Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pictures from Ahmadinejad Protest in NYC

Here are some pictures from a small anti-Ahmadinejad protest I stumbled upon in NYC in front of the United Nations on Thursday. All of the speakers and attendees seemed to be of Iranian origin. Ahmadinejad's crimes and human rights abuses were detailed and certainly everyone there seemed to hate Ahmadinejad.

But the most interesting aspect of the protest focused on an organization with which I was not previously familiar -- Mujahideen-e-Khalq ("MeK"). From what I gather, MeK is a left-wing, militant Iranian organization that advocates the overthrow of the Iranian government and has been headquartered in Camp Ashraf, Iraq since 1986. Given its goals, MeK was enthusiastically supported by Saddam during his reign. When the U.S. invaded in 2003, we bombed MeK camps because of the alliance with Saddam. But shortly thereafter, the U.S. government reached some sort of an accomodation with MeK.

Since then, MeK has seemingly been caught betwixt and between. The Iraqis hate MeK because it was aligned with Saddam. The Iranians also apparently detest MeK because it is responsible for terrorism in Iran. And the US government has listed MeK as a terrorist organization since 1997. Nevertheless, given our common interest in overthrowing the Iranian regime, some in Washington see MeK as a potential ally, and the MeK camp in Iraq has been under our protection in Iraq since 2003. This 2004 Christian Science Monitor article sums up the situation pretty well.

The recent news is that the US government is preparing to hand over the MeK camp to the Iraqis. The protesters seemed to think that that would be a death sentence for those living inside the camp, presumably because the Iraqis would turn them over to Ahmadinejad.

Whether that is true -- I have no idea. But whatever the case, I think the US government should keep its distance from MeK. After all, it is designated by our government as a terrorist organization, its members are hated by both Iraqis and Iranians alike, and they espouse Marxist revolution. What exactly do we stand to gain here?

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