Who benefits from keeping MEK in the FTO list?

Kambiz Assai:

The MEK/PMOI (Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization) the prime opposition to the Iran regime, has been kept in the US State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list for more than a decade now.

This is a subject that has been much debated recently in many hearings in the US House of Representatives. It is thus, certainly worth to know who benefits and who loses from keeping the MEK in the FTO list.

What is crystal clear is that the Iran government is following and lobbying the matter with all that it has. It seems that Iran mullahs simply cannot afford to have the MEK removed from the FTO.

The fact is that the despotic rulers of Iran are right to be fearful. They have seen the massive demonstrations in the streets of Iranian cities nationwide two years ago, as well as the events sweeping through Libya and Syria. The mullahs want to protect themselves from a similar upcoming destiny.

 The MOIS -Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security- seem to be the lever behind the lobby to shape world opinion against their opposition, and it has indeed done an expert job in favor of the regime in Iran. This however, has not necessarily been in favor of any other country, including the United States, especially following all the ongoing events in the Middle East.

This is what John Sano (former Deputy Director of CIA for National Clandestine Service) had to say on this issue in a recent conference in Washington with the Camp Ashraf massacre back in April as an instance: “The situation in Camp Ashraf and the recent massacre which occurred there only three months ago, is the perfect example in terms of what the MOIS is able to do in attempting to shape world opinion. It has been their consistent maligning of the MEK as a subversive and terrorist organization. This is in direct contravention of the reports here in the United States and internationally that have provided the true story behind the massacre… and the reality of the MEK as peace loving, pro-democratic, nonviolent, organization seeking only to promote a system with freedom of speech, assembly, and political parties, as separation of church and state and gender equality.”

Interestingly enough, the Iran intelligence system knows just too well how to do their work. They spend millions to achieve their goals and have some well defined targets to reach for. To make their lobby effective, the members are instructed to criticize the mullahs in 80% of their propaganda, some of the ex-members of the MOIS and defectors have revealed. Only then, will they start criticizing the MEK and push for continuation of their FTO listing. This is a tactic that has proven to be very fruitful.

They do indeed deserve to get the merit from the mullahs for good lobbying. As a result of this lobby, the US Secretary of State has accepted in the past to keep the MEK on the FTO list in favor of the Iranian regime, while there is nothing in the record to justify this designation.

 But how come? The answer can only be found by looking to the expertise shown by the Iran lobbyists.  As a result of their work, the MEK (the most prominent opposition to Iran’s religious dictatorship- a regime many call the greatest threat to the United States) has been kept in the FTO list and has had its activities limited in every way for more than 10 years.

Ironic as that might sound, it is nevertheless the plain truth. It seems that the US Secretary of State, in failing to delist the main Iranian opposition force, has worked against US interests and in support of the Islamic fundamentalist rule in Iran.

The matter is reaching a final mark now as Iran is set to get rid of its opposition in Iraq by the end of the year, when US troops are to leave Iraq. Iran is set to take over complete control of Iraq then. It is relying on its ability to direct the US Secretary of State to where it wants, through its lobbies. The mullahs need this to get rid of their opposition and suppress any movement inside the country.

There is currently a petition afoot (http://www.change.org/petitions/united-states-department-of-state-remove-iran-opposition-mek-from-state-department-fto-list) addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking her to delist the MEK and supported by dozens of former US official from the full political spectrum and over 4000 lawmakers throughout the world.

This is indeed a critical point and it is therefore vital to spot, identify and denounce Iran’s lobbies. The US has a choice: to remove the MEK and show that it sides with Iranian democracy movement or to continue interfering with internal Iranian political dynamics in favor of the mullahs.