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  • 25 June 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: June 25, 2012

Escalation, Counter-Escalation, and Repeat

The editor-in-chief of the hardline Iranian newspaper, Kayhan, argues that Iran can restrict oil tankers’ access to the Strait of Hormuz based on a “’right of retaliation’” under the 1958 Convention on the Territorial Sea after the implementation of an EU oil embargo. The paper’s editor, who is appointed by Iran’s supreme leader, wrote that Iran “‘can prevent the passage of oil tankers or ships with military or commercial loads that aren’t considered harmless for its security, order and peace’” (Bloomberg 6/24).

In response to concerns that Iran might block Hormuz, four U.S. minesweepers have arrived in the Persian Gulf and surrounding waters to ensure the “‘continued, safe flow of maritime traffic in international waterways,’” said the U.S. Navy (Reuters 6/25).

In order to avoid continued escalation, analysts are calling for more “creative” diplomacy, and warning that without a diplomatic solution, Iran will escalate tensions in response to the U.S. and E.U oil sanctions. (AFP 6/24).

  • 16 August 2011
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 2 Comments
  • MEK

Iran’s Greens Warn U.S. Against Supporting the Mujahedin

Kaleme, a leading Green movement newspaper run by supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, has a very strongly worded editorial today warning foreign governments (ie, the U.S.) not to support the Mujahedin-e Khalq.  This comes shortly after 37 activists warned against delisting the MEK from the U.S. terrorism list, and is yet another sign of how concerned the Green Movement has become about the possibility that the MEK will get off the terrorism list and win U.S. backing.

The editorial makes clear that the MEK has no support in Iran, and that any foreign support for the group would have very serious consequences. According to Kaleme, support for the MEK would benefit the very Iranian hardliners who are trying to destroy the Green Movement and “defame” the U.S. in the eyes of the Iranian people.

The translation, courtesy of Parisa Saranj, is below. The Persian text is available on Kaleme’s website.

Kaleme: Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK); The symbol of Treason, Violence and Terror in Iran

I am saying, as someone who cares, the MEK with betrayals and crimes committed are considered dead. You, [the leaders of the government] don’t bring them back to life for the sake of scoring points and taking revenge.” — Mir Hossein Mousavi, Statement no.17

In the modern history of Iran, there is no organization, no party and no cult more infamous than the MEK amongst the Iranian nation. The Iranian people are yet to forget how their beloved children were terrorized and martyred in the worst ways possible. And, thousands of family members and children of those murdered are still alive and witnesses to these crimes. The Iranian nation does not forget how this organization, along with Saddam Hussein, craved for the lives and honor of Iranians and assisted him in the suppression and massacre of the people of Iran and Iraq. Iranians are proud of the years they stood against the MEK and Saddam and on any opportunity possible they praise the hundred thousand martyrs of the Iraq-Iran war. Iranian people know very well that this organization used unlawful and illegal sources, which initially belonged to the Iranian and Iraqi people. They are well aware that the MEK owes its remaining financial power and its limited existence to the support which Saddam Hussein provided them during the war against our country.

Mojahedin-e Khalq is the symbol of “violence and terror” in Iran and the slightest mention of this word [MEK] and the remembrance of this organization is needed to remind the Iranian audience of the violence, terror, and treason they caused. As long as the groundwork of this organization is cult-like behavior, the only solution for them is to submit to foreigners in order to stab its own people in the back. Any country that supports this organization defames itself among the Iranian people and remains infamous for defending violence and betrayal.

Leaders who are deceived into supporting the MEK are only making the wall of mistrust between the nations taller and are bringing back to life the bitter memories of anti-Iranian policies, such as 1953 coup.

Mojahedin-e Khalq are outcasts of the Iranian people; even before being the outcast of the government. To invigorate the ominous name of the MEK is only the wish of sinister enemies of democracy and rule of the people in Iran. Seekers of violence whether by MEK’s side or against them would be happy to see them empowered since violence creates violence.

The presence of this terrorist group in any part of the world could become an excuse for those in power in Iran to have unlawful confrontations with critics and protesters. They [those in power] would be the only group welcoming the official presence, even if they pretend to be their enemies.

Mojahedin-e Khalq is the symbol of violence, animosity, submission, and reliance on foreign powers. Thus, the organization is illegal and is the reminder of the most bitter of betrayals. Today, Iranian people who have become the example for nonviolent resistance, anti-dictatorship and independence for other countries, do not accept “violence and submission” and do not look kindly on the support of any government that relies on violence and submission.

In supporting the great Green Movement, we continue to consider Mojahedin-e Khalq hypocrites who “with betrayals and crimes committed are considered dead.” And we repeat Mir Hossein Mousavi’s warning by saying “No nation should bring them back to life for the sake of rewards and if they do so, they will remain infamous in the memory of the Iranian people.”

MEK’s attempts to hijack the Green Movement

The Mujahedin-e Khalq campaign to be removed from the U.S. list of Foreign Terrorist Organization’s has been fueled by plenty of misinformation.  One big lie that MEK has spread in Washington is that the group is popularly supported in Iran and is the “main opposition.”

This attempt to hijack Iran’s indigenous Green Movement is nothing new.

In his recent book, Then They Came For Me, journalist Maziar Bahari provides a fascinating account of his experience covering the 2009 elections in Iran and their aftermath, and the detention and abuse he endured when he was arrested and detained for 118 days in Evin prison.

Before his arrest, Bahari covered the massive protests and witnessed firsthand how “MEK sympathizers had acted as agents provocateurs among the protestors, inciting violence” during the peaceful demonstrations.

Bahari writes that, during the June 13 demonstration, “The Basijis…normally so rash and confrontational—were clearly intimidated by the sheer size of the crowd.”  But as he worked his way through the masses, Bahari heard shots ring out.  A small group of MEK sympathizers were attacking a Basij building with Molotov cocktails:

“Before long, the Basijis stopped firing warning shots and began shooting indiscriminately into the crowd of protestors.  The two Basijis on the roof did not seem to care if the people they were shooting at were attackers or passerbys.  Many peaceful demonstrators in the crowd panicked and started to throw stones at the compound.”

Bahari describes how one of the men attacking the base was shot and killed by the Basijis.  Ultimately 7 people were killed in the attack, and the violence rippled through the nonviolent protests.

“As the Basij started to spread bullets into the crowd, as people scrambled to take cover as bloodied people ran out of the street, and as MEK supporters started to chant, “Death to the Islamic Republic,” I continued to film.

“Hush. Be quiet!  Change the slogan!  Allahu akbar! God is great!” screamed a couple of older men trying to get the crowd out of the street.  “We haven’t come here to say, ‘Death to the Islamic Republic.’”

“We here to support Mousavi,” said another woman.  “Not fight!”

A small group of young men approached a few of the older men who were trying to calm people down.  “Kafeh shin madar saga!” one said, throwing punches at an older man.  “Shut up, you sons of bitches!”  The crowd erupted into a brawl.

“Death to Khamenei!” cried a teenager as he joined the others hitting the older men.  I turned my camera toward him.

Bahari goes on to describe the reaction among Green Movement leaders:

Mousavi was quite upset about the attack, but he was not going to let terrorists hijack the green movement—which was how the support for Mousavi was becoming known.  Mousavi had decided to tell his supporters to take to the streets one more time and avoid any confrontation with the police and the Guards that could provoke further violence.

Bahari subsequently published an article in Newsweek on the incident, “Who’s Behind Tehran’s Violence?  Opposition supporters worry about their movement being hijacked.”  The piece, which came out just days before Bahari was arrested, quotes a peaceful demonstrator:

“I think some small terrorist groups and criminal gangs are taking advantage of the situation.  Thirty years after the revolution and 20 years after the war, the majority of Iranians despise violence and terror. My worry is that if the government doesn’t allow reforms to take place, we will fall into a terrorism abyss like the years after the revolution.”

Bahari writes:

“The supposed reelection of Ahmadinejad was a gift to such groups. On their Web sites they claim that the alleged rigging of the vote has revealed the true face of the regime. (Like some Israeli commentators, they argue that the victory of a moderate like Mousavi would actually extend the life of the regime.) It is true that in the past, whenever hardliners have intensified their grip, these groups have gained more support. They reacted angrily when pro-reform Mohammad Khatami was elected president in 1997.”

The vast majority of Iranians don’t want these groups to have any part in their movement for democracy.  They continue to be wary of attempts by violent groups to “hijack” their movement and risk reigniting a vicious cycle of violence that would undermine well over a century of work toward democracy in Iran.  De-listing the MEK would do just that.

  • 8 July 2011
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 2 Comments
  • MEK

Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) Factsheet

MEK=TERROR
In a matter of weeks, a terrorist group known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) may succeed in getting removed from the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations — not as a result of any change of heart — but as a result of an unprecedented and possibly illegal multi-million dollar media and lobbying blitz.

Iranian Americans know the truth about the MEK, but high-priced public relations and lobbying firms are hard at work trying to whitewash the MEK’s violent and disturbing record. And while they’ve been remarkably successful, they can’t completely escape the truth.  So, for the record, here are the facts about the MEK (you can find this and more at www.mekterror.com):

  • The State Department reports the MEK is a terrorist group that has murdered innocent Americans and maintains “the will and capacity” to commit terrorist attacks within the U.S. and beyond. [1]
  • The MEK claims to have renounced terrorism in 2001, but a 2004 FBI report states “the MEK is currently actively involved in planning and executing acts of terrorism.” [2]
  • RAND and Human Rights Watch have reported that the MEK is a cult that abuses its own members. [3] [4]
  • MEK has no popular support in Iran and has been denounced by the Green Movement, Iran’s peaceful democratic opposition movement.[5]

Iran’s Opposition Green Movement Rejects the MEK

  • The leaders of the Green Movement, Iran’s true popular opposition movement, have denounced the MEK and warned that the Iranian government seeks to discredit Iran’s opposition by associating it with the MEK:
  • “The Iranian Government is trying to connect those who truly love their country (the Greens) with the MEK to revive this hypocritical dead organization.” – Mehdi Karroubi, Green Movement leader. [6]
  • “The MEK can’t be part of the Green Movement. This bankrupt political group is now making some laughable claims, but the Green Movement and the MEK have a wall between them and all of us, including myself, Mr. Mousavi, Mr. Khatami, and Mr. Karroubi.” – Zahra Rahnavard, Women’s rights activist and wife of Green Movement leader Mir Hossein Mousavi[7]

Iraqi National Congress Redux?

  • The MEK claims it is “the main opposition in Iran,” yet similar to Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress that helped bring the United States into war with Iraq, the MEK is an exiled organization that has no popular support within Iran. [8]
  • RAND reports that the MEK are “skilled manipulators of public opinion.” The MEK has a global support network with active lobbying and propaganda efforts in major Western capitals. [9]
  • Members of Congress have been deceived and misinformed into supporting this terrorist  organization:
  • In 2002, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen led efforts for the U.S. to support the group, prompting then-Chairman and the Ranking Member of the House International Affairs Committee, Henry Hyde and Tom Lantos, to send a Dear Colleague warning against supporting the MEK.  They cautioned that many Members had been “embarrassed when confronted with accurate information about the MEK.” [10]
  • In the current Congress, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) have each introduced resolutions calling for MEK to be removed from the Foreign Terrorist Organization list.

A Capacity and Will to Commit Terrorist Acts in the U.S. & Beyond

  • The Bush administration determined in 2007 that “MEK leadership and members across the world maintain the capacity and will to commit terrorist acts in Europe, the Middle East, the United States, Canada, and beyond.” [11]
  • The Canadian and Australian governments have also designated the MEK as a terrorist organization. The Canadian government just reaffirmed its designation in December. [12] [13]
  • An EU court removed the MEK from its list of terrorist organizations, but only due to procedural reasons.  According to a spokesperson for the Council of the European Union, the EU court “did not enter into the question of defining or not the PMOI [MEK] as a terrorist organization.” [14]

Saddam Hussein’s Terrorist Militia

  • The MEK received all of its military assistance and most of its financial support from Saddam Hussein, including funds illegally siphoned from the UN Oil-for-Food Program, until 2003. [15]
  • The MEK helped execute Saddam’s bloody crackdown on Iraqi Shia and Kurds. Maryam Rajavi, the MEK’s permanent leader, instructed her followers to “take the Kurds under your tanks.” [16]

A Cult That Abuses Its Own Members

  • Human Rights Watch reports that MEK commits extensive human rights abuses against its own members at Camp Ashraf, including “torture that in two cases led to death.” [17]
  • A RAND report commissioned by DOD found that the MEK is a cult that utilizes practices such as mandatory divorce, celibacy, authoritarian control, forced labor, sleep deprivation, physical abuse, confiscation of assets, emotional isolation, and the imprisonment of dissident members. [18]
  • RAND concluded that up to 70% of the MEK members at their Camp Ashraf headquarters were likely recruited through deception and are kept there against their will. [19]
  • The FBI reports that the MEK’s “NLA [National Liberation Army] fighters are separated from their children who are sent to Europe and brought up by the MEK’s Support Network. […] These children are then returned to the NLA to be used as fighters upon coming of age.  Interviews also revealed that some of these children were told that their parents would be harmed if the children did not cooperate with the MEK. ”[20]

A History of Anti-Americanism

  • One of the founding ideologies of the MEK is anti-Americanism—the MEK is responsible for murdering American businessmen, military personnel, and even a senior American diplomat. [21]
  • The MEK strongly supported the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979, vigorously opposed their eventual release, and chastised the government for not executing the hostages. [22]

The MEK was Not “Added” to the FTO List as a Goodwill Gesture to Iran

Delisting MEK: Disastrous Repercussions

The MEK is opposed by the Iranian people due to its history of terrorist attacks against civilians in Iran and its close alliance with Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war.

  1. The greatest beneficiaries of delisting MEK would be Ahmadinejad and Iranian hardliners who seek to link the U.S. and the Green Movement to MEK.
  2. U.S. support for MEK would be used as a propaganda tool by hardliners to delegitimize and destroy Iran’s true democracy movement.
  3. American credibility among the Iranian people would be ruined if the U.S. supported this group.

Full citations below the fold:

Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

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