PRNewswire-USNewswire – WASHINGTON, May 20, 2011
As President Barack Obama laid out his vision for a new chapter in American diplomacy in dealing with the new realities of the Middle East, in a briefing on Thursday, May 19, 2011, former senior U.S. government officials urged the removal of Iran’s main opposition movement, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), from the U.S. list of terrorist organizations as an absolute prerequisite to be consistent with the facts on the ground. The panel demanded urgent U.S. action to protect 3,400 Iranian dissidents in Camp Ashraf, Iraq and strongly rejected the State Department’s draft proposal to relocate Iranian dissidents from Camp Ashraf to other places inside Iraq.
General Hugh Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1997-2001), Howard Dean, former DNC Chairman; Tom Ridge, Homeland Security Secretary (2003-2005); Ambassador Dell Dailey, State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism (2007-2009); Patrick Kennedy, Member of the House of Representatives (1995-2011), and Col. Gary Morsch, M.D. (USAR), addressed the symposium, chaired by Professor Raymond Tanter, former National Security Council staff.
“Our own State Department [is party] to the inhumane treatment of MEK members [in Camp Ashraf] because in spite of numerous recommendations it has received from very prominent Americans to take the MEK off the FTO list, it continues to slow roll that issue. By keeping the MEK on the list we, in fact, weaken the support of the most vital organization that could bring about change internal to Iran,” General Shelton emphasized.
Secretary Ridge said, “If we are going to support …freedom-loving movements around the world, we have to include in that vision the pro-democratic forces in Iran — the MEK, and Camp Ashraf. Political, military, law enforcement, and diplomatic leaders throughout this country, Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative, have been united in their public support of MEK, and have urged this administration to delist them. The silence in face of the brutal retaliation against Iranian dissidents at Camp Ashraf in 2009 and 2011 is certainly inconsistent and one might argue hypocritical, given the administration’s public support for the dissidents, the resistance and the protestors in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria.”
Governor Dean said, “The MEK must be taken off the list right now. There is no evidence… The District of Columbia Circuit Court found there was no due process and there was no evidence. Our State Department needs to comply with the laws of the United States of America and take them off the list. This is a struggle for the soul of America.” “Two senior State Department officials said… delisting wouldn’t help Ashraf and that the U.S. hoped to move them to another Iraqi location. What are they smoking in the State Department? For God’s sakes… if any harm comes to one of the residents of Ashraf, these so-called senior officials should resign at once… this relocation plan is a disaster…We have an obligation as human beings and as Americans to make sure that doesn’t happen…We can get people out now.”
Ambassador Dailey underscored, “Careful prudent and thought-out support to the organized, effective, and ever present opposition in Iran, the MEK, is essential. Camp Ashraf has been attacked twice as they had no weapons. They just locked their arms, ten killed the first time; 35 killed the second time. Clearly, this shows no intent and no capability to conduct terrorist activities. Currently, U.S. diplomats are recommending an internal relocation of the MEK and the Camp Ashraf residents. This will allow Iraq to continue to harass the residents with the eventual elimination of all the residents. This is totally unacceptable and should not be part of the U.S. foreign policy.”
“The reason MEK is still listed as a terrorist organization is that our policy in the past has been one of appeasement. MEK is the biggest threat to the Iranian mullahs. If the mullahs are manufacturing and exporting systematic destabilization, systematic support for sponsoring terrorism, fundamentalism and the weapons of that war, the IEDs, we want to be on the side of the people who want to stop them,” said Rep. Kennedy.
Having served at Ashraf, Col. Morsch said, “Let’s stop the siege of Ashraf. Let’s allow doctors and nurses to go in there. Let’s ask the UNAMI to go in and to protect the people of Ashraf. Let’s delist the MEK. They are part of that spring awakening, except they started many, many springs ago. And the rest of the world is just catching on.”
SOURCE Iranian-American Society of Texas