EU foreign ministers shocked the world when they announced measures to support the anti-Iran terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) after they failed to reach an agreement to impose an oil embargo against Iran.
Crisis-hit Greece has said ‘No’ to an EU oil ban on Iran, causing relief among other member states. Britain and France, the most hawkish EU countries, failed to convince other member states to impose oil embargos on Iran.
The developments took place at an EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels on Thursday.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said that Greece, which relies on Iranian oil, had objected to a ban on buying it.
“Greece has put forward a number of reservations,” Juppe said. “We have to take that into account.”
Iran is a major energy exporters and presides of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
But, when a number of hawkish EU member states realized that they cannot sanction Iran’s oil due to the opposition of several members and the serious repercussions of such a move on their own and the global economy, they started discussing support for the terrorist MKO to pressure Tehran.
The bloc is seeking to rescue the group’s members who mostly reside in Northern Iraq. The MKO’s main training camp, known as Camp Ashraf, houses about 3,400 MKO terrorists although many of them are dissident members who intend to defect the group and are kept in the camp despite their will.
Iraq has said Camp Ashraf must be closed by the end of this year.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said after the meeting that she is “in discussion and dialogue” with EU member states, the UN, the US and the Iraqi government over the well-being of those living in Camp Ashraf.
The MKO has been in Iraq’s Diyala province since the 1980s.
Iraqi security forces took control of the training base of the MKO at Camp Ashraf – about 60km (37 miles) north of Baghdad – in 2009 and detained dozens of the members of the terrorist group.
The MKO, whose main stronghold is in Iraq, is blacklisted by much of the international community, including the United States.
Before an overture by the EU, the MKO was on the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations subject to an EU-wide assets freeze. Yet, the MKO puppet leader, Maryam Rajavi, who has residency in France, regularly visited Brussels and despite the ban enjoyed full freedom in Europe.
The MKO is behind a slew of assassinations and bombings inside Iran, a number of EU parliamentarians said in a recent letter in which they slammed a British court decision to remove the MKO from the British terror list. The EU officials also added that the group has no public support within Iran because of their role in helping Saddam Hussein in the Iraqi imposed war on Iran (1980-1988).
Many of the MKO members abandoned the terrorist organization while most of those still remaining in the camp are said to be willing to quit but are under pressure and torture not to do so.
A May 2005 Human Rights Watch report accused the MKO of running prison camps in Iraq and committing human rights violations.
According to the Human Rights Watch report, the outlawed group puts defectors under torture and jail terms.
The group, founded in the 1960s, blended elements of Islamism and Stalinism and participated in the overthrow of the US-backed Shah of Iran in 1979. Ahead of the revolution, the MKO conducted attacks and assassinations against both Iranian and Western targets.
Leaders of the group have been fighting to shed its terrorist tag after a series of bloody anti-Western attacks in the 1970s, and nearly 30 years of violent struggle against the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In recent years, high-ranking MKO members have been lobbying governments around the world in the hope of acknowledgement as a legitimate opposition group.
The UK initiative, however, prompted the European Union to establish relations with the exiled organization now based in Paris. The European Court of First Instance threw its weight behind the MKO in December and annulled its previous decision to freeze its funds.
The group started assassination of the citizens and officials after the revolution in a bid to take control of the newly established Islamic Republic. It killed several of Iran’s new leaders in the early years after the revolution, including the then President, Mohammad Ali Rajayee, Prime Minister, Mohammad Javad Bahonar and the Judiciary Chief, Mohammad Hossein Beheshti who were killed in bomb attacks by MKO members in 1981.
The group fled to Iraq in 1986, where it was protected by Saddam Hussein and where it helped the Iraqi dictator suppress Shiite and Kurd uprisings in the country.
The terrorist group joined Saddam’s army during the Iraqi imposed war on Iran (1980-1988) and helped Saddam and killed thousands of Iranian civilians and soldiers during the US-backed Iraqi imposed war on Iran.
Since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the group, which now adheres to a pro-free-market philosophy, has been strongly backed by neo-conservatives in the United States, who also argue for the MKO to be taken off the US terror list.