Here’s a thought experiment: imagine that there is a terrorist network in the USA that has been responsible for hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths over several decades. The group declares itself dedicated to destroying the US government and has been involved in car bombing urban centres, kidnapping and murdering members of the country’s security forces, and assassinating government scientists, as well as perpetrating countless random murders on businessmen and ordinary families.
Now imagine that the Iranian government announces a new policy in which it does not consider the above clandestine group a terrorist entity. That policy means that the network is free to raise money in Iran to fund its terror campaign against US citizens and to lobby for political support among Iranian lawmakers and ambassadors.
We can safely conclude that in such a far-fetched scenario, the US government would immediately declare war on Iran and proceed to carpet bomb that country mercilessly – with the Western corporate news media blasting righteous endorsements of vengeance.
Yet this scenario of aiding and abetting terrorism is far from far-fetched when it comes to actual US policy towards Iran. Just last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton officially de-listed the Iranian Mujahideen e-Khalq (MEK) from its official terror watch list.
That the MEK is a terror group is beyond dispute, despite the US government’s apparent change of opinion. The term “terror group” applies objectively and accurately. It is not just a pejorative propaganda label used by the Iranian government to blacken some dissident group. Since the 1980s, the MEK network itself claims that it has killed 40,000 Iranians whom it considers legitimate targets because they are “loyal” to, that is because they are citizens of, the Islamic Republic. Lower estimates of fatalities are put at around 17,000. Proportionate to its population that would give an upper equivalent of 150,000 dead Americans – a death toll suffered by Iran which is 50 times greater than that ascribed to 9/11.
The MEK, also known as MKO, has colluded with foreign powers for the stated goal of destroying the Islamic Republic of Iran. Most notably, between 1980 and 1988 when Iran was facing a US-backed war of aggression by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, the MEK functioned as subversives and shock troops operating “behind enemy lines” to betray their own people.
For that reason, the group has negligible, if any, popular support within Iran. It cannot claim the slightest modicum of popular mandate that might otherwise serve to give its activities a veneer of legitimacy as an “insurgency” or “freedom struggle.” Indeed, it is more accurate to call the group a sort of terrorist cult rather than a political movement. Since 2003, the MEK has not even had a base within Iran, operating clandestinely out of Iraq.
Such is the organisation’s fringe status, that even Iranian political opponents of the government in Tehran deprecated the US government move to officially de-list it as a terror group. That indicates how extreme the network is viewed by the Iranian population.
The Western mainstream media claim that Washington’s clearance of the MEK was given because the group “has renounced violence.” That renunciation was officially made 10 years ago. That is also allegedly why the European Union and the British government removed the network from their terror lists in 2009 and 2008.
How these Western governments can maintain this charade with a straight face is rather astounding. The MEK and other Iranian terror gangs, such as the al-Qaeda-linked Jundallah, have been actively plying violence unabated against the citizenry over the past decade. Even Washington officials admit it. Following the murder of Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan on 11 January earlier this year with a magnetic bomb attached to his car in northern Tehran, anonymous US officials disclosed to American mainstream media that the killing was the work of the MEK in collusion with Israel’s Mossad.
Since 2007, five Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated. The MEK and Mossad are strongly implicated in all these murders and much worse.
Why US officials should have authoritative knowledge of such MEK activities is quite simple. It is because the US government and its military intelligence support these very terrorist activities, along with Mossad and Britain’s MI6. During the George W Bush presidency, congressional leaders secretly approved a budget of $400 million to arm and fund the MEK and Jundallah. According to investigative American journalist Seymour Hersh, US Joint Special Operations Command trained members of the MEK at a secret site in Nevada between 2005 and 2009. Training included use of weapons and explosives in the black arts of sabotage, or, in short, terrorism. During the American illegal occupation of Iraq following 2003, the MEK was given protection and immunity at a dedicated facility, known as Camp Ashraf, in Iraq from where they would launch operations into Iran. The camp has since been closed down following the large-scale American troop withdrawal from the country.
So, the “ceasefire” pretense is a bad joke. However, a substantial reason why the US has de-listed the MEK is the powerful lobbying for such a decision over many years by senior American political and military figures. They include former CIA director James Woolsey, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, ex-New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and past US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton. All of these senior figures, and more, of the American ruling class have called for Washington to give clearance to the MEK – at a time when even US officials are acknowledging that the group is involved in assassinations in Iran.
The move by Washington last week is, in effect, giving full approval to the MEK’s terror and assassination campaign in Iran. It is a stark reminder of Washington’s unwavering warpath towards Iran. Recently, some commentators have tended to misread Washington as giving a rebuff to Israel’s war rhetoric against Iran. But the clearance by Washington of a terrorist campaign in Iran – one that the US government is materially assisting – is a sobering sign that war is still the order of the day. The recent alleged spats between Washington and Tel Aviv are more likely a reflection of tactical variance due to the forthcoming US presidential election than any substantive difference in aggression towards Tehran.
It is hardly a coincidence that Washington’s MEK announcement was made only days before Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the 67th summit of the UN General Assembly in New York. The Washington regime also took the unprecedented step of denying some 20 Iranian diplomats travel visas to attend the UN assembly ¬ this week – this despite an historic agreement by the US, as host nation to the United Nations, to refrain from such obstruction of diplomats from any country regardless of bilateral disputes.
The obstructive snub to Iran’s sovereignty comes in the wake of the successful hosting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) last month in which some 120 member states gathered in Tehran. And it beggars belief that such a diplomatic mugging by Washington this week is not related to Iran’s new presidency of the NAM emphasizing the urgent need for an overhaul of the UN Security Council and greater democracy within the UN General Assembly to end the abusive political domination by the US. Such an overhaul is glaringly obvious now especially in light of the American member of the “security council” supporting terrorism in Iran and denying the victims of terrorism a full hearing. (That other has-been security council power, Britain, is also a disgrace for the same reason.)
Washington’s sinister relationship with Iranian MEK terror group points up the fact of who really is the “rogue state.” White House rhetoric has long tried to paint Iran as such. But in the real world, the MEK joins the phalanx of Washington’s terror proxies and mercenaries, from the Contra to al-Qaeda, who do America’s dirty work around the world. Like the MEK, it’s probably only a matter of time before al-Qaeda is also given official clearance by Washington. Yes, the contradictions are perverse, but such is America’s real relationship with world terrorism and its rogue status par excellence.
By Finian Cunningham