Empowering Iran's Opposition

(Ha'aretz) Raymond Tanter - To facilitate regime change from within Iran requires a dissident organization with the same sort of leadership skills that helped create a coalition to overthrow the shah of Iran. Only one viable group that rejects clerical rule in Iran remains - the Iraq-based Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), the largest group within the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) (the Paris-based parliament-in-exile). In a 2006 study, the Center for Strategic and International Studies found that NCRI's exposure of Iran's secret nuclear program was the trigger for getting the IAEA into Iran. In my research, I have interviewed most of the MEK's leaders, in both Iraq and France, as well as analyzed their foundational statements and documents, and found their positions to be consistent with democratic principles. I found that leaders and rank-and-file of the MEK support a two-state solution to the Palestinian problem and Israel's right to exist. Since 1997, the MEK has been on the list of foreign terror organizations compiled by the State Department. The roots of this ongoing aberration go back to a period when a "moderate" cleric, Mohammad Khatami, was elected as Iran's new president. The Clinton administration saw inclusion of the MEK on the terrorist list as a goodwill gesture to the new regime, with which it was hoping to open a dialogue. To facilitate regime change from within Iran, it is critical to remove the terrorist designation from the MEK. The writer served on the senior staff of the National Security Council in the Reagan administration, and has been a visiting professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

2012-06-15 00:00:00

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