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Opinion is divided. Some US officials have said that Washington’s decision to sign a ceasefire with Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), an anti-Iran militant group based in Iraq, doesn’t run counter to the US war on terror. But some experts are
The US Council on Foreign Relations Q & A on Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) Does the recent cease-fire agreement undermine the USA’s antiterrorism policy? Opinion is divided. Some US officials have said that Washington’s decision to sign a ceasefire with Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), an anti-Iran militant group based in Iraq, doesn’t run counter to the US war on terror. But some experts are skeptical. The US military reportedly signed the ceasefire with MEK, a State Department-designated terror organization, on April 15. Earlier in the month, US forces bombed at least two MEK bases in Iraq and rounded up some of its operatives. US officials said MEK, a force of several thousand fighters blamed for attacks on civilians and Iranian military and government facilities, was a legitimate military target because it threatened coalition forces and received support from Saddam Hussein’s regime. But the United States stopped short of dismantling the group–perhaps, some analysts say, to warn Tehran not to interfere in postwar Iraqi politics. Some US officials have reportedly called the ceasefire a justifiable battlefield accord and others have noted that MEK, apparently a past provider of valuable intelligence on Tehran, can shed light on Iran’s ties to terror. According to the New York Times, the ceasefire included a promise from the US that it would not attack the group or damage its property; in return, MEK vowed not to attack US forces and property or position its artillery and antiaircraft guns for battle. MEK is permitted to retain its weapons, but use them only in self-defense against Iranian-backed fighters. But MEK’s status as a US-designated foreign terrorist organization has raised questions about the accord–reportedly the first the United States has signed with a terror group. Matthew Levitt, a terrorism expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says that the ceasefire appears inconsistent with US antiterror policy, which states that Washington will “strike no deals” with terrorists and will “bring terrorists to justice for their crimes.” Levitt says that legal complications could arise if the Bush administration develops a relationship with the group or turns a blind eye to future terrorist activity. He adds, though, that “it’s too early to say [the ceasefire] is a double standard.” How it plays out in practical terms will be what’s important, he says.

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