Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has decided to take a controversial Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), off the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations as compensation for the group’s almost complete evacuation of its historic base in Iraq, a US official told Al-Monitor on Friday, Barbara Slavin and I report on the front page. But Iran is likely to see it as a signl that the United States backs Iran regime change:
The official, speaking to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, said the decision – first reported by CNN’s Elise Labott — reflected the fact that all but 200 MEK members have now relocated from Camp Ashraf north of Baghdad to a facility near Baghdad airport where they will be processed for resettlement out of Iraq by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. [...]
The US official added that taking the MEK off the terrorist list would not connote US government approval. [...]
Iranian officials are likely to be furious at the move which could negatively impact already stalled nuclear negotiations. [...]
Philip Zelikow, who dealt with the issue as Counselor to then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, told Al-Monitor, “From what I can learn, I don’t see any basis for keeping the MEK on the FTO [Foreign Terrorist Organization] list and thus obstructing the resettlement, outside of Iraq, of the Ashraf folks as refugees. My advice is also unwelcome to the MEK supporters since I’ve told them bluntly that the US can no longer protect them in Iraq and that they should accept resettlement outside of Iraq.”
“I am relieved to see that, thanks to some able US diplomatic work, we seem to have found a solution,” Zelikow added.