According to Fox News, a group of smart, experienced people speaking at a panel in Washington yesterday had two things to say about U.S. policy toward Iran: Abandon all hope in negotiations with the Tehran regime; and support the regime’s internal enemies, notably the MEK, which has long been on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations.
I’m not sure the Fox account is quite right. I spoke to two members of the panel and both said they had argued for delisting the MEK, not for supporting it. That’s a big difference, although even delisting the Mooj would be interpreted as an act of political significance. In any event, supporting the MEK would be a monumental blunder. First of all, it’s a cult of personality, not a pro-democracy opposition group, and we should be helping democrats in Iran. Second, most Iranians hate the MEK, because it is based in Iraq and operated on behalf of Saddam Hussein, killing many Iranians. Doing anything that looks like an embrace of the MEK would foolishly antagonize the overwhelming majority of the Iranian people, above all the broad-based coalition that fights under the banner of the Green Movement.
Several speakers (indeed, maybe all of them) at yesterday’s panel called for supporting the Greens, but this was not featured in the Fox report. That’s where our energies should be directed. Whatever you think of the MEK, whatever the merits of the “delisting” debate, it’s foolishly counterproductive to spend so much energy on the MEK — whose “army” numbers in the thousands or perhaps a few tens of thousands — instead of the Greens, whose followers are counted in the tens of millions. Support the Iranian people, please, not a small fringe group.
Finally, one would like to know who sponsored the panel, how many of the panelists received fees for participating (some certainly did), and who paid for it. You know, that “we report, you decide” thing.