares, the MEK with betrayals and crimes committed are considered dead. You, [the leaders of the government] don’t bring them back to life for the sake of scoring points and taking revenge.” – Mir Hossein Mousavi, Statement no.17
In the modern history of Iran, there is no organization, no party and no cult more infamous than the MEK amongst the Iranian nation. The Iranian people are yet to forget how their beloved children were terrorized and martyred in the worst ways possible. And, thousands of family members and children of those murdered are still alive and witnesses to these crimes. The Iranian nation does not forget how this organization, along with Saddam Hussein, craved for the lives and honor of Iranians and assisted him in the suppression and massacre of the people of Iran and Iraq. Iranians are proud of the years they stood against the MEK and Saddam and on any opportunity possible they praise the hundred thousand martyrs of the Iraq-Iran war. Iranian people know very well that this organization used unlawful and illegal sources, which initially belonged to the Iranian and Iraqi people. They are well aware that the MEK owes its remaining financial power and its limited existence to the support which Saddam Hussein provided them during the war against our country.
Mojahedin-e Khalq is the symbol of “violence and terror” in Iran and the slightest mention of this word [MEK] and the remembrance of this organization is needed to remind the Iranian audience of the violence, terror, and treason they caused. As long as the groundwork of this organization is cult-like behavior, the only solution for them is to submit to foreigners in order to stab its own people in the back. Any country that supports this organization defames itself among the Iranian people and remains infamous for defending violence and betrayal.
Leaders who are deceived into supporting the MEK are only making the wall of mistrust between the nations taller and are bringing back to life the bitter memories of anti-Iranian policies, such as 1953 coup.
Mojahedin-e Khalq are outcasts of the Iranian people; even before being the outcast of the government. To invigorate the ominous name of the MEK is only the wish of sinister enemies of democracy and rule of the people in Iran. Seekers of violence whether by MEK’s side or against them would be happy to see them empowered since violence creates violence.
The presence of this terrorist group in any part of the world could become an excuse for those in power in Iran to have unlawful confrontations with critics and protesters. They [those in power] would be the only group welcoming the official presence, even if they pretend to be their enemies.
Mojahedin-e Khalq is the symbol of violence, animosity, submission, and reliance on foreign powers. Thus, the organization is illegal and is the reminder of the most bitter of betrayals. Today, Iranian people who have become the example for nonviolent resistance, anti-dictatorship and independence for other countries, do not accept “violence and submission” and do not look kindly on the support of any government that relies on violence and submission.
In supporting the great Green Movement, we continue to consider Mojahedin-e Khalq hypocrites who “with betrayals and crimes committed are considered dead.” And we repeat Mir Hossein Mousavi’s warning by saying “No nation should bring them back to life for the sake of rewards and if they do so, they will remain infamous in the memory of the Iranian people
The Inside Story of America's Favorite Terrorist Group
(Leadership election in Mojahedin Khalq before any talk of delisting)
... When American forces attacked Iraq, according to Iraqi documents captured and declassified by the U.S. military, Rajavi met with Saddam’s top intelligence operatives and agreed to use MEK forces against insurgents, freeing the Republican Guard to fight the Americans. The report of the meeting was sent directly to Saddam’s son, Odey. It is little wonder that the current Iraqi regime is opposed to the MEK—a stance constantly fueled by the Iranian regime. Throughout this bloody history, replete with tactical and strategic blunders, Rajavi and Maryam have remained the absolute leaders of MEK ...
Ever since the fall of Saddam Hussein, the Iranian MEK (short for Mujahedeen-e Khalge) has been a thorny spoil of war for the United States. Originally an armed anti-Shah movement, they came to fight the clerical regime they helped impose only to move on to supporting Iraq in its war against the ayatollah and his minions. Having targeted and killed several prominent Americans during their heyday in the 1970s, they are on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations. Now, about three thousand members of the group—seasoned in fighting the Iranian regime and stationed by Saddam in a place called Camp Ashraf—are American captives in Iraq. In the last few years, their fate has been the subject of constant squabbles in Washington and between Washington and Baghdad. With an apparently endless supply of funds at their disposal, MEK members have repeatedly and unsuccessfully petitioned the federal government to have their names taken off the terrorist list. In a few days, Secretary Clinton will have to decide how to answer their pleas.
And so their remarkably well-oiled machine of PR firms, powerful American politicians (all handsomely paid for services rendered) and other pressure groups is now at it again. These advocates repeat what the MEK and its many front organizations claim: The group has jettisoned its violent past and is now, in its new incarnation, a key component of the democratic movement.
At the same time, another equally well-oiled machine, this one with lobbyists paid for by the clerical regime in Tehran, is working against delisting MEK, calling the group a dangerous cult with Iranian, Iraqi and American blood on its hands. Many in Iraq (either taking their cues from the current leadership or with an eye toward the days when MEK was an enforcer for the Saddam regime) are opposed to the group’s continued residence in their country.
MEK was formed in opposition to the Shah in the mid-sixties, and before long virtually its entire leadership was arrested and sent to the firing squad. The only early leader to survive was Masud Rajavi, who continues to rule the group to this day. In the seventies, the remaining members sent a representative to Najaf to work with Khomeini, then living in exile. Khomeini’s supporters in Tehran, including Rafsanjani and Montazeri, convinced the ayatollah to allow the use of religious funds to support the families of those MEK members who had been imprisoned or executed. Yet Khomeini never fully trusted the group; its ideology seemed a dangerous combination of Marxism and its own interpretation of Shiism. As one Iranian critic put it, MEK is “Stalinism minus the vodka.”
After the revolution, MEK was amongst the most stalwart supporters of the clerical regime. It grew in number and stature rapidly, soon becoming the most formidable organization in the country. The MEK used its increasing power to pressure the government into increasingly radical action—from more summary trials and executions to the occupation of the American embassy. Simultaneously it adopted close ties with Moscow, and particularly with the KGB. One of its leaders, named Saadati, was arrested while passing to the KGB a counterespionage file the group had taken when it attacked the Shah’s secret-police offices. In return, the kgb promised to give the MEK a full list of CIA agents in Iran.
But eventually MEK fell afoul of the regime and began to fight the power holders in Tehran. Young men and women were sent in droves to armed street demonstrations. Khomeini’s regime responded with remarkable brutality, slaughtering thousands of the organization’s members. The group returned the favor and killed, by its own claims, more than two thousand regime leaders. MEK was in fact the first group in Iran (and arguably in the region) to use suicide bombers.
Eventually the group had no choice but to take its surviving cadres out of the country. On January 7, 1986, in a letter to the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party, the MEK requested the Soviets “give temporary asylum” to any member of the organization that fled across the border into the Soviet Union. Concurrent with the request for asylum, in another letter to the “Dear Comrades” of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, MEK asked for a loan of three hundred million dollars to continue their “revolutionary anti-imperialist” actions (see: anti-Americanism). This request came on the heels of a twelve-page letter from Rajavi to “Dear Comrade Gorbachev” in which he began by praising the Soviet Union’s efforts “against imperialist adventurism.” To support his organization’s loan application, Rajavi informed Gorbachev that the MEK “has faced the most concentrated efforts of officials from the United States” and offered supporting documents in an appendix.
It is not clear how the Soviets responded, but MEK soon settled in Iraq, helping Saddam Hussein in his war with Iran. In 1988, the group—lead by Rajavi and his wife, Maryam—engaged in three operations, conducted with the help of the Iraqi army, against Iranian forces. By all accounts, all three were badly bungled. Several thousands were killed on both sides. Moreover, in Iranian prisons, on Khomeini’s direct order, about four thousand MEK prisoners, who were serving time on earlier charges, were summarily executed lest they help the invading MEK units.
When American forces attacked Iraq, according to Iraqi documents captured and declassified by the U.S. military, Rajavi met with Saddam’s top intelligence operatives and agreed to use MEK forces against insurgents, freeing the Republican Guard to fight the Americans. The report of the meeting was sent directly to Saddam’s son, Odey. It is little wonder that the current Iraqi regime is opposed to the MEK—a stance constantly fueled by the Iranian regime.
Throughout this bloody history, replete with tactical and strategic blunders, Rajavi and Maryam have remained the absolute leaders of MEK. They are worshipped by their adherents. The organization’s members and their advocates tell the world they have jettisoned their past and are now dedicated to democracy. In cults, however, leaders remain unchanged.
The reality is that the MEK has fought the clerical regime more effectively than any other group. It is also true that throughout nearly all of its history, the same couple has ruled the organization, and there are many claims that they rule it with an iron fist. Only if there is free and fair discussion of the current leadership under democratic conditions (and under international supervision), and only after a new, fresh leadership is freely and democratically elected should the United States even consider the idea of removing the group from its terrorist list.
"Supporting Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, NCRI ,Rajavi cult), kiss of death for Green Movement"
... First and foremost among such groups is Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an organization that has been designated by the U.S. government as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). But despite its obvious threat to global security, the MEK could be taken off the State Department's Terror List within the next week. If this happens, it promises to spell disaster for the pro-democracy movement in Iran, and will be a devastating setback in the country's attempts to move forward... It is highly unlikely that other U.S.-designated FTOs, such as al-Qaida, would enjoy this astonishing degree of latitude in the corridors of the U.S. military, and within its executive and legislative branches ...
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Right: supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi listen to his speech at a demonstration in Tehran on Thursday June, 18, 2009
(Mohsen Kadivar, left and Ahmad Sadri, right)
As Tunisians and Egyptians work through their respective political transitions, the Iranian government increasingly detaches itself from the realities of its restive population. The longer it resists meeting public demands, the shorter its lifespan becomes.
At the same time, within the Iranian Diaspora, some have sought to usurp leadership of Iran's indigenous pro-democracy movement. This has alarmed the leaders of the Green Movement in Iran. Mir Hossein Mousavi warned against "international surfers" seeking to wield their own axe in the furnace of the Green movement in his last communiqué that was issued before he was put under house arrest on Feb. 29.
First and foremost among such groups is Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an organization that has been designated by the U.S. government as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). But despite its obvious threat to global security, the MEK could be taken off the State Department's Terror List within the next week. If this happens, it promises to spell disaster for the pro-democracy movement in Iran, and will be a devastating setback in the country's attempts to move forward.
The MEK has no political base inside Iran and no genuine support on the Iranian street because it was long based in Iraq under Saddam Hussein's patronage. It lost any semblance of credibility it might have had inside Iran due to its opposition to the Shah's regime when its troops fought on behalf of Iraq toward the end of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. Hence, it would behoove U.S. policymakers to be skeptical of the boasts of MEK lobbyists regarding the extent of this group's popularity inside Iran.
Since Saddam Hussein's ouster in 2003, the MEK has been depending almost entirely on the uneven enforcement of existing U.S. laws concerning designated foreign terrorist organizations. Surprisingly, the MEK military compound in Iraq enjoys de-facto "protected persons" status, and its activities at the U.S. congress have long been unchecked. It is highly unlikely that other U.S.-designated FTOs, such as al-Qaida, would enjoy this astonishing degree of latitude in the corridors of the U.S. military, and within its executive and legislative branches.
Countless first-rate analysts, scholars and human rights organizations -- including Human Rights Watch -- have determined that the MEK is an undemocratic, cultlike organization whose modus operandi vitiates its claim to be a vehicle for democratic change.
Most importantly, MEK activities in Washington could be causing irreparable damage to Iran's home-grown opposition. When post-election turbulence commenced inside Iran, the MEK quickly sought to join the frenzy of brewing opposition to the current government. The Ahmadinejad government promptly connected the Green Movement to the MEK in an effort to discredit the pro-democracy movement. Opposition leaders such as Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karrubi immediately pushed back. Rahnavard pointedly said, "the Green Movement is a people's movement that is alive and dynamic and holds a wall between itself and the MEK." Opposition leaders in Iran have good reason to erect and maintain such a wall. They see the MEK as an organization capitalizing on U.S.-Iran enmity to shed its terrorist designation and subsequently receive U.S. government funding -- effectively becoming the Iranian version of Ahmed Chalabi's infamous Iraqi National Congress.
As Washington policymakers seek new ways to pressure their counterparts in Tehran to yield on nuclear developments, they must refrain from actions that would harm the long-term prospects of trust and friendship between the two peoples.
Removing the MEK from the FTO at this juncture would embolden Iran's hardliners to intensify their repression and discredit the Green Movement by implying that it is somehow connected to the widely detested MEK terror group. Furthermore, supporting the MEK would provide the Iranian government with the specter of a foreign-based threat that could be exploited to heal key fractures within the system, increase the number of Iranians who would rally around the flag, and facilitate the suppression of the indigenous political opposition.
For all of its mistakes in the Middle East, the Bush administration -- even at the height of its aggressive foreign policy -- understood that delisting the MEK from the State Department's terrorist list would be a dangerous gambit. It would trigger a huge loss of U.S. soft power in Iran, damage Iran's democratic progress and help Iranian hardliners cement a long-term dictatorship. The Iranian people won't forgive or forget such cynical moves. Bitter memories associated with U.S. policies toward the Shah and Mohammad Mossadegh, the prime minister overthrown with covert American assistance in 1953, continue to linger and poison U.S.-Iran relations to this day. We urge the U.S. government to avoid committing this critical mistake at a time when the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people hang in the balance.
Mohsen Kadivar, a leading figure in the Green Movement, is visiting professor of religion at Duke University. Ahmad Sadri is professor of sociology and James P. Gorter chair of Islamic world studies at Lake Forest College.
... According to the FBI. A recently disclosed FBI report from 2004 reveals Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult) continued to plan terrorist acts years after they claimed to renounce terrorism. The State Department has documented the MEK's disturbing record: killing Americans and Iranians in terrorist attacks; fighting for Saddam Hussein against Iran and assisting Saddam's brutal campaign against Iraq's Kurds and Shia; its "cult-like" behavior; the abuses and even torture it commits against its own members; and its support for the U.S. embassy takeover and calls for executing the hostages ...
Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult) terrorists in Iraq battle using press releases targetting UNAMI
... But soon after, the group began complaining about conditions in Camp Liberty and accusing the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), which in January said Liberty met "international humanitarian standards," of misrepresenting conditions there. The PMOI's focus on public relations campaigns marked by frequent statements to the media and cultivating well-known western politicians to speak on its behalf differs dramatically from its past activities. The leftwing group was founded in the 1960s to oppose the shah of Iran, but took up arms against the country's new clerical rulers after the 1979 Islamic revolution ...
Iran exiles in Iraq do battle using press releases
An Iraq-based Iranian opposition group that is fixated on conspiracy theories allegedly carried out attacks in Iran and elsewhere for decades, but now relies on a different weapon: the press release.
The United Nations mission here, which has been attempting to facilitate the exit of some 3,400 members of the opposition People's Mujahedeen Organisation of Iran (PMOI) from Iraq, where they have been based for decades, has been the latest target of the group's statement-issuing ire.
Iraq wants the PMOI out of its territory, and signed an agreement with the UN in December to that end.
On February 18, the first group of 397 exiles moved from their longtime base of Camp Ashraf in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad to Camp Liberty, a former US military base near the Iraqi capital, as part of that process.
But soon after, the group began complaining about conditions in Camp Liberty and accusing the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), which in January said Liberty met "international humanitarian standards," of misrepresenting conditions there.
The PMOI's focus on public relations campaigns marked by frequent statements to the media and cultivating well-known western politicians to speak on its behalf differs dramatically from its past activities.
The leftwing group was founded in the 1960s to oppose the shah of Iran, but took up arms against the country's new clerical rulers after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The US State Department, which blacklists the PMOI as a terrorist organisation, says it has carried out attacks that killed Iranians, as well as American soldiers and civilians, from the 1970s into 2001.
Now-executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein allowed the PMOI to establish Camp Ashraf in Iraq after he launched the 1980-88 war with Iran in which the group reportedly fought alongside his forces, and provided financial backing to the group.
But the PMOI said it renounced violence in 2001 and its members in Iraq were disarmed following the 2003 US-led invasion, leaving it in need of other tactics.
It successfully campaigned to be delisted as a terrorist organisation in Europe and is working to do the same in the US too.
A day after the first group of the exiles moved to Liberty, PMOI spokesman Shahriar Kia sent a statement by email alleging a UN expert who assessed the camp told "lies" and apparently "was compelled to file an unrealistic report," with "necessary modifications" made by "political authorities" from UNAMI.
"The bungalows and toilet facilities" were "dirty and unusable," and "there is serious water shortage and electricity is cut off, as in prisons, after 10.30 pm."
A statement emailed the next day described Camp Liberty as "a highly controlled prison," referring to the presence of Iraqi security forces.
Iraqi forces carried out two deadly raids on Camp Ashraf in 2009 and 2011, leaving dozens of people dead.
It continued: "Everything shows that at the behest of the Iranian regime, the Iraqi government has turned this camp into a prison and regretfully, UNAMI and (UN envoy) Mr Martin Kobler himself ... assist in this prison-making by confirming it as a refugee camp."
Another email from Kia on February 27 referred to the "lies that Martin Kobler made to the residents of Camp Ashraf for a forcible relocation to Camp Liberty."
When asked about the PMOI statements, Kobler told AFP that Camp Liberty "was host of 5,000 American soldiers, so it should be possible to have the infrastructure ready also for these 400 persons who are now living there."
"I do not think that the infrastructure problem is the problem," he said.
"If there is garbage, the garbage can be removed and should be removed, and the government of Iraq stands ready ... to have garbage trucks available, but they have to enter the camp to remove the garbage," he said.
"The aim of the whole exercise is to have the ... refugee status determination moving," he said, referring to a process which must be completed before the exiles can be resettled.
The PMOI meanwhile says it is facing "conspiracies."
"The whole plan for the relocation of the residents of Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty is an Iranian plan, and the mullah?s regime?s plan, and nobody else," Kia said in an interview with AFP, referring to the cleric-led government in Tehran.
He referred to the new camp as "Prison Liberty," saying that "their plan is to destroy the Iranian opposition" there.
Kia also said that "espionage cameras and ... eavesdropping devices" in Liberty give information "to the Iranian embassy and to the agents of the Iranian regime."
When asked about the purpose of the flurry of statements on the UN, Kia referred to demands over Camp Liberty.
These include the removal of Iraqi armed forces from Liberty and freedom of movement for residents, but also, despite numerous statements accusing the UN of lying about conditions there, a demand for around-the-clock UN monitoring.