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misplaced concerns

Reader comment on item: Unleash the Iranian Opposition[, the Mujahedeen-e Khalq]

Submitted by Albert Davidson (Germany), Jul 16, 2007 at 14:46

First of all, I commend Daniel Pipes for a balanced and objective observation of the problem the US and, for that matter, the civilized world is facing as they try to grapple with the increasing threats posed by Islamists ruling Iran.

Second, having read some of the commentaries posted on this website and elsewhere in reaction to the original piece, a few things are in order

1. I do not believe Pipes was suggesting that the United States should provide material or military assistance to the MEK. And I do not believe the MEK has ever asked the US or any other western country for that either. To the contrary, MEK's leaders are quoted in the international media as saying that they want neither money nor arms. What they are saying, however, is that the US and Europe should take a neutral position vis-à-vis the conflict between the Iranian people and the MEK on the one hand and the tyrants who rule Iran on the other.

2. The fact is that by blacklisting the MEK, the US and Europe have effectively done the mullahs a favor by hampering what seems to be the only viable opposition to their regime, and at least one which they fear most. I believe the Clinton Administration wanted to show some good will but got nothing in return. So maybe it's time we take back the favor. It looks like in the years since 1997 when the MEK landed on the FTO, we have learned a lesson or two about the nature of the Tehran regime. It's time we lifted this self-defeating tag and honestly I don't think these folks ever even deserved it.

3. The MEK's repeated calls for internationally supervised elections in Iran reflect its commitment to democracy in their country. On the other hand, the clerics' refusal to allow such an election is a reflection of their fear that the Iranians would kick them out of power through the ballot box if ever given the chance. A while back, I read a piece which quoted the MEK's leader, Massoud Rajavi, as saying a quarter century ago, "The Mujahedeen profoundly believe that to avoid the deviations that beset contemporary revolutions throughout the world, they must remain wholeheartedly committed to the will of the public and democracy. If they are to act as a leading organization, before all else, the populace must give them a mandate in a free and fair election. It is not enough to have gone through the trials of repression, imprisonment, torture, and execution under the Shah and the mullahs. The Mujahedeen must also pass the test of general elections. If the Mujahedeen were to choose to compensate for the lack of popular mandate by relying on their past sacrifices or organizational prowess, or arms, their resilient, lively, and democratic organization would soon become a hollow, rotten bureaucracy… If the people don't vote for us (after we have overthrown the mullahs' regime), we shall remain in opposition, holding firmly to our principles." (http://www.neareastpolicy.com/content/view/21/1/). We should support that and help it achieve that goal.

4. The comparison drawn between the MEK and the Taliban and Osama bin Laden, because of the apparent similarity in names, are simply wrong and out of ignorance. The MEK was formed by young Muslim university students 42 years ago - long before the CIA created the Taliban - and the movement they formed has made its trademark in Iran by fiercely opposing what it has termed as "backward Islam" and the clerical establishment. In fact that is why it was kept out of power even though it was a main proponent of the anti-Shah movement. After the 1979 revolution in Iran, the MEK has consistently opposed Iranian involvement in terrorism in the region, and its support for Islamo-fascist groups in the region. By contrast it has supported peace in the Middle East, advocated a secular government, and consistently sided with moderate forces in the region who oppose Islamic radicalism. Most people would acknowledge that the international community owes the MEK a major debt of gratitude for exposing Tehran's hidden nuclear weapons program and for unmasking its terror networks in Europe, the Middle East and especially in Iraq.

5. Tehran's propaganda machine and those with vested interests in continued rapprochement with the mullahs have succeeded in coloring our vision about the MEK, portraying it as a sinister, Marxist cult. Make no mistake, the MEK is not the Contras in Nicaragua or the UNITA in Angola. It is, as the late elder statesman George Ball commented many years ago, a nationalist group whose priority is Iranian national interests before anyone else's. This explains why it opposed the US support for the Shah's military dictatorship. But, we are now in the 21st century. Iran's national interests would be best served if the rest of the Middle East is democratic; if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved peacefully and if extremists are stopped using Islam as justification for blowing up innocent people to further their political agenda.

6. Ironically, the fact that the MEK is an anti-fundamentalist Shiite Muslim group, provides it with a unique opportunity to serve as a model for the rest of Muslims who have only seen the mullahs' of Tehran and radical Islamist groups as their champions. It does not take a rocket scientist to recognize that one has to fight a bad idea with a good idea. No amount of cruise missiles or bombing runs by B-1 bombers or secret operations by Special Ops is going to defeat an extremist ideology. Islamic fundamentalism which sheds blood in Iraq, wreaks havoc in Lebanon, partitions Palestine and kills the innocent in Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere, can only be defeated by its mirror image: a tolerant and modern Islam, which the MEK espouses.

7. As President Bush and Condoleezza Rice have said on a number of occasions, for sixty years the US was on the wrong side of history for defending tyrants. Well, the most dangerous tyrants of our time are the mullahs who rule Iran. It would only be prudent to wake up to this reality and remove the obstacles in the path of patriotic Iranians who want to put their own lives - not ours - on the line to take back their country from the mullahs who stole it.

8. Quite frankly, we need to support the MEK for our own sake. The group has been in opposition for some four decades and would probably be content to remain in opposition for another four decades. The point, as Pipes so correctly pointed out, is that we don't have another four years to waste, let alone 40 years.

Albert

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