In recent weeks, the Iranian regime’s elusive and well-funded lobbying machine in Washington has been focusing exclusively on smearing and discrediting the main Iranian opposition. The so-called National Iranian American Council (NIAC), and its founder Trita Parsi, have been lobbying desperately to prevent what the Iranian regime fears the most: The removal of the largest and best organized Iranian opposition, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK), from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.
NIAC’s campaign includes dozens of roughly identical opinion pieces and articles published under different names, as well as dedicated web pages, YouTube videos, petitions, letters to legislators, seminars, webinars, and tweets. All of them bear the following message for Washington: Do not delist the MEK.
That message has clearly been one of the main demands of the Iranian regime. In fact, when the MEK was first designated in 1997, U.S. officials acknowledged that the “goodwill gesture,” was in response to Iranian regime demands to facilitate dialogue with Tehran.
Report by: Omid Biniaz
On July 7th, 2011, the families and friends of the residents of Camp Ashraf who attended a congressional hearing into Iraq's massacre at Camp Ashraf last month, and its implications for US policy, faced a terrifying experience of their own. Two NIAC operatives were following them and taking their pictures.
The hearing was held by the Oversight and Investigations Sub-committee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. On April 8, 2011, Iraqi forces raided Camp Ashraf, killing 36 residents and wounding 345 others.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is reportedly close to announcing her decision to whether or not remove Iran’s major opposition, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) from the Department’s list of terrorist organizations. The law says this decision must be based on the anti-Terrorism Statute not politics or policy considerations. The US Congress and field experts agree and call for ending the designation.
Her predecessor’s 1997 decision to blacklist the group was definitely a political one and a total disregard of relevant laws. The move by Madeline Albright, the then Secretary of State, was carefully crafted to send a definitive and meaningful welcome-to-office present to the newly-elected president of Iran, Mohammad Khatami, the darling of the phantom “reform” movement crowd in Western capitals.
By all indications, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is about to release the result of her Department’s court-mandated review of the January 2009 designation of the Iranian opposition MEK, as Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Legal experts agree that the mere observance of the Law, subtle suggestions of the US Court of Appeals, and the statuary requirements, would lead her to one and only one outcome: End the MEK’s designation. This could very well explain the State Department’s delaying tactics to announce the review.
A recent opinion piece by Elizabeth Rubin of the New York Times Magazine about the Iranian democratic opposition, Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK), is a great case study in “yellow Journalism”. Short on facts and credible sources, the piece is filled with cheap and sensationalist shots at the group and its 3400 members in Camp Ashraf, Iraq. It is a shameful attempt at “journalistic assassination” of the group, complementing what Iran rulers and their Iraqi proxies are doing to the MEK members and sympathizers through executions and military raids.
The seed of this article, as she alludes to it in her first paragraph, is planted by the usual suspects of Tehran’s Washington-based anti-MEK lobby. The obvious propose of the piece is to persuade the State Department to ignore the growing calls from US Congress and a bi-partisan array of US national security and policy luminaries to remove the group from the Department’s terrorism list. It attempts to achieve this objective by leveling a barrage of lies and IRGC-manufactured fabrications against the MEK, its leadership, and its members.
Like other hysteric opponents of the MEK de-listing, Rubin opts to ignore volumes of opinions issued by high courts in United Kingdom and the European Union which found the group “not concerned in terrorism” and described its continued blacklisting as “perverse.” The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has also found the designation a violation of due process and remanded it back to State Department for lawful review, strongly suggesting the MEK must be delisted. Rubin conveniently omits what she had said back in 2003 that “the group is also on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations, placed there in 1997 as a goodwill gesture toward Iran’s newly elected reform-minded president, Mohammad Khatami.”
On April 8, 2011, Iraqi forces raided Camp Ashraf, killing 36 residents and wounding 345 others. The scenes of this inhumane act shocked the world. Waves of condemnation by the politicians and others were momentous.
Camp Ashraf is home to 3,400 members of Iran’s main opposition, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). Many of the residents were political prisoners in Iran who survived years of captivity and sought refuge in Iraq before being re-arrested and executed. Some 1,000 of the Ashraf residents are women.
The truth behind the statement supposedly written by 37 experts on Iran advocating for the continued black listing of the Iranian opposition group MEK by the U.S. State Department.
In recent days a statement supposedly written by a group of 37 experts on Iran (from 6 countries including Iran, Scotland, England, Canada and US) has surfaced on the cyberspace. The statement itself is a repeat of many recent articles and declarations by NIAC and its president Trita Parsi, who have embarked on a hysteric campaign against the People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI or MEK). In the statement, the "experts" advocate for continued black listing of the MEK by the State Department.
In recent weeks, the Iranian American Community of Northern California has been hosting a number of symposiums in Washington shedding light on the need to remove the Iran’s principal opposition movement, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK).
These events which feature senior officials from a number of previous administrations, with various backgrounds, ideologies, and areas of expertise are calling on the Obama Administration to change its policy in regards to the MEK, and remove them from the FTO. In response, the National Iranian American Council has launched a full-fledged campaign opposing the de-listing of the MEK, complete with an entire section on their web site dedicated to the issue, and even “tweeting” about it non-stop. Is this really the biggest issue on the table for Iranian Americans? And if so whose side is NIAC on?
Tehran hates the message so is now shooting the messengers. Cronies of the Iranian dictatorship have claimed that the many high-profile US and EU public figures speaking out over the plight of the disarmed Mujahidin-e Khalq Organisation of Iran (MEK/PMOI) – living at Camp Ashraf in north east Iraq – are doing so just because they are on its payroll.
Or is a less cynical explanation more likely to be the case? That these figures are attempting to avoid the humanitarian catastrophe that would result if a US plan to relocate the 3,400 residents deeper inside Iraq goes ahead, placing them at risk of further harassment and attack by Iraqi military in league with Tehran.
To claim that US figures such as including former homeland security secretary Tom Ridge, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former congressman Patrick Kennedy are on some sort of pay-for-hire basis for an organisation still listed by the US as “terrorist” is extremely derogatory to people of their reputations and standing. It is merely saying that they are open to being bribed, and in a highly blatant fashion. This is unacceptable propaganda and the National Iranian American Council should hang its head in shame.
I don't claim to know much about American law, but under British law I think that some of Ambassador Butler's comments on the American supporters of the People's Muhahedeen of Iran/Mujahedeen-e-Khalk (PMOI/MeK) would count as libel.
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