Iranian People Don’t Want MEK says Thomas Pickering in US Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing
WITNESSES: THOMAS PICKERING, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS
FORMER CIA DIRECTOR JAMES WOOLSEY
REP. TOM TANCREDO, R-COLO: It is just that, sir, and thank you.
Let me go from the strategic to the tactical in terms of the framework for our discussion here, both because of the time constraints and also because I think so much has been gained by the discussion to this point in time.
We’ve talked about the fact that the people in seem to be interested in regime change themselves. I think you put it, If the mullahs hate us as much as they seem to, then there must be something good about us, is the way many Iraqi people — I mean the Iranians — are looking at the situation today.
So if that is the case, then I hearken back to the situation we have with the MEK. And I wonder about whether or not it would not be in our best interest to take them off of the terrorist watch list, as they are certainly hated by the mullahs. And that is the one thing about which we are sure with regard to the MEK.
There are lots of, you know, gray areas, murky areas in the past, things we’re not positive about in terms of their responsibility for certain actions 30 years ago. But in the last couple of decades, anyway, it seems to me that it is pretty clear that they are, as a political — they are certainly not much of a military force, but a political force — and they may not even be that to any great extent. But to the extent that they are operating as a group of people who are articulating an opposition to the present regime, they understand the culture. They understand the language.
We are protecting them in Camp Ashraf . Here’s a group of people who are, in fact, on the terrorist watch list that we are protecting. Our troops are protecting them.
Wouldn’t it be to our advantage to somehow use these folks in pursuit of our goals? And in order to do that, wouldn’t it require their removal from that list?
LANTOS: Ambassador Pickering?
PICKERING : Yes, certainly. I’d be happy to answer the question. I think that the question is premised on the Middle East fundamental proposition, "The enemy of the enemy is my friend."
My view is that the MEK doesn’t represent the kind of government we would like to see in their past actions — and they’re all documented fairly well — in . To me, it would be a bigger burden.
And if the Iranian people knew what MEK had been doing in terms of its own activities and the way it behaved, particularly towards its own people, I think they, too, would see that as a negative rather than a positive.
LANTOS: Ambassador Woolsey?
WOOLSEY: I agree with Tom. Everybody is using Churchill quotes today, one of my favorite is, "If Hitler invaded hell, I should find a kind word to say for the devil."
And there’s a side of me that is tempted to cast about for anybody when can cause trouble for the Iranian regime. But I do think their being on the terrorist watch list at this point is a bar. And if somebody wants to look into the facts of all that and the history of it and exactly what they did and so on, it might be a useful review for someone to do. But I never have done it and I don’t know how it would come out. –HOUSE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS HEARING ON THE NEXT STEPS IN THE CRISIS