MEK leader urged West to tighten sanctions on Iran

The leader of the Iranian group Mujahedin-e Khalq told the Wall Street Journal that her organization is ‎seeking recognition as the legitimate political opposition to the government in Tehran.‎

Days after the group was delisted as a terrorist organization by the State Department, MeK leader ‎Maryam Rajavi said in an interview at the European Parliament building in Brussels that the removal ‎presents new opportunities.‎

‎“We have this opportunity to let the world and the governments know us through our own voice ‎rather than the perspective of our enemies. So far, we have been denied that choice with the ‎terrorism label,” she said to the Journal.‎

The MeK was placed on the list of foreign terror organizations in ‎‏1997‏‎ because of its alliance with Iraqi ‎leader Saddam Hussein and an assassination campaign it launched against U.S. officials in Tehran prior ‎to the Islamic revolution in Iran in ‎‏1979‏‎.‎

U.S. officials, according to the Journal report, think the MeK has little popular support inside Iran, ‎where it is widely viewed as an extremist cult—assertions that Rajavi described as Tehran-inspired ‎propaganda. Some analysts cited in the Journal story said the MeK’s delisting might discredit domestic ‎political opponents of the current government.‎

MeK engaged in an aggressive lobbying campaign in Washington over the past two years — enlisting ‎officials from both major political parties – to win its removal from the State Department’s list. It paid ‎speaker’s fees of up to ‎‏$40,000‏‎ to those who lobbied on their behalf.‎

The list of U.S. officials speaking for MeK ranged from Howard Dean, the former chairman of the ‎Democratic Party, to Newt Gingrich, a Republican former speaker of the House of Representatives. ‎Some journalists even spoke for them.‎

In the interview with the Journal, Rajavi called for Western governments to further tighten sanctions, ‎which she said wouldn’t hurt the Iranian people, only those close to the regime. She urged ‎governments to sever diplomatic relations with Tehran.‎

Iran condemned Washington’s decision to remove the Paris-based group from the terrorism list. The ‎Associated Press reported Iranian state television as saying the delisting “shows America’s double-‎standard policy on terrorism.”‎‎‏2012/10/03‏‎/mek-leader-seeks-recognition-as-iranian-‎opposition/‎