- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 31, 2002

One of the most difficult agencies in the U.S. government to move from a fixed position is the State Department, as even U.S. presidents, including Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, learned. In good time, President Bush and Secretary of State Powell will learn the power of the State Department bureaucracy.
President Reagan had to ride roughshod over the department executives when he submitted for routine review his famed "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" speech. The department kept excising that dramatic apostrophe. President Reagan finally told the State Department that this was his speech and he would deliver it just the way he wanted to period. He did and two years later, Nov. 9, 1989, in a dramatic and historic climax, the Wall came down.
Currently, the State Department is having a conniption fit over the problem of Iran and an Iranian opposition group. For years the Mideast desks have been looking unsuccessfully for Iranian "moderates" forgetting what an earlier secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, once said: "An Iranian moderate is somebody who has run out of ammunition."
The victim of current State Department obtuseness is the National Council of Resistance of Iran. Department executives refuse to have anything to do with this group which seems to be the only functioning Iranian-led opposition to the tyrannical Iranian theocracy. It has been called a Marxist terrorist organization by the State Department although no documentation has ever been forthcoming to support that allegation.
Let us suppose that the State Department allegation is correct. Whom is the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) supposedly terrorizing? Is the NCRI allied with the Taliban, al Qaeda?
If anybody is allied with these terrorists, it is the government of Iran, one of the three countries singled out by President Bush as part of the "axis of evil." It is Iran which is feverishly seeking weapons of mass destruction and shipping arms to Hezbollah terrorists in the Palestine Liberation Organization.
And as for NCRI's Marxism, whatever Marxist-tinged ideology the NCRI might once have embraced, the Marxist era is over. The real issue today is Islamic fundamentalism. In opposing Iran's fundamentalist mullahs, the National Council of Resistance of Iran and the Mujaheedin military arm lodged on the Iran-Iraq border are effectively disassociating themselves from that malign doctrine.
Because the Mujaheedin guerrillas are tolerated, if not encouraged, by the Iraq dictatorship, some observers regard them and the NCRI as "get even" agents of Saddam Hussein who lost an eight-year war to Iran in 1988.
Yet what is really astounding about the State Department's hostility toward the NCRI is that it ignores the worldwide support NCRI enjoys among a remarkable number of parliamentarians in the Western democracies despite the cozying up to the Tehran regime by their governments and the European Union.
In fact, one of Tehran's greatest friends is Russia, where the Duma has ratified a Russian-Iranian treaty on "friendship and cooperation." The treaty will allow broader military-technical and economic cooperation, said the Russian Foreign Office. Having already supplied one nuclear power plant, said Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov, Russia will supply Iran with additional reactors for other nuclear plants.
And now comes the report that Iran has arranged what the New York Times calls a partnership with the PLO. The agreement was hatched in Moscow May 2001 during a visit by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to President Vladimir Putin. It calls for Iranian shipment of heavy weapons and, according to the Times, millions of dollars to Palestinian guerrilla groups.
In the meager hope that the Bush administration may override the State Department bureaucracy, I am listing for the record the several thousand parliamentarians who have endorsed NCRI's fight against the Iranian theocracy:
United States

1992: 219 members of the House of Representatives endorse the NCRI.
1995: 202 members of the House endorse the NCRI.
1997: 225 House members endorse the NCRI while condemning the Iranian regime's record on human rights.
1999: 28 senators call the Mujaheedin "a legitimate resistance movement."
2000: 228 House members call the Mujaheedin "a legitimate resistance movement" and ask the State Department to amend its policies.
Britain
1995: 425 British legislators back NCRI and call for sanctions against Iran.
1999: 330 Members of Parliament endorse Mujaheedin as "a legitimate resistance movement."
2000: 335 MPs (House of Commons) and 61 members of the House of Lords announce their support of NCRI.
2001: 337 MPs and 94 in the House of Lords endorse NCRI.
Other parliaments
1995: 317 Italian deputies endorse NCRI
1995: Majority of Swedish Parliament announce support of NCRI.
1997: 326 Italian deputies announce support of NCRI and call for a new anti-mullah policy.
1997: Majority of Norwegian Parliament call for sanctions against Iran and announce support of NCRI.
1997: Majority of Swiss Parliament call for sanctions against Iran and announce support of NCRI.
1998: Majority of Belgian Parliament endorse NCRI.
1998: Majority of Luxembourg MPs endorse NCRI.
2000: 475 members of the German Bundestag condemn Tehran regime and support NCRI.
2002 and 1999: 150 members French deputies support NCRI.
2002: 300 Italian deputies endorse NCRI.
2002: Majority of Belgian Parliament reaffirms support for NCRI.
What I've omitted for space reasons are the condemnatory statements about the Tehran regime by these parliamentarians that in all cases accompanied these resolutions of support for the NCRI.
Meanwhile, Western governments hunt for nonexistent Iranian moderates while the sufferings of the Iranian people worsen with each passing day. And President Bush's friend, Russia's President Putin, supplies reactors to Iran. So who's the enemy of Foggy Bottom? The National Council of Resistance of Iran.

Arnold Beichman, a Hoover Institution research fellow, is a columnist for The Washington Times.


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