Gift to the mullas

The Washington Times – March 1, 2011
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clintonwill give “a gift to the mullahs” who oppress the Iranian people, if she fails to remove the Iranian resistance from the U.S. blacklist of terrorist groups, a visiting member of the European Parliament said Tuesday.

“I’ve seen the classified evidence against the resistance, and it’s absolutely risible,” Struan Stevenson, co-chairman of the parliament’s Free Iran caucus, told Embassy Row.

The State Department is under a federal court order to review the status of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran and its umbrella organization, the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

“If she keeps them on the list, it will be a gift to the mullahs,” said Mr. Stevenson, a Conservative Party member from Scotland who co-chairs the Iran committee with a Socialist from Portugal.

Mr. Stevenson was in Washington on Monday and Tuesday for a whirlwind round of meetings with State Department officials and members of Congress to build support for removing the Iranian resistance from the terrorist list.

Former President Bill Clinton put the resistance on the list to meet a key demand of the Iranian government in 1997, when he was trying to establish relations with the Islamic fundamentalist theocracy. Before they were listed as a terrorist group, the resistance operated openly in Washington for years.

Mr. Stevenson has been a leading member of the European Parliament in its efforts to support the resistance. In 2009, the European high court ordered the European Union to remove the resistance from the EU terrorist list.

Last year, Mr. Stevenson helped organize a parliamentary resolution, calling on the United States to match the EU move.

The Iranian resistance is “the most effective opposition” group in Iran, he said. The resistance revealed the existence of Iran’s nuclear program, and members inside Iran risk their lives to report on developments of the regime.

“Why are we tying their hands?” Mr. Stevenson asked.

The exiled civilian resistance is now based in Paris. The group’s military wing, disarmed by the U.S. military in 2003, remains at their base, called Camp Ashraf, in Iraq.

Mr. Stevenson’s visit follows a major Washington conference of supporters of the resistance last month. The bipartisan conference included former Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey; former Sen.Robert Torricelli, a New Jersey Democrat; formerU.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson, also a former Democratic governor of New Mexico; and former Ambassador Dell Daily, the State Department’s coordinator for counterterrorism from 2007 to 2009.

Mr. Mukasey applauded Mrs. Clinton and President Obama for accusing the Iranian regime of hypocrisy for hailing the uprisings in the Arab world while brutally suppressing domestic opposition.

“We need to overcome our own hypocrisy inherent in our policy regarding the Iranian opposition,” he said.
“The State Department maintains the [resistance] on the list of terrorist organizations. That has the effect of pushing Iran’s largest and most organized opposition group, which is feared by the ruling mullahs, out of the political debate.”

Mr. Mukasey served under President George W. Bush, who also refused to remove the resistance from the list.

Mr. Torricelli said, “We all understand the truth. The [resistance] was placed on a terrorist list as a strategy of appeasement.”

By James Morrison

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