September 23, 2017

Iran Welcomes US Bombing Of Opposition Bases In Iraq

Associated Press
April 18, 2003

TEHRAN (AP)–Iranian legislators have welcomed the U.S. bombing of guerrilla camps of the Iranian opposition in Iraq, but there is uncertainty over what the attack means for relations with Washington.

“We are not unhappy that the United States has targeted terrorist bases inside Iraq, but it does not signal a reward for Iran,” the deputy speaker of Iran’s parliament, Mohammad Reza Khatami, said Friday.

Khatami is a younger brother of President Mohammad Khatami, who has nudged Iran toward better relations with Washington, but stopped far short of restoring the diplomatic ties severed in 1979.

The U.S.-led coalition forces bombed bases of the Mujahedeen Khalq in Iraq earlier this week and pursued the group’s fighters on the ground. The U.S. and European Union consider the Mujahedeen Khalq a terrorist organization.

Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, the deputy operations director of U.S. Central Command in Doha, Qatar, said Thursday that the Mujahedeen fighters could surrender within days.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein allowed the Mujahedeen to run training camps and bases in eastern Iraq in retaliation for Iran’s support of Iraqi dissident groups.

“The attack does not necessarily support Iran’s national interests. The United States considers this terrorist group as part of the Iraqi army and has dealt with them as remnants of Saddam’s regime,” said Khatami.

Khatami – who leads the Islamic Iran Participation Front, Iran’s largest reformist party – was speaking to The Associated Press.

But fellow lawmaker, Elaheh Koulaee, said that although the attack was an anti-terrorist operation, it could close the gap between Iran and the U.S.

“The attack shows that Iran and United States share common interests on some points,” said Koulaee.

An outspoken reformist, Koulaee is one of 11 female legislators in the 290-seat parliament. She is a member of the legislature’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee.

Mujahedeen officials have not commented on the attacks.

Iran and the U.S. have had no formal relations since Iranian militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution and kept the occupants of the embassy hostage for more than a year.