NIAC Moves to Block De-listing of Iranian Resistance

Alex Jeferson

In recent weeks, the Iranian regime’s elusive and well-funded lobbying machine in Washington has been focusing exclusively on smearing and discrediting the main Iranian opposition. The so-called National Iranian American Council (NIAC), and its founder Trita Parsi, have been lobbying desperately to prevent what the Iranian regime fears the most: The removal of the largest and best organized Iranian opposition, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK), from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.

NIAC’s campaign includes dozens of roughly identical opinion pieces and articles published under different names, as well as dedicated web pages, YouTube videos, petitions, letters to legislators, seminars, webinars, and tweets. All of them bear the following message for Washington: Do not delist the MEK.

That message has clearly been one of the main demands of the Iranian regime. In fact, when the MEK was first designated in 1997, U.S. officials acknowledged that the “goodwill gesture,” was in response to Iranian regime demands to facilitate dialogue with Tehran.

However, the regime became even more brazen. So, now that the folly of the MEK’s listing has been revealed, NIAC has waged a hysteric propaganda blitz to try to preserve it by other means.

Parsi, who bills himself as the voice of the Iranian-American community, actually came from Sweden. He got his start at the office of convicted pro-Tehran Congressman Bob Ney, who served time in prison for accepting bribes and dubious dealings with a Syrian weapons smuggler.

For years, Parsi regularly met with Iranian regime’s representatives, coordinated activities with his contacts in Tehran, attempted to mediate for “grand bargain,” and even organized seminars in Cyprus, inviting oil and business tycoons to figure out how to do business with the Ayatollahs.

During a court proceeding in Washington, DC, scores of emails were revealed as evidence chronicling Parsi’s prolonged and close contacts with Iran’s then ambassador to the UN, Javad Zarif. The relationship was so close that Parsi even sent invoices of his activities to Zarif, who in turn praised his articles as “excellent.” And, in addition to working to block sanctions against the Ayatollahs, Parsi was engaged in  facilitating Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reception and speech at Columbia University. He has labored to theorize a prompt rapprochement with Tehran, urging Washington to recognize the Iranian regime’s stability and hegemony as a first step.

Despite this abysmal record, Parsi and his group brazenly paint themselves as supporters of the “pro-democracy” movement in Iran. To conceal his campaign on behalf of Tehran against the MEK’s delisting, he claims instead that delisting would actually harm the “pro-democracy” movement.

That movement, which came to fore during the mass uprisings of 2009, was violently suppressed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) agents who killed, arrested and raped young girls and boys, and sent thousands to torture chambers.

Yet, for Parsi, the IRGC, which has committed heinous crimes both against the Iranian people and American military personnel in Iraq through its Qods Force, does not belong on the terrorist list! In an article published on NIAC’s website in 2007, he defended the IRGC and attacked the U.S. Government for designating it as a terrorist entity.

“The White House's decision to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization could deal a double blow to efforts to utilize diplomacy with Iran to stabilize Iraq,” he lamented.

Parsi’s attempts to prevent the delisting of the MEK are also endangering the lives of thousands of Iranian dissidents taking refuge in Iraq. The listing was the prime justification for two separate assaults by the Iraqi army in July 2009 and April 2011 on Camp Ashraf, the long-time residence of the nearly 3,400 MEK members in Iraq.  These attacks have left 47 unarmed residents killed and hundreds injured.

In July 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Colombia Circuit strongly suggested that the State Department should delist the MEK for dearth of factual and legal evidence in favor of the listing. A fast growing bi-partisan group of nearly 100 Members of Congress and dozens of high ranking former officials are also unified in their view that there is no basis for the continued listing of MEK. The only parties that consider the MEK terrorist currently are the State Department and the Iranian regime. Both the UK and the EU delisted the group after a long series of court victories. And the French Judiciary dismissed all terror charges against the group in May 2011.

And as for Parsi’s ridiculous claims that delisting would harm pro-democracy movement, most of the protestors who were sentenced to death or executed since summer 2009 have been actually MEK affiliates, like Ali Saremi and Jafar Kazemi. Dozens of other MEK supporters are in Iranian jails, some of them on death row.

NIAC continues to claim that de-listing the MEK will benefit the Iranian regime.  Everything in the documentary record, including a number of documents released b wikileaks show that the regime has continuously opposed the de-listing. The regime is deathly afraid of the de-listing of the MEK.

Secretary Clinton will soon have to decide on the MEK’s listing. Will she take note of the facts and laws or will she listen to the Iranian regime’s disgraced lobbyists?  The integrity of America and the lives of thousands of Ashraf residents, including 1,000 brave women, are at stake.

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