Terror delisting the MEK is a cynical sham

The dissident group's lavish lobbying has paid off: hoping to look tough on Iran, the Obama administration has enlisted the MEK in a proxy war

Richard Silverstein  - guardian.co.uk, Saturday 22 September 2012

The US delisting of the group is a sham. The Obama administration isn't even claiming the MEK has renounced terrorism. If it did, it knows that it's likely such a statement would rebound should the MEK's activities become exposed. The chief argument offered in defense of the change of heart is that the group has agreed to relocate from Camp Ashraf, where it's been a thorn in the side of the Iraqi Shi'ite led government, to a US facility, from which the residents would be relocated to foreign countries.

So, we're removing a terror group from the list not because it's stopped being a terror group, but because it's agreed to leave Iraq, where it had been a destabilizing influence. That's not a principled position. It's a position based on pure political calculation.

The MEK is useful in the covert war the US and Israel are waging against Iran's nuclear program. It is our proxy, much as the Cuban rebels involved in the Bay of Pigs operation served our interests in the fight against Fidel Castro; and the Afghan mujahideen fought a dirty war for us against the Soviets.

In fact, Alan Dershowitz has argued that the MEK should be removed from the treasury list not because it has stopped being terrorist, but because it collaborated with US covert activities inside Iran, meaning that it was serving US interests. Or put more simply: the MEK may be terrorists, but they're our terrorists.

Delisting the MEK serves several goals for President Obama. He can flex his muscles in the face of both the Iranians and Republicans. To the Iranians, he's implicitly saying he will make alliance with their worst enemy as long as they resist him at the negotiating table. To Mitt Romney, he's saying he's willing to get tough with the Iranians. This inoculates him from campaign attacks claiming he's soft on Iran or that he's willing to let Iran get the bomb.

You can bet that one of the president's campaign talking points will be that he delisted the MEK. It will establish his anti-Iran bona fides when the TV ads paid for by Sheldon Adelson's anticipated $100m start airing in the coming weeks.

Just as President Obama's anti-terror policies, including targeted assassinations and drone strikes, have betrayed his previous denunciations of such violations of constitutional principles, so his granting a seal of approval to the MEK marks a further erosion of his commitment to diplomacy and negotiation as the means for resolving international disputes, including the one with Iran.

Extracted from the original article which can be found here:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/22/barack-obama-terrorism

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