clap clap blog: we have moved

Tuesday, April 29, 2003
Daily Kos points us towards a story about an American treaty with an Iranian opposition group, the People's Mujahedeen, that America has designated a terrorist organization. (As, it's said, a gesture towards Iran.)

Under the deal, signed on April 15 but confirmed by the United States Central Command only today, United States forces agreed not to damage any of the group's vehicles, equipment or any of its property in its camps in Iraq, and not to commit any hostile act toward the Iranian opposition forces covered by the agreement.

In return, the group, the People's Mujahedeen, which will be allowed to keep its weapons for now, agreed not to fire on or commit other hostile acts against American forces, not to destroy private or government property, and to place its artillery and antiaircraft guns in nonthreatening positions.

The accord is apparently the first between the United States military — which in early April was bombing the group's Iraqi camps — and a terrorist organization, and it raises questions about how consistently the Bush administration intends to apply a policy that had vowed to crack down on terrorist groups worldwide.

The Kos'ers make a little too much of this, and of the fact that the group was designated as terrorist only under the Clinton administration. Sure, it's hypocritical that we're making treaties with terrorist organizations in the War on Terror, but hypocracy in politics is like water at a swim meet: don't go in if you don't want to get some on you. The better question would be whether it's a good idea. (Although I do think that Lt. Cmdr. Charles Owens' excuse for it--"that the State Department was responsible for decisions about the status of terrorist groups"--is pretty sketchy in light of Gingrich's/Rumsfeld's recent anti-State campaign.) It's called "a pragmatic approach to a security problem for an American military that already has its hands full trying to stabilize Baghdad," and maybe this is true:

At a time when United States forces are stretched thin in Iraq, the Mujahadeen organization is one of the few groups of armed fighters that had been affiliated with the Hussein government that is not a threat to American forces, they said. American military officers in Iraq said they expected that some of the group's weapons might be confiscated once the capitulation agreement was signed.

One motivation for allowing the People's Mujahadeen to keep some weapons, they said, was to leave in place a balance of power between the group and the Iranian-backed fighters known as the Badr Brigade. Some of those fighters are based in Iraq and have continued to focus on the organization even since the fall of the Hussein government. If the Mujahadeen group were disarmed, American forces would have to assume the responsibility of separating the two antagonists, a task the heavily burdened American forces do not want to assume.

Let's admit that this is a war against some terror and get on with it, I think--we do, apparently, need some help policing Iraq.