Al Jazeera English examines the support of leading US politicians for the Mujahedin-e Khalq, March 2012
The Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MKO or MEK) has recieved a bath in holy water --- thanks to the United States.
After years of vigorous attempts at removal from the State Department's list of "terrorist" organisations, the MEK appear to be on the verge of success. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has reportedly informed the US Senate about the de-listing, with the step to be confirmed by 1 October. The path to change reportedly was paved with words from US politicians, including former House of Representative Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former Vermont Governor and head of the Democratic National Committee Howard Dean.
I have written in opposition to this idea for some time, noting the shamelessness with which American political giants took money from the MEK. This weekend, however, I was reminded of a very dark time in my own life.
A few years ago, I fell on hard times and had to live on a budget of a few hundred dollars a month. Being a serious smoker, I was forced to ration my cigarettes strictly. Too often, though, I had to spend cigarette money on other expenses. And so would begin my quests of several hours to find enough change to buy a pack of Marlboro Reds. I would turn over my apartment to find enough quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies to make $5 --- the price for a pack.
If I found enough, great. But usually, I wouldn't. And in my desperation, I'd start looking in places I had already looked in --- sometimes three or four times.
That's what this delisting looks like to me.
On the surface, it's very clear that MEK gave money to people who then talked to other people who then convinced the Administration to give the MEK what it wanted. Behind closed doors, you could also argue to an extent --- and some inevitably will --- that the US and Israel are using MEK's delisting as a way to get the organisation to provide the two allies with vital information about Iran's nuclear installations and scientists for an airstrike on them.
That is a possibility. However, I personally don't buy this argument. Why would the US be helping Israel with the intelligence for an airstrike when the Obama Administration has done all it can --- both in 2009 and in recent weeks --- to thwart such an attack?
So, looking again at President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, I think that as they fell for the straight-forward lobbying, they had to find a reason to convince themselves that they were doing this for the "greater good".
But what could that be?
Just like I needed to find enough money for my cigarettes, the US is desperate. Washington has repeatedly tried to find ways to somehow find a peaceful solution to Iran's implicit and explicit threats to Israel's security. The thinking in the White House could be, "Maybe if we get the MEK off the list. They can work with the other Iranian opposition groups abroad and maybe…just maybe…there would be some sort of a solution that does not involve Israel bombing Iran's nuclear installations! So let's try something else one more time --- however small the chances."
The problem is that those avenues have been repeatedly explored.
Iran's regime has deeply entrenched itself over the years. The US has repeatedly tried to shake things up --- to no avail. I'm not optimistic this is going to get the US any results in the form of regime change or scaring the regime into cooperating.
But just like when sometimes I did find a nickel in the drawer, maybe there's the slim chance that this might yield a result. One has to hope so; otherwise, the US decision has merely compounded an already difficult --- and, for some, desperate --- situation.