US Policy Helping Iran Regime

Over the last several months, peoples in several Middle Eastern countries have taken to the streets in protest of oppressive governments — reflecting a profound desire for reform and an end to corruption. Many politicians in Washington have hailed these protests and openly encouraged government leaders in the countries affected to take meaningful steps to transition to democratic rule. Except for Iran.

When the Iranian people rose up in June 2009 and began a wide and continuing protest against the Ahmadinejad administration and its religious leaders, all we heard from Washington was a modest degree of lip-service. Meanwhile, scores of Iranian youths wearing green, the color of the opposition, were killed, tortured, or imprisoned.

Iran remains the elephant in the room in terms of U.S. foreign policy. While sanctions have been placed on the country and other punitive diplomatic initiatives imposed, there has been no serious focus on or support for the Achilles Heel of the regime in Tehran — the Iranian people and their organized opposition.

In fact, the past three U.S. administrations have seriously and expressly weakened the ability of opposition forces in Iran to effect positive change. All three have done this by abusing U.S. law that permits the State Department to designate entities as “terrorist organizations” and thereby deny them recognition and access to resources. This is precisely what the federal government for 14 years has done to the single most important and best organized Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).

The MEK is not in fact a terrorist organization, but was so designated in 1997 by the Clinton Administration to curry favor with Tehran. This ill-placed “goodwill gesture” effectively destroyed the ability of MEK to develop support and raise resources in the U.S. and elsewhere. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama continued the policy, despite its obvious lack of success at producing any positive changes to the repressive regime in Iran. In fact, a strong argument can be made that continuing to placate Tehran by designating the most important opposition group in the country as a “terrorist organization,” has actually strengthened the regime.

Ramifications of this policy extend also to military and national security concerns. Iran’s continued development of nuclear and missile capabilities very well could be slowed by strengthening, rather than weakening, civil opposition groups. Groups like the MEK are more concerned with increasing freedom within Iran than with saber-rattling and wasting resources on dangerous nuclear weaponry.

To be sure, the MEK is controversial, and other Iranian opposition groups, including those associated with the former Shah, despise it. But being “controversial” is hardly a basis on which to black ball a legitimate political entity whose goals – freeing the Iranian people from the grip of religious zealots – coincide with official U.S. policy.

This view is shared by many leading military, intelligence and diplomatic experts in the United States. Earlier this year, three former Bush Administration officials – Michael Mukasey, Tom Ridge, Frances Fragos Townsend – along with Rudy Giuliani, wrote in the National Review that “MEK is not a terrorist group.” They noted also that the organization had, in fact, proved to be an asset to the United States by “provid[ing] valuable intelligence to the United States on Iranian nuclear plans.” John Bolton, Bush’s former UN Ambassador, concurs in this assessment.

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle also see the value in helping rather than hurting the MEK — 83 members of the House have co-sponsored a resolution encouraging the State Department to delist the organization.

Ironically, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made statements publicly supporting “all Iranians who wish for a government that respects their human rights, their dignity and their freedom.” But the gulf between her public statements and official administration policy continuing the unfair and counterproductive punishing of MEK, belies Washington commitment to “human rights, dignity and freedom” in Iran.

by Bob Barr — The Barr Code

60 comments Add your comment


July 19th, 2011
10:47 pm

Great article, US has been on the side of the equation for the past 14 years. MEK is the best hope for Iranians to establish democracy in Iran. MEK could be our strongest ally in the Middle East. MEK in power will create over 100,000 jobs in US.

Iranian lobby is strong in Washington. They are behind misinformation about MEK and creating the illusion about “reformist inside Iranian government.

We need take bold step and give our FULL support to MEK.

An iranian

July 20th, 2011
2:47 am

If the US wanted to further alienate the Iranian people, young and old, men and women, they should precisely lift the terrorist designation of the MEK ! Indeed, to paraphrase the article’s title “US Policy Helping Iran Regime”, this would be THE US policy that would really help the Iran Regime ! Kudos to the author !!

An iranian

July 20th, 2011
2:52 am

I strongly recommend Daniel Larison’s 19th July article in The American Conservative
in which he effectively debunks all arguments in favor of the MEK. A must-read article if you want to know all aspects of the argument.


July 20th, 2011
10:17 am

This is an excellent article regarding the current situation in Iran! The message is very clear that Iranian people are aimed for regime change in Iran, regardless! They do not want to see any negotiations or appeasement with these killers. The time is over for Mullahs!! Despite of who insisting to negotiate or appeasement, and how Mullahs brutally killing the innocent people, there is no going back for Iranian regime. Iranian people with the help of main Iranian opposition group, the PMOI will over throw these killers and they will remember who stand up next to them when they needed!


July 20th, 2011
3:41 pm

No matter what your opinion of the MEK is, the truth is that people are being tortured, killed, and denied medical care by the U.S. and Iranian government. This is a life or death human rights issue first and foremost. I personally know many people who have family members living in Camp Ashraf, the headquarters of the MEK. They are peaceful people, dedicated to effecting positive change in their country. They have been subjected to abuse. They are the terrorized ones, not the terrorists.


July 20th, 2011
7:58 pm

Iranian government did more than 450 acts of terrors out of Iran and killed number of Americans in Iraq and Afghanestan and….. can some one tell what MEK did that US calls them Trorrist.


July 21st, 2011
8:30 am

Dear Bob Barr
Thanks for your factual article. The issues have been discussed and explained so many times that I think repeating it unfortunately will be like proving the proven.

I want to mention only a few of the US authorities, Michael Mukasey, Tom Ridge, Frances Fragos Townsend – along with Rudy Giuliani, who have honestly and cleary mentioned your valid points.

As a result, we should come out of this shackle of ” The terrorist listing” that has forcefuly been glued to the Iranian resistance leg because there is no truth in it and is only serving a false dream called: ” The American Appeasement of The regressive Iranian Dictatorship”.

I think, now is time to start life post false listing and plan helping Iranian resistance to unify The resistance’s forces and focus its energy on a regime change in Iran and bring freedom based on the Universal Human Rights to the Iranian’s who have deservedly proven over and over that if left alone or helped but not hindered can well nurture it.
Freedom in Iran will bring stability to the region.
This is not a time for MEK to waste all its energy on removing its name from the unfair listing.
This time for MEK to give hope to the Iranian popoulation and make The Mullah’s accountable for all their crimes against humanity including their bombing of the Jewish cultural centre in Argentina.
The de-listing of MEK will let its supporters all around the world and especially in Iran to come out and proudly support regime change in Iran for a democratic system in Iran
Viva democracy and friendship,
No matter who we are or where we are, we are one, chasing the same goal: FREEDOM.


July 21st, 2011
7:58 pm

MEK was listed by president Clinton as a goodwill gesture to Khatami. I hope the reason Mrs. Clinton is so stuborne and irrational
in this matter is not a family matter, like what we saw in Bush’s era which we are still paying dearly for it. Mrs Clinton it is not a Family Feud game, people are losing their life because of your lack of action. Delist M.E.K. NOW it MEK sence.

Kambiz Dad

July 25th, 2011
5:59 am

A very good article! It seem to have touched a sensitive nerve in Tehran and thus all these negative comments by their agents to read on this blog!

That means: Keep up the good work :)