The United States government recognizes that the religious extremists ruling Iran will continue conducting and sponsoring terrorist activities throughout the world. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), its subordinate Quds (Jerusalem) Force, and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) have all been investigated and found responsible for bombing plots and assassinations throughout the world.
In 2018, German, Belgian, and French police working together stopped the MOIS from detonating a highly lethal explosive device at an Iranian Resistance rally near Paris. This rally, hosted by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), included senior dignitary participants from Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America.
This failed attack once again emphasized Iran’s ruling extremists’ fear of the NCRI and its affiliate organization, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK). In turn, the massive number of international dignitaries attending this event confirmed the global respect held by both organizations.
The question becomes why national governments currently in power still have so much reluctance to stop coddling the government of Iran and recognize the way to move forward is to work with the opposition.
From 1992 until 2016, the length of time it takes to produce an entire generation of Foggy Bottom bureaucrats, the U.S. State Department continued to wrongfully believe peace with Iran could be through appeasement. In the hopes of winning Iran’s favor, the State Department continued to vilify Iran’s greatest threats, even designating the MeK a terrorist organization.
In 2012, with no hard evidence to present to the D.C. Court of Appeals, the State Department was ordered to remove the MeK from the U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization list. Rather than admit they were wrong, State Department bureaucrats continued to embrace, build upon, and spread the old rumors that failed to pass judiciary review.
The founder of the Iranian Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, declared, “The road to Jerusalem is through Karbala” (Iraq). Unable to defeat Saddam Hussein’s forces, the Iranian government was thrilled when President George W. Bush sent in American forces to clear the way. As evidenced by a 2019 U.S. Department of Defense report, the IRGC paid back the favor by being directly involved with the killing of 608 American military members serving in Iraq.
My knowledge of the MeK began in 2003 while serving as the Senior Antiterrorism Officer for all Coalition Forces in Iraq. Saddam had allowed the MeK to set up multiple bases in Iraq. After the American-led invasion, the MeK was consolidated into Ashraf base, fifty miles northeast of Baghdad.
Later as Operations Chief of Task Force 134 (Detention Operations) and still later as base commander of Ashraf, I was able to further validate my 2003 conclusion.
Unlike self-proclaimed experts of the MeK, my knowledge of the organization at Ashraf came from a combination of Department of Defense intelligence reports, independent study, and direct knowledge from working with the organization, to include unannounced inspection visits into their living and working areas.
The American troops and MeK residents at Ashraf had an outstanding relationship. Many of our missions outside the base were joint operations. Mutual trust never wavered. When we were running low on water, the MeK pumped us 10,000 gallons a day. Through their network of informants outside our joint base, the MeK was our eyes and ears. Each month American intelligence officers from Baghdad came to Ashraf to learn from the MeK.
In a field of battle, American warriors experienced the MeK’s and NCRI’s dedication to peace and democracy. Almost two decades following the positive lessons learned by privates, sergeants, and officers of the American military, politicians and bureaucrats still remain willfully blind.
Neither the NCRI nor the MeK are about power in Iran. They are about democracy in Iran. Both have become cultural, political, and ideological threats to the Islamic fundamentalists. The founding philosophies of both organizations were (1) equality between those in power and those not, between men and women, and among various religions and races; (2) clergy should not have total control over interpretation of the Quran; (3) clerics should not have total control over their congregations. These philosophies contradict the teachings of the Iranian fundamentalists.
Shamefully, western detractors, who still strive for Iranian appeasement, claim these philosophies reflect the teachings of Marx and Lenin. The reality is these philosophies more accurately reflect Jefferson and Madison.
Until there is a great awakening among these politicians and bureaucrats, Iran will remain the number one nation state exporter of terrorism.
Tens of thousands of Iranian expatriates who support democracy in their country will be holding a Free Iran Global Summit online on July 17. The message of those Iranians, who will be joined by top lawmakers from the U.S. and Europe, is that the people of Iran want regime change, and that it’s high time for Western leaders to cast aside the outdated policy of appeasement, not least as domestic protests against the regime continue to grow, as does the terrorist threats posed by the regime.
Rather than to continue to attempt appeasement with a dysfunctional government, leaders of the international community will better serve their nations and global peace by working with the two organizations determined to bring democracy and stability to Iran and the Middle East: Those two organizations are the NCRI and the MeK.
(Col. Wesley Martin was the Senior Antiterrorism Officer for all Coalition Forces in Iraq)
This piece originally appeared in RobManess.com and is used by permission.
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