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President Talebani: God willing, with the new EU attitude, they will take Mojahedin Khalq back to Europe (Al-Arabiya TV, Dubai, in Arabic, February 01, 2009)
President Talebani: God willing, with the new EU attitude, they will take Mojahedin Khalq back to Europe
the leadership of MKO participated in Saddam's fight against Kurds and Shi'is in Iraq
Al-Arabiya TV, Dubai, in Arabic, February 01, 2009
... Asked about National Security adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubay'i's statement that the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization's Camp Ashraf will be closed and a new security pact will be signed with Iran, Talabani says: "Dr Muwaffaq al-Rubay'i was not authorized to announce this because he is not the Iraqi Government's spokesman. Dr Ali al-Dabbagh is the official spokesman. The Iraqi constitution rejects the presence of foreign armed forces on its land. It also rejects the presence of any non-Iraqi armed organization on its land be it Kurdish, Persian, or Turkish. We have always called for finding a solution to Camp Ashraf by closing it and finding safe places for those present in it. The Iraqi Government does not have the intention or legal international ability to hand them over to Iran. Iran made proposals to us. For example, it said it is ready to provide anyone of them wishing to travel to Europe with a passport. There is now a new attitude in Europe towards the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization. God willing, the European states will reach a solution according to which they will accept them there. This group's stay in Iraq is no longer accepted by the people and government. I can tell you that the leadership of this group committed big mistakes in the past. It cooperated with the dictatorial regime in the fight against the Kurds and the Shi'is in the central and southern regions. Therefore, they were involved in the bloody Iraqi conflict. Accordingly, the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people want this group out of Iraq, but not by force or handover to Iran as reported. We reject this." ... -----
Iraqi president interviewed on elections, Obama's message, domestic issues
Al-Arabiya TV, Dubai, in Arabic, February 01, 2009
Reported by: BBC Monitoring Middle East
["Frankly Speaking" programme, featuring an interview with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in Al-Sulaymaniyah on 30 January by Elie Nakuzi in the studio - recorded]
Dubai Al-Arabiya Television in Arabic at 2004 gmt on 30 January carries a new 51-minute edition of its "Frankly Speaking" weekly programme, featuring an interview with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who is interviewed via satellite from Al-Sulaymaniyah on 30 January by Elie Nakuzi in the Dubai studio.
Talabani begins by responding to a question on his health. He denies what he calls "tendentious rumours" about his health and says he is fine.
Asked about US President Barack Obama's message to the Islamic world through Al-Arabiya Television, Talabani says: "I think that the mere arrival of Mr Barack Obama at the White House was a major historic change. I also think that his new language, which is overflowing with friendly feelings and turn towards dialogue, bodes well. When Mr Obama took the constitutional oath, he did not hesitate to mention his name in full as Barack Hussein Obama. I think this, too, is a message to the Islamic world that he does not deny his relationship with it." He adds: "But there are many intricate problems the Islamic world and its leaders are requited to work on in order to facilitate the arduous task of solving the outstanding problems in the Islamic world."
When told that President Obama said he had "difficult and big decisions" to make on Iraq and that many think he would fulfil his promise to withdraw the US forces from Iraq, and asked if Iraq has apprehensions about a "prompt" US withdrawal from Iraq, Talabani says: "I have no fears about the gradual withdrawal Mr Barack Obama promised the American people during the electoral campaign. I think achieving security and stability in Iraq hinges on the unity of the political forces in a real national unity government and on the attainment of national reconciliation in Iraq. If these tasks are accomplished, security and stability will then prevail in Iraq. We can enforce the law and maintain security and stability in Iraq with the help of the Iraqi armed and police forces that we have now."
Asked about the Iraqi provincial council elections and the prime minister's performance, Talabani says: "I think the Iraqi elections are going on normally. I take into consideration the fact that Iraq has not witnessed free and democratic elections for over 50 years. Therefore, we believe that elections are going on well. It is normal to exchange accusations during the electoral campaign, but we need evidence to prove interference by government agencies. Initial results do not support these accusations." He then hopes that no rigging will take place anywhere in Iraq.
On the difference between the past and current elections, Talabani says the current electoral lists do not depend on the sectarian factor because the Shi'i and Sunni coalitions are running in independent lists and platforms.
When told that opinion polls showed progress by seculars and moderates at the expense of sectarian and religious parties, and asked if he feels that the religious parties are retreating, Talabani says: "I cannot judge things now. I think the main influential forces continue to enjoy large popular support. I noticed progress by some secular parties. Also I noticed the appearance of several secular lists in the regions. This indicates there is progress."
Asked if the Iraqi religious authority supports one party against another, he says: "His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, may God protect him, is neutral and rises above party ideologies. He calls for the participation of the masses in the elections and for choosing the ones that can represent them in the most ideal way. Therefore, he does not side with a faction or group against another. I think he has always played this glorious historic role in all Iraqi issues."
Asked if it is true that there is retreat in the position and popularity of the Kurds in Mosul, Talabani says: "I do not think so. Also I cannot make an accurate assessment before the results of the elections are announced. True, the Kurds in Mosul were exposed to large displacement campaigns. Thousands of families were displaced and tens of thousands of people left their areas. The Yazidi Kurds were also exposed to unjust campaigns and brutal genocide. Therefore, we have to see a change, but I do not think there is a large change or retreat in popular support for the lists. The Kurds did not run independently in these lists. There are also Arab, Islamic, and non-Islamic Iraqi parties in these lists."
On the issue of Kirkuk and why it will not participate in the new elections, Talabani says some of the people who came to Kirkuk from other places will take part in the elections. He adds that the original people of Kirkuk will not participate because the problem of Kirkuk has not been solved yet. He says a census should be held to know which people are eligible for voting.
Continuing, he says: "I think it is possible to normalize the situation in Kirkuk. I visited Kirkuk some time ago and met there with the representatives of all communities and entities. They all expressed a desire to achieve national reconciliation and normalize relations among them and a desire to solve the issue of Kirkuk through accord among all."
Asked about "differences" between the Kurds and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Talabani says: "As you know, differences emerged over certain issues. I regret to see these differences reach the news media. As a president of the republic who works for accord, I had hoped that these differences would be restricted to the lobbies of parties and halls where cordial meetings are held. Differences are not large and intense as some circles say. There are differences, of course, over the issues for which five committees were formed. One of these is the political reform committee. The Iraqi parliament endorsed a political reform paper. This means there is need for political reforms in Iraq. The parliament endorsed this paper, which became a law when the Presidency Council signed it and it should be implemented by the government, parties, and parliament. There are also the issues of security, armed forces, oil, and disputed areas. Committees have been formed for all these in order to address the outstanding issues. This means all admit that there are outstanding issues and these require joint solutions in accordance with the Iraqi constitution and the democratic principles currently prevailing in Iraq. I think that the success of the five committees formed from five parties to solve these problems will lead to the resolution of all differences and, consequently, bolster Iraqi national unity. As a Kurd, I do not think there is any problem that cannot be solved because I think Arab-Kurdish brotherhood is firmly entrenched in history and joint Arab-Kurdish struggle is the only way to achieve the aims of the Kurds, Arabs, and other Iraqi citizens." He adds: "We all have to try to solve problems so that these will not get complicated or create difficulties for the Iraqi people."
On the way he views the performance of Prime Minister Al-Maliki, Talabani says: "Frankly speaking, brother Nuri al-Maliki is an old friend of mine. We struggled together to reach this memorable day. Our personal relationship is good and continuing. There are, however, differences in opinion over certain issues. These could sometimes be between me and him or between him and Mas'ud Barzani, but this is not alienation or hostile and conflicting differences that cannot be solved. I think they can be solved. I would like to tell you that during our last meeting we agreed to bolster relations between the Presidency Council members and the prime minister in the Executive Council and on the basis of the political reform document, which should serve as a programme for all. Accordingly, there are large areas for agreement and accord."
Asked about National Security adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubay'i's statement that the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization's Camp Ashraf will be closed and a new security pact will be signed with Iran, Talabani says: "Dr Muwaffaq al-Rubay'i was not authorized to announce this because he is not the Iraqi Government's spokesman. Dr Ali al-Dabbagh is the official spokesman. The Iraqi constitution rejects the presence of foreign armed forces on its land. It also rejects the presence of any non-Iraqi armed organization on its land be it Kurdish, Persian, or Turkish. We have always called for finding a solution to Camp Ashraf by closing it and finding safe places for those present in it. The Iraqi Government does not have the intention or legal international ability to hand them over to Iran. Iran made proposals to us. For example, it said it is ready to provide anyone of them wishing to travel to Europe with a passport. There is now a new attitude in Europe towards the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization. God willing, the European states will reach a solution according to which they will accept them there. This group's stay in Iraq is no longer accepted by the people and government. I can tell you that the leadership of this group committed big mistakes in the past. It cooperated with the dictatorial regime in the fight against the Kurds and the Shi'is in the central and southern regions. Therefore, they were involved in the bloody Iraqi conflict. Accordingly, the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people want this group out of Iraq, but not by force or handover to Iran as reported. We reject this."
Asked about the new security pact with Iran Al-Rubay'i mentioned in his statement, Talabani says: "I have no idea about it. It was an idea Dr Muwaffaq al-Rubay'i put forward. The idea was not studied by the Iraqi Government or parliament. Some officials sometimes make statements outside their jurisdiction and without consulting with the central government, presidency, or parliament. Iraq has not discussed such an issue."
On whether Iran is interfering in Iraq's elections, Talabani says: "If interference means Iran sympathizes with some candidates and helps them financially, then I will not rule this out. However, if interference means actual daily and administrative interference, I will then rule this out."
Asked if he does not object to Iranian financial aid to some parties, he says: "I do not deny that some parties may have relations with and receive aid from Iran or Arab countries. Funds come to Iraq from all countries around Iraq. This phenomenon regrettably exists, but I do not exactly know who Iran, Syria, or Turkey is helping. These are secret issues that will later become known."
On Iranian-US ties during Obama's administration, Obama says: "I believe that a serious US-Iranian dialogue will be in the interest of all. It will be in the interest of Iraq, Iran, and the United States." He adds: "I think the Americans and Iranians will use all cards on the table with regard to US-Iranian relations. Personally, I have no apprehensions because the Iraqi card is now in the hands of Iraq, especially after signing the SOFA [Status of Forces Agreement]. I have no apprehensions about any US-Iranian dialogue or negotiations and I do not think these will be at the expense of Iraq."
On Iraqi-Syrian relations, Talabani says: "Now I see a new atmosphere in relations between Syria and Iraq. During my recent meeting with President Bashar al-Asad in Kuwait, we agreed to bolster, develop, and expand these relations. We also appointed an ambassador to Syria to bolster these relations. We are now discussing the issue of renewing the oil pipeline across Syria and Lebanon to the Mediterranean. We are also trying to improve relations with Syria in other domains. I think Syria is aware of the importance of relations with Iraq. It knows that normal relations with Iraq are in its interest."
Asked if he supports the Saudi monarch's statement in Kuwait about the Arab peace initiative and asked if he thinks this initiative is now dead, he says: "I do not think the initiative has died. I support what the custodian of the two holy mosques said. I think this initiative is present on the table, but as he said it will not be proposed for ever without a positive response from the Israeli side." He then urges the Israeli rulers to accept the Arab peace initiative, which he describes as "fair and balanced."
Asked if Al-Qa'idah is no longer present in Iraq, he says: "Al-Qa'idah has been much weakened. What is important is that the popular atmosphere that is hostile to terrorism is now large and extensive. The people began to realize that the crimes committed in the name of Islam, including crimes committed against humanity in the form of indiscriminate killing and crimes against the national economy, are all hostile to the Iraqi people. Therefore, people no longer support these operations or facilitate the work of terrorist organizations. On the contrary, people are now cooperating with the government forces in the fight against terrorists."
Asked why he asked Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih and Kurdistan Region Vice President Kusrat Rasul to take over party responsibilities in Al-Sulaymaniyah, he says: "This was done to facilitate the work of the political bureau and leaders present on the ground in Kurdistan so that the required decisions will not be delayed on the pretext that the president or secretary general of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan is absent. The aim is consolidating the principle of collective leadership in the PUK and facilitating the accomplishments and reforms that are required in the government, party, democratic organizations, and the society."
Concluding, Talabani addresses the Iraqis by saying: "I hope that the elections will lead to choosing true representatives of the Iraqi people. I hope these elections will be a new successful democratic experience in Iraq. I hope that my Iraqi sisters and brothers will actively participate in the elections and choose the ones they believe are qualified and capable of serving them. I think these elections will produce new facts. In the light of these facts, we expect the next parliament to be somehow different from the current one." He adds: "I greatly hope that these elections will usher in a new stage, especially after SOFA has been signed with the United States."
As I mentioned in “Part 6” there is a practice within MKO’s internal relations called “nil-nil” (a cult type jargon) wherein everyday the members are supposed to allegedly demoralize themselves because they say that anyone who demoralizes himself and releases his energies will reach higher degrees. So they order the members to criticize each other daily and then listen to the others criticizing them. This is called “nil-nil” “criticizing others and being criticized".
There is another internal phenomenon called “Current Operation” (another jargon). This has been practiced in MKO cult since 1994. At the beginning it was oral. I mean that the members moved forward and spoke; but later it became written. In this way the member had to write anything he or she wanted to say and then read it inside the group. Masud Rajavi made too much noise calling the current operation as “Spiritual Jihad” as and even “higher than martyrdom”. Therefore, the members must confess all the sins they commit and they should expect any reaction from their colleagues.
For example, the member who attends the “Current Operation”, reads his confessions saying “Today I saw something precious on my superior’s desk and I took it” or “when I saw my superior this morning I suddenly imagined that she really looks like a torturer” or “when today I was supposed to work from 8 to 12, I just worked until 9 and then I went to the dorm and relaxed.” While the member is reading the facts, the others in the group insult him or her with an abusive language using terms like lumpish, idiot, . . . and punishing him or her orally and put the blames on him or her like “how do you want to liberate Iran while you don’t do your duties just right”
The “Current Operation” includes a stage called “cleansing” (jargon) that for the women in the leadership council should be practiced every moment and for the rest of women it is daily and for the men it is weekly. In these meetings the members must confess their sexual problems or thoughts. For Leadership Council the instruction was that if a female sees a male recalling her fiancé, she would have to confess her thoughts instantly and do the so-called “nil-nil” practice.
For ordinary female members this has to be practiced at the end of each day. For male members, the cleansing meeting is done every week on Fridays. They didn’t want to open up the relations between male and female members so the weekly meetings of men were held only by men (all meetings are generally held by women). As I noted in the previous session, there are some male members who are considered as the pins (jargon) of the organization and their responsibility is to control the members of each section. Their duties include holding the weekly meetings for the men and dealing with the problems between the male members and their female superiors. So the brother who was the pin of the organization in that section holds the meetings.
The women’s meetings are held by a member of Leadership Council and the meetings for a Leadership Council’s member are held by high-ranking members of the Council. If a member of the Leadership Council has a contradiction in mind, she has to declare it and do the so-called “nil-nil” practice. Then if it is found out through the reports, that person will be encountered and taken under more control. In fact, they have a goal. For example, the member thinks “I wish I could do something” or he thinks “How that woman looks like my ex-fiancé”. These are the moments, the moments wherein the member thinks about the outside world. But if she liked a boy (a teenager) and in a moment she liked to kiss him, she has to confess it immediately, this is a functional fact and as soon as the report of this confession is on hand, the situation of the both sides changes. A lot of efforts, in the MKO, are spent for cases such as who you have relations with and who you like.
One of the levers of the organizational control in MKO is the joint movements of female members which I mentioned in the first part of my memoirs. They said:”we order you to move jointly for your own sake. But everybody knows that this claim is baseless. Everybody knows that it’s because everyone should watch the others don't escape. They even force the most high-ranking officials to move jointly . They said that there shouldn’t be any exclusions, because exceptions in the regulations would discredit them.
Thus everyone have to obey the regulations and execute them in order to control the lower ranks.
MEPs intrigued by accounts of newly arrived escapees from Camp Ashraf
Discussion of the Mojahedin-e Khalq/National Council of Resistance and its activities in the EU Parliament
... Ms Ebrahimi said she saw Mr Paulo Casaca when he visited Camp Ashraf. We were not allowed to approach him and speak to him, she explained to delegates. If they had somewhere to go, she told delegates, without doubt ninety-nine percent of the people in Camp Ashraf would leave the camp and the MKO...
Reported from EU Parliament, Sep. 09, 2008
On Tuesday 9 September a meeting was held by the Delegation for Relations with Iran in the European Parliament. The meeting focused on ‘Discussion of the Mojahedin-e Khalq/National Council of Resistance and its activities in an exchange of views with:
Ms Anne Singleton expert on the MKO Representative of the NCR (declined invitation) Three Residents of Ashraf Refugee Camp who arrived from Iraq in the last couple of weeks: Ms. Ebrahimi, Mr. Hassan Piransar and Mr. Hamid Siah Mansoori. Also present were former MKO members Karim Haggi, Mohammad Sobhani, Hadi Shams Haeri and Ali Ghashghavi, who accompanied the new arrivals to provide support to these vulnerable people.
Ms Angelika Beer, President of the Iran Delegation (Greens/EFA), began by describing the MKO and its activities up to the present time.
Anne Singleton briefly described her own involvement with the MKO for over twenty years.
Asserting that the MKO will not give up the use of violence to achieve its aims, Ms Singleton went on to explain why, in spite of that, she believes that the MKO has currently little to do with the Iranian political scene, but that precisely because it is a cult, its danger is that it interferes in parliamentary democracy in western countries in ways that may even involve criminal activity.
Whilst agreeing that the MKO’s platform of ‘total regime change’ in Iran could be attractive to some politicians in the west, Ms Singleton challenged the delegates to consider whether the MKO would be able to achieve its stated aim – ‘will it do what it says on the tin’? Since its last major offensive against Iran in 1988, the MKO has achieved little to further its aims. She told delegates that they should also consider the possibility that, even if they believe the MKO has changed tactic and intends to pursue its aims only through political opposition, the MKO may not actually be ‘fit for purpose’ She urged them to consider the evidence of the three former residents of Camp Ashraf who have arrived in Europe from Iraq only in the past few weeks, and who would speak later in the meeting about conditions inside the MKO.
Ms Singleton asserted that Iranian people – as those delegates who have visited Iran are aware – are not waiting to be rescued by the MKO and are capable of opposing their own government. Iranian women are not waiting to be taught about feminism by Maryam Rajavi who leads an organisation which – as Batul Ebrahimi will testify - badly abuses women members.
Then Ms Singleton described the current situation of the MKO in Iraq. Control of Camp Ashraf, the MKO’s headquarters, has been transferred from the American military to the Iraqi military. Ms Singleton said that Iraqi government officials are angry at reports which suggest that the MKO would be ‘massacred’ if the Americans handed over Camp Ashraf.
Instead, the people inside the camp are facing a humanitarian crisis because they are not allowed even basic freedoms such as the right to enjoy contact and visits from their families. A rumour has arisen that the Americans have removed around 300 of those captive in Camp Ashraf and left the others. Ms Singleton said that if this is the case then she would consider the remaining 3000 individuals in Camp Ashraf to be ex-members of the MKO. They should be brought to western countries as soon as possible.
Finally, Ms Singleton presented delegates with one solution to the crisis at Camp Ashraf, remove the MKO from the European terrorist list and bring ALL 3,300 residents to Europe where those who are mentally, physically and emotionally sick would be able to receive help.
Ms Singleton finished by reminding delegates that continuing support for the MKO would, of course, mean that the European Parliament accepted to have a cult operating in its midst and continuing to interfere in parliamentary democracy. However, if that is the decision to be made, then so be it.
Ms Beer thanked Anne Singleton for her contribution and asked the three recently arrived, former Camp Ashraf residents to speak.
Ms Ebrahimi (speaking in Farsi) told delegates that she had gone to Camp Ashraf when she was sixteen years old and although she quickly realised she wanted to leave, she was captive there for another ten years. She described conditions for women in the camp. Not only does the MKO not allow women to marry, women are made to work in the scorching sun for hours at a time so their complexions are ruined and they become ugly. This is so they do not develop the vanity to think they could be attractive to a man, she told delegates.
In order to remove hope from the women of ever having a family, they are being sent under surgery for spurious medical conditions to have their wombs removed [hysterectomy] and around ten percent of women in Camp Ashraf have now undergone this surgery. When they tried to impose it on her, Ms Ebrahimi ran away. She begged delegates to take doctors to Camp Ashraf to check the veracity of what she was telling them.
The MKO told her that if she left the camp and went with the American soldiers, they would rape her. For this reason it took two years before she was able to have the courage to escape.
Ms Ebrahimi said she saw Mr Paulo Casaca when he visited Camp Ashraf. We were not allowed to approach him and speak to him, she explained to delegates. If they had somewhere to go, she told delegates, without doubt ninety-nine percent of the people in Camp Ashraf would leave the camp and the MKO.
Mr Hamid Siah Mansoori (speaking English) told delegates he had been in the MKO for over twenty five years. He described how he had gone to Iraq from Canada. He had a good education, and a good life in Canada and had his own business before leaving everything behind in the mid 1980s to go to Iraq. He then described the MKO’s attitude to family. He said no one is allowed to contact their family, except in a few cases where people were told to contact their family to get money from them. He said the MKO told his family he was dead. They came to look for him five years ago – at the beginning of the American occupation – but were told he was dead.
Mr Hamid Siah Mansoori said he had arrived only a week ago, but had lost any contact details for his family. Nevertheless, his first priority now was to make contact with his parents and the rest of his family.
Ms Beer asked delegates if they had questions. One delegate asked how the MKO continued to be financed which allowed them to continue to undertake such expensive campaigns in parliament and elsewhere. Another delegate asked for more detail about the role of the Americans in supporting Camp Ashraf when the US State Department so strongly describes them as a terrorist group.
Anne Singleton answered these questions, pointing out that during the reign of Saddam Hussein the MKO had received almost unlimited finance from Saddam Hussein, as well as from Saudi Arabia and some western governments from behind the scene. Now, however, although it is clear that MKO finances are dwindling somewhat, it was unclear how the MKO could continue to spend so much money, and the only people to answer that are the MKO themselves.
Ms Singleton pointed out a five year rift in policy toward the MKO between the US State Department – which has a very thorough knowledge of the MKO – and the US Defense Department under Donald Rumsfeld. Some in the US Administration wanted to use the MKO in confronting Iran and therefore Camp Ashraf has been protected by the US military in Iraq for five years. Ms Singleton conceded that this protection was beneficial in keeping the MKO out of danger in the midst of a war zone. But that the Americans had also flouted the UN Fourth Geneva protocol by not allowing MKO to meet their families and not enabling them to leave the situation.
Ms Beer then introduced Mr Mohammad Sobhani who had previously addressed the Delegation. Following that meeting he had been the subject of unfounded accusations of having attacked MKO members in Paris. Instead, Mr Sobhani was the victim of a violent attack when some fifty MKO supporters ambushed a meeting at which Mr Sobhani was a speaker.
Following this, Mr Hadi Shams Haeri briefly pleaded with delegates to help him have contact with his children whom he has not been allowed to see for eighteen years. He asked that Mr Paulo Casaca accompany him to Camp Ashraf and help him meet with them again.
At the end of the meeting Ms Beer expressed her appreciation for the speakers and said it had been a valuable meeting. One which, given the ongoing situation at Camp Ashraf, might soon be repeated.
After the meeting, several of the attendees stopped to talk to the visitors – in particular the three who had just arrived from Iraq - and asked them to keep them informed of developments.