The world has been put on notice that Yemen is a worrying center of activities by terrorists. The question is, how many other countries can be added to that list? The Daily Star is publishing an open letter to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, by Massoud Khodabandeh, a UK-based consultant who demands that the Mojahedin-e Khalq organization be brought under control. The group, which is termed “terrorist” by the United States, is allowed to operate freely in Germany, France and the United Kingdom, and its satellite programs are inciting violence on the streets of Iran.
Meanwhile, the Iranian authorities are claiming that some of those arrested in the demonstrations and clashes are Mojahedin-e Khalq members, purportedly acting with the connivance of Western intelligence agencies.
Whatever the exact degree of Western involvement with the Mojahedin-e Khalq, the group remains a candidate for partnership with Western governments, who preach about fighting terror.
The Mojahedin-e Khalq might be a footnote in the wider struggle, but it’s the nail that punctures the great powers’ approach to Iran. Why harbor the group if it’s terrorist? If the West can’t agree on who’s a terrorist, how do they expect an agreement with the Muslim world?
The partisans of the Mojahedin-e Khalq aren’t just reporting the news from London; they’re inciting and agitating, and acting as a fifth column (whatever their actual size). They help ensure that the dispute between factions in Iran takes a course that leaves behind any possibility of reasonable settlement.
People in this region mentally note that the West, in some way or form, enables the efforts and activities of the Mojahedin-e Khalq while demanding action on terror. Today, Hillary Clinton is warning us about Yemen; can we be absolutely sure that such shadowy foreign policy tools aren’t being used there too?
Similar credibility damage has come from Blackwater in Iraq, and the larger Private Military Contractor phenomenon. Many Iraqis have suffered the exactions of these mercenaries; last week, a group of Blackwater employees found out that they wouldn’t have to stand trial for murder. People hear the stories of Blackwater, and the Mojahedin-e Khalq, and all of the Obama administration’s rhetoric of fighting extremists and violence goes out the window.
Even worse, people assume that the West actually seeks a clash with the Muslim world, by allowing these harmful elements to survive or flourish.
If the West wants to go forward with new sanctions on Iran, and seeks regional and international support, it simply must clean up its act. It can’t allow these terrorists and non-state actors to wreck the chances for making a real fight against the economic underdevelopment and political illegitimacy that plagues us, and that incubates the terror that Washington is so worried about.
The Daily Star