Foreign Affairs

Release Iranian Opposition from Terror List

A federal appeals court in the United States ruled last month that the U.S. secretary of state had violated the rights of Iran’s largest opposition group by refusing to revoke the designation of the PMOI as a terrorist organization.

The secretary of state had not given the group a chance to rebut the allegations made against it. Furthermore the court made clear that a strict application of the principles of law would require revocation of the terrorist designation and it was only in light of the foreign policy and national security concerns asserted by the secretary of state that they were returning the case to her with an instruction that she give the PMOI the chance to refute the allegations on which she had relied.

It cannot be seriously disputed that over the years the attitude of the U.S. authorities to the PMOI has been governed to a large extent by U.S. foreign policy considerations and the wish of the U.S. to conciliate with the Iranian regime. It is no coincidence that every time the international community sought cooperation from the regime over its nuclear ambitions, such overtures were accompanied by Iran’s seeking cooperation through a tightening of constraints on the PMOI.

With a new resolution by the UN Security Council enforcing further sanctions against Iran over its nuclear defiance and the U.S. and EU enforcing unilateral sanctions which are wider and more stringent, U.S. policy towards Iran has changed. The unclenched fist referred to by President Obama in his inauguration speech has been met with scorn by Iran’s leaders as they forge ahead with their nuclear ambitions while continuing to stoke fires across the Middle East with their support for terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As we tighten sanctions against Tehran’s leaders, the time has clearly come for the U.S. administration to remove the constraints placed on the PMOI, allowing Iran’s largest opposition group to carry out its aims of working towards a free and democratic Iran.

Judgments in the courts have already resulted in the PMOI being removed from the list of banned organizations throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, and now, at last, it seems that justice is also to be done in America with a lifting of the ban in the United States. It is just a shame that it has taken so many judgments across so many nations to demonstrate to U.S. authorities that their stance towards this Iranian opposition group has been extremely unjust and it is a thousand pities that up to now the keeping of the ban has simply played into the hands of the Iranian regime. The regime used the ban on the PMOI to carry out widespread human rights abuses against its political opponents.

The Obama Administration must surely delay no longer and, by removing the PMOI from its list of banned organizations, take a decision which I have no doubt will be supported by a majority of U.S. congressmen who are as aware as anyone of the injustice done and of the threat posed by the Iranian regime.

Anything short of immediate removal of the PMOI from the list of banned organizations will play directly into the hands of the Iranian regime. We should not be doing the Iranian regime’s job for them by placing hurdles in the way of Iran’s largest opposition group. We should not be hindering the Iranian people’s struggle for democracy and freedom.

President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should look to the huge number of protests taking place in Iran and by Iranians in exile, and they should surely heed the calls of the Iranian people for democracy. They will be taking a step in that direction if they act immediately to remove the PMOI from the U.S. list of banned organizations and recognize the group as Iran’s legitimate opposition movement.


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