State Department may designate Iranian militia a terrorist group

Ed Lasky
How many conciliatory signals will be sent to the Iranians, and dismissed by them with disdain, before we get positive signals from them?

Maybe if we can get the Iranians to stop the never ending flow of weapons to Hezbollah (trumpeted yesterday by Hezbollah) that might be a good trade. I recall that various experts have counseled that Iran is particularly susceptible to pressure from its ethnic minorities - a group that collectively represents a huge percentage of Iran's population - who have been treated poorly by their Persian rulers. 

Unilateral steps of appeasement and talk therapy do not seem to be working.

Dissident groups within Iran have been of assistance to America in the past. The People's Mujahideen Organization of Iran, considered a terror group by America, but one that was recently removed from the EU's terror list, has been instrumental in delivering information to the West regarding Iran's nuclear program. The US decided in January to keep the terror designation for this group despite its help over the years. This step was believed to have been taken to assist Barack Obama in efforts to hold negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program.

Then there's the Jundullah militia, or "Soldiers of God" that Obama's State Department is considering  to designate a "terrorist organization" according to this piece in the Boston Globe by Farah Stockman:

The State Department is seriously considering placing a shadowy anti-Iranian militant group on its terrorism list, a move that would send a conciliatory signal to Iran as the Obama administration is trying to restart diplomatic talks, according to US officials.

The militia, known as Jundullah, or Soldiers of God, has killed scores of Iranian soldiers and border guards since 2003 and brazenly attacked an Iranian police station in December. Yesterday, it claimed responsibility for a rare suicide bombing Thursday in an Iranian mosque that killed 25 and wounded 125.

The Iranian government accuses the United States of funding the group, making its deadly attacks a key obstacle to rapprochement between the two countries. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly yesterday strongly condemned the killing of Iranian civilians and said that the US government does not fund Jundullah, whose fighters are disgruntled members of the Baluch ethnic minority.

"We do not sponsor any form of terrorism in Iran," Kelly said. "We continue to work with the international community to prevent any attacks against innocent civilians anywhere."



The Baluchi minority has been persecuted for decades; first by the Shah and then the mullahs. They are, like the Kurds in Iraq, Iran, and Turkey, seeking more autonomy. In the case of the Baluchi's, however, their agitating for independence in Pakistan has been a source of extreme worry for the United States. There, they been known to shelter al-Qaeda fighters and there were reliable reports that Osama Bin Laden had taken refuge in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan at one time.

But this would be another step detrimental to American interests and beneficial to Iranian interests. As we have written before, all steps toward dialogue with Iran so far have been unilateral concessions on the part of America. All we have gotten in return are demands from Ahmadinejad that basically, we should surrender every advantage we have in the region.

We will probably see even more such steps in the days and years ahead.


 

How many conciliatory signals will be sent to the Iranians, and dismissed by them with disdain, before we get positive signals from them?

Maybe if we can get the Iranians to stop the never ending flow of weapons to Hezbollah (trumpeted yesterday by Hezbollah) that might be a good trade. I recall that various experts have counseled that Iran is particularly susceptible to pressure from its ethnic minorities - a group that collectively represents a huge percentage of Iran's population - who have been treated poorly by their Persian rulers. 

Unilateral steps of appeasement and talk therapy do not seem to be working.

Dissident groups within Iran have been of assistance to America in the past. The People's Mujahideen Organization of Iran, considered a terror group by America, but one that was recently removed from the EU's terror list, has been instrumental in delivering information to the West regarding Iran's nuclear program. The US decided in January to keep the terror designation for this group despite its help over the years. This step was believed to have been taken to assist Barack Obama in efforts to hold negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program.

Then there's the Jundullah militia, or "Soldiers of God" that Obama's State Department is considering  to designate a "terrorist organization" according to this piece in the Boston Globe by Farah Stockman:

The State Department is seriously considering placing a shadowy anti-Iranian militant group on its terrorism list, a move that would send a conciliatory signal to Iran as the Obama administration is trying to restart diplomatic talks, according to US officials.

The militia, known as Jundullah, or Soldiers of God, has killed scores of Iranian soldiers and border guards since 2003 and brazenly attacked an Iranian police station in December. Yesterday, it claimed responsibility for a rare suicide bombing Thursday in an Iranian mosque that killed 25 and wounded 125.

The Iranian government accuses the United States of funding the group, making its deadly attacks a key obstacle to rapprochement between the two countries. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly yesterday strongly condemned the killing of Iranian civilians and said that the US government does not fund Jundullah, whose fighters are disgruntled members of the Baluch ethnic minority.

"We do not sponsor any form of terrorism in Iran," Kelly said. "We continue to work with the international community to prevent any attacks against innocent civilians anywhere."



The Baluchi minority has been persecuted for decades; first by the Shah and then the mullahs. They are, like the Kurds in Iraq, Iran, and Turkey, seeking more autonomy. In the case of the Baluchi's, however, their agitating for independence in Pakistan has been a source of extreme worry for the United States. There, they been known to shelter al-Qaeda fighters and there were reliable reports that Osama Bin Laden had taken refuge in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan at one time.

But this would be another step detrimental to American interests and beneficial to Iranian interests. As we have written before, all steps toward dialogue with Iran so far have been unilateral concessions on the part of America. All we have gotten in return are demands from Ahmadinejad that basically, we should surrender every advantage we have in the region.

We will probably see even more such steps in the days and years ahead.