MEK is OK, Says Clinton. Times of Israel Says Nothing

Up and down Sunset Boulevard there isn’t a dry eye.  The Kodak Theatre will be sad and sober come March.  From Culver City to Universal City the American film industry rues the day the Iranians chose to boycott the Oscars. Perhaps eleventh-hour efforts will avert this disaster, and shuttle diplomacy between the offices of the Supreme Leader of Iran and the American Interests Section of the Swiss Embassy in Tehran will keep Iran in its rightful place on the Red Carpet.

This web site ran the AP’s story about this key event in Middle Eastern affairs, and when the United States took a Middle Eastern terrorist organisation off its list of terrorist groups the Times of Israel did no more.

Now, I’m guessing that if the US State Department dropped the Abu Nidal Organisation off of the list, this web site would have something to say about it.  I would expect a flood of comment from my Ops and Blogs colleagues.  Barack Obama would come in for a lot of stick, I imagine, for allowing Foggy Bottom to do this.

As a country that is concerned about terrorism in the Middle East, Israel has a lot to worry about:  If getting dropped off the terrorism blacklist is a matter of throwing around a lot of money then maybe Hamas could find somebody to help them buy their way off.

Getting off the list isn’t easy.  Abu Nidal has been dead for years, and his group is still on it.  The Tamil Tigers are mostly dead, but they’re on it.  ETA renounced terrorism, but they’re on it.  The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade isn’t even a real organisation and they’re on it.

But the Mojahedin e-Khalq (MEK) are off it.

Now, the MEK make a business of attacking the Iranian regime, and I can’t fault their aims or their motivation.  The group’s terrorist past (and it’s ever-so-slightly-creepy leader-worship and celibacy) is, however, a bit off-putting.  They killed Americans, including civilians, back in the day.  Ayatollah Khamenei’s partially paralysed right hand is a souvenir of one of their bombs.  They haven’t committed a lot of terrorism recently, but then again neither has Abu Nidal.

According to Alan Dershowitz, Irwin Cotler and Elie Wiesel it’s a good thing to take the MEK off the terrorist blacklist.  Maybe they’re right, and some terrorists are more terrorist than others.  Maybe if you’re fighting a nasty regime like Khamenei’s you can drop the rule book.  Maybe one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.  Last month a blogger on this site said the MEK has given up violence and ought to be off the list in order to energise the Iranian opposition.  Maybe he’s right.

Maybe they’re wrong, and terrorists are anyone who murders, maims and menaces the innocent in order to cause fear and thereby achieve a political aim.  By that definition the MEK have been terrorists in the past no matter what the US State Department says.  It’s a good definition:  I got it from Benjamin Netanyahu.

In the same book, Netanyahu wrote that terrorists rarely are freedom fighters:  unlike other species of insurgent they tend to set up dictatorships.  Did MEK’s years working for Saddam Hussein turn them into democrats? Maybe.

What I find astonishing is that this web site has done no more than run a wire service story on the State Department’s move.  None of my fellow Ops and Blogs commentators have had a word to say.  Are we happy to accept the word of my Ops and Blogs colleagues Irwin Cotler and Alan Dershowitz that MEK is now kosher? Are we uncomfortable with the idea that the Obama White House would do anything to displease the Iranian regime?

Or are we just more interested in Farsi-language cinema?

About the Author
Dr Lynette Nusbacher is a strategist and devil's advocate. She is Principal at Nusbacher & Associates, a strategy consultancy. She has been a senior national security official in the United Kingdom, was Senior Lecturer in War Studies at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and served as a military intelligence officer.