Iran opposition group calls for regime change in Paris march

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A woman flashes the V-sign and holds a portrait of Massoud Rajavi, who disappeared in Iraq in 2003, and husband of Maryam Rajavi, leader of the People's Mujahedin of Iran, during a demonstration of the exiled Iranian opposition to protest against the celebration in Iran of the 40th anniversary of the revolution. (AFP)
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Supporters of Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, demonstrate in Paris, Friday Feb.8, 2019 as Iran marks the 40th anniversary of its Islamic Revolution. (AP)
Updated 09 February 2019
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Iran opposition group calls for regime change in Paris march

  • Crowds waved posters of group leader Maryam Rajavi and MEK founder Massoud Rajavi
  • Security was tight during the rally and march through Paris’ Left Bank

PARIS: Several thousand supporters of an exiled Iranian opposition group marched through Paris on Friday, calling for an end to Iran’s clerical regime 40 years after the revolution toppled Iran’s monarchy.
The Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, widely referred to in the West as the MEK, were joined at the rally by an array of speakers before the march, from former and current French politicians to a one-time Algerian prime minister and a Syrian opposition figure.
Crowds waved posters of group leader Maryam Rajavi and founder Massoud Rajavi — not seen since 2003 in Iraq, where the MEK once had a camp and waged war against Iran before being disarmed by invading US troops.
The group bases its headquarters outside Paris with several thousand members in Albania, extracted in a UN-brokered effort from Iraq. Supporters are scattered elsewhere in the West as part of the Iranian diaspora.
Security was tight during the rally and march through Paris’ Left Bank. The group’s annual rally last year was the target of an alleged bomb plot, which was thwarted by arrests. An Austrian-based Iranian diplomat is being held in Belgium, where police found bomb material in the car of a couple of Iranian origin.
“As long as we’re dealing with the main state sponsor of terrorism, there is a concern ... But that will never stop us,” MEK spokesman Shahin Gobadi said. The MEK hones to US President Donald Trump’s hard line on Iran, and supports US sanctions on Iran.
One speaker, former French Sen. Jean-Pierre Michel, said in an interview that “I’m not a fanatic of Mr. Trump ... but I think the United States is right about Iran.” He chastised Europeans for what he views as their softer approach to Tehran.
Michel, 80, is a long-time supporter of the Mujahedeen, which has drawn around it numerous US and European parliamentarians and former officials who disagree with critics’ portrayal of the organization as cult-like.
He praised MEK for having a woman at its head who says she wants democracy and separation of church and state in a future Iran, and he hopes one day to visit Tehran with Rajavi, saying, “It keeps me alive.”


US to leave 200 troops in Syria for a period of time - White House

A small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria. (US Army photo)
Updated 10 min 19 sec ago
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US to leave 200 troops in Syria for a period of time - White House

  • The decision was announced after Trump spoke by phone to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan

WASHINGTON: The United States will leave “a small peacekeeping group” of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a US pullout, the White House said on Thursday.
President Donald Trump in December ordered a withdrawal of the 2,000 American troops in Syria on the defeat of the last remnants of the Islamic State militancy there.
But he has been under pressure from some advisers to adjust his policy to ensure the protection of Kurdish forces who supported the fight against Islamic State and who might now be threatened by Turkey.
“A small peacekeeping group of about 200 will remain in Syria for a period of time,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a brief statement.
The decision was announced after Trump spoke by phone to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
A White House statement said that the two leaders agreed, regarding Syria, to “continue coordinating on the creation of a potential safe zone.”
They noted that acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford would be hosting their Turkish counterparts in Washington this week for further talks, the White House said.