It is a big development. Mujaheddin-e-Khalq (MEK), the Iranian opposition group that once sided with Iraq’s dictator,, recently assured the US State Department that the outfit is ready to renounce violence and provide information to the United States on Iran’s controversial nuclear program. The State Department is now preparing to remove the group from the US terror list.
Leaders of MEK have long been pressing the United States for removal of their name from the terror list, as it is hampering their efforts to get a home outside Iraq. Around 3,000 members of the group have been living under constant threat since 2003, when the United States invaded Iraq to destroy weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein was later hanged along with his dozens of associates. However, some of them are still on the run to save their lives. What will the MEK gain if the group is removed from the State Department’s official Foreign Terrorist Organizations’ list? Members of MEK are caught in a catch-22 situation as if they return to Iran they may face imprisonment and if stay in Iraq, they might be killed by extremists over there. So, it will give MEK a respite if they are removed from the terror list.
After the removal from the State Department’s terror list, the members of MEK will be able to apply for refugee status in any other country and feel more secure to travel abroad. However, at the moment it is not clear where the exiles would go.
US officials have been lobbying European allies to accept at least one thousand of the MEK members, while the rest may be provided refuge in the United States. It may be pertinent to mention here that the outfit was once notorious for terror attacks on US officials in Iran, especially in 1970, when a so-called Islamic revolution hit the country.
A number of European countries are reluctant to accept the exiles, owing to their past acts. However, since being allied with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, the MEK has been carrying out attacks against Iranian forces. Now the group rightly fears that if its members return to Iran, they will be imprisoned or even may face worse. The group has been lobbying for the last couple of months to be removed from the Foreign Terrorist Organisations list and now finally US officials are preparing to meet the demand of the MEK and its other advocates.
The main reason behind accommodating the group is that it has renounced violence, given up arms and is ready to be an active part of the social life. Earlier, Secretary of Statealso assured the MEK of a positive development owing to the group’s positive attitude and it is going to happen finally.