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US may support controversial Iranian group

An armed Iranian exile group listed as a terrorist organization by the USA and European Union may now get US support to help topple Iran’s ruling regime. The Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) has its European headquarters in Norway.

Although the MKO has been listed as a terrorist organization by the USA and EU since 1997 and its leaders are banished from most European nations, it is not listed by the United Nations.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs press spokesman Karsten Klepsvik explained Norway’s stance on the MKO to Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Thursday.

“The USA’s list has nothing to do with us, but in connection with the EU list, which we do follow, we have authority to pursue the group if they do something illegal in Norway,” Klepsvik said.

Support from Washington?

British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported that the Pentagon is now considering aiding the MKO as part of an overall strategy of trying to destabilize and topple Iran from within.

According to the Telegraph, the group’s “military expertise and discipline has impressed the Pentagon, which has suggested it could be renamed and operate with clandestine American help”.

The MKO has carried out several political assassinations in Iran and built up an army on the Iran border with the blessing of former Iraq head Saddam Hussein.

Middle East expert Kari Vogt at the University of Oslo is extremely skeptical to a strategy involving the MKO, whom she says is an undemocratic and violent group that has no foothold in Iran.

“They have made themselves extremely unpopular with the Iranian people. Norway has been a bit more willing than other European nations, which have gotten extremely cold feet, towards them,” Vogt said.

Norway’s Foreign Ministry has no plans to investigate MKO activities inside this country.

“If this group had been on the United Nations terror list we would have had obligations of international law to examine how they are financed and what their members do,” Klepsvik said.

Aftenposten English Web Desk – by Jonathan Tisdall

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