Obama Relents on Delisting MEK

The Obama administration is acquiescing to a high-priced lobbying campaign to “delist” the Iranian dissident movement, MEK, from the U.S. terrorism list. The move signals a readiness to intensify the confrontation with Iran, write Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett at www.RaceForIran.com.

By Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

The U.S. Department of State took the moral and strategic bankruptcy of America’s Iran policy to a new low, by notifying Congress that the Obama administration intends to remove the mojahedin-e khalq (MEK) from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs).

At a macro level, we are disdainful, even scornful, of the U.S. government’s lists of both FTOs and state sponsors of terrorism. We have seen too many times over the years just how cynically American administrations have manipulated these designations, adding and removing organizations and countries for reasons that have little or nothing to do with designees’ actual involvement in terrorist activity.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

So, for example, after Saddam Hussein invaded the fledgling Islamic Republic in 1980, on September 22, no less, and starting killing large numbers of innocent Iranians, the Reagan administration (which came to office in January 1981) found a way to remove Iraq from the state sponsors list, in order to remove legal restrictions prohibiting the U.S. government from helping Saddam prosecute his war of aggression as robustly as the administration wanted.

(During that war, the MEK, after having tried but failed to bring down the Islamic Republic through a bloody campaign of terrorist bombings and assassinations conducted against the new Iranian government’s upper echelons, ended up collaborating with an Iraqi government regularly carrying out chemical weapons attacks against targets, civilian as well as military, inside Iran.)

But, when the same Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990, the George H.W. Bush administration couldn’t get Iraq back on the state sponsors list fast enough. We are very skeptical that Saddam’s ties to groups that the United States considers terrorist organizations changed all that much during this period.

Yet, precisely because we know how thoroughly corrupt and politicized these designations really are, we recognize their significance as statements of U.S. policy. Today, the Obama administration made a truly horrible statement about U.S. policy toward Iran.

The statement is horrible even if one wants to believe that FTO designations have some kind of procedural and evidentiary integrity about them. (We don’t, but we also recognize that letting go of illusions is often not easy.)

Just this year, U.S. intelligence officials told high-profile media outlets that the MEK is actively collaborating with Israeli intelligence to assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists, see here; Iranian officials have made the same charge. Since when did murdering unarmed civilians (and, in some instances, members of their families as well) on public streets in the middle of a heavily populated urban area (Tehran) not meet even the U.S. government’s own professed standard for terrorism?

Of course, one might rightly point out that the United States is responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent civilians across the Middle East. But Washington generally strives to maintain the fiction that it did not intend for those innocents to die as a (direct and foreseeable) consequence of U.S. military operations and sanctions policies. (You know, the United States didn’t really mean for those people to die, but, as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once said, “Stuff happens.”)

Here, the Obama administration is taking an organization that the U.S. government knows is directly involved in the murder of innocent people and giving this group Washington’s “good housekeeping seal of approval.”

But, to invoke Talleyrand’s classic observation that a certain action was “worse than a crime, it was a mistake,” delisting the MEK is not just a moral abomination; it is a huge strategic and policy blunder.

It is hard to imagine how the Obama administration could signal more clearly that, even after the President’s presumptive reelection, it has no intention of seeking a fundamentally different sort of relationship with the Islamic Republic, which would of course require the United States to accept the Islamic Republic as a legitimate political entity representing legitimate national interests.

Count on this: once the MEK is formally off the FTO list, a legally defined process that will take a few months to play out, Congress will be appropriating money to support the monafeqin as the vanguard of a new American strategy for regime change in Iran.

In the 1990s, similar enthusiasm for Ahmad Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress, who were about as unpopular among Iraqis as the MEK is among Iranians, led to President Bill Clinton’s signing of the Iraq Liberation Act, which paved the way for George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

The chances for such a scenario to play out with regard to Iran over the next few years, with even more disastrous consequences for America’s strategic and moral standing, got a lot higher today.

Flynt Leverett served as a Middle East expert on George W. Bush’s National Security Council staff until the Iraq War and worked previously at the State Department and at the Central Intelligence Agency. Hillary Mann Leverett was the NSC expert on Iran and from 2001 to 2003  was one of only a few U.S. diplomats authorized to negotiate with the Iranians over Afghanistan, al-Qaeda and Iraq. [This article was originally published at RaceforIran.com. For direct link, click here: http://www.raceforiran.com/by-delisting-the-mek-the-obama-administration-is-taking-the-moral-and-strategic-bankruptcy-of-america%e2%80%99s-iran-policy-to-a-new-low

20 comments for “Obama Relents on Delisting MEK

  1. Frances in California
    September 28, 2012 at 18:23

    If you can de-list the demonstrably terrorist MEK, you can freakin’ well free Bradley Manning, who only told the truth.

  2. incontinent reader
    September 23, 2012 at 12:55

    Borat- Separate the rhetoric from the facts presented. The point is that many Israelis more expert than Netanyahu counsel caution and don’t believe that unnecessarily sacrificing Israeli lives makes sense if you look at all the facts. In the end you

    • incontinent reader
      September 23, 2012 at 12:58

      Sorry- not completed.

      In the end, you (hopefully) agree that a peace that guarantees everyone’s rights, and security, and ability to prosper, trumps a war that could destroy the very things one wants to protect.

  3. humanist
    September 22, 2012 at 17:37

    In my view this article emanates from the minds of two analytical thinkers who often see things others fail to see.

    As an overly skeptical reader, as far as Iran is concerned, I often find my judgments differing from the opinions of most of the conscientious Western analysts. Not this one. Except the exclusion of a few important facts on further criminality and threat of MEK this article is an exemplary piece that shines more light on crucial flaws of American enterprise.

    I think anyone who harshly criticizes the essence of what is written in this article or attacks the authors personally is eighter ignorant or, with very high probability, is a low form of life.

    Hillary worked for AIPAC, Flynt was a CIA analyst. They gradually evolved as different from what they were. That transformation, according one definition of astuteness, is a clear measure of their intelligence. Furthermore the change was not driven by self-interest but by moving towards what is right. In these times, such a rare evolution requires a high doze of integrity, honesty and courage.

    Now Leveretts are increasingly listened to and are deeply respected by many thus pipsqueak are not capable of belittling them in any form or shape.

    I for one, salute them with deep sense of appreciation for what they are doing to stop heinous wars and for highlighting the deficiencies, incoherence and immorality of US foreign policy on Iran.

    • incontinent reader
      September 23, 2012 at 12:46

      Very well stated.

  4. Akvan
    September 22, 2012 at 08:24

    I don’t normally agree with the authors but MEK is bad news. The one group worse than IRI are MEK. But money talks and did again.

  5. boron
    September 21, 2012 at 23:59

    Sounds like the above commentators are shills for the MEK, and rather poor ones at that. Thankfully, we have Iran specialists like Leveretts who have the breadth of experience and courage to give us a narrative that speaks truth to power, since we seem to have precious little of it in the State Department and Congress.

  6. Rima
    September 21, 2012 at 23:39

    Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett are well known in the Iranian American community since 2003 as two individuals who through their official posts in the Bush’s administration, established deep connections with different intelligence and financial circles of the regime in Tehran. Since their rushed departure from the administration to capitalize on these connections, they have been well paid-advocates of preserving the tyrannical status-que in Iran, seeking to compel the US to capitulate to ayatollahs transgressions under the pretext of normalizing relations.

    • rosemerry
      September 22, 2012 at 18:45

      You can’t pretend to back up something by linking to your own site. You are a fanatic.

  7. Mansoori
    September 21, 2012 at 22:57

    What an “Independent Investigative Journalism”! of two lots by the name of “Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett”. By reading the very first line of this piece of junk saying that they have been “disdainful — even scornful — of the U.S. government’s lists of both FTOs and state sponsors of terrorism” I noticed that this two “Investigative journalist” are very well paid by the mullah’s MOIS (intelligence ministry of the Iranian regime) for churning the old and defunct demonizing campaign. Shame on you both for writing such an investigative! article which is sheer fabrication and factually is incorrect wasting your time and others to read, but rest assure that notorious mullahs who have ruled Iran with iron fist, are very much thankful to you and this is what you have to be ashamed of yourself.

  8. Hillary
    September 21, 2012 at 22:43

    Connect the dots —people making the loudest noises over Iran all have “special interests” at stake, none of which include the well-being of Iranian citizens or indeed what is in the best interest of the American people or the world at large.

    “Israel teams with terror group to kill Iran’s nuclear scientists, U.S. officials tell NBC News”


    • Revo
      September 22, 2012 at 17:06

      Well said.
      Also, if there is an entity that should be put on some countries’ terrorist list, it should be the state terrorist, the government of the millionaires, for the millionaires, by the millionaires: the trouble-making government in the US. This state terrorist making trouble all over the planet, terrorizing the world and calling the rest of the world terrorist.

  9. ali
    September 21, 2012 at 21:45

    De-listing MEK mark the end of JUNK articles such as this one.

    • rosemerry
      September 22, 2012 at 18:42

      I am surprised you read this site. Keep to Faux News.

      • gilda
        September 24, 2012 at 22:56

        No suprise. it is their modus operandi.

  10. September 21, 2012 at 21:32

    “which would of course require the United States to accept the Islamic Republic as a legitimate political entity representing legitimate national interests.”
    Not true , but I agree that it is bad policy . Mek is a militant political party .we have that right here .so what is the difference ?

    • Revo
      September 22, 2012 at 16:59

      The difference, according to this article is that MEK is taking its order from Israel; meaning it is sold-out traitorous entity which should be incinerated. No mercy, no compassion on those who sells their country.

  11. albert
    September 21, 2012 at 21:26

    Flynt and Hillary, I am not surprised by this piece of rubbish.
    The mullahs’ money does wonders, doesn’t it?

    Did you enjoy your week-long all-expenses paid trip to Tehran?
    Even the regime is not writing is such venomous words.

    • rosemerry
      September 22, 2012 at 18:41

      who on earth are you???? Hillary and Flint are genuine Iran experts and worth reading and following. Your sniping is grotesque.

      • gilda
        September 24, 2012 at 22:55

        Case of mirror images – The person making accusations at Flynt and Hillary is no doubt someone who is being paid – probably and MEK. They are always for sale, Saddam, Israel, …..

Comments are closed.