Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Underneath the obvious factions, Allies, Saddam Loyalists and the Kurds, there is another aspect of the coming war to consider. The MKO, an dissident Iranian militant group, operates out of Northern Iraq and once the country is liberated this group is not going to be welcome.

In June 2002, MKO leader Massoud Rajavi, convened a secret mass meeting at a conference center belonging to Iraqi Military Intelligence in the Al-Karakh district of Baghdad. Speaking to over 6,000 MKO members, Rajavi warned that a US invasion was inevitable and that the MKO would have three options: voluntarily withdrawing from Iraq, preemptively attacking Iran or assisting the Iraqi regime against invading American forces. With a US-led attack against Iraq now imminent, there are indications that the MKO's strategy combines elements of all three.

There is also apparently some evidence that they may be complicit with Saddam and his WMD programs. Still think Saddam won't give WMD to terrorists?

A striking indication that the MKO remains loyal to Saddam is evidence that MKO bases have been used to conceal Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Two defectors from the group recently recounted seeing MKO personnel wearing protective body suits while transporting missiles and heavy artillery in 1998. The two also described the construction about six years ago of what the MKO claimed was a water treatment plant - construction took place only at night, and the structure extended 300-600 ft below ground.

Evidence of the group's complicity in Iraqi WMD concealment dates back to the months preceding the 1991 Gulf War when, according to high-level defector Nooruz Ali Rezvani, Saddam transported chemical weapons to at least five MKO bases. After the war, UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) personnel tried repeatedly to inspect MKO facilities, but were allowed to make only three brief visits. In 1992, UN inspectors simultaneously entered the group's main administrative office in Baghdad and an MKO military base called "Ashraf," 43 miles north of the capital. While inspectors found no evidence that WMD, or related documentation, were hidden in either location, subsequent attempts to inspect MKO bases were thwarted by both the MKO and the Iraqis. "We always used to have problems with the mujahedin camps," said former UNSCOM spokesman Ewen Buchanan, noting that the MKO nearly shot down UN helicopters on several occasions. On one occasion, in 1997, an inspection of the Bagherzadeh camp west of Baghdad was aborted when MKO officials warned that an Iranian air force attack was imminent. When UNSCOM inspectors asked Iraqi officials to provide them with access to the camps, most recently in November 1998, Iraqi officials refused, claiming that they had no jurisdiction over them, and told them to deal directly with the mujahedin. The MKO has long contended that UNSCOM inspected its bases and gave them a clean bill of health, but UNSCOM's final report, completed in December 1998, merely states that the MKO bases appear to be outside the direct control of the Iraqi authorities.

< email | 3/19/2003 01:39:00 PM | link

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