Sharmine Narwani, Habilian Association, January 22 2016:… I can’t imagine this bothered them much – though it did make the Americans look extremely hypocritical on their “War on Terror.” After all, the MEK had killed US citizens in Iran in the 1970s, attacked US soil in 1992, and continues to abuse its own members. This was the State Department’s very language …
‘US needs help to disentangle from Syrian misadventures’
Iran nuclear talks drew to a close and a historic agreement was reached between Iran and P5+1 and the deal was implemented, but the opponents, from the Israeli Prime Minister and Saudi Arabia to Iran hawks in US congress to the Iranian terrorist groups functioning unhindered in the West, went out of their ways to sabotage the agreement from the very beginning.
A Beirut-based commentator and analyst covering Middle East geopolitics says Saudi Arabia and Israel were desperate to strike a blow at Iran’s further international ‘rehabilitation’. Holding a master’s degree in International Relations from Columbia University, Sharmin Narwani says the deal was also struck as the US and its allies “desperately needed the support of rational, capable parties within the Middle East to help disentangle from their Syrian misadventures.”
In the following interview with Habilian Association, Narwani speaks about those who’ve failed to influence the deal. Having a great knowledge of Iranian society, she also touches upon the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK, a.k.a. MKO) and describes them as “useful to the deal spoilers” who lacks any kind of support in Iran.
1. What is your take on the opponents of Iran nuclear deal before the agreement was reached between Iran and P5+1?
The primary opponents of the P5+1-Iran negotiations were Saudi Arabia and Israel – these two states were on the forefront of a large-scale propaganda campaign intended to derail the talks and prevent a deal from being struck. Their motivations were entirely political as both states actively seek to undermine Iranian influence in the Middle East and beyond. Both states view growing Iranian clout as a direct and existential threat to their nations, and to their ability to manipulate the region to advantage. During the one and a half years of negotiations, the Islamic Republic was in ascendency in the region, while Saudi Arabia and Israel were hemorrhaging credibility – even with their western allies. Their desperation to therefore strike a blow at Iran’s further international ‘rehabilitation’ was even more urgent than usual, and they were successful, on the surface at least, of gaining public support from at least one P5 member state, France. The French took some very hardline public postures – they managed to secure some large weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and Qatar during this period – but behind the scenes and at the actual negotiating table, I am told they barely made a peep.
2. How do you assess such activities after the agreement was reached? What are their post-Iran-deal plans?
Of course the French came into line immediately post-deal, mainly to try to gain a piece of the Iranian post-sanctions-relief economic pie. I believe France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius may have even been the first P5+1 official to visit Iran. You can see from the slew of western officials and business delegations making pilgrimages to Tehran in the immediate aftermath of the Vienna deal, that commerce is of paramount importance to these states suffering from stagnant economies.
Economic considerations aside, this deal was also struck because the US and its allies desperately needed the support of rational, capable parties within the Middle East to help disentangle from their Syrian misadventures. By mid-2012, the US and its western allies suddenly realized that Syria would not be a quick ‘regime-change’ operation and were starting to grow concerned about the proliferation of jihadis and other extremists outside of their control, most of them armed, funded and supported by western allies in the Persian Gulf and Turkey. That’s when the US reached out to Iran in a secret meeting in Oman. So I think another consideration for the P5+1 is definitely to gain Iran’s assistance in helping to put out some of these fires. Iran will help, in the sense that eradicating political violence, re-stabilizing states and halting extremism is high on its priority list, but it is important to understand that western goals are not the same. The west is perfectly happy with weakened Mideast states – it just doesn’t want the extremism it has spawned to breach its own borders. At the present moment, the nuclear deal has been helpful in that the US can openly work in the same military theaters (Syria, Iraq) with Iran without a confrontation breaking out between the two. This is a direct result of Vienna.
3. Please tell me what do you think of Netanyahu’s March 2015 address to the US Congress over Iran accord?
I didn’t watch the speech – Netanyahu never has anything interesting or truthful to say. I did, however, watch the circus around it, and I have to say that if I was an American I would be seriously appalled at the pandering of my elected officials to a foreign official. I do think Netanyahu was a net loser by giving that speech. He created a contentious split in the American body politic and gained acrimony instead of galvanizing support. Clearly he lost, as the Iran nuclear agreement is a reality today. But it would be a mistake to write off Netanyahu. He – and his allies in the US and elsewhere – intend to exploit every opportunity, at every turn of this agreement, to put a wrench in the works. One way to do this is to undermine the ‘spirit’ of this deal, which we are seeing at the moment with further sanctions talk, threats about Iran’s missile program, and the ridiculous visa restriction measure that was signed into law by Obama a few weeks ago…
4. What is your opinion about the activities of Iranian groups such as the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK, aka MKO) against this agreement?
I was in Vienna covering the final round of talks and there were some MEK people around with their usual stunts. I don’t really see this group as significant in any way. They are useful to the deal spoilers only insofar as they provide them with token ‘Iranians’ to parrot more anti-Iran propaganda. The MEK’s main interest is in constant demonization of the Iranian government because it enhances their funding opportunities and gives them access to some rather shifty ‘policymaking’ rooms in the west. So Vienna was a valuable platform for them – it probably earned them a few extra dollars. They make good parrots, but nothing more.
5. What is your take on the MEK which was until recently listed as a foreign terrorist organization in the US and is now functioning unhindered in the US and European countries?
Look, the MEK doesn’t really figure into any serious analyst’s calculations on anything to do with Iran. They are an extremely marginalized group within Iran – in all my visits to the country over the years, I have never heard a supportive word for the MEK from a single Iranian. On the contrary, Iranians tend to view them as traitors for fighting alongside Saddam Hussein’s military in an aggressive 8-year war that saw hundreds of thousands of Iranians die. So there is no love lost for the MEK inside Iran. Furthermore, the group’s support comes almost exclusively from foreign adversaries of Iran, which adds to the perception of MEK treachery.
Even when the organization was listed as a terrorist group in the west, it continued to function under different aliases, with the tacit approval of its western hosts. It has only ever been used as a tool by the west, to be pulled out when these states want a ‘lever’ against Iran. Look at the delisting in the US…it took place in late 2012, a few months after Washington had initiated quiet meetings in Oman with Ahmadinejad’s government which ultimately was the ‘opening’ that led to this nuclear deal. The Americans delisted MEK so they could have a pressure ‘card’ in their hand – to show the Iranians the US was willing to escalate if the Iranians didn’t fall into line. But Iran is well-versed in US tactics. I can’t imagine this bothered them much – though it did make the Americans look extremely hypocritical on their “War on Terror.” After all, the MEK had killed US citizens in Iran in the 1970s, attacked US soil in 1992, and continues to abuse its own members. This was the State Department’s very language when they delisted the group.
Listed or delisted, the MEK remains exactly the same. It always enjoyed western cover of sorts. Like many other western-groomed ‘opposition’ groups based outside the Middle East, it will be employed opportunistically by its hosts, and cut off when it is no longer of use.
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Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult) and Al-Qaida affiliated groups are alike
Habilian Association, Tehran, June 09 2015:… Dr. Jang Ji-Hyang, policy advisor on Middle East issues to South Korean foreign minister and director of the Center for Regional Studies at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, pointed out the similarity between Mujahedin-e Khalq organization (MKO, MEK, NCRI,) and Al-Qaida affiliated groups …
In Habilian Association:
Link to the source
Also in “International Congress on 17000 Iranian Terror Victims”:
link to the source
‘Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult) and Al-Qaida affiliated groups are alike’
Dr. Jang Ji-Hyang, policy advisor on Middle East issues to South Korean foreign minister and director of the Center for Regional Studies at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, pointed out the similarity between Mujahedin-e Khalq organization (MKO, MEK, NCRI,) and Al-Qaida affiliated groups like ISIS in an interview with the 2nd International Congress of 17000 Iranian Terror Victims’ correspondent.
Regarding the fact that thousands of people in the Middle East have fallen victim to terrorist operations mainly conducted by terrorist groups such as MKO and Al-Qaida affiliated groups like ISIS, Dr. Jang Ji-Hyang said: “Mujahedin-e Khalq organization and Al-Qaida affiliated groups are similar in the sense that they try to gain publicity and international attention trying to maximize the demonstrative effects.” She also pointed out that both Shia and Sunni Muslims are victims of such terrorist incidents.
Referring to ISIS’s killing of both Shia and Sunni Muslims in the region and that the whole Muslim community in general is the victim of the so called “Islamic terrorist groups”, she went on to say that ordinary people in Eastern communities such as South Korea are not keenly aware of the fact that Muslims in general are also the very victims of those terrorist groups.
She continued: “The public sentiment [among South Korean people] might be that the radical terrorists are Muslims, and their main targets are foreigners, non-Muslims, or Westerners. The reason behind this partial knowledge is that 1) ordinary people do not follow the international politics 2) the Middle East is far away from the North East Asia 3) we are so busy dealing with a trouble maker in North Korea that it is a luxury to catch up the international politics of terrorism.”
About the role that International organization such as the United Nations can play in the fight against terrorism, Dr. Ji-Hyang reiterated: “UN by nature does not implement a decisive unitary action toward many urgent international issues.”
At the end, referring to the role popular movements and non-governmental organizations can play in the combat against terrorism and extremism, she added: “The 2nd International Congress of 17000 Iranian terror victims can play a significant role in raising public awareness targeting the global community. It brings about a definitely significant impact given that the movement is initiated in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Training Syrian rebels in Saudi Arabia reminder of training Mojahedin Khalq (Rajavi cult) terror group in Saddam’s Iraq
Xinhuanet, September 22 2014: … drew a comparison between the current hosting of the armed rebels by Saudi Arabia and what happened at the times of the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussain, who had hosted on Iraq soil the Mojahedin-e-Khalq movement (MEK), an Iranian opposition movement in exile that advocated the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran …
News Analysis: Providing arms, training to rebels will exacerbate Syria crisis
DAMASCUS, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) — Washington’s recent decision to arm and train the Syrian rebels, who will supposedly fight the Islamic State (IS) terror group, will only exacerbate and prolong the Syrian crisis in what analysts said would be like “casting oil on a smoldering fire.”
Unlike the situation in Iraq, where the administration of President Barack Obama is coordinating and cooperating with the Iraqi forces in their battle against the IS militants, Washington has turned a deaf ear to the calls of the Syrian government for cooperation on battling the IS in Syria, seeking instead to cooperate and deal with the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels by agreeing to arm and coach them to be able to confront the IS in Syria.
Obama, who is leading an international coalition of reportedly 50 countries to fight the IS, said that the Syrian opposition forces were fighting both the brutality of Islamic State terrorists and the “tyranny” of the administration of President Bashar al-Assad.
“We will provide training and equipment to help them (moderate rebels) grow stronger and take on IS terrorists inside Syria,” said Obama, who is a staunch critic of Assad that repeatedly called for his departure and questioned his legitimacy.
The Congress on Thursday backed Obama, authorizing the military to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels. The U.S. move, while failing to surprise the Syrian politicians given the fact that the U.S. has always been in favor of the opposition, was seen as a policy toward prolonging the crisis in Syria by attempting to replace the IS fighters with others who will remain loyal to their Western patrons and would keep fighting against the Syrian government.
Maher Murhej, a Syrian politician and head of the Youth Party, told Xinhua he wasn’t surprised by the recent U.S. move, pointing out that the training of the Syrian rebels has already started.
“My information is that the new Congress decision has sanctioned the financing of the rebels, and regarding the training, I have information that training camps have already been opened in Saudi Arabia two weeks ago, namely in the city of Ha’il in northwestern Saudi Arabia, to train Syrian rebels of the Islamic Front and Islam Army groups,” Murhej said, noting that there is no such a thing as “moderate” rebels as the vast majority of the armed militant groups are radicalized.
Saudi Arabia overtly agreed last week to host training camps for “moderate” Syrian rebels, agreeing thus on Obama’s broad strategy to combat the IS group, which has captured large chunks of territories in Syria and Iraq over the past few months.
Meanwhile, Murhej pointed out that the American strategy aims at keeping the Syrian government busy with fighting the rebels for years to come as it is seeking to replace the IS fighters with other rebel groups that would continue fighting the Syrian government troops.
Obama has recently sanctioned to strike the IS positions in Syria, akin to what his air force is doing in Iraq. However, the conundrum for Obama was that he didn’t want to make a move against the IS that could play in the hands of the Syrian regime, meaning that he wouldn’t want to weaken the IS so that the Assad troops can fill in the void.
Instead, the U.S. president decided to arm the “moderate” rebels so that they could be able to fill in the void that the IS may leave after the U.S. strikes on their positions in Syria, analysts said.
Still, the new approach may take at least a year to train the rebels and weaken the IS fighters, which means that the Syrian crisis is likely not going to see an exit or an end in the near future.
“After getting done with the IS, the West wants to leave other rebels to keep fighting the Syrian government… they want an armed insurgency that could last for years in Syria,” Murhej said, adding that “the superpowers are not only working on prolonging the crisis in Syria, actually they are drawing a new strategy for the future in the region. They are talking about camps that would be permanent so we are looking at 10 to 15 years of insurgency in Syria.”
Murhej drew a comparison between the current hosting of the armed rebels by Saudi Arabia and what happened at the times of the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussain, who had hosted on Iraq soil the Mojahedin-e-Khalq movement (MEK), an Iranian opposition movement in exile that advocated the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran. During the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, the group was given refuge by Saddam Hussein and mounted attacks on Iran from within Iraqi territory.
“They (superpowers) are attempting to create a similar group to the Islamic State but this time under the commandership of the West,” Murhej said.
Habilian Association, Tehran, October 28 2015:… “Iran has the right to demand members of MKO from other countries and international organizations as they have committed crimes in Iran.” MKO’s extradition to Iran is an inevitable task and the group’s betrayals and crimes are to such a level that Iran must take all necessary measures to deal with the group …
Anne Khodabandeh, Iranian.com, September 19 2014: … This, however, is not a description of ISIS, it is a description of the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), the exiled Iranian terrorist group. While ISIS claims to be Sunni, and the MEK claims to be Shiite, there are such significant similarities they can both be defined as destructive cults. The major distinguishing difference …
Ariane Tabatabai, The National Interest, August 24 2014: …The voices supporting the MEK are ignoring the lessons of some of the most catastrophic U.S. foreign-policy mistakes in the past few decades, urging Washington to repeat history. Overhyping the threat of an adversary and blindly supporting groups opposing it led to the creation of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan …
Mazda Parsi, Nejat Bloggers, August 13 2014: … Regarding heavy expenses and large amounts of money, energy and time the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (the MKO) spends to portrait itself as a pro-democracy movement, its so-called Great Gathering in Villepinte Paris, was expected to be addressed by at least a few Iranian political and intellectual figures, as it is …