By Ahmad Ra’fat

AMMAN (JORDAN) First of April (IPS) With the start of the war in Iraq, the count down for the Marxist-Islamist organisation of Iranian Mojahedeens that is based in Baghdad and financed, trained and equipped by Saddam Hoseyn’s army may has also started.

"Iran has condemned the war raging just over the border in Iraq, but it is nevertheless hoping that the US-led coalition forces will knock out the Mojahedeen Khalq Organisation (MKO), the only Iranian armed opposition group dedicated to topple the Islamic regime of Iran through armed forces, observers say.

"The Mujahedeen is a terrorist group", Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Kamal Kharazi said Sunday, adding that no government that would have the support of the Iraqi people after the fall of Saddam Hussein will allow this group to remain active in Iraq".

"The policy of the coalition is not to allow the Mojahedeen to have a base in Iraq after the fall of Saddam", Kharrazi further said, insisting however "this does not mean that we have negotiated with the coalition on the issue of the Mojahedeen".

To the delight of the Iranians, both the European Union and the United States have placed the group, which has claimed the assassination of several Iranian high-ranking officials, both clerics and military as well as numerous terrorist attacks, on their list of terrorist organisations.

Installed in Baghdad since 1986, after the leader of the organisation, Mr. Mas’ood Rajavi was "politely" asked by the French authorities to leave Paris, where he used to live since he fled Iran in 1980, the MKO sided with Iraqi invaders against Iranian armies in the 1980-1988 war that Mr. Hoseyn imposed on Iran.

For this reason, the Mojahedeens, who numbers between 3000 to 5000 in Iraq, are regarded by the Iranians as traitors.

Iraqi opposition groups, both Kurd and Shiite, are hostile to the group, which has allied itself to the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hoseyn and took an active part in the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990 as well as in the "massacre" of the Iraqi Shi’ias and the Kurds.

Jamshid Tahmasbi, a former MKO member who recently deserted the Organisation and fled to Europe told Iran Press Service that he personally took part in fighting the Iraqi Kurds.

He said another member of the group who used to spy on the Shi’a population of the holy city of Najaf for the Iraqi intelligence, or estekhbarat, was savagely killed by the population after being discovered.

Mojahedeen sources said ever since their main camp, based at 30 kilometres from the Iranian border, had been bombed the by Americans and the warning by the Allied not to enter the war on the side of Saddam, the leadership of the organisation is looking for shelter in Europe, but so far all their attempts at finding a country of refuge has failed.

Some members of the MKO who have fled to neighbouring Jordan with Sudanese or Palestinian passports faked or bought on the "market" disclosed that the leadership had ordered the remaining forces to co-operate with the infamous "Feda’yn of Saddam", Iraqi President’s most trusted and ferocious corps.

The Iranian authorities are now hoping that the United States, which Tehran has often referred to as the "Great Satan" and which in turn has placed Iran in its "axis of evil", will soon put the Mujahedeen out of action.

Both Iranian Interior and Intelligence ministers stressed in recent days that the fate of the People's Mujahedeen was "closely linked to that of Saddam Hussein" and at the same time called on them to abandon their movement's "terrorist" leaders and return to Iran, assuring that the Islamic Republic would "forgive those who repent". ENDS MKO FUTURE 1403