Iraq Takes over Province from US

Section: General News – Iraq on Wednesday took over from US forces control of the central Shiite province of Wasit. Wasit became the 13th of Iraq’s 18 provinces to be handed over by US-led forces to Baghdad. The swift transfer of some provinces has been facilitated by fall in violence across the country, which observers believe is a result of the transfer of security to the Iraqi government.

"We received today the security responsibility of Wasit province," national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie said at a ceremony held at a football stadium in the provincial capital of Kut, south of Baghdad. He said Wasit had achieved a level of efficiency and ability in civil and security affairs.

The transfer comes within a week of nearby Babil province being returned to the Iraqis. With it, US forces will now retreat to their bases and participate in security operations only at the request of the provincial governor.

Rubaie also announced that "within weeks" Baghdad would take control of the northern oil-rich but ethnically volatile region of Kirkuk and of Salaheddin, the Sunni home province of executed dictator Saddam Hussein.

The US military also remains in control of Baghdad, Nineveh and Diyala. The Diyala province has been home to the anti-Iran terrorist group, the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) since the 1980s.

The MKO is blacklisted by much of the international community, including the United States.

The MKO is on the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations subject to an EU-wide assets freeze, and has been designated by the US government as a foreign terrorist organization. Yet, the MKO puppet leader, Maryam Rajavi, who has residency in France, regularly visits Brussels and despite the ban enjoys full freedom in Europe.

The MKO is behind a slew of assassinations and bombings inside Iran, a number of EU parliamentarians said in a recent letter in which they slammed a British court decision to remove the MKO from the British terror list. The EU officials also added that the group has no public support within Iran because of their role in helping Saddam Hussein in the Iraqi imposed war on Iran (1980-1988).

A May 2005 Human Rights Watch report accused the MKO of running prison camps in Iraq and committing human rights violations.

According to Human Rights Watch report, the outlawed group puts defectors under torture and jail terms.

The group, founded in the 1960s, blended elements of Islamism and Stalinism and participated in the overthrow of the US-backed Shah of Iran in 1979. Ahead of the revolution, the MKO conducted attacks and assassinations against both Iranian and Western targets.

Leaders of the group have been fighting to shed its terrorist tag after a series of bloody anti-Western attacks in the 1970s, and nearly 30 years of violent struggle against the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The group started assassination of the citizens and officials after the revolution in a bid to take control of the newly established Islamic Republic. It killed several of Iran’s new leaders in the early years after the revolution, including the then President, Mohammad Ali Rajayee, Prime Minister, Mohammad Javad Bahonar and the Judiciary Chief, Mohammad Hossein Beheshti who were killed in bomb attacks by MKO members in 1981.

The group fled to Iraq in 1986, where it was protected by Saddam Hussein and where it helped the Iraqi dictator suppress Shiite and Kurd uprisings in the country.

The terrorist group joined Saddam’s army during the Iraqi imposed war on Iran (1980-1988) and helped Saddam and killed thousands of Iranian civilians and soldiers during the US-backed Iraqi imposed war on Iran.

Since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the group, which now adheres to a pro-free-market philosophy, has been strongly backed by neo-conservatives in the United States, who also argue for the MKO to be taken off the US terror list.

Thai News Service, October 30, 2008

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