PARIS — Iran condemned the Obama administration Saturday for taking an Iranian militant group formerly allied with Saddam Hussein off the U.S. terrorism list, saying it shows Washington's "double standards."
The MEK, or Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, which began as a guerrilla movement fighting Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, helped overthrow the monarch in 1979 then quickly fell out with the Islamic Republic's first leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. It fought in the 1980s alongside Saddam's forces in the eight-year Iran-Iraq war but disarmed after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The State Department delisted the group on Friday, meaning that any assets the MEK has in the United States are unblocked and Americans can do business with the organization. On Saturday, at their Paris headquarters, MEK members gathered to celebrate, tossing flower petals and displaying photos of members killed in the past 15 years.
"We call on the international community to respect the will of the Iranian people for a regime change in Iran," Maryam Rajavi, the Paris-based head of the exiled opposition group, said Saturday.
Iran's foreign ministry said in a statement that the delisting of MEK was "a violation of America's legal and international obligations" that could threaten U.S. interests. The decision "will bring U.S. responsibility for past, present and future terrorist operations by this group," the statement also said.
Iranian State TV criticized the decision, saying that the U.S. considered the MEK "good terrorists." It claimed Washington is using the group to work against Tehran. State radio said the move highlights President Barack Obama's anti-Iranian sentiments.
"There is much evidence of the group being involved in terrorist activities. Delisting them shows America's double standard policy on terrorism," state TV said. The U.S. distinguishes between "good and bad terrorists" and the MEK are now "good terrorists because the U.S. is using them against Iran," the report also said