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MAY 16, 2012 4:05AM

The US Still Distrusts MKO

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Mrs. Clinton is reluctant to make an easy decision to please whom she distrusts most

May 16, 2012

Verified through diclosures of MKO former members, just on the verge of being removed from the EU list of terror MKO, was actively collecting signatures from its members to testify that “Armed struggle is the only possible means to achieve regime change and take power in Iran”. At the same time the group was struggling to convince the Court of Justice of the European Communities that "it rejects armed struggle and commits itself only to non-violent means of struggle and therefore asks the relevant authorities to remove it from the lists of terrorist organizations. The MEK claims that in future it will only engage in political, social and cultural activities against the Iranian regime.” However, there is no publically recorded evidence that MKO has unequivocally renounced violence; it has only adapted to a totally pro-democratic milieu for a new round of engaging in political and social activities as a means to achieve its aims.

But, can MKO also take in those who on sound evidences have listed it as a foreign terrorist organization since 1997? MKO has engaged in an aggressive legal and lobbying campaign in Washington over the past two years to win its removal from the State Department's list. Yet, it is the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who has to make any final decision on the group's status. She has promised to look favorably at delisting MKO if it continued cooperating to completely abandon its long occupied paramilitary base, Camp Ashraf, inside Iraq.

According to released reports, the U.S. officials have said Mrs. Clinton would make her final decision on MKO's status no less than 60 days after the last member is relocated from Camp Ashraf to a temporary transit facility near Baghdad. Robert Loeb, who is representing Mrs. Clinton in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. said that Mrs. Clinton will decide on removing the MEK from the list no later than 60 days after Camp Ashraf has been vacated, and data gathered from the relocation has been studied to verify the group’s claims that it is not a terror group. Mr. Loeb argued questions still remain whether “hard core” elements of the group harbor weapons inside the base and thus retain the “capacity” to launch attacks. Despite Mrs. Clinton’s promise, a remarkable point in all is that the US still resists trusting the long blacklisted group.

In the US Department of State’s announcement about MKO in 1992, years before being designated, there are numerous references to the fact that the group cannot be trusted to have renounced terrorism. Quoting one MKO spokesman when questioned about the group's future in Iraq after the war, the report states: “Mojahedin have learned to take proper tactics hence and if necessary. We have always adjusted tactics in our fighting. The form of fighting is secondary. The cult-like nature of MKO, as verified in the report, makes it much more non-trustable: "Masud Rajavi complements his authoritarian leadership by fostering a personality cult that revolves primarily around himself and secondarily around his wife, Maryam”.  

Secondly, the US needs enough time to have a complete inspection of the camp. In contrast to MKO’s claims that the US forces have repeatedly inspected the entire camp and found no sign of weapons or ammunition, nor any plans or intentions to acquire weapons or use violence, there are sound evidences that the paramilitary camp has never been fully searched. Both the US and MKO know well that the group never surrendered its arms but after an enforced ceasefire and hence, the group is under suspicion of concealing arms depot. As verified by RAND’s A Policy Conundrum, “MNF-I has never conducted a comprehensive search of Camp Ashraf. The MeK would not allow it, and MNF-I was unwilling to divert manpower at FOB Grizzly from regular regional security missions to force a search upon the group. As a result, there are buildings at Camp Ashraf that no American has ever searched”.

A remarkable third point is that the State Department is not still convinced that MKO has totally renounced terrorism. It has a deep mistrust of the group as a destructive cult with a terrorist potentiality and will not lose such potentiality without arm and camp. The tragic events the State Department refers to in its annual terrorist report in 2010 when describing activities of MKO is an indication of its concern about repetition of similar events: “in 2003, French authorities arrested 160 MEK members at operational bases they believed the MEK was using to coordinate financing and planning for terrorist attacks. Upon the arrest of MEK leader Maryam Rajavi, MEK members took to Paris’ streets and engaged in self-immolation. French authorities eventually released Rajavi”.

MKO has proved that it has horrible capacity in provoking bloody clashes empty-handed and never misses its violent nature in confrontations it calls “self-defense”. After the US forces handed over external security of Camp Ashraf to the Iraqis in 2009, the Iraqi forces have since tried twice to enter Camp Ashraf, resulting in bloody clashes with the MKO that inflicted heavy casualties on both sides.

Of course, disarming MKO is not a priority for US since the group lacks the appropriate setting of conducting operation as was available in Saddam’s era. MKO is distrusted more because it has “learned to take proper tactics” and performing under a variety of disguise which are even more threatening than the face to face armed confrontation. However, Mrs. Clinton has made a promise but is reluctant to put it into action so easily to please whom she distrusts most. And MKO has done its best to fulfill American’s expectation through a variety of means to win its favor; however, the group is well aware that it has no option but to be patient since it is the mouse in a game of cat and mouse.  





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