December 18, 2017

To most of the world, Iranian dissidents are not terrorists


Letter to the Editor

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [“Building a stable Iraq,” op-ed, Dec. 6] made clear the pretext that has been used to justify his country’s policy of brutality against the approximately 3,400 members of the Iranian dissident group the Mujahedin el-Khalq (MEK), located at Camp Ashraf, 60 kilometers north of Baghdad. “The camp’s residents,” he stated, “are classified as a terrorist organization by many countries, and thus have no legal basis to remain inIraq.” 

This is untrue. Only theUnited StatesandCanada— and, of course,Iran— continue to maintain the MEK on their respective lists of terrorist organizations. More than two years ago, an appellate court inBritainthrew out that designation as baseless, and the European Union soon followed suit. 

Nearly three years ago, theUnited Statesformally relinquished sovereignty overCampAshrafto the Iraqis. In July 2009, and in April of this year, Iraqi forces invaded Ashraf, killing nearly 50 residents and injuring hundreds. More recently, Mr. Maliki has insisted that the people of Ashraf leave the country, although he knows that there is nowhere for them to go, largely because of theU.S.terrorist designation. In apparent preparation for a mass deportation, he proposes to consolidate them in a remote location. With deportation, they quite likely will be left to the tender mercies of the Iranian regime. 

In this context, Mr. Maliki’s expressed interest in seeing the fate of the MEK “resolved peacefully and with the help of the United Nations” will have to await the test of credibility: Actions speak louder than words. 

Allan Gerson and Steven M. Schneebaum, Washington 

The writers are lawyers representing the Mujahedin el-Khalq in theUnited Statesin its efforts to remove the group’s designation as a terrorist entity.