US pressure group proposes covert attack on Iran

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Iran Policy Committee, a pressure group meant to influence US government policy towards Iran, made up of former White House, State Department, Pentagon and CIA officials, and supported by several members of the US Congress, called for covert military action on Iranian territory and support for the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MKO or MEK), which is presently (though controversially) listed by the State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The MKO has had public support in several EU countries and the US, including from many members of Congress.

Members of the Iran Policy Committee proposed removing the MKO from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations and supporting it as part of Iranian "Civil Society". Their proposal is to support Iranians by both covert military methods and other methods to remove the system of government under which president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was recently elected, in the second round of presidential elections in 2005, and replace it by a new form of government.

On February 15, 2006, Human Rights Watch (HRW) defended its May 2005 report on the MKO, describing additional interviews and verifications it had taken to check claims of inaccuracies in its report. It claimed that the former report was accurate. In the May 2005 report, HRW claimed on the basis of various documents and interviews with ex-members of the MKO that "abuses [occurred] ranging from detention and persecution of ordinary members wishing to leave the organization, to lengthy solitary confinements, severe beatings, and torture of dissident members." The report also noted that the MKO is strongly focused on its leadership, the husband and wife team of Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, to the extent that members burned themselves alive in protest when Maryam Rajavi was arrested in Paris.

Meanwhile in the UK, the Conservative Party said that military action against Iran "should not be ruled out to deal with its controversial nuclear programme", that "it was wrong for the European Union's foreign affairs spokesman Javier Solana to rule out the use of force" and that "it is wrong for Britain's Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, to echo [Javier Solana]."

The previous removal of an elected government in Iran in which the US was involved was Operation Ajax in 1953, a complex plot involving the CIA and British intelligence services, motivated by Mohammed Mossadegh's nationalisation of oil companies.