Friday, July 18, 2008

Representatives Call for Supporting the MEK to Overthrow Iranian Regime

On July 14, 2008, Representatives Tom Tancredo (R-CO) and Bob Filner (D-CA) called on Congress to support the cult "People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, also known as the MEK." Reps. Tancredo and Filner urged the MEK be taken off the list of terrorist organizations and called on the U.S. to provide support for the organization to overthrow the regime in Iran. Below is the full text of both speeches.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Mr. TANCREDO. Madam Speaker, in the 1980's the United States supported and helped arm the Afghan resistance to Soviet occupation of their country, a policy later portrayed in the award-winning Tom Hanks movie, "Charlie Wilson's War.'' Today we need to show support for dissidents fighting to overthrow the terrorist regime in Tehran. It will come as a surprise to most Americans that we are not doing so.

In that struggle to push the Soviets out of Afghanistan, not all of those Afghan freedom-fighters were fighting for democracy. It was a coalition of forces who had one thing in common: they wanted the Soviets out of their country. We supported them, and they won. Not only did the Soviets leave Afghanistan, within four years the Soviet Union imploded.

One of the main groups fighting to overthrow the Ahmadinejad regime is the People's Mujahideen Organization of Iran (PMOI)--also called the MEK--and its political arm, the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI). Strangely, instead of assisting these dissidents, our Department of State decided to label them terrorists in 1997.

In the decade since, a debate has raged about whether the designation of the MEK as a terrorist group was driven less by the facts than it was a desire on the part of State Department bureaucrats to curry favor with "moderates'' in the government of then-Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. Either way, it is has become clear that this "good will gesture'' on the part of the State Department failed to yield any progress with Tehran.

The MEK advocates a secular democratic government for Iran, one that that respects human rights and basic freedoms (including freedom of the press and freedom of religion) and has provided intelligence and assistance about the activities of the Iranian regime in Iraq, and Tehran's covert nuclear program. Moreover, a number of the group's members are under the protection of Coalition troops in Iraq.

Unfortunately, the group was recently the victim of a missile attack at Camp Ashraf in Iraq. This is a testament to how much Tehran fears the group.

I hope the Iranian regime will refrain from future attacks of this nature, as Ashraf's residents are protected under the Fourth Geneva Convention. Their well being is and continues to be the obligation of the Coalition troops in Iraq, and the Iraqi government.

This raises another interesting point. Not only does the MEK not behave like a terrorist group, in many respects the U.S. government does not treat them like one.

The MEK is a group that the United States and the west should cultivate as we seek an organic, democratic change agent in Iran.

Fortunately, the United Kingdom has already come to this conclusion in removing the MEK from the British terrorist list earlier this year.

Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill were willing to enter into an alliance with Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union in 1941 in order to defeat Hitler. We used every ally and every resource to defeat the Axis Powers. Yet today, in dealing with the terrorist regime of Iran, a regime that daily threatens to destroy Israel and the U.S. (the "Great Satan'') and is actively seeking the means of fulfilling that threat, we cannot find it in our interest to render aid to the People's Mujahideen of Iran because of its checkered past.

It is time for the western world to re-examine our treatment of the MEK in the wake of the UK court decision.

For starters, the political goals behind designating the MEK as a terrorist organization here in the U.S. have failed to materialize. If anything, the Iranian government has become more aggressive and repressive in the years since the MEK designation. Iran is supporting violence and terrorism from Baghdad to Beirut, has defied U.N. demands to end its nuclear enrichment program, and shows no signs of moderating its behavior--test firing missiles yesterday in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

What better way to send a message to Tehran than to free the MEK from the international stigma that comes with the 'terrorist' label.

This year's U.S. State Department Country Reports on Terrorism rightly brands the Iranian government as the number one state sponsor of global terrorism. Iran has also been the principal supplier of IEDs to terrorists in Iraq who are killing American soldiers and Iraqi civilians.

Despite continued efforts at diplomacy, financial sanctions, and--in the case of placing the MEK on various terrorist lists--outright appeasement by many western countries, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has declared that his country will never yield its "dignity'' by suspending its uranium enrichment program.

U.S., EU and UN negotiators have been talking with Tehran about its nuclear program for many years, but Tehran has shown no sign of changing course. And why should they when we keep handcuffs on Iranian dissidents who might cause the Iranian regime real problems?

If western efforts at "dialogue'' and "diplomacy'' are to be successful, they must be more than opportunities for Iran to stall for time while moving forward with their nuclear program. A willingness to negotiate with carrots doesn't work unless one is willing to use a few sticks as well.

Today, there no longer remain any legal or political justifications for maintaining the MEK on the terror list. I therefore urge our government to seriously reconsider its stance on the democratic opposition of Iran and remove the group from our list of terrorist organizations.
It's time to take the handcuffs off of the MEK.



MONDAY, JULY 14, 2008

Mr. FILNER. Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of democracy in Iran and stability in Iraq. We in the United States Congress must work together for a stable and democratic Iraq. Today, there is undisputable evidence that Iran is the main contributor to the violence in Iraq which causes American and Iraqi casualties.

On July 4, Iran fired yet another GRAD missile at Ashraf City, the residence compound of the Iranian resistance--the People's Mujahadeen Organization of Iran. Iran's mercenaries in Iraq have also been busy calling for arrest, trial, and expulsion of these ``protected persons'' living in Ashraf. Our soldiers are protecting Ashraf in accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention. Iranian action has therefore endangered them as well.

I have said many times that the mullahs in Tehran do not hold all the cards. The Iranian regime's aggressive policies are rooted in the weakness of their regime. The unrelenting assault on the civil and human rights of the Iranian people is a direct response to the illegitimacy of the extremist theocratic government. A military attack on Iran would be a tragic mistake. Yet, it is an error almost as grave to think that continued appeasement of the Iranian regime is the only alternative to war.

Reasonably, Western democracies, with the support of the peace activist community, should use all peaceful means possible to isolate the Iranian regime and to avoid war. However, the desire for a peaceful resolution of this crisis has led into policy choices which provide Iran with the legitimacy it craves and a strengthened diplomatic hand.

The most notable remnant of the West's unsuccessful attempt at "engagement'' with Iran is the designation of the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, also known as the MEK, as a foreign terrorist organization. The MEK provided significant intelligence that helped blow the whistle on Iran's clandestine nuclear weapon and missile development programs.

The MEK has already been removed from the United Kingdom list of terrorist organizations. Late last month, the British parliament approved the order put before it by that country's home secretary and removed the MEK from the UK blacklist. In light of the recent developments, the United States must seriously consider the court's findings as well as the present political environment and also remove the limitations it has placed on the MEK.

We must stop appeasing Iran and shift our support to the Iranian people. They are our best allies against Iran's aggression. Iranian people have an unwavering longing for freedom and democracy. We must work together to acknowledge their resounding rejection of extremism and move to support their efforts for democracy in Iran.

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