Originally posted in the Huffington Post
If politics were like sports, the losers would take their losses graciously; but Washington politics are not like sports.
Some still appear to have a difficult time at accepting the results of the presidential election, but they should not act like an attorney who lost his case before the judge, and walks outside seeking to relitigate it in front of the public and the media. They should not be in the pounding table and yelling stage, but they should understand that the case is closed.
Some are even heavily criticizing potential Cabinet nominees even before the President-elect Donald Trump has picked any specific individual for the key White House positions.
For example, Daniel Benjamin, a former Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the State Department, recently posted an article in regard to the potential Cabinet nominees as well as a grassroots Iranian organization.
We should adequately and meticulously analyze the politics, facts, and the law.
On politics, the 2016 elections are over: Donald Trump won. Republicans control the White House, Senate, and the House of Representatives, and the decades-old policy of appeasement of the Islamic Republic of Iran has received a major blow. Therefore, let’s just get over it.
On Nov. 23, Benjamin launched a broadside against the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran/Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (PMOI/MEK); it is the largest and best-organized Iranian opposition movement within the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which acts as the parliament-in-exile.
He criticized a number of former U.S. officials including Mayor Rudy Giuliani for their support for the MEK. In a recent article, he said, “With Giuliani, as perhaps with Gingrich and others, the attraction to the MEK may be more grounded in plain old greed than foreign policy.”
Nevertheless, there exists robust evidence, gathered by U.S. officials, confirming that the mainstream MEK was not responsible for the killing of U.S. citizens in Iran. Rather, those assassinations were the work of a breakaway Marxist-Leninist faction, known as Peykar, which hijacked the movement after the arrest and execution of the leaders of the MEK and killed both the MEK members who resisted the hijacking of their organization and several Americans in Tehran.
Upon being released from prison during the 1979 Revolution, after serving 8 years of his life term, MEK leader “[Massoud] Rajavi had to rebuild the organization, which had been badly battered by the Peykar experience,” said Patrick Clawson in a Council on Foreign Relations interview. He is an Iran scholar and director of research at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
In March 2012, the Treasury Department seemed to suspect that advocates of the MEK were providing material support for a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). The Department began to issue subpoenas to distinguished former U.S. officials who advocated on behalf of the MEK. But Treasury ended its inquiry about a year after the courts and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delisted the MEK in September.
Treasury cited no violations of any laws, either by the Iranian-Americans who were organizing the conferences or the speakers who appeared at these events. So, there is no legal leg on which anyone can make the case that advocates of the MEK were or are in violation of the law, which prohibits providing material support to a listed organization. And, more fundamentally, one is innocent until proven guilty.
Mr. Benjamin wrote that the MEK “inclusion on the FTO list underscored a central principle of U.S. counterterrorism policy, namely, that the target of terrorist violence is irrelevant, and the killing of innocents to advance a political agenda is always wrong.” But according to a report by Dr. Kenneth Katzman, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs, at the Congressional Research Service, State Department reports on international terrorism till 2011 did not assert that MEK ever targeted civilians purposely.
And most importantly the European Court and the United States ruled in favor of the MEK. Therefore, getting the politics, facts, and the law correctly is critical.
The Way Forward
First, based on politics, facts, and law, refrain from falling back; rather let us look forward together.
Second, the future lies with those who lose gracefully and those who win humbly, as Clinton and Trump have done so well.
The US thanked Albania for resettling members of MEK, “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has used a visit to Albania to thank the government for resettling members of an Iranian opposition group known as the Mujahedin e Khalq, or MEK”
The real debate, however, is over the U.S. policy on Iran. On the one hand, those who favor the policy of appeasement wish to follow in the footsteps of President Obama. But they are on their way out, with little chance for having any substantial impact at least for the next four years.
On the other hand, there are those who favor holding the Iranian regime accountable for its hostility and terrorism against the United States and its allies in the region. They have also called for imposing additional sanctions for Iran’s abysmal human rights record, and its involvement in terrorism. They are also on the record that they like to see democratic change in Iran by relying on the Iranian people.
For its part, we cannot escape the fact that the MEK appears to be the single mostimportant internal player that can facilitate the democratic change in Iran, as they have demonstrated their extraordinary ability to organize. That explains all the criticisms and attacks on the MEK as well as on those who espouse a favorable view about the MEK, including dozens of senior bipartisan former government officials, such as Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Speaker Newt Gingrich, Governors Howard Dean, Ambassador John Bolton, Secretary Tom Ridge and Governor Edward Rendell.
The proponents of the appeasement policy should realize that the tide is turning, they won’t succeed in resisting it.
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Harvard-educated, Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is an American political scientist, president of the International American Council on the Middle East, business advisor, and best-selling author. He serves on the advisory board of Harvard International Review.
Dr. Rafizadeh is frequently invited to brief governmental and non-governmental organizations as well as speak, as a featured speaker, at security, business, diplomatic, and social events. He has been recipient of several fellowships and scholarships including from Oxford University, Annenberg, University of California Santa Barbara, Fulbright program, to name few He is regularly quoted and invited to speak on national and international outlets including CNN, BBC World TV and Radio, ABC, Aljazeera English, Fox News, CTV, RT, CCTV America, Skynews, CTV, and France 24 International, to name a few. . He analyses have appeared on academic and non-academic publications including New York Times International, Los Angeles Times, CNN, Farred zakaria GPS, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, The Nation, The National. Aljazeera, The Daily Beast, The Nation, Jerusalem Post, The Economic Times, USA Today Yale Journal of International Affairs, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, and Harvard International Review. He is a board member of several significant and influential international and governmental institutions, and he is native speaker of couple of languages including Persian, English, and Arabic. He also speaks Dari, and can converse in French, Hebrew. More at Harvard.
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