Secretary Clinton trapped by a false dichotomy


massoud khodabandeh
by massoud khodabandeh

* Persian text

In November 2011 a large group of interested people met in Baghdad to discuss the seemingly intractable problem of how to dismantle the Mohjahedin-e Khalq foreign terrorist group and remove the members from the country. At the behest of families of the individuals trapped inside Camp Ashraf, the GOI agreed to proceed in a way that would avoid violent confrontation. Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari announced later, “We will refuse them the satisfaction of becoming martyrs on our soil”. The Governor of Diyala, the military head of Diyala province and other authorities all went the extra mile to prevent the MEK from killing more hostages and blaming the Iraqis for it.

Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UN which would allow more time and give oversight of the eviction process to the UN and to representatives of the EU and US.

The Iraqis have kept their side of bargain – the deadline for the MEK’s departure was extended and negotiations were facilitated to persuade the MEK to cooperate in a move from Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty where the UNHCR would be able to assess each individual for refugee status. (Remember that no external body, including the GOI, has been able to freely access the inside of Camp Ashraf since the fall of Saddam Hussein.) The first 800 individuals have now moved and another 800 are lined up to move over the next few days in two groups of 400. The MEK leader has not been able to exploit the situation and kill any hostages. The GOI has control of the situation.

UNAMI has been rigorous in its supervision of the move and, by enforcing its own rules and regulations has not allowed propaganda to overshadow activities at either camp. Facilities at the new camp were approved by UN inspectors, the ICRC has been involved and behind the scene EU and US special advisors have been keeping a watchful eye on events. The MEK has ‘character assassinated’ UNAMI and its officials, and others, in the media but UNAMI has not been diverted by the efforts of the MEK and their backers.

But one pernicious factor which has actively impeded proper progress in this task has been the support given to the MEK by Israelis and US Neoconservatives whose clear intent is to politicise what is essentially a humanitarian situation. The MEK is a well-honed tool in the hands of these ideologues and is used to incite hatred against Iran and Iraq among ignorant and lazy political communities. The MEK is far too valuable for them to allow it to disappear. Most recently, the MEK has been used by Mossad to assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists.

This being so will make it even more difficult for UNAMI to transfer them to third countries. This ruthless use of the MEK as a mercenary terrorist force has a direct impact on the situation of the hostages trapped in the camp; their future becomes all the more uncertain.

But then, it has been all along, the clear intention of the MEK’s paymasters to keep the MEK intact as a terrorist entity in Iraq, in total disregard for the human beings involved.

If it wasn’t because of the backing of Israel and the Neoconservatives, Rajavi would have had no choice but to open the doors of his closed totalitarian group and allow the individuals trapped inside to walk free. That is the aim of everyone on the ground working to resolve the situation in Iraq. In this respect it is no less the responsibility of the US Government to work with the international community to dismantle this terrorist group and rescue the hostages.

But while the rest of the world is genuinely working toward a peaceful end to the camp and the release and resettlement of the hostages, it appears Secretary of State Clinton is somewhat ambiguous in her dealing with the situation.

Based on a legal ruling, Clinton must make a decision by the end of March whether the State Department remove the MEK from its terrorism list or not. Presenting this as leverage she has introduced a unilateral condition to the MEK’s removal from Iraq; if the MEK cooperate with UNAMI and the Government of Iraq, she has indicated, we will remove them from the US terrorism list. But cooperation with UNAMI is a legal obligation rather than an optional choice for the MEK. So what is really behind this position?

On the surface this would appear as though the USG is prepared to do a political deal to get the MEK to leave Iraq (and in doing so gain credit with the Iraqi government). It is as though the MEK were a far distant uncontrollable threat to US security which needs careful handling to bring it under control before dismantling it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Everything that the MEK’s western owners can do is being done to help the MEK’s leader keep the doors to the camp closed, to keep the hostages inside and to deny them contact with their families – even though this is against all humanitarian, moral or indeed criminal law.

By talking about the terrorism list rather than talking about what is happening in Iraq Clinton is bowing to this pressure. Certainly if UNAMI is allowed to do its job properly – with the support of all the international community – there will not be an organisation left to be listed or not listed. By invoking the US terrorism list, the actual script appears to be whether the MEK can be more useful listed as terrorists or if they are not regarded as terrorists. This false choice disguises the real intent of its proponents which is to keep the group intact as a terrorist group so it can be rearmed and used.

Secretary Clinton, indeed the whole government of America, needs to unhitch the politically charged consideration of the MEK’s inclusion in the US terrorism list from the very real humanitarian situation in Iraq. If the USG’s intention is really to deal properly with this terrorist group, it should reassert the humanitarian focus of American policy toward the MEK and unequivocally support the dismantlement process in Iraq.

* Persian text


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by پندارنیک on's a must-follow blog............superb exchanges........


I don't still understand why on earth the GOI has suspended the enforcement of her sovereignty and has virtually handed it over to the UN.

massoud khodabandeh

Third group of MEK moved to camp liberty

by massoud khodabandeh on

Massoud Khodabandeh

Today Al Khadran the mayer of Khalis anounced that the third group of 400 individuals have been successfully moved from Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty.
امروز آقای الخدران فرماندار خالص اعلام کرد که سومین گروه چهارصد نفری با موفقیت و به سلامت از کمپ اشرف به کمپ لیبرتنی منتقل شده اند


massoud khodabandeh


by massoud khodabandeh on

Massoud Khodabandeh


Dear Mr Rahmanian

Some of your questions seem irrelevant, I will address them anyway.

1- I don't do rumours. The fact is, Ebrahim Khodabandeh and Jamil Bassam were arrested in Syria while transferring 2 million dollars and a box of jewellery from Iraq to Paris at the beginning of the war. More money (over 20 million dollars wrapped in Iraqi newspaper) was found in Mrs Rajavi's bedroom in Paris by French anti-terrorist police. The MEK and its backers did not reveal the arrests for over 4 weeks and compromised the safety of these two in the hope of striking a deal with Assad to get the money back. The moment the two men were extradited to Tehran, the MEK approached Ebrahim's then pregnant daughter in the UK to persuade her to self-immolate in protest. You can see the testimonies of his daughter. It was clear from MEK stances at the time they were trying to manipulate the situation to provoke the Iranians to execute the men. Iran saw through this campaign and as well as legal proceedings based on their illegal activities treated them (as they do with MEK prisoners) as cult members in need of psychological help. You can read more about these things on:
with many links to letters, testimonies, etc

BTW I have never had any influence in Syria, but I think you will accept that the IRI has. With this in mind we should ask why the hell did the intelligence section of MEK risk sending these men with cash through Syria rather than the usual route through Jordan? I still have not found any answer for this one.

2- My work in Iraq is certainly not limited to the case of MEK and getting jobs there is not much different from other parts of the world. Having said that, if Saddam was still ruling, I would not and could not get a job there. I guess I should thank the Americans for this one.

3- Mr Zebari is alive and well, you can look at his interviews in English, Arabic and even in Persian (with VOA) and this is more likely to be his view about MEK rather than 'evidence' presented by the MEK to support their case. It does appear that as a Kurd he does not endorse what they did in 1991 in Khurmatooz, Kefri, Khalis etc.  

4- I believe the USG  is not responsible for the existence of MEK but then again I believe it is not doing enough to help international community to bring about a peaceful solution for the confined people in the camp. When members are free to walk away, that will determine if the MEK continues in its current form or not.

5- Yes, I do have documents of their involvement in existing violence, involvement in assassinations, and working closely with the remains of Saddam's regime and other insurgents in Iraq. The Iraqi judiciary is currently working on it and has already issued a few arrest warrants.

6- I stated clearly that no-one, not even US officials, have had FREE access to Camp Ashraf without their movements and activities being manipulated by the MEK.

7- The Iraqi forces went to the camp in April 2011 with a court order and with prior notice, to recover land which had been added to the camp so that it could be restored to the local farmers with their ownership documents in their hands. The GOI maintains that the violence was started by the MEK and was pre-planned. The judiciary has not closed the file and is still working on it. This of course has no relevance to the MEK refusal to allow access to the people trapped inside especially to their close families.

8- The USG interviewed, finger printed and took DNA samples from the people they had access to at any one time. First the CIA, then Pentagon, then State Department, then FBI. They did uncover many things at various times. They did write reports which were published. For what they found I would refer you to the RAND report commissioned by the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates.

9-The camp is controlled from outside by Iraqi security forces. They do not have control over anything inside. Indeed, the latest death inside the camp was claimed by the MEK as a heart attack, but the GOI  say the victim died during a knife fight between the residents. The GOI accepted the temporary suspension of enforcing its sovereignty over this piece of land on the understanding that the UN could bring this standoff to an end with fewer casualties. Having said that, UNAMI, ICRI and others are still in the dark about what is happening on the ground inside the camp.

Could I now ask your good self - whether a supporter of MEK or not - to please accept that a good ending for the people trapped in Iraq is good for all except perhaps the IRI. After all, while many others inside and outside Iran have been active (even if it has been simply to attend a rally) to help bring freedom to Iran, the 3000+ strong 'force' in Iraq have not been free to do anything either for themselves or for their country. It is now 9 years since Saddam's regime has fallen and Mr Rajavi is still in hiding. It does not have to be like this.


Ari Siletz

Some serious arm twisting

by Ari Siletz on

Concern about MEK leaders creating human rights crisis:

"A recent [April 2011] defector revealed plans for limited
to large-scale immolations at Camp Ashraf and abroad and acts of suicide by
at least female leaders should GOI [Government of Iraq] enter the camp
to arrest leaders."
Classified U.S. embassy cable. 


This year, blackmailing the U.S. government with threat of human rights violator stigma using full page ad claiming camp liberty is unfit for human habitation:

"...according to an Obama administration official who works on the
issue, it's actually the MEK that is trashing Camp Liberty -- literally.
According to this official, the U.N. has reported that MEK members at
Camp Liberty have been sabotaging the camp, littering garbage and
manipulating the utilities to make things look worse than they really
are. While there are some legitimate problems at the camp, the official
admitted, the U.N. has been monitoring Camp Liberty's water, sewage, and
food systems on a daily basis and the conditions are better than the
MEK is portraying.
..' "Whether the MEK wants a resolution or wants a confrontation is
something we're still debating. It's that bad," the official said.'
Source: Foreign Policy


A well argued case....

by Bavafa on

Many thanks

'Hambastegi' is the main key to victory 


G. Rahmanian

Mr. Khodabandeh:

by G. Rahmanian on

Mr. Khodabandeh:

There's a rumor you had something to do with the arrest, in Syria, of your brother, a former MEK member and a current IR "guest of honor." Is that true?

Also, is it true you are an advisor to Iraqi Prime Minister, Mr. Nouri al-Maliki? If yes, how did you land the job?

Isn't it a fact that Iraq's Foreign Minister, Mr. Hushiar Zibari's support as a witness was instrumental in MEK's removal from the list of FTOs in Europe?

Do you in fact believe that the US government can declare a foreign organization null and void? Is it possible for any government to do so?

Do you have in your possession documents proving MEK's involvement in terrorist activities in recent years?

You claim, since the fall of Saddam's government, neither Iraqis nor any other entities have entered Camp Ashraf.

What do you call the attack on the Camp by Iraqi forces on April 8, 2011 which left dozens of the Camp's residents dead and many more injured?

Isn't it true that the US security forces made a thorough investigation of all the residents of the Camp in 2004?

Isn't it also true the Camp is completely under the control of Iraqi security forces?


A must-read piece

by پندارنیک on