Ramin Mehmanparast

Iran’s Foreign Ministry has warned its neighbouring countries to refrain from sheltering members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, an Iranian dissident group.

Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast commented Tuesday on the settlement of PMOI members in the region, saying: “If the U.S.-Zionist plan is aiming at settling them in the one of the countries in the region, we are very sensitive to this issue and will respond strongly.”

He added: “We expect our neighbouring countries to be aware of this sensitivity and to not damage their good relations with Iran by an action that would have heavy negative consequences for them.”

The Fars News agency reported last Wednesday that the PMOI members may be settled in Azerbaijan Republic and a number of other countries bordering Iran. The report is said to have been corroborated by “reliable information from sources close to monafeghin [the Iranian establishment’s name for the PMOI] and established evidence in the news.”

The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran is a dissident group that has been fighting against the Islamic Republic since the regime’s early days, after its birth in the 1979 Iranian Revolution. During the eight-year Iran-Iraq War, the PMOI fought against Iran from Iraq, and Saddam Hussein’s regime let them settle in Camp Ashraf, 65 kilometres north of Baghdad.

The camp fell under U.S. jurisdiction after that country invaded Iraq. However, with the withdrawal of U.S. forces, the current Iraqi government called for the PMOI to leave Iraq by the end of 2011.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said: “Our stance regarding the monafeghin remains clear. This group has a dark history of crimes and, in addition to the 16,000 instances of targeting our people and officials with terrorist attacks, their many crimes have also earned the evident hatred of the Iraqi people.”

The Fars News report cites “reliable sources” who indicate that the U.S. has managed the gradual removal of the PMOI members from Iraq, arranging their transfer to five neighbouring countries.

Fars adds that the U.S. allies involved are Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Azerbaijan, Qatar and Pakistan.

The report indicates that Azerbaijan has recently reopened four of its 16 abandoned airports and is looking at renting them out to “Zionist forces.”

The Iraqi ambassador to Iran confirmed last December that Azerbaijan and several other countries in the region have agreed to give asylum to about 900 members of the PMOI.