By Mahmoud Al Abed
The People’s Mujahideen – Khalq, the Iranian exiled armed group that has recently stepped up their attacks on targets inside Iran, is a threat that Tehran is taking seriously, especially since Iraq is providing the secular group with the haven and the facilities it needs.
Iraq’s harboring of the Iranian dissidents is the Arab country’s answer to Iran’s support for the Iraqi opposition group the Higher Shiite Council, based in Iran.
The two countries, which fought a bitter war between 1980-1988, still appear at war with the two groups trading rocket and bomb attacks, and government officials in Baghdad and Tehran continue to exchange accusations.
Five mortar shells were fired early Monday into a military barracks in east Tehran, and Khalq was quick in declaring its responsibility. It was the eighth mortar attack since the start of the year, targeting official buildings, several of which resulted in casualties.
On Saturday, Iranian Intelligence Minister Ali Yunessi was quoted as saying that his country would retaliate to the frequent attacks by Khalq.
The Tehran Times paper charged that “the Mujahadeen had stepped up attacks after a meeting with the US Central Intelligence agency.”
Western anlysts would agree that the USA supports the armed group.
Although the group is on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations, it is perceived by the US as “the enemy of my enemy.”
In a report on Oct. 9.1997, Los Angeles Times noted "One senior Clinton administration official said inclusion of the People's Mujahideen was intended as a goodwill gesture to Tehran and its newly elected moderate president."
“Although the MKO is on the US State Department's terrorist list, its offices are only a few steps away from the White House," Tehran Times protested, citing an analyst charging that the "US attitude towards the MKO is ambivalent."
However, on Sept. 16, 1998, 220 members at the House of Representatives signed a "Statement of Iran's Deeds" condemning the Tehran regime and calling on the removal of the People's Mujahideen from the State Departments terrorist list.
Rep. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, said: "We should not tie our interests and our future relations with the people of Iran to the destiny of the clerical regime. This is a recipe for a disaster."
Congress made it clear that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." Congress' challenge is to get the State Department to agree as well.
But it is not so easy for Washington, which supports Iranian president Mohammad Khatami’s reformist policies, to be so candid in its support of the group. Nonetheless, it is not so harming if the group is the stick waved in Tehran’s face.
Ironically, if reports of American support of the Mujahideen were true, Iraq and the US have something in common which is of no benefit to the people or future of Iraq.
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )