February 22, 2018

Iran Watch – December 22, 2008

[spoiler title=”Court declines French, EU PMOI challenge”] December 19, 2008

LUXEMBOURG, Dec. 19 (UPI) — A European court in Luxembourg issued a ruling in favor of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, declining a challenge to maintain the group on state terrorist lists. The European Court of First Instance declined a request by the European Union and the French government for reconsideration of a Dec. 4 ruling for the delisting of the PMOI by the EU. The PMOI, along with its political wing, the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, is seeking regime change in Iran.

“The PMOI is no longer on the list, and the (European) Council has no alternative other than formally and publicly removing the PMOI from the EU terrorist list,” said NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi.
The PMOI is listed on several state terrorist lists for its activity against the clerical regime in Iran in the latter part of the 20th century. The group says it renounced violence in 2003, however, and has lobbied aggressively to be delisted.

The European court ruled Dec. 4 the European Union had “violated the rights of defense” of the PMOI, adding Europe had not provided sufficient grounds to include the group on its list of terrorist entities.
The Dec. 4 decision follows a move in May by the British court of appeals moving to delist the group.
A group of 100 French lawmakers called on the government in Paris, meanwhile, to embrace the decision and reverse its standing on the PMOI. [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”EU assembly calls for end to Iran group blacklist”] By: ROBERT WIELAARD
December 17, 2008
Associated Press
. . .
STRASBOURG, France – The European Parliament has asked France to make sure an Iranian opposition group in exile is taken off the EU’s terrorist list in line with a recent court ruling.In a Dec. 15 letter made public Wednesday, a senior assembly official told French President Nicolas Sarkozy that keeping the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran on the list was illegal, unfair and counterproductive. France now holds the EU presidency. European Parliament Vice president Alejo Vidal-Quadras cited a Dec. 4 ruling by the European Court of Justice that EU governments have not provided sufficient proof to blacklist the group.The ruling was the third in favor of the PMOI, which the U.S. also considers a terrorist organization.

The Paris-based PMOI says it is not a terrorist group and has waged a six-year legal battle to clear its name.
The PMOI dates to the days of resistance to the rule of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in the 1960s.
It was once allied with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini but moved to Iraq in the 1980s. It has been on the U.S. terrorist list since 1997 and the EU’s since 2002. [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”President-elect Obama and Iraq: Toward a Responsible Troop Drawdown”] Iran Policy Committee Press Release
December 16, 2008

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–On 16 December 2008, the Iran Policy Committee held a press conference to issue a report about an October 2008 research trip to Iraq. The speakers identified proxies of the Iranian regime as the main threat to Iraqi stability and departing U.S. forces.

Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), Foreign Affairs Committee, who participated via teleconference from Colorado, said, “The main threat not only to Iraq but to the entire Middle East is Islamic extremism spread by the Iranian regime. An Obama administration cannot achieve its objective of redeploying forces from Iraq without engaging democratic Iranian forces, such as the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK). I hope President-elect Obama considers doing so.” General Thomas McInerney (Lt Gen, US Air Force Ret, IPC Advisory Council) spoke about Iranian regime subversion of Iraq, saying, “The Iranian regime pursues a two-phase approach. The first element is the creation of a social network of dependency, on the same model as Hezbollah in Lebanon. The second phase is the covert support we know Iran gives to Iraqi militias like that of Muqtada al Sadr to target U.S. forces.”

Regarding the possibility of the United States turning over responsibility for safeguarding Iranian dissidents with protected persons status at Camp Ashraf, Gen. McInerney said, “Iraqi Security Forces are not capable of securing Camp Ashraf, they are not even capable of protecting themselves. Moreover, if Iraqi Security Forces had authority over Ashraf, the pressure from Tehran to extradite Ashraf residents in violation of their protected persons status under the Fourth Geneva Convention would be too intense for Baghdad to resist.”

IPC President and former member of the National Security Council Staff at the White House, Professor Raymond Tanter, discussed his experiences in Iraq during October 2008, saying, “President-elect Obama was prescient in his description of Awakening Councils as the key to improved security in Iraq. Hundreds of Iraqi sheikhs told the IPC delegation that the origins of the Awakening Councils were meetings held at Camp Ashraf between Iraqis and the U.S. military and mediated by the MEK.” Prof. Tanter pointed to a log published in the Iran Policy Committee report of its Iraq research that documented 81 meetings among Iraqis, U.S. military officials, and the MEK.

Prof. Tanter explained that turning over Camp Ashraf to Iraqi Security Forces would risk the expulsion of the group’s members and as a result “the United States would lose a valuable intelligence asset and an important mediator in Iraqi politics. Given the anticipated drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq over the next several years to a residual force of approximately 50,000, it will be important for the United States to preserve such a mediator and source of intelligence on Iranian regime activities in Iraq against U.S. forces.” Prof. Tanter said, “One option is for the United States to continue guarding Ashraf jointly with Iraqi Security Forces to promote confidence-building until a long term solution can be found that guarantees MEK members won’t be expelled or extradited.”

Dr. Gary Morsch, MD; Colonel, US Army Reserve, Medical Corp; served in 2004 as Battalion Surgeon for the 89th MP Brigade, Ashraf, Iraq and as U.S. Army medical liaison for the MEK. Dr. Morsch said that his position allowed him unrestricted access to Camp Ashraf: “I was amazed at the social and political progress of Ashraf residents. I was at the Camp when the MEK held political reconciliation meetings in their convention hall, which held thousands of people. The MEK plays a major positive role in the political and social life of Iraq.”

R. Bruce McColm, President of the Institute for Democratic Strategies, said in response to a question from the press, “The millions of Iraqi Sunnis who have signed petitions in support of the MEK have done so because they recognize the threat posed to them by the Iranian regime; the millions of moderate Shiites who have signed similar petitions have seen that Tehran is subverting the southern, mostly Shiite region of Iraq. The bringing together of these Sunnis and Shiites at Ashraf promotes reconciliation and stability in Iraq.” [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”EU must not lose sight of Iranian menace”] BY DAVID WADDINGTON

As Barack Obama takes over at the White House, one clear danger is that European governments will proceed as if the war on terror is now finished, leading us vulnerable to attack, perhaps by radical fundamentalists with ties to Iran. Furthermore with George Bush gone, the Islamic Republic may itself sense new opportunities to further spread its fundamentalist ideology and terror tactics to Iraq and the Middle East.

The PMOI protest outside the Council building in Brussels. The policy of appeasing Iran in an attempt to persuade it to abandon its nuclear ambitions has demonstrably failed and every possible option short of war should be examined as its replacement. More than a dozen pleas by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana to Tehran to halt its uranium enrichment activities have fallen on deaf ears and numerous UN Security Council resolutions have been defied. The message we have been giving to the mullahs has been that the West is willing to go on talking and negotiating even as thousands of Iranian uranium centrifuges are spinning at supersonic speeds to produce the core component for a nuclear weapon and see that Iran’s ambitions are achieved.

One solution that the West has persistently ignored is the achievement of democratic change in Iran, by the efforts of the Iranian people themselves. Yet Iran has an organised, democratic and nationwide resistance movement. The National Council of Resistance of Iran, led by Maryam Rajavi, is a broad coalition of opposition groups aiming to replace the current theocracy with a democratic, pluralist and secular government – pledged in its manifesto to ban the use of torture and the death penalty and see a nuclear-free Iran live at peace with all its neighbours.

Yet, instead of siding with these brave people as they seek to oust the religious tyrants in power, the European Union is helping the regime to crack down on the democratic opposition.

Following the proscription of the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran in the United Kingdom a year earlier, the EU in 2002 imposed an asset freeze on the PMOI, the main group within the NCRI coalition, with European officials conceding that this action was meant as a goodwill gesture to the then government of Mohammad Khatami.

But the PMOI took the British government to court and in 2006 the Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission ruled that the PMOI’s proscription was “perverse” and ordered the home secretary to lift the ban. After losing appeals to the High Court and to the Court of Appeal, the government was finally ordered by the Lord Chief Justice to de-proscribe the PMOI, and both houses of parliament unanimously adopted the order doing so last June.

The EU, which had based its ban on the PMOI on the British proscription, was required to remove the group’s name from its register. But instead it chose to defy the rule of law, and claimed that since France had conducted a raid on the group’s headquarters in 2003 to investigate for terrorist links, this constituted an acceptable reason as to why the ban should remain in effect.

The EU Council of Minister’s attempt to play with the rule of law is scandalous, not least because the European Court of First Instance ruled both in 2006 and on 23 October 2008 that the EU-wide ban on the PMOI is “unlawful”. In fact, the French raid – itself a pathetic attempt by the Chirac administration to placate the mullahs – was carried out on the basis that the PMOI was on the EU’s terrorist list. With the courts having ruled that the original decision to ban the PMOI was “flawed”, the EU then claimed that the French raid constituted an acceptable reason to maintain the ban. Finally, however, on 4 December, the EU Court annulled for a third time the PMOI’s inclusion in the blacklist. It did so only one day after the hearing took place, a powerful sign by Europe’s grandest court that it seeks a prompt end to this travesty of justice and mockery of the rule of law.

Later this month, the EU is required to update its terrorist list once again. It must once and for all end its appeasement of the mullahs and stop putting obstacles in the way of those trying to bring about a free and democratic Iran.

David Waddington is a former UK home secretary under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and a former leader of the House of Lords.

View Source Here [/spoiler] [spoiler title=”Iran: Ashraf a symbol of resistance”]

By: Jean Levert
Source: December 2008 issue of the French monthly Afrique Asie,
(This article has been translated from its original in French)

Iranian Opposition, based in Ashraf, Iraq, the Mujahideen who founded it in 1986, have managed to prosper this city on a democratic basis. Tehran has never accepted it, as its most organized opponents, which are both political refugees and persons protected by international law.

Located near the town of Khalis, about 100 km north of the Iraqi capital, the city of Ashraf appears as an oasis in the desert. On the road from Baghdad, six years after the war, a landscape of desolation affects any observer. Upon arrival to the city, the contrast is striking with a clean and green beauty. It is located in Diyala province, known as “Little Iraq” because of its diverse population. Kurds, Turkmens, Arabs, Shiites, Sunnis and Christians can co-exist.

Brotherhood of Arab-Iranian
Ashraf is not a city like any other. With some 70 km from Iran, its population is mainly Iranian. This area of Iraq is populated by the People’s Mojahedin (MEK/PMOI). They founded this city in 1986. At the time, the government of Jacques Chirac in France had made a deal with Tehran on the release of French hostages in Lebanon in exchange to pressure Massoud Rajavi, the historic exiled leader of People’s Mujahideen in Paris. Rather than give in to the dictates of the French authorities, he preferred to leave and move on to this hostile land, near Iran. Iraq was then at war with the mullahs. The Iraqi government welcomed with open arms this illustrious opponent, realpolitik forced it to do.
Aware of the danger of extradition, Massoud Rajavi took precautions before leaving Paris. Upon his arrival, an Iraqi declaration recognized the Iranian Resistance’s independence in areas of policy making, organization and ideology on its soil. Despite having participated in the war to defend the homeland to face the Iraqi invasion, the National Council of Resistance took the initiative to defend the peace when Iraq withdrew its troops from Iran. Once in Iraq, the Mujahideen, for which there is no question of intervening in Iraqi affairs, were considered political refugees and their bases as inviolable. United Nations officials who at time met with the People’s Mujahideen were struck by their independence from Baghdad. More than a thousand members of the resistance then joined Massoud Rajavi and built what would become the headquarters of the Iranian Resistance. Today there are over 3,500 men and women of all ages. There are survivors of the massacre in the prisons in 1988, youth from various parts of Iran but also from European and American universities. It also crosses many students who actively participated in movements that drive the Iranian universities since 1999 and have been suppressed. The level of education of the people of Ashraf is one of the highest in the Iranian Diaspora: here graduates from Harvard or Sorbonne alongside the farmers from Kermanshah or Khuzistan provinces bordering Iraq live together. [/spoiler]