Three US Senators travelled to Tirana, Albania’s capital city, and met the head of National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), Maryam Rajavi, 63.
NCRI is the political branch of Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) a group that has been struggling to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran’s regime since the early 1980s.
“During the meeting with the US Senators, different topics including ways to end the regional crisis and changing Iran by democratic means were discussed,” MKO said in a statement.
“The US Senators welcomed the safe transfer of MKO members from Camp Liberty in Iraq to Albania and wished NCRI success in their efforts to establish democracy in Iran,” the statement maintained.
The last members of MKO who were living in Camp Liberty left for Tirana last September and their official presence in Iraq ended after more than three decades.
Maryam Rajavi, in her discussions with the US senators, welcomed what MKO’s statement highlights as the “firm position of US legislators against the Iranian regime,” as well as “new sanctions Congress has imposed on the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, IRGC and other Iranian officials”.
U.S. Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, Vice President of the Republican Conference; led the delegation accompanied by the Majority Whip Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), and Thom Tillis (R-NC).
NCRI engages in extensive political action activities in Europe and the U.S.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has listed MKO as a terrorist organization and in recent years has bitterly protested its elimination from similar lists in Europe and North America.
MKO was listed as a terrorist organization by the United Kingdom and the European Union until 2008 and 2009, respectively, and by the United States and Canada until 2012.
Tehran has sorely criticized European countries for allowing the MKO to hold rallies and conferences in their cities.
Meanwhile, Tehran has interpreted recent meeting between US politicians with the head of NCRI as another sign of Washington’s hostility toward Tehran.
MKO, for its part, has repeatedly denied being a terrorist organization. Mojahedin Khalq of Iran Organization founded in September 1965, played a crucial role in the downfall of the Shah in 1979. Following the Islamic Revolution it participated in the March 1979 referendum approving the creation of a new republican system but boycotted the constitutional referendum, which set up the Islamic Republic.
In 1980s MKO, allied with the first Islamic Republic President, Abolhassan Banisadr, clashed with forces close to the clergy. Thousands of MKO members were detained after a number of clerical leaders were killed in suicide attacks and assassinations. The security forces of the nascent regime confronted the MKO heavy handedly and forced its leadership to flee. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq welcomed them and placed them in Camp Ashraf in exchange for their cooperation with Iraqi forces in the war against Iran.
In Summer of 1988, weeks before the end of eight years of war between Saddam Hussein’s forces and the Islamic Republic, thousands of imprisoned members of MKO were executed while they were doing their prison terms.
Moreover, the MKO forces tried twice to militarily invade Iran after Tehran-Baghdad agreed to a ceasefire, but were totally crushed.
Following Saddam’s downfall, MKO renounced violence and surrendered its arms to the US led forces in Iraq. Under US protection, the residents of Camp Ashraf were moved to Camp Liberty and later to Albania’s capital city, Tirana.
The whereabouts of Maryam Rajavi’s husband and MKO leader, Masoud Rajavi, 70, is not known while many believe that he is not alive.