Iran TerrorismPanel discusses status of Iranian ‘terrorist’ organization

Panel discusses status of Iranian ‘terrorist’ organization

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Northwest Arkansas Times: Removing Mujahedeen e-Khalq from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations is the best option for bringing democracy to Iran, the founder of the Iran Policy Committee said Wednesday at the Clarion Inn during a panel discussion of the Iranian presidential elections and the U.S. policy options for Iran.
The panel was organized by Hooshang Nazarali, a Madison County Justice of the Peace and business owner. Northwest Arkansas Times

BY ADAM WALLWORTH

Removing Mujahedeen e-Khalq from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations is the best option for bringing democracy to Iran, the founder of the Iran Policy Committee said Wednesday at the Clarion Inn during a panel discussion of the Iranian presidential elections and the U.S. policy options for Iran.

The panel was organized by Hooshang Nazarali, a Madison County Justice of the Peace and business owner.

Diplomacy is more effective if there is a threat of internal dissent, said Raymond Tanter, a visiting professor at Georgetown University and former senior staffer on the National Security Council who served as keynote speaker. “Diplomacy alone is like a martini without gin — straight vermouth,” Tanter said.

Mujahedeen e-Khalq, or MEK, is an organization under the National Council for Resistance of Iran and is listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department. According to a 2004 report by the State Department, the MEK was supported by the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein and supported the 1979 take over of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran.

After coalition aircraft bombed MEK bases early in Operation Iraqi Freedom, the group’s leadership ordered members not to resist coalition forces and a formal cease-fire agreement was reached in May 2003, the report states.

MEK was placed on the terrorist list by former President Bill Clinton and again by President George W. Bush in attempts to appease the Iranian government, Tanter said. However, the group is not a terrorist organization, he said, but a group freedom fighters who want to bring secular democracy to Iran.

American policy makers are generally of two schools of thought, Tanter said. Some favor continued diplomacy with the Iranian government, while others favor military action. Regime change is a third option that needs to be put on the table, he said.

Instead of sending American troops into Iran, as was done in Iraq, Tanter said, the United States should remove the MEK from the terrorist list and let it fight the Islamic extremist regime in power.

Attempts at diplomacy should not be abandoned but it cannot be the only means used to remove the threat Iran will pose if it obtains nuclear weapons, Tanter said. Iran is moving toward nuclear capabilities faster than diplomatic means can produce results, he said.

If Iran obtains nuclear weapons, it could use them to control smaller countries in the region and could spark a confrontation with Israel, which has about 300 nuclear weapons, Tanter said.

Tanter said military action should also continue to be planned, but it would be best if the Iranian people fight for their own democracy. Without the protection of the MEK, Iranians cannot show dissent for their government, he said.

Nazarali said it is time for President Bush to follow up on his promises to support the Iranian people in overthrowing the regime, which sponsors terrorism. “Mr. Bush, please, you talk nice. Now it’s time for action,” Nazarali said.

Tanter said the presidential elections to be held June 17 are a sham and the best thing Iranians can do is to boycott them, which will show they do not support the sitting government. The Iranian regime is one of the largest state supports of terrorism and one of the most egregious violators of human rights, he said.

Tanter said he is trying to meet with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to ask her to have MEK removed from the terrorist organization list. Tanter said he has known Rice for years and said he “may have to do it on the tennis court to get past the bureaucracy.”

Nazarali, of the Iranian American Community of Arkansas, met Tanter in Washington D. C. at the first convention for Iranian Americans, held at Constitution Hall.

The panel was moderated by Nazarali’s daughter Mina, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, and also featured Lew Meyers, a retired Navy Captain; Bruce Gulledge, a minister; and Greg Nelson, an artist.

The Iran Policy Committee is a group of former officials from the White House, State Department, Pentagon, intelligence agencies and experts from think tanks and universities. For more information about the group, visit www.iranpolicycommittee.org.

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