At whiplash speed, the State Department is walking back an order barring American diplomats from meeting with controversial Iranian dissident groups—including one close with Trump World allies and previously designated as a terror group, the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK). The initial memo, greenlit by a career State Department employee, angered Congressional Iran hawks. And the Department’s move to change its guidance has drawn cheers from them.
The first memo, first reported by Bloomberg and reviewed by The Daily Beast, included sober warnings against meeting with the MEK, pointing to its terrorist past and saying most everyday Iranians have a low view of the group. The memo also warned about interactions with the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, highlighting its attacks on Iranian military targets; and directed diplomats to get permission from State Department headquarters before meeting with members of an Azeri separatist group. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent out the memo on January 7, and it cautioned that meetings with these groups could undermine U.S. efforts to reach a deal with Tehran. Joey Hood, a senior career State Department official, approved the memo, according to the document The Daily Beast reviewed.
But now, the memo is being overridden. The Daily Beast obtained a cable, sent to U.S. diplomats Sunday night, superseding the week-old directive.
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