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Will Obama End Appeasement With Iran?

Will Obama End Appeasement With Iran?

by Siavosh Rajizadeh

There is an Iranian parable of a man who sees a drowning mullah crying for help. He reaches out to help and says: “Give me your hand!” The Mullah responds, “No, you give me your hand!” A way to describe how Mullahs never learned to give even if they are dying! You give them a hand and they ask for your arm. This is why when some in the West hope that by sacrificing the Iranian people’s aspirations for democracy to appease the Supreme Mullah Khamenei, people in Iran laugh and say: Oh, they really don’t know a Mullah!

Soon, one of these days, Secretary Clinton is about to make a long-overdue decision whether to keep or remove the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) from the Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list. The Iranian regime and its multi-million-dollar lobbyists in the US are tense as they fear their 14-year-long investment to keep the MEK, the largest and best organized Iranian opposition movement, designated as terrorists, in danger. The Mullahs see the MEK as a vexing threat because they are devoted to the downfall of the regime.

MEK supporters have long pointed to the fact that the FTO-designation was a political “goodwill gesture” to Iran’s president Mohammad Khatami in 1997, though no serious reforms – that Khatami had promised in exchange - was ever brought to Iran. On the contrary, the meager reforms he was rewarded for by the West, soon came to an end as MEK’s blacklisting was followed by the EU in 2002. Khatami’s job was seen “finished” by the supreme leader and he had to vacate power for the hardliners. Ahmadinejad was the result of the West’s failed appeasement policy towards Iran; “Leashing the stone, and unleashing the dog” as the saying goes in Farsi.

The regime’s lobbyists, paraded as “Iran experts” by NIAC, who advocate for MEK’s continued FTO designation do not present any legal arguments for such a designation with lethal consequences for thousands of MEK members and supporters in Iran, Iraq and around the world, but instead use legally-irrelevant rhetoric that any de-listing will harm the “reformists” and is therefore politically wrong.

Even if they were right – which has been proven wrong - this argument would only affirm MEK’s decade-long assertions that the terror-label was never based on facts but was a purely political instrument from the beginning.

There is in fact no evidence to prove that the MEK is a terrorist organization. The Federal Appeals Court of DC Circuit ruled in July 2010 that the State Department had not acted properly on available evidence and therefore remanded the case to the Secretary of State to review her decision. But one year and one month after that ruling, the State Department has not made any decisions yet.

This wrong policy also threatens the lives of 3,400 unarmed and innocent residents of Camp Ashraf, because Iraq is use’s the terror-label as an excuse for murdering and attacking them. The Iraqi Prime Minister mentioned this in a meeting with the US Congressional delegation who recently visited Iraq to protest an assault by Iraqi guards that killed scores of innocent people in Ashraf in April. Removing MEK’s FTO designation will give Ashraf residents a chance to be transferred to third countries. This could prevent a much feared Srebrenica-style massacre that international jurists have warned is looming in Ashraf if the status-quo persists.

The main drive behind the anti-MEK campaign in Washington DC is “National Iranian American Council (NIAC)” led by Trita Parsi. For years he has been lobbying for a “softer policy” towards Iran. A few years ago, he was lobbying to prevent the black listing of Iran’s notorious Revolutionary Guards Corps as an FTO. A potential delisting will bring to an end to the long-time policy of appeasement with the Mullah regime in Iran, thus ruining NIAC’s decade-long investment in continued services to the regime.

To justify its campaign, NIAC claims that the MEK is a “dangerous cult” and has no “popular support” in Iran. In fact none of these baseless claims even responds to legal requirements for an FTO designation. A part of this campaign is also focused on discrediting distinguished former US officials, who in recent months have demanded the delisting of the MEK and protection for the 3,400 defenseless residents of Camp Ashraf.

An online petition, started this month, urging Secretary Clinton to delist the MEK has already attracted thousands to publicly put their names to the cause.

On August 26th, large numbers of Iranian-Americans are going to protest in front of the State Department in Washington DC to demand MEK be delisted and call for protection of Camp Ashraf.

Apart from many innocent lives that are being lost in Iran on a daily basis, continued appeasement of the mullahs will also cost the lives of even more US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan – an uncontestable fact, eight years after the conflicts. A firm policy will make the mullahs understand that America is genuine when it talks about democracy, and would therefore make the Mullahs think twice before supporting terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But at the end of the day, the State Department’s decision must be based on facts and not on fiction and hearsay. If there is no evidence to prove MEK is a terrorist organization, they must be taken off the FTO list, just like in Britain, France and the European Union.

MEK’s terror-designation, as admitted by US officials, was a political decision from the beginning. It has stayed a political decision during 14 years of appeasement of the mullahs, but it can no longer remain so after the Federal Appeals Court ruling. The State Department must either provide solid evidence or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should revoke the designation.


Siavosh Rajizadeh, freelance Journalist and human rights activist from Iran

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