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US using MKO terrorists as bargaining chips, says BBC

Nearly four years after overthrowing of Saddam Hussein’s regime, the US are still using some 3,500 MKO terrorists at Ashraf camp in Iraq as a bargaining tool in its relations with Iran, BBC reported.

Britain’s state-funded broadcaster said the US cannot decide what to do in its hypocritical policy, with some statesmen in Washington still seeing the MKO as potential allies even though the grouplet is officially branded as terrorists.

A documentary for Newsnight, screened on Wednesday, suggested there was a split between the US State Department and Defence Department, where there was said to be a "strong pro-MKO lobby" despite the removal of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff, expressed regret that the terrorist group had been used as a US source of confrontation against Iran.

"I think failure of the US for six years to make some meaningful overture to Iran is a terrible mistake," Wilkerson told the program.

Kenneth Pollack of the Brooking Institute said that the US and Iran needed to work together to stabilize Iraq and on nuclear issues and that he did not want the MKO to be used "to muddy trouble waters." The documentary introduced the MKO a "cruel and manipulative cult" that had killed and wounded hundreds of Iranian politicians and civilians for more than two decades.

Former members were interviewed describing the psychological warfare and torture used by the Iraq-based terrorist organization as part of its system of control.

A spokesman for the MKO front group in London, Ali Safavi, even admitted that all members were asked to divorce to show their devotion to the organization that had led to the break up of their families.

From Iraq, where the terrorists had been given their military base as guests of Saddam, numerous invasions of Iran were carried out.

But since Saddam became an enemy of the west, they had become a terrible liability with the new Iraqi government wanting the MKO removed from Ashraf.

The report suggested that the US had missed opportunities to make deals with Iran first during its war in Afghanistan and then following its invasion of Iraq.

But it now believed that time was finally running out for the MKO and that they would be "probably be used as bargaining chips in a diplomatic game" by the US for better relations with Tehran.

London, Jan 18, IRNA

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