PARIS - A group of prominent U.S. Republicans associated with homeland security told a forum of cheering Iranian exiles here Wednesday that President Obama's policy toward Iran amounts to futile appeasement that will never persuade Tehran to abandon its nuclear projects.
"Appeasement of dictators leads to war, destruction and the loss of human lives," Giuliani declared. "For your organization to be described as a terrorist organization is just really a disgrace."
The four GOP figures appeared at a rally organized by the French Committee for a Democratic Iran, a pressure group formed to support MEK.
Their crowd-pleasing appeals, they said, reflected growing bipartisan sentiment in the U.S. Congress and elsewhere that the 13-year-old terrorist designation of the Paris-based dissident group should be ended because it is unfounded and has not made the Iranian government easier to deal with or halt its nuclear program. In addition, they noted, a Washington federal appeals court in July ordered Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to review the listing, and cast doubt on some of the information brought forward to support it.
Read the entire article here
There are a couple of points I want to make.
1. The trip to Paris by the republicans reeked of being a partisan stunt for the purpose of throwing a dig at Obama. Guliani in particular is obsessed with the appeasement concept and I have heard him use it on occasions when it was entirely inappropriate. He compares just about everything to 1938 Europe. Conservatives like to criticise Obama for being weak on national security. However, the objective ones concede that he has pursued the war on terror in a more aggressive fashion than they would have thought. They also know that the Iranian situation is an exceptionally difficult tightrope to navigate and that his approach to Iran has been little different than the previous administration. So while I welcome the debate on MKO, I think it was a cheap shot by Guliani and co.
The French based MKO harbour an intense hatred of the Islamic Republic.
2. As the article points out, the MKO are a controversial organisation to put it mildly. They were originally the Marxist portion of the revolutionary movement that culminated with the over throw of the Shah in 1979. Their left wing agenda was obviously incompatible with that of Khomeini and the Mullahs so it wasn't long before they started butchering each other. MKO's most spectacular attack came in June 1981 when they killed 70 high ranking officials of the new Islamic government in a bomb attack at their party headquarters. Perhaps most controversially though, the MKO backed Iraq in the Iran Iraq war. MKO fighters that avoided death or capture at the hands of Khomeini's regime fled to Iraq where they were pledged support by Sadam Hussein who was at that time engaged in an all out war with Iran. In the days following the UN brokered ceasefire that ended the Iran Iraq war in 1988, 7000 MKO fighters invaded Iran from Iraq in an attempt to overthrow the regime. It failed. However, I believe the real legacy of MKO's alliance with Iraq is that they are now detested within Iran. While MKO remains popular with many Iranians in exile I suspect they have little or no support at home. The eight year war with Iraq means everything to the Iranian people. Everyone knows someone who fought and died in the conflict. The memory of the war is part of Iran's national character and its legacy continues to have a deep psychological effect on the nation, similarly to how Britain viewed the war during the 1950s and 60s. The Iranian nation, so famously nationalistic will never forgive MKO for siding with the enemy. This makes support for them only positive in the sense that they could be a thorn in Tehran's side in the event of war, but it would be counter productive if subtle regime change is the agenda.
3. The wider issue of to what extent the US should support opposition movements is relevant here. Any opposition movement in Iran should be seen as indigenous. Although this is a moot point because any internal dissent in Iran will automatically be smeared as a puppet of the west by the regime. Supporting militant, even violent opposition would be even more risky. Iran already does initiate attacks on US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan via its proxies, however Tehran could drastically increase the quantity of such attacks, destabilising the situations in those countries in the process. But again this is a bridge that will eventually have to be crossed, as the show down over Iran's nuclear programme reaches its climax.
In conclusion I have to say that for now, I believe that unleashing MKO on Iran would accomplish little. As I have said many times on Gubu World the only positive solution I see to the Iranian crisis would be if it turns out that the US has been in secret negotiations with Tehran about an opening, Nixon China style. This is unlikely I accept but permitting a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, and striking their nuclear facilities probably wont work and will be met with devastating retaliation. The military option may be necessary, but this third way is the only potential solution that does not end in war. My advice, keep the MKO card for a later date. Who knows perhaps maintaining the ban on MKO might be part of such an opening. If Iran were to give up its nuclear programme in its entirety as part of such an agreement, it would certainly be worth it.