Our Political Responsibilities (Camp Ashraf, Mojahedin Khalq, MKO, MEK, NCRI)
Our Political Responsibilities
(Camp Ashraf, Mojahedin Khalq, MKO, MEK, NCRI)
... Today, the MKO is active in toppling both regimes ruling Iran and Iraq. On the other hand, the governments of Iran and Iraq are closely cooperating with each other. In recent months, some very influential politicians and political circles in the US have been actively supporting Mrs. Rajavi – as president – and strive to use the force at Ashraf Camp to change the Iranian regime. During the last three months alone, six important conferences were held in this regard and all six looked at this force as the agent of change in Iran... As these conferences began and progressed, it was clear that the Iranian and Iraqi regimes would not tolerate General Jones’s proposals ...
A group of prominent Iranian human rights activists and intellectuals have responded to the horrendous killings of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization members by publishing an open letter condemning the killings. The moderate and peaceful spirit of the letter is commendable and deserves support.
Harm to MKO members was feared from the day Saddam Hussein’s regime came to its end. Iranian freedom-lovers knew that in view of the nature of the new regime in Iraq the MKO would have difficulty in maintaining its camp, Ashraf Camp and organization. The new political realities would one day come bring their status to a dead-end. It was clear from many years ago that it was prudent for MKO leaders to decide to that its members should migrate to other countries.
When the US handed over Iraq’s complete sovereignty to the Iraqi government concerns amplified about the imminent catastrophe. Many Iranian organizations, including Etehade Jomhurikhahan Iran (The Union of Iranian Republicans) rightfully stressed the need for the MKO to immediately depart Iraq while also emphasizing governments to encourage the MKO to do this.
Unfortunately the leadership of the MKO spent its greatest and most effective resources on a campaign whose goal was to attain the right to remain at Ashraf Camp.
In view of the political goals and policies of the MKO today vis-à-vis the governments of Iran and Iraq, it is clear that attempts to maintain the MKO in Ashraf Camp will only lead to more violence and clashes. When the Mojahedin settled in Iraq Saddam Hossein ruled over Iraq and the war between his government and the Islamic republic of Iran was in full swing. The MKO too wanted to continue their war with the Islamic republic. Because of this, they received the full support of the Iraqi government and at the least their security was completely provided to them. Saddam’s relations with the MKO were very cordial while those with the Shiites and the Kurds were deeply inimical.
Today, the MKO is active in toppling both regimes ruling Iran and Iraq. On the other hand, the governments of Iran and Iraq are closely cooperating with each other.
In recent months, some very influential politicians and political circles in the US have been actively supporting Mrs. Rajavi – as president – and strive to use the force at Ashraf Camp to change the Iranian regime. During the last three months alone, six important conferences were held in this regard and all six looked at this force as the agent of change in Iran.
At these conferences US general James Jones, Obama administration’s former national security advisor is the key driver.
As these conferences began and progressed, it was clear that the Iranian and Iraqi regimes would not tolerate General Jones’s proposals regarding Iran. At the time I wrote a piece explaining that a new game had begun which was another source of danger for the country and the region.
The condemnation of the tragedy that took place on the morning of April 8 in Ashraf Camp is the least and simplest response that Iranian pro-democracy activists can undertake. But our responsibility goes further. We have a deep responsibility towards the 3,500 individuals who are trapped in the neo-conservatist policies of the US and Israeli dreams for Iran. The policy of staying and preparing itself for the eventual outcome pursued by the MKO cannot last. Pressure and insistence of the neo-conservatists for using this force as a pressure against the Iranian regime must end.
Before the tragedy repeats itself, now is the time to approach the MKO and its powerful international supporters and press for the organization to submit its request to the UN Secretary General to resettle the group and its members in a secure country, while at the same time condemning any killing or bloodshed by the Iraqi army and to press the Iraqi government to announce a moratorium on the MKO.
I specifically request of the MKO, General Jones, John Bolton, Mrs. Mary Robinson, and Messrs. Howard Deen and Patrick Kennedy who are the most influential supporters of keeping the MKO and recognizing it as the alternative to the Iranian regime to facilitate the departure of this group from Iraq and set a specific date for this. At the same time, the Iraqi government should provided assurance that it would not enforce its sovereignty over Ashraf Camp until the departure of the MKO.
"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.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Says Camp Ashraf Must Go, And That Iraq Admired As Arab Revolutions Unfold
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari: "Iraq has passed the test."
... The Iraqi Constitution prohibits the presence of mujahedin or any other militia groups from neighboring countries, whether it's the PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party], whether it's the PJAK [Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan], or whoever to have presence on Iraqi territory and to launch attacks against our neighbors. Constitutionally, this is not allowed and the mujahedin or the MEK member [Mujahedin-e Khalq] of the Ashraf camp have to respect Iraqi law. Iraq has a commitment not to extradite any of its members to Iran. Iraq has a commitment also to observe international humanitarian law and to have access by international organizations to them ...
(Saddam used Rajavi in the massacar of Iraqi Kurds)
On April 8, 2011, the Iraqi military launched a raid on Camp Ashraf, 60 kilometers north of Baghdad. The camp is the headquarters of the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (aka People's Mujahedin of Iran), an organization opposed to the current government of Iran. According to the United Nations, some 34 people were killed in the raid and hundreds more injured.
The group was founded as a Marxist terrorist organization and was given sanctuary in Saddam Hussein's Iraq in the 1980s. Today, Camp Ashraf is home to 3,500 members of the organization and their families.
During a visit to RFE/RL's Prague headquarters, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari spoke to correspondent Joseph Hammond about Camp Ashraf, the pending U.S. military withdraw from the country, the tense situation around the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk, and the transformative politics sweeping the Arab world.
RFER/RL: The United States is scheduled to withdraw its troops from Iraq by the end of this year. But U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently said that the United States could extend its role beyond that date. Does Iraq want U.S. troops to remain and, if so, in what role?
Hoshyar Zebari: Well, first of all, I think the agreement for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq ends at the end of 2011. And there are no plans to extend that agreement or to postpone the withdrawal. This is an issue that both the United States and the government of Iraq are committed to implement.
But it doesn't mean that [the] American presence in Iraq will end. There will be a presence through the embassy, through the consulate, and also through the implementation of the Strategic Framework Agreement for Cooperation and Friendship between Iraq and the United States, which was concurrently signed with the [Status of Forces] agreement.
So we need some implementing tools for that agreement, in terms of training, in terms of advisers, in terms of capacity-building. But this would not be through a new agreement. This would be done bilaterally between the Iraqi ministers and its counterpart in the United States on various issues. This is how we approach the time beyond 2011.
RFE/RL: Will the Iraqi military and the Kurdish peshmerga militia be able maintain security in these tense regions after the United States withdraws?
Zebari: Well, the U.S. troops currently are not only in the north, actually. They are in different parts of the country. This is first. Secondly, I think that Iraqi security forces are capable of standing on [their] own. Of course, they will still need backup and support, but they are capable of maintaining law and order and internal security. That's why, yes, after the withdrawal I think there has been plans to fill that vacuum, led by the United States forces. And the Iraqi military forces have some working mechanisms with the peshmerga forces in the north in order to avoid any misunderstandings or clashes in the disputed territories.
RFE/RL: What is the likelihood that the status of Kirkuk will be determined in the near future?
Zebari: This is a constitutional matter. Despite all the skeptics, all the people who raised the alarms that Kirkuk is the powder keg, it will blow up Iraq, since 2003 up to now it has not gone off. OK? Yes, there are disputed areas, claims, problems, but it has not led, really, to any all-out conflict or violence whatsoever.
This is a constitutional matter. There are procedures to address [and] resolve these issues. The new government was voted into power to implement this constitutional article, which is 140, which calls for the normalization of the situation in Kirkuk and other disputed territories. So it's an obligation on this government.
Camp Ashraf Conflict
RFE/RL: Earlier this month, the Iraqi Army raided Camp Ashraf, home of the People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran, which seeks to overthrow Iran's clerical leaders. The United Nations says 34 people were killed in this raid. The Iraqi government denies this and accuses guards in the camp of being responsible.
Zebari: The Iraqi Constitution prohibits the presence of mujahedin or any other militia groups from neighboring countries, whether it's the PKK [Kurdistan Workers Party], whether it's the PJAK [Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan], or whoever to have presence on Iraqi territory and to launch attacks against our neighbors. Constitutionally, this is not allowed and the mujahedin or the MEK member [Mujahedin-e Khalq] of the Ashraf camp have to respect Iraqi law.
Iraq has a commitment not to extradite any of its members to Iran. Iraq has a commitment also to observe international humanitarian law and to have access by international organizations to them, like the United Nation missions, ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross], and so on. Yes, what happened was very unfortunate, really, but the aim was not to expel the members of the Ashraf camp to Iran.
This was a military operation intended to take control of part of the territory. Ashraf camp is not a small camp; it is 50 [square] kilometers large. The Iraqi military extended its authority over about 20 kilometers of the camp.
No country in the world will tolerate any organization to undermine its sovereignty, to defy its authority, and to act as if this is a liberated territory or a state within a state. So they have to abide by Iraqi rules and regulations, and we have called on European countries and others to resettle these peoples in their countries, for them to go on and continue their struggle. In Iraq, their presence is unacceptable.
RFE/RL: The U.S. government originally controlled Camp Ashraf following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. They disarmed the Mujahedin-e Khalq and transferred control of the camp to the Iraqi government in 2009. Has the United States government been kept abreast of developments at Camp Ashraf? The Iraqi government has called for the expulsion of this group and set a deadline of the end of the year.
Zebari: This is an Iraqi decision. This group is branded in the United States as a terrorist group, by the Department of State, and it was in Europe up until very recently, when it was lifted. Those countries who care about the fate and human rights of this group's action, they should welcome them and they should resettle them in their countries. My government has requested such a thing from European countries and from other countries, to resettle members of the Ashraf camp in their countries.
RFE/RL: Where do you see the Iranians going?
Zebari: Wherever. Any country -- in the northern countries, in Australia, in New Zealand, Canada, the United States, wherever.
RFE/RL: Right now, we're seeing tremendous upheaval across the Arab world -- revolutions in Tunisia, in Egypt, and uprisings in Yemen and elsewhere. What can other Arab countries learn from Iraq's political experience?
Zebari: I think what the people of these Arab countries are calling for is basic rights, basic democratic rights, basic freedoms, representative government, elections, and being part of the decision-making. And Iraq has done this through the hard way, through a difficult, arduous road to building democracy. It hasn't been easy with the foreign occupation, with the sectarian war, with the terrorism, with the regional interventions. But Iraq has passed the test.
Because what the Arab peoples in all these countries are demanding is what we have achieved. We don't want to be the crown or the example, but I think Iraq draws a great deal of admiration [from] many, many people on the streets of Sanaa or Tripoli or Damascus or Cairo.
Ex-Officials Say They Were Paid To Attend Pro- Mojahedin Khalq (MEK, MKO, NCRI, Rajavi cult) Events
... Hamilton, who once chaired the House Foreign Affairs Committee and was a co-chair of the 9/11 Commission, told reporter Barbara Slavin he was paid "a substantial amount" to appear at a panel in Washington D.C. in February. Zinni, who spoke at a similar event in January, said he had been paid his "standard fee," without detailing what that is. According to Slavin, both men said they were unaware of the cultish elements attributed to the MEK. The State Department's 2008 Country Reports on Terrorism, for example, reported the following:In addition to its terrorist credentials, the MEK has also displayed cult-like characteristics. Upon entry into the group, new members are indoctrinated in MEK ideology and ...
(Washington backed Maryam Rajavi in terrorist cult's HQ in Paris)
Former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-IN) and retired Gen. Anthony Zinni
Former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton (D) and former CENTCOM Commander Anthony Zinni told the Inter Press Service that they were paid to appear at recent events supporting the MEK, an Iranian opposition group currently considered a terrorist organization by the State Department.
Hamilton and Zinni are among the many big time former government officials and military leaders who have appeared at recent pro-MEK events sponsored by a group called Executive Action, LLC. (The events true organizers remain unclear, Executive Action's CEO Neil Livingstone would only tell TPM they included Iranian American groups.) Speakers at the events have portrayed the MEK as critical to any chance of regime change in Iran.
Hamilton, who once chaired the House Foreign Affairs Committee and was a co-chair of the 9/11 Commission, told reporter Barbara Slavin he was paid "a substantial amount" to appear at a panel in Washington D.C. in February. Zinni, who spoke at a similar event in January, said he had been paid his "standard fee," without detailing what that is.
According to Slavin, both men said they were unaware of the cultish elements attributed to the MEK. The State Department's 2008 Country Reports on Terrorism, for example, reported the following:
In addition to its terrorist credentials, the MEK has also displayed cult-like characteristics.
Upon entry into the group, new members are indoctrinated in MEK ideology and revisionist Iranian history. Members are also required to undertake a vow of "eternal divorce" and participate in weekly "ideological cleansings." Additionally, children are reportedly separated from parents at a young age. MEK leader Maryam Rajavi has established a "cult of personality." She claims to emulate the Prophet Muhammad and is viewed by members as the "Iranian President in exile."
"They presented me with a platform that was thoroughly democratic," Hamilton told Slavin. "Were they misleading me? You always can be misled."
Zinni was firmer:
"De-listing ought to be done much the way we handled the PLO and the IRA," Zinni said in an interview.
Zinni, who famously inveighed against the U.S. invasion of Iraq and was a fierce opponent of Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi, seemed to have no similar compunctions about Iranian exiles.
"The Iranian community outside Iran has much more influence inside than the Chalabis of the world that we ended up supporting in Iraq," he said.
Over the years, the Iranian government has arrested and executed thousands of MEK members. Still, experts say that the group actually has very little support in Iran, where people remember how it fought for Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war. Iranian studies scholar Ahmad Sadri told TPM in February that U.S. support for the MEK would anger ordinary Iranians.
Although it was put on the U.S. terror list in 1997, the MEK has a history of support in Congress. While it originally blended elements of Islam and Marxism, the group and its supporters say it has renounced violence and now advocates for a secular and democratic Iran. After the fall of Hussein, who armed and funded the group for many years, about 3,400 MEK members were consolidated at Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad. MEK backers also insist that U.S. forces should be permanently stationed at Ashraf, for protection. (Camp residents have been subject to attacks they blame on the Iraqi and Iranian governments.)
On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where several lawmakers urged her to delist the MEK. Clinton said that the State Department is reviewing the MEK's designation in accordance with a Washington D.C. District Court of Appeal's recent ruling, after a suit brought by the MEK.
"You know it's proceeding," Clinton said. "These are very important considerations and reviews and you know as soon as we can we will make such a decision."
TPM reached out to both Zinni and Hamilton for comment.
Wondering at those Americans who stand under the flag of Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, NCRI, Rajavi cult) only to LOBBY for the murderers of their servicemen
... Massoud Rajavi was on the stage and while he had his hands on his waist he began a war cry against the USA, and in his admiration for Osama Ben Laden and his organization, Al Qaeda, he said, ”This was fanatical Islam which trembled and shacked the basis of US Imperialism and they destroyed the twin towers which were the symbol of their power, and successfully reduced it to rubble through their successful mission”. Then he (Massoud Rajavi) with a smile on his face continued his war cry and said, ”What will happen to the USA if revolutionary Islam with our Ideology and Maryam’s leadership comes to power, then this paper tiger (the USA) will be destroyed as a whole.” ...
This documentary takes us beneath the surface of acts of terror against Iran and shows how Iranians have been targeted by various terrorist groups, some of which enjoying the support of human right organizations.