U.S. State Department Removes Iranian MEK from its Blacklist

Stop Fundamentalism – The U.S. Department of State officially announced today that it has removed the Iranian dissident group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK) from its Foreign Terrorist Organizations list.  The announcement comes only a week after the department’s spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland told reporters in a press briefing that Secretary of State Clinton has made her decision regarding the group and notified the Congress about her decision. 

A statement released by the office of the Spokesperson of the United State Department of State today reads, “The Secretary of State has decided, consistent with the law, to revoke the designation of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and its aliases as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under the Immigration and Nationality Act and to delist the MEK as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224.”  “These actions,” statement emphasized, “are effective today.”

Following the news of the removal, exile Iranians and supporters of MEK poured in to streets in various cities in Europe and in Washington celebrating the announcement. 

The announcement was also widely received and welcomed inside Iran, say the cheering exiles.  One participant told SF reporter that he immediately received a call from family in Iran welcoming and congratulating him on the achievement. 

Since the announcement of a decision made by Secretary Clinton last week, an astonishing number of anti-MEK propaganda has flooded the online and printed media in the United States including articles in The New York Times.   The extent of the negative propaganda is so great that makes one wonder about who may be the organizing source behind them?  For an exile group that has not been present in the United States for years, receiving such great amount of negative propaganda is quite unusual.

The overall rhetoric of these articles are much the same accusing the group of being a sect, isolated and un-liked among Iranians and reject the idea of the MEK being a true alternative to the Iranian regime.  They also insist that the removal will not benefit the so-called peaceful internal opposition to the regime. 

But nonetheless, none of the accusations and arguments provide justification for keeping a group of people on the U.S. terror list.  Designation of a group of people as a foreign terrorist organization has legal criteria that MEK certainly does not meet any of them.

MEK agreed with the United Nations to close down its home of 3400 members in Iraq known as Camp Ashraf, transferring all its residents to a former U.S. military camp near Baghdad airport known as Camp Liberty.  At this camp, the residents are expected to be interviewed and processed by the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, for Refugee Status Determination and ultimately be resettled to other countries.

MEK disarmed following occupation of Iraq by the coalition forces led by the United States, reaching a protected status given by the United Nation’s Fourth Geneva Conventions.  US forces protected Camp Ashraf and its residents for many years until 2009 that the camp was turned over to Iraqi forces.

Iraqi forces mounted two massive attacks on the camp later in 2009 and in 2011 killing about 50 residents and wounding hundreds.  The attacks were condemned internationally.

The move by the U.S. Department of State will pave way for other countries to accept the 3400 residents of now Camp Liberty as political refugees.  That is while the Europeans removed the group from their terror list many years ago but still the U.S. list was considered a major obstacle.