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Friday, January 28, 2011

James Jones backs removing terror designation from MEK

The Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) or People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI) is Iran's largest opposition group. It was designated a terror organization in the 1970's due to its opposition to the Shah, who was a US ally. This is from last January.
Today an important step will be taken in determining whether an injustice created nearly two decades ago by our executive branch will be corrected by our judicial branch. At issue is a challenge, before the U.S. Court of Appeals, which will hear oral arguments on the issue, to the Secretary of State’s refusal to revoke the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) designation of the main Iranian opposition group, known as the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) or People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI). The outcome of the Court’s decision can affect a foreign policy with Iran, which, under the two U.S. Presidents in office since the FTO listing, has remained toothless. Making the right decision to revoke MEK’s FTO status now would tell Iran the era of appeasement is over.

Founded in 1965 by progressive Muslim intellectuals, MEK’s early objectives ran contrary to those of the U.S. While U.S. interests focused on keeping an ally—the Shah—in power, MEK’s focus was on toppling him. As such, in the early 1970s, MEK’s top leadership were killed or arrested under a massive nationwide crackdown by the Shah’s secret police. What original leadership survived was released from prison weeks prior to the Shah’s fall. MEK’s popular network took part in the 1979 movement to turn him out and usher the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in. But it did not take long to realize the mullahs’ extremism undermined the democratic, post-Shah Iran MEK had envisioned. For example, MEK’s view Muslim women were equal was rejected by Khomeini, who removed women from positions of authority, claiming they lacked the brain capacity of their male counterparts.

Soon the differences between Khomeini and MEK leadership turned violent. In 1981, MEK-led peaceful demonstrations against Khomeini’s brutality resulted in the head mullah’s orders to shoot protesters in the streets. Most of MEK’s senior cadres were executed. Its core leadership relocated to Paris, where it re-asserted the group’s influence.
Fast forward another year.
This is a bit surprising:
The team included former U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton, former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson and former U.S. National Security Advisor director James Jones. They endorsed what one can only call a spectrum of views, although all backed MEK’s legitimacy, and the notion of removing it from the list of terrorist organizations.
The MEK is, depending on whom you ask, a terrorist cult or legitimate resistance. Jones's public support for removing it from the State Department's list of terrorist groups is, at least, notable.
If he were still in the White House, I would say his support of the MEK signifies the end of the Obama administration's efforts to 'engage' Iran. But since Jones is no longer in the White House, I guess we can't go that far.

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At 10:54 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Though I usually don't agree w/ Jones, here I do. Removing MEK from the list is an anti-regime stance. As for Jones' influence on Obama, even your blog had a clip from Jones' Aspen Institute discussion a couple months ago, & shortly thereafter his very ideas about Israel were adopted by the Obama administration -- i.e., abandon the settlements issue & go for an imposed solution, just with enough plausible deniability of being the imposer.


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