The Mojahedin-é Khalq Organisation (MKO), the Iranian terrorist proscribed opposition group, has escalated its over the years demanding move to be lifted from many lists of terrorist organisations in Western Countries. The State Department of the United States, the British Parliament, and the Council of the European Union are some of those who have officially listed MKO as a proscribed group.
After the invasion of Iraq and the collapse of Iraq’s deposed dictator Saddam Hussein on April 2003, the MKO leaders faced dramatic turmoil which led them to try to look for an alternative to the Iraqi despot as their sponsor. The likely choice of course was the USA who in their view had actually taken Saddam Hussein’s place. One major obstacle in this regard, as far as the MKO is concerned, is that the Organisation has been listed as a terrorist group. Therefore the leadership of Mojahedin-é Khalq structured its international policy on striving to be removed from the list of Foreign Terrorist Groups (FTG) in the USA.
The present acting leader of the Organisation Maryam Rajavi, after the mysterious non-appearance of her husband Mas’ud Rajavi since the invasion of Iraq, has presented a proposal called the “third option” before the West. According to her doctrine the Western Countries, particularly the United States, must first remove the Organisation from the list of Foreign Terrorist Groups (FTG) and then support them again in the same way that Saddam Hussein once did.
Supporting and arming the group by Saddam Hussein had of course no political impact on him since Iraq was officially at war with Iran, and both countries were trying to support and use the other party’s opposition against their enemy. But in the case of the United States, the Organisation would be removed from the list in the case if the USA would wish to arm them against the IRI, since this is the only employ the Organisation could have for them .
Recently there has been a rumour that the hardliners inside the Bush Administration are thinking of using MKO against the Islamic Regime. A political utilisation of the Organisation would be totally useless since there are many better options for the USA to be used in the propaganda war than MKO. The only use they might be worth of considering would be for sabotage and terrorist activities. Removing them from the list would certainly tighten the hands of Americans in using the Organisation in a functional way and they would be a useless card.
The other matter worth considering is that the USA is not expecting MKO to play a role in a widespread classic military confrontation against Iran. The Organisation could only engage itself in non-conventional and destructive operations since its consumption is in this framework only.
Therefore the troika of the USA, Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), and MKO are establishing a very complicated mutual relationship in such way that every single move would have its direct consequences. MKO tries to draw the attention of the USA against the IRI, the USA is aiming to utilise the MKO against the IRI, and IRI of course is trying to disgrace and discredit MKO in the eyes of the USA.
There are two options against the West and particularly the USA regarding MKO:
First: removing them from the List,
Second: leaving them in the List.
Each option by its own would lead to two other options:
First: re-arming them in Iraq,
Second: leaving them unarmed in Iraq.
Therefore there are utterly four options all together:
First: out of list, armed in Iraq:
This certainly means proclaiming war against the IRI. If the USA decides to take Saddam Hussein’s sponsor roll for the MKO, they should also bear in mind that the deposed dictator of Iraq was officially at war state.
Second: out of list, kept unarmed in Iraq:
This means that MKO’s position has shifted from armed struggle against IRI, to a pacifistic struggle. And therefore the Organisation would stick to political and propaganda activities and hence they would be of no use to the West against the Islamic State. In this case two options could be considered too. One is to keep the Organisation staying in Iraq, and the other is to move them out of Iraq. The final result in both cases would be unaltered. Taking them out of Iraq certainly means that the Organisation’s war with IRI is definitely over.
Third: kept in the list, armed covertly in Iraq:
This means initiating clandestine military-intelligence war against the IRI. In this case, sooner or later, the matter would be revealed and the results of the first case would apply.
Fourth: kept in the list, decisively unarmed in Iraq:
This of course is to carry on with the situation as it is today. In this case the West and the USA have MKO in hand to sit for negotiations with Iran. In other words the present situation is the best possible situation, since the USA has both advantages of having MKO still in the list – USA has MKO in hand and can startle Iran by using the threat of removing them from the list – and has remained committed to the Western standards of tackling terrorism. Nevertheless as soon as MKO is out listed, the USA has nothing in hand for negotiation and to make a deal, and therefore would have the military option and using MKO in destructive operations to face with.
In other words, so long as the USA in seeking negotiations and willing to compromise with Iran and the Western strategy has not shifted towards military option, MKO would remain in the list. But if the West and USA decide to tackle Iran using force, particularly using destructive operations, they would move MKO form the list of Foreign Terrorist Groups.
Therefore the Third Option that Maryam Rajavi is proposing the West contains a paradox of its own accord, in view of the fact that her demand of removing MKO from the list, would be fulfilled when West is determined to tackle Iran militarily. In effect Maryam Rajavi is urging the USA to forget about the military option against Iran and the same time to remove MKO from the list which is absolutely impossible.
Ebrahim Khodabandeh, August 2006