Iranian Opposition Group Critical of Iraqi Government

An Iranian opposition group said Wednesday that the Iraqi government's move to ban dealings with it reflected pressures on Baghdad by Iran.

The statement followed an announcement Tuesday by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Cabinet accusing the Mujahedeen Khalq organization — known as the MEK — of interfering in Iraq's internal affairs and supporting anti-government activities.

The government said those who violate the order will face charges under the anti-terror law.

The MEK said the Iraqi statement was a "flagrant breach of international law and conventions" and called on the U.N. Security Council to insist that the Iraqis back down.

"The stance" taken by the government "is the reflection of hysterical pressures of the religious fascism ruling Iran and its embassy in Baghdad on the Iraqi government to take revenge on the (MEK) because 3 million Iraqi Shiites have rejected the Iranian regime," the MEK said.

A prominent Sunni lawmaker, Saleh al-Mutlaq, said that the government decision shows how much influence Iran wields over the Shiite-led Iraqi government.

Al-Mutlaq, who heads an 11-member block in parliament, said that the MEK should be used to counter Iran's "destructive role" in Iraq

"It is an organization that opposes a regime that interferes in our affairs and wants to settle old scores with America on our soil," he said.

The MEK has had fighters based in Iraq since Saddam Hussein era. When U.S.-led troops overthrew the regime, they demilitarized the group and confined its fighters to Camp Ashraf northeast of Baghdad, under the protection of the multinational forces.

The Iraqi Cabinet has demanded that the coalition turn over checkpoints around the camp to Iraqi control.