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EU Removes Iranian Opposition Group From Terror List

By Lisa Bryant
Paris
26 January 2009

The European Union says it will remove an Iranian opposition group from its terrorist list, thus freeing the group's frozen assets. The move, announced Monday, is likely to increase tensions between Brussels and Tehran.

The European Union's decision to remove the opposition group, the People's Mojahedin of Iran, from its list of terrorist organizations was expected.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana told reporters the EU was simply abiding by a previous resolution from the European Court of Justice. The decision is expected to take effect Tuesday.

The People's Mojahedin began as a leftist Islamist opposition group to the late Shah of Iran and became the most prominent overseas opposition movement to Iran's Islamic regime. It's armed wing was based in Iraq. It's political branch is located outside Paris. It remains banned in the United States.

A U.S. State Department spokesman said there is no indication the United States will change its policy toward the Iranian opposition group. Earlier this month, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice renewed the People's Mojahedin's terror designation for one year.

Shada Islam, a senior analyst at the European Policy Center in Brussels said the EU's decision will undoubtedly anger the Iranian government.

"The Iranians will be quite angry obviously at the European Union. They will not like it, and I think there will be public statements of anger and possibly outrage as well," Islam said. "I think what is not going to change is the European Union's policy toward Iran, which is based on constructive engagement ... and is also backed up by sanctions at the United Nations."

Islam said it would be in Iran's interest not to react too strongly to the EU's move on the resistance group. He also cautioned Tehran not to burn its bridges toward the west in general, particularly given the new Obama administration in Washington, which has yet to clearly spell out its policy toward Iran.

Hundreds of angry demonstrators rallied in front of the French Embassy in Tehran on Sunday to protest removal of the People's Mojahedin from the EU terror list.



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