Analysts React to MEK Terror Delisting
Reports have surfaced that an Iranian political group, the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), will be removed from the list of foreign terrorist organizations (FTO) by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the coming weeks. After a lengthy lobby effort to have the terrorist designation removed – a highly-scrutinized effort that enlisted the help of some Washington personalities such as Howard Dean, Tom Ridge, and Rudy Guliani – the Marxist-leaning group will reportedly be removed from the list by October 1st.
Dozens of analysts have weighed in on the coming decision, with Karim Sadjapour saying, “I don’t think the world really looks that much different [without the designation]. U.S.-Iran relations will remain hostile, and the M.E.K. will remain a fringe cult with very limited appeal among Iranians.” Jamal Abdi, Policy Director at the National Iranian American Council, said, “This decision will be portrayed as proof that the U.S. is cozying up with a reviled terrorist group and will create greater receptivity for that false argument.” David Silverstein of The Guardian calls the decision a “sham” and a decision ”based on pure political calculation” because the MEK is “useful in the covert war the U.S. and Israel are waging against Iran’s nuclear program.” In The Atlantic, Robert Wright contends that the “chances for war with Iran just went up [due to the decision],” while Jim Lobe and Jasmin Ramsey echo the sentiment, saying the decision will ”ratchet up already-high tensions with Iran.”
Najmeh Bozorgmehr asserts that the move has angered reformists in Iran, even though domestically “the MEK lacks any significant popular support.” Patrick Brennan at National Review Online labelsthe move “strange” and calls the group “a thoroughly unacceptable partner for the U.S.” Finally, Spencer Ackerman quotes Mila Johns of the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, who says, ”The delisting of the MEK, following a well-funded political lobby campaign, creates the dangerous impression that it is possible for terrorist organizations to buy their way off the [terrorism] list.”