By Nooredin Abedian
OpEdNews Website, 16 Sept 2011 – Following events in Arab Spring, Tehran finds that it has to ensure maximum pressure on its opposition. Delisting MEK helps opponents seeking democracy in Iran and will be a blow for the fundamentalist dictator in Iran.
What’s wrong with the so-called lobbying of a group accused of terrorism, in order to repel the nomination, even if the said nomination affects US foreign policy?
More surprising is that an entity known as the Iranian regime’s strongest lobby in the United States, which has been asked several times to register as a ‘foreign agent’ of the clerical regime in the country under the Freedom of Information Act, raise hell about the ‘lobbying to get a terrorist group off State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO)’ list’.
In spite of having seemingly served as ‘policy advisor on foreign affairs issues’ in the Congress, Jamal Abdi, policy director of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) recommends that ‘lobbying’ for the MEK, the main Iranian opposition movement put in 1997 on the US State Department’s list of FTOs be stopped at any price, as it sees the effort a ‘campaign to manipulate US national security decisions’.
The reasoning that the MEK is a terrorist organization as presented by Mr. Abdi has nothing new to all that has been put forward against the opposition by the clerical regime in power in Iran, that is having killed Americans in 1970s when the Shah was in power in Iran, having tortured its own members, having kept its members by force in Iraq where they are currently under deadly attacks from the pro-Iranian government of Nouri Al-Maliki. The only new element Mr. Abdi has added to the old rhetoric by the clerics is his claim that the ‘UN High Commissioner on Refugees has publicly offered to facilitate a refugee resettlement process but has stated that individuals at Ashraf (camp where 3400 MEK members are staying in Iraq) have refused to renounce violence, a prerequisite to participating.’
As an observer of Iranian politics, I find the above allegations ‘perverse’, as the English special court on proscribed organizations ruling in 2007 on the same issue called them. But just for information: The Americans killed in 1970 were not assassinated by the MEK, but by a splinter group according to a public report of the Rockwell Company, for whom the men worked at the time. The writer refers to RAND corp.’s report on the MEK to reason that members have been kept in Ashraf against there will, but nor him neither RAND do not mention that every member of the MEK was interviewed privately by several agencies of the United States before the RAND report and anybody expressing a wish to leave did actually leave the camp, so how could they have been kept there against their will, in a camp under US surveillance?
The writer is keen to cite Human Rights’ Watch as his source for alleging MEK tortured members, but the whole HRW report has been much discredited because it was only based on telephone interviews with alleged former members several of whom were later shown to be bought by the clerical regime’s security and intelligence apparatus. Apart that, several of the interviewed individuals admitted that the MEK had helped them find refuge in the West. Does that make sense that an organization tortures its members and then send them out to the world to speak about that? Did a single such case exist during the Cold war? And the part about the UN High Commissioner for Refugees is simply not true. First of all, never does the UN body impose such conditions, as to renounce violence as a prerequisite of being accepted as asylum seeker. Then every member of the MEK has rendered his or her arm to the US forces in 2003 and is categorically considered as having renounced violence, so the allegations is twice untrue.
But what is striking in Mr. Abdi’s article is not the lack of truth. Not only is he repeating allegations put forward by the clerics in power in Tehran, but he recommends that measures similar to those used down there be applied here, that is to prevent people, even famous ex-authorities, from expressing their views, on pretext of ‘national security’. He seems to ignore that before ‘national security’, the Gods have placed the ‘rule of law’, though he knows pretty well that all those people being hanged in public in Iran are hanged under similar allegations, which is having put in jeopardy the national security. I am sure that if it were to the clerics, they would not hesitate to hang people in Washington for having expressed their views freely. Fortunately that is not what the writer is calling for, he just wants them silenced. So would the clerics in Iran.
Nooredin Abedian taught in Iranian higher-education institutions before settling in France as a political refugee in 1981. He writes for a variety of publications on Iranian politics and issues concerning human rights.