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Another failure for the MKO

The Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MKO) and other Ba’ath remnants in Iraq continue to be upset about the newly re-appointed Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki. And for good reason—al-Maliki doesn’t like them and doesn’t want them, and this opinion threatens their wretched existence. Nouri al-Maliki’s opinion stems from his recognition of the true nature of the MKO, a terrorist cult who have resided in Iraq for more than three decades. Leadership of the MKO had their members help Saddam Hussein, who was their main financial and military sponsor, exterminate thousands of Iraqis. The MKO took part in the massacre of Shia communities in Iraq’s south and the Kurdish communities in the north. And al-Maliki is appalled at the role they played under the Ba’athist regime. Al-Maliki happens to be a Shia, and naturally—and from a purely religious standpoint—he maintains respect and admiration for the Shia religious leader, Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei.

This is not good news for the MKO who has about 3,000 resident members currently living in Camp Ashraf, Iraq. For these residents and their cult of personality leadership, none of whom are voting Iraqi citizens, and who have wild dreams of replacing the Iranian government with their own people, the re-election of al-Maliki is a total defeat. As far as Iraqi officials are concerned, the MKO’s presence in Iraq has been an issue of contention for a long time; Al-Maliki has been totally opposed, and according to polls, so is the majority of the population. [1] And for good reason—al-Maliki feels friendly relations with neighboring Iran is critical, and those friendly relations won’t include the MKO.

After al-Maliki’s re-election, the Iraqi people are now hopeful that they are going to have a more stable government in which all political factions share the ruling system. In a White House press statement, President Barack Obama said he is “encouraged by the substantial progress that has been made in forging an inclusive government that represents the Iraqi people and the results of this year’s election.”[2] The statement was followed by a meeting where a US congressional delegation, led by US Senator John McCain, met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Iraq and the United States discussed”the development of bilateral relations and the ongoing political process,”reported Aswat al-Iraq.[3] Al-Maliki, stated that he “understands the importance of boosting ties with Washington in all fields, and the signed strategic agreement.”[4] It is no coincidence that Senator John McCain led this meeting. Historically John McCain’s track record shows he is well aware of the MKO, who have lobbied US and European politicians strongly for decades.

McCain is no stranger as to why al-Maliki’s holds a strong opposition to harboring the MKO on Iraqi soil any longer. In the record of the US war on terrorism, John McCain’s effort can be traced back nearly two decades when he stood against the MKO, whose name, alongside al-Qaida is firm on the US State Department’s designated terrorist organization list. In June 1993, Senator McCain wrote a letter, among many on the group, to Janet Reno, who was at the time the Department of Justice secretary. McCain called for prompt investigation into the MKO and said they were”a major lobbying group”whose members “solicit political support and funds from the Congress, American citizens, and Iranian exiles on US soil under the guise of being a democratic coalition and human rights advocate when it remains an extreme leftist group whose secret agenda opposes American values and the security of Israel.”[5]

McCain stressed that,”anyone can use the rhetoric of democracy. Anyone can hide behind the flag of human rights.”[6] And that’s exactly what the MKO is still doing. But in Iraq they posit a slightly different rhetoric—a desperate, hostile one—in which they demonize al-Maliki, and praise former Ba’athist Tariq Aziz, who in October 2010, received a death sentence. [7]

Now that the MKO and their strategic container, Camp Ashraf, are under Iraqi sovereignty, the group leaders need to be cooperating with the Iraqi government, but they are not. The fact that they are a known violent terrorist group is bound to create obstacles, and their temporary refugee status has been exhausted.

The MKO commandants, as they continue to lobby US and European politicians, hope to gain full support from the West, and hope to be removed from the State Department’s designated terrorist list. The message the MKO preaches in Iraq, so they can keep their stronghold at Ashraf, is meant to cause division and crisis and the group needs to be watched, as they are acting boldly against the Iraqi government. The few sympathizers they have are old supporters of Saddam Hussein, and naïve Western politicians who believe the MKO is some sort of human rights group.

Perhaps the MKO knows they have used their last shot at surviving in the region. Perhaps they know they are heading toward self-destruction. After all, Camp Ashraf is physically the closest location for them to be near Iran, their desired final destination. As for al-Maliki’s opinion, although he’s a Shia Muslim, it doesn’t mean he takes orders from Iran, nor does it mean that he would judge the nature of the MKO based on how the leadership in Iran feels. Al-Maliki has more than enough reason and documentation established inside Iraq to justify getting rid of the MKO, a dismal group of failing terrorists who no one wants.

[1] Recently, the Iraqi al-Sumaria TV channel website posted a survey on
whether people there are in favor of ousting the MKO. The result of the poll
is still available on the website. About 64% of the audience voted “yes”.
See http://www.alsumaria.tv/en/opinion-polls-iraq-118.html
[2] Allen, JoAnne.”Reuters US Edition.”*Reuters.com*. 11 NOV 2010. Web. 21
Dec 2010. <http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1123266420101112>.
[3] Aswat al-Iraq, Al-Maliki meets U.S. congressional delegation
Nov 10, 2010
[4] ibid
[5] Proceedings and Debates of the 103rd Congress, First Session, Thursday,
Citation: 139 Congressional Record, page S172-03)
Also found online on the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) website:
[6] ibid
[7] CNN Wire Staff.”Iraqi court sentences Tariq Aziz to death.”*CNN.com*26 OCT 2010: Web. 21 Dec 2010. <

By Mazda Parsi

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