- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Backing resistance

A leading member of the European Parliament is on a mission to persuade the Bush administration to remove the Iranian resistance movement from its list of terrorist organizations.

Struan Stevenson, a conservative from Scotland, spent yesterday spreading his message at the Heritage Foundation and on Capitol Hill, where he met with several House members who share his goal of lifting the terrorist stigma from the National Council of Resistance of Iran and its military wing, the People’s Mujahedeen, which was disarmed by U.S. forces in Iraq where it operated under Saddam Hussein.

The Clinton administration included the resistance on the terrorist list in 1997, when it was trying to normalize relations with Iran, which demanded the move as a prerequisite for diplomatic talks. The State Department accuses the resistance of killing U.S. soldiers in the 1970s during the Iranian revolution. The European Union also included the resistance on its own terrorist list.

Today the Bush administration, European governments and even some Arab leaders blame Iran for supplying and financing Hezbollah, the Lebanese-based terrorists who triggered the current conflict in the Middle East.

“Everyone realizes that the head of the dragon is Iran,” Mr. Stevenson, co-chairman of the Parliament’s Friends of a Free Iran caucus, told Embassy Row yesterday. “Their objective is hegemony in the region and global Islamization. The world better wake up to that.”

Removing the resistance from the U.S. and EU terrorist lists would allow the Iranian opposition to raise money and promote a democratic message inside Iran to encourage an increasingly restive population to rise up against the regime, he said.

“We need to give them back what was taken from them,” he said of the resistance.

The Iranian caucus is not urging the rearming of the People’s Mujahedeen, but several members of Congress suggested that action, Mr. Stevenson said, declining to identify the lawmakers among those he met.

Mr. Stevenson, whose Washington visit coincided with that of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said he is upset by the Iraqi leader’s recent threat to expel the disarmed Iranian rebels, held in Iraq at Camp Ashraf under the protection of U.S. forces.

“He’s being financed by the U.S. and taking his orders from Iran,” Mr. Stevenson said.

Support for taking the resistance off the list crosses political ideologies in Europe and the United States, he said, noting that his caucus co-chairman is a socialist from Spain.

Today Mr. Stevenson will be at a joint appearance in Room B-369 of the House Rayburn Office Building at noon with six House members, who include conservative Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado and liberal Democratic Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas.

Romanian visit

President Bush is having a busy week, with foreign officials visiting the White House.

This morning, he meets Romanian President Traian Basescu to discuss Iraq, terrorism, the war in Lebanon and Black Sea energy and security issues, Romanian Ambassador Sorin Ducaru said.

“I think the substance of this visit will be newsworthy,” Mr. Ducaru said yesterday.

Romania has about 1,000 troops in Iraq and about 580 in Afghanistan.

Mr. Basescu is on his second visit to Washington since he was elected in December 2004. Mr. Bush visited Romania in November 2002, after Romania was admitted to NATO.

In addition to Mr. Bush, the Romanian leader will meet Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and several members of Congress, including House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert. He will address the Jamestown Foundation tomorrow on Black Sea energy issues.

The Romanian president followed the Iraqi prime minister, who met Mr. Bush on Monday and an official from Darfur, Sudan, Minni Minnawi, who met the president on Tuesday. British Prime Minister Tony Blair is expected in Washington tomorrow.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected] washingtontimes.com.

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