Ted Galen Carpenter, The National Interest, July 18 2017:… The MEK’s history should cause any sensible U.S. administration to stay very, very far away from that organization. The MEK is a weird political cult built around a husband and wife team of Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. It has been guilty of numerous terrorist acts and was on the U.S. government’s formal list of terrorist organizations until February 2012. The group …
This Group Hopes to Push America toward Regime Change in Iran
American policymakers and pundits have an unfortunate history of embracing odious foreign political movements that purport to be democratic. During the Cold War, embarrassing episodes included Washington’s support for the Nicaraguan Contras and Jonas Savimbi’s National Union for the Total Independence of Angola. The post–Cold War era provides ample evidence that influential Americans have not learned appropriate lessons from those earlier blunders. The Clinton administration made common cause with the Kosovo Liberation Army, which proceeded to commit numerous war crimes during—and following—its successful war of secession against Serbia. Both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations allied with Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress (INC). The INC’s false intelligence regarding Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, which the New York Times and other prominent media outlets reflexively circulated, was one of the major factors that prompted the United States to launch its ill-starred military intervention in Iraq.
There is mounting danger that the Trump administration is flirting with committing a similar blunder—this time in Iran. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was asked explicitly by Rep. Ted Poe whether the United States supported a policy of regime change in Iran when he testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in June 2017. Poe argued that “there are Iranians in exile all over the world. Some are here. And then there’s (sic) Iranians in Iran who don’t support the totalitarian state.” Tillerson replied that the administration’s policy toward Iran was still “under development,” but that Washington would work with “elements inside Iran” to bring about the transition to a new government. In other words, regime change is now official U.S. policy regarding Iran.
That strategy entails numerous problems. An especially troubling one is that the most intense opposition force (inside and especially outside Iran) is the Mujahedeen Khalq (MEK). Although Tillerson did not explicitly mention the MEK, any U.S. promotion of dissidents would almost certainly have to include that faction. More moderate reformists have repeatedly rejected an American embrace, justifiably concerned that such an association would destroy their domestic credibility. Indeed, a significant segment of Iranian moderates endorsed President Hassan Rouhani and were a major factor in his decisive reelection victory over a hard-line opponent in the 2017 election.
The MEK’s history should cause any sensible U.S. administration to stay very, very far away from that organization. The MEK is a weird political cult built around a husband and wife team of Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. It has been guilty of numerous terrorist acts and was on the U.S. government’s formal list of terrorist organizations until February 2012. The group did not even originate as an enemy of Iran’s clerical regime. It began long before that regime came to power, and its original orientation seemed strongly Marxist. The MEK was founded in 1965 by leftist Iranian students opposed to the Shah of Iran, who was one of Washington’s major strategic allies. And the United States was very much in the MEK’s crosshairs during its early years. During the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, the MEK directed terrorist attacks that killed several Americans working in Iran.
The MEK’s worrisome track record has not deterred prominent Americans from endorsing the organization. In the months preceding the State Department’s decision to delist the MEK, dozens of well-known advocates—primarily but not exclusively conservatives—lobbied on behalf of the group. Vocal supportersincluded former CIA directors R. James Woolsey Jr. and Porter Goss, former FBI director Louis J. Freeh, as well as Tom Ridge and Michael Mukasey, both cabinet secretaries in George W. Bush’s administration. Several members of Congress, including Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, were also prominent advocates. Rohrabacherstated confidently that the MEK seeks “a secular, peaceful, and democratic government.” Other proponents included former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Sen. John McCain. Gingrich has been especially enthusiastic about the MEK over the years, describing it as the vanguard of “a massive worldwide movement for liberty in Iran.” More recently, Gingrich showed up along with former Democratic senator and former vice president nominee Joe Lieberman at a conference in Paris to laud the MEK.
Such enthusiasm has increased since its delisting as a terrorist organization. The House Foreign Affairs Committee even invited Maryam Rajavi to testify at a hearing on strategies for defeating ISIS. The decision to give Rajavi a platform for her broader agenda was not that surprising. Many of the committee’s members (especially GOP members) are staunch advocates of a regime-change strategy toward Iran. The MEK serves the same function for such hawks as Chalabi and the INC did in the prelude to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Americans have reason to be wary when prominent advocates of an extremely hard-line policy toward Iran also want “vigorous support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran,” as former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton recommends. Given his vocal cheerleading for the MEK in recent years, there is little doubt that he is not referring to the moderate, anti-clerical “Green coalition” inside that country, but to the MEK.
Therein lies the principal danger of Tillerson’s embrace of a regime-change strategy toward Iran. Granted, he referred to U.S. support for peaceful regime change, but the MEK’s American backers show no signs of making that distinction. The MEK has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars cultivating their support, and such gullible (or venal) Americans continue to tout the organization as a genuine democratic movement with strong support inside Iran. The extent of the financial entanglements is deeply troubling. Many prominent American supporters have accepted fees of $15,000 to $30,000 to give speeches to the group. They also have accepted posh, all-expenses-paid trips to attend MEK events in Paris and other locales. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell confirmed in March 2012 that the MEK had paid him a total of $150,000 to $160,000, and it appeared that other “A-list” backers had been rewarded in a similar fashion. Needless to say, accepting such largesse from a highly controversial foreign political organization—and one that was still listed as a terrorist organization at the time—should raise justifiable questions regarding the judgment, if not the ethics, of the recipients.
U.S. opinion leaders are playing a dangerous and morally untethered game by flirting with the likes of the MEK. Daniel Larison, a columnist for the American Conservative, recently highlighted the problem with their approach. “I have marveled at the willingness of numerous former government officials, retired military officers, and elected representatives to embrace the MEK,” he wrote. “There’s no question that they are motivated by their loathing of the Iranian government, but their hostility to the regime has led them to endorse a group that most Iranians loathe.” The last point is not mere speculation. The MEK aided Saddam Hussein’s war against Iran in the 1980s, and even Iranians who detest the clerical regime regard the MEK as a collection of odious traitors.
President Trump should learn from the follies of his predecessors who backed the agendas of foreign groups that purported to be democratic but turned out to be nothing of the sort. There are ample warning signs about the real nature of the MEK. The administration needs to avoid that organization like the plague.
Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at the National Interest, is the author of ten books, the contributing editor of ten books and the author of more than 650 articles on international affairs.
Here’s why Washington hawks love this cultish Iranian exile group
Mehdi Hasan, The intercept, July 08 2017:… What were a Saudi prince, a former Republican House Speaker and a former Democratic vice-presidential candidate doing together in a suburb of Paris last weekend? Would you be surprised to discover that Prince Turki Bin Faisal, Newt Gingrich and Joe Lieberman were speaking on …
Here’s why Washington hawks love this cultish Iranian exile group
What were a Saudi prince, a former Republican House Speaker and a former Democratic vice-presidential candidate doing together in a suburb of Paris last weekend?
Would you be surprised to discover that Prince Turki Bin Faisal, Newt Gingrich and Joe Lieberman were speaking on behalf of a group of Iranian exiles that was officially designated a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” by the United States government between 1997 and 2012?
Iran hawks long ago fell head over heels for the Mojahedin-e Khalq, known as the MEK, and loudly and successfully lobbied for it to be removed from the State Department list of banned terror groups in 2012. Formed in Iran in the 1960s, the MEK, whose name translates to “Holy Warriors of the People,” was once an avowedly anti-American, semi-Marxist, semi-Islamist group, pledged to toppling the U.S.-backed Shah by force and willing to launch attacks on U.S. targets. The MEK even stands accused of helping with the seizure of hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran; the group condemned the hostages’ release as a “surrender” to the United States. But after the Iran’s clerical rulers turned on the group in the early 1980s, its leaders fled the country and unleashed a series of bombings across Iran.
These days, the organization — run by husband and wife Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, though the former’s whereabouts are unknown and he is rumored to be dead — claims to have renounced violence and sells itself to its new American friends as a 100 percent secular and democratic Iranian opposition group. The biggest problem with the MEK, however, is not that it is a former terrorist organization. Plenty of violent groups that were once seen as “terrorists” later abandoned their armed struggles and entered the corridors of power — think of the Irish Republican Army or Mandela’s African National Congress.
Nor is it that the MEK lacks support inside of the Islamic Republic, where it has been disowned by the opposition Green Movement and is loathed by ordinary Iranians for having fought on Saddam Hussein’s side during the Iran-Iraq war.
Rather, the biggest problem with U.S. politicians backing the MEK is that the group has all the trappings of a totalitarian cult. Don’t take my word for it: A 1994 State Department report documented how Massoud Rajavi “fostered a cult of personality around himself” which had “alienated most Iranian expatriates, who assert they do not want to replace one objectionable regime for another.”
You think only people inside of dictatorships are brainwashed? A 2009 reportby the RAND Corporation noted how MEK rank-and-file had to swear “an oath of devotion to the Rajavis on the Koran” and highlighted the MEK’s “authoritarian, cultic practices” including ‘mandatory divorce and celibacy” for the group’s members (the Rajavis excepted, of course). “Love for the Rajavis was to replace love for spouses and family,” explained the RAND report.
You think gender segregation inside of Iran is bad? At Iraq’s Camp Ashraf, which housed MEK fighters up until 2013, lines were “painted down the middle of hallways separating them into men’s and women’s sides,” according to RAND, and even the gas station there had “separate hours for men and women.”
You might understand why a Saudi prince, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, or uber-hawk and former Bush administration official John Bolton — who all attended the Paris rally — might be willing to get behind such a weird collection of fanatics and ideologues. But what would make a liberal Democrat from Vermont such as Howard Dean — who has suggestedMaryam Rajavi be recognized as the president of Iran in exile — want to get into bed with them? Or Georgia congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis, who spoke out in favor of the MEK in 2010?
Could it be because of the old, if amoral, adage that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”? Perhaps. Could it be the result of ignorance, of senior U.S. figures failing to do due diligence? Maybe.
Or could it be a consequence of cold, hard cash? “Many of these former high-ranking U.S. officials — who represent the full political spectrum — have been paid tens of thousands of dollars to speak in support of the MEK,” revealed a wide-ranging investigation by the Christian Science Monitor in 2011.
In Washington, D.C., money talks. Whether you’re a Democrat like Dean or a Republican like Bolton, a former head of the CIA like Porter Goss or an ex-head of the FBI like Louis Freeh, what seems to matter most is that the MEK can cut fat checks.
Take Gingrich, who once lambasted Barack Obama for “bowing to the Saudi king” but has himself been caught on camera bowing to Maryam Rajavi. The former House speaker bizarrely compared Rajavi to George Washington in his speech in Paris over the weekend.
Or Giuliani, “America’s Mayor” and self-styled anti-terror hawk, who nevertheless has had no qualms accepting thousands of dollars since 2010 to shill for a group that murdered six Americans in Iran in the mid-1970s; joined with Saddam Hussein to repress Iraq’s Kurds in the early 1990s; allegedly worked with Al Qaeda to make bombs in the mid-1990s; and fought against U.S. troops in Iraq in 2003.
Have these people no shame? To quote Suzanne Maloney, an Iran analyst at Brookings and a former adviser to the State Department: “How cheaply Gingrich/Guiliani/Bolton/Lieberman value their own integrity to sell out to MEK cult.”
Meanwhile, regime change in Tehran is very much back on the agenda in Donald Trump’s Washington. Candidate Trump, who blasted George W. Bush’s Middle East wars of aggression, has been replaced by President Trump, who appointed Iran hawks such as James Mattis and Mike Pompeo to run the Pentagon and the CIA, respectively; counts MEK shills such as Giuliani and Gingrich among his closest outside advisers; and appointed Elaine Chao, who took $50,000 from the Rajavis for a five-minute speech in 2015, to his cabinet.
Let’s be clear: The Trump administration, the Saudis and the Israelis — who have “financed, trained and armed” the MEK in the past, according an NBC News investigation — are all bent on toppling Iran’s clerical rule; they long for a bad sequel to the Iraq war. And Maryam Rajavi’s MEK is auditioning for the role of Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress: The group’s 3,000-odd fighters, according to former Democratic senator-turned-MEK-lawyer Robert Torricelli last Saturday, are keen to be the “point of the spear.”
That way madness lies. Have U.S. political, intelligence, and military elites learned nothing from their Mesopotamian misadventure and the disastrous contribution of Iraqi exiles such as Chalabi? Well, the brainwashed fanatics of the MEK make the INC look like the ANC.
It is difficult, therefore, to disagree with the verdict of Elizabeth Rubin of the New York Times, who visited the MEK at Camp Ashraf back in 2003 and later “spoke to men and women who had escaped from the group’s clutches” and “had to be reprogrammed.” The MEK, warned Rubin in 2011, “is not only irrelevant to the cause of Iran’s democratic activists, but a totalitarian cult that will come back to haunt us.”
Under President Macron, France can play a pivotal role in Western relations with Iran
Massoud Khodabandeh, Huffpost, June 27 2017:… Perhaps the time is finally ripe for a new appraisal of what zero tolerance means for France. The MEK’s messages promoting violent regime change should no longer be tolerated. President Emmanuel Macron’s new centrist movement has won a large majority in the French parliament giving him a strong hand to play. He already revealed himself to be a shrewd and …
Under President Macron, France can play a pivotal role in Western relations with Iran
European counter-terror experts warn that as ISIS is pushed into a smaller and smaller theatre of operations in the Middle East, there will certainly be blowback as foreign fighters return to their own countries. In this context, the ISIS terrorist attacks in Tehran expose a much morecomplex situation which will have lasting repercussions in the West unless it is tackled at source. That includes zero tolerance for any messages promoting violent extremism.
What worries experts is that ISIS almost certainly gained the expertise it used to carry out the attacks in Iran from the exiled Mojahedin Khalq (MEK) organisation. The MEK has a three-decade history of terrorist violence against Iran and continues to cling to an agenda which promotes violent regime change. Whilst the MEK is widely regarded as a defunct force due to the age and health of its fighters, experts warn that although the MEK no longer constitutes a fighting force, the members remain fully radicalised and capable of acting as logistics facilitators and training and planning consultants for any other terrorist group. Certainly, they are all capable of conducting suicide missions.
Since America ensured the MEK were transferred from Iraq to Albania this danger has become more acute. Albania is still struggling to overcome the political and media corruption, drug crime, gun smuggling and people trafficking which will prevent it joining the European Union anytime soon. The presence of 3000 radicalised MEK members in a country known as a route between Europe and Syria for modern terrorist forces is not just controversial, it is dangerous.
Even so, the real danger does not lie in Albania; it is a NATO country dominated by the US and the MEK can and will, therefore, be contained and re-purposed for whatever the US needs them for. The recent visits to the MEK by John Bolton and Senator John McCain are an indication of this agenda.
The real danger lies in France and Western Europe. The MEK has been headquartered for the past thirty-six years in Auvers-sur-Oise just outside Paris. This year, as always, the MEK will use its front name the ‘National Council of Resistance of Iran’ to hire the Villepinte salon outside Paris, pay disproportionate speakers fees to advocates and round up a paid audience to wave flags and dutifully applaud the ‘regime change’ speeches. This annual event is known inside the MEK as a celebration of armed struggle – the raison d’être of the MEK group.
This year the event is being held on July 1, but it was originally timed to celebrate the MEK’s challenge to Ayatollah Khomeini’s leadership on 30th Khordad (June 21, 1981). These dates matter. Analysts now say that the MEK has moved the date of the celebration to distance it from the association with defeat – after the coup d’état failed, senior MEK leaders fled to France with CIA backing and left the rank and file to face mass arrests and executions inside Iran. Instead the new date is closer to what the MEK regards as a major victory in its three decade long terrorist campaign against Iran. On the 7th Tir (June 28, 1981) MEK operatives blew up the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party in Tehran during a meeting of party leaders. Seventy-three leading officials of the Islamic Republic were killed.
The significance of this becomes clear when we link the MEK’s core beliefs to the recent terrorist attacks in Tehran. The message which the MEK event gives to observers is that the pattern of attacks by ISIS in Tehran was glorious and righteous and is a legitimate response to a scenario in which Iran is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism. (For the record, neither the MEK nor Saudi Arabia condemned the attacks.)
This scenario – Iran as the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism – has been promoted ad nauseamby the MEK throughout western political circles. The work of national parliaments as well as the European Parliament have been held hostage to this narrative. Normalisation of relations with Iran following the nuclear agreement have been stymied by the MEK. Indeed, MEK bullying and intimidation in pursuit of this agenda was recently discussed in the European Parliament. The MEPs concluded that Europe cannot properly challenge Iran’s human rights situation as long as a group which promotes regime change and abuses the human rights of its own membersartificially imposes itself centre stage of these discussions.
The fact is that over the past year the western political landscape has changed dramatically. Two distinct blocs have emerged: a cohort of anti-Iran countries including the US, UK, Israel and Saudi Arabia on one side blindly pursuing regime change against Iran apparently at all costs, and Europe – minus the UK after Brexit – (and incidentally Russia and China) pursuing rapprochement and trade opportunities.
In this context, the spotlight for action must fall on France, home to the MEK headquarters. We must ask the French government ‘these people belong to the regime change bloc, why do you continue renting your land to them after 36 years? What have the Americans or the MEK done for you that is worth the bad reputation attached to supporting this group? What is the cost benefit of having the MEK in your country? What implications does its continued presence have for your foreign policy and trade relations? How can the Republic continue to allow this group topromote violent extremism and terrorism on French soil?’
In the past, of course, it was pointless asking these questions – even though they were asked as permanent unresolved issues. Removing the MEK from France and other European countries was problematic – expelling them to Iraq was impossible because their human rights could not be guaranteed. But in 2016 the Americans facilitated the MEK’s removal from Iraq to safety in Albania. There is no reason to believe that Europe cannot similarly facilitate the safe removal of the MEK leaders from France and other European countries to Albania. The MEK leader Maryam Rajavi has already spent several weeks in Tirana. There is nothing to prevent her setting up a permanent headquarters there with further help from the Americans.
President Emmanuel Macron’s new centrist movement has won a large majority in the French parliament giving him a strong hand to play. He already revealed himself to be a shrewd and masterful challenger in international relations almost before opening his mouth when he out manoeuvred President Donald Trump at the NATO summit in Brussels in May. Perhaps the time is finally ripe for a new appraisal of what zero tolerance means for France. The MEK’s messages promoting violent regime change should no longer be tolerated.
Me Presidentin Macron, Franca mund të luajë një rol të rëndësishëm në marrëdhëniet perëndimore me Iranin
Ekspertët evropianë kundër terrorizmit paralajmërojnë se ndërsa ISIS është futur në një teatër gjithnjë e më të vogël të operacioneve në Lindjen e Mesme, me siguri do të ketë të papritura kur luftëtarët e huaj të kthehen në vendet e tyre. Në këtë kontekst, sulmet terroriste të ISIS-it në Teheran ekspozojnë një situatë shumë më komplekse e cila do të ketë pasoja të përhershme në Perëndim, nëse nuk trajtohet që në burim. Kjo përfshin tolerancë zero ndaj çdo mesazhi që promovon ekstremizmin e dhunshëm.
Ajo që shqetëson ekspertët është se ISIS përvetësoi pothuajse me siguri ekspertizën që përdorej për të kryer sulmet në Iran nga organizata e mërguar Muxhahedin e Halq (MEK). MEK ka një histori prej tre-dekadash të dhunës terroriste kundër Iranit, dhe vazhdon të kapet në një axhendë e cila nxit ndryshimin e dhunshëm të regjimit. Përderisa MEK konsiderohet gjerësisht si një forcë e vdekur për shkak të moshës dhe shëndetit të luftëtarëve të saj, ekspertët paralajmërojnë se megjithëse MEK nuk përbën më një forcë luftimi, anëtarët mbeten plotësisht radikalizues dhe të aftë për të vepruar si lehtësues logjistikë dhe konsulentë trajnimi dhe planifikimi për çdo grup tjetër terrorist. Sigurisht, ata janë të gjithë të aftë për kryerjen e misioneve vetëvrasëse.
Meqënëse Amerika siguroi që MEK-u të transferohej nga Iraku në Shqipëri, ky rrezik u bë më akut. Shqipëria ende po lufton për të kapërcyer korrupsionin politik dhe mediatik, krimin e drogës, kontrabandën e armëve dhe trafikimin e njerëzve, të cilat do ta pengojnë hyrjen në Bashkimin Evropian në çdo kohë. Prania e 3,000 anëtarëve të radikalizuar të MEK-ut në një vend të njohur si një rrugë midis Evropës dhe Sirisë për forcat terroriste moderne nuk është vetëm e diskutueshme; është e rrezikshme.
Megjithatë, rreziku i vërtetë nuk qëndron në Shqipëri; Shqipëria është një vend i NATO-s i mbizotëruar nga SHBA-ja, dhe kështu MEK-u mund dhe do të përfshihet e rivendoset për çfarëdolloj gjëje që SHBA-ja ka nevojë për të. Vizitat e fundit nga John Bolton dhe senatori John McCain janë një tregues i kësaj axhende.
Rreziku i vërtetë qëndron në Francë dhe në Evropën Perëndimore. MEK ka qenë i vendosur për tridhjetë e gjashtë vitet e fundit në Auvers-sur-Oise jashtë Parisit. Këtë vit, si gjithmonë, MEK do të përdorë emrin e tij të parë ‘Këshilli Kombëtar i Rezistencës së Iranit’ për të marrë me qera sallonin Villepinte jashtë Parisit, për t’u paguar avokatëve tarifat joproporcionale të folësve dhe për të siguruar një audiencë të paguar për të valëvitur flamuj dhe për të duartrokitur fjalimet e ndryshimit të regjimit. Kjo ngjarje vjetore njihet brenda MEK-ut si një festë e luftës së armatosur – arsyeja e ekzistencës së grupit MEK.
Këtë vit ngjarja do të mbahet më 1 korrik, por fillimisht ishte caktuar për të festuar sfidën e MEK-ut ndaj udhëheqjes së Ayatollah Khomeinit në Khordadin e 30-të (21 qershor 1981). Këto data janë të rëndësishme. Analistët tani thonë se MEK e ka ndryshuar datën e kremtimit për ta larguar atë nga lidhja me humbjen – pasi grushti i shtetit dështoi, udhëheqësit e lartë të MEK-ut ikën në Francë me mbështetjen e CIA-s dhe i lanë njerëzit e thjeshtë për t’u përballur me arrestime masive dhe ekzekutime brenda Iranit. Përkundrazi, data e re është më afër asaj që MEK e konsideron si një fitore e madhe në fushatën terroriste të tre dekadave kundër Iranit. Më 7-të Tir (28 Qershor 1981), operativët e MEK shpërthyen selinë e Partisë së Republikës Islamike në Teheran gjatë një takimi të udhëheqësve të partisë. Shtatëdhjetë e tre zyrtarë udhëheqës të Republikës Islamike u vranë.
Rëndësia e kësaj bëhet e qartë kur lidhim besimet kryesore të MEK-ut me sulmet e fundit terroriste në Teheran. Mesazhi që ngjarja e MEK-ut u jep vëzhguesve është se modeli i sulmeve të ISIS-it në Teheran ishte i lavdishëm dhe i drejtë dhe është një përgjigje legjitime për një skenar në të cilin Irani është sponsori kryesor i terrorizmit në botë. (Sa për ta ditur, as MEK as Arabia Saudite nuk i dënuan sulmet).
Ky skenar – Irani si sponsori kryesor i terrorizmit – është promovuar nga MEK në të gjitha qarqet politike perëndimore. Puna e parlamenteve kombëtarë si dhe Parlamenti Europian janë mbajtur peng i kësaj narrative. Normalizimi i marrëdhënieve me Iranin pas marrëveshjes bërthamore është penguar nga MEK. Në të vërtetë, ngacmimi dhe kërcënimi i MEK-ut në ndjekje të kësaj axhende u diskutua kohët e fundit në Parlamentin Evropian. Deputetët përfunduan se Evropa nuk mund ta sfidojë siç duhet situatën e të drejtave të njeriut të Iranit për sa kohë që një grup që promovon ndryshimin e regjimit dhe abuzon me të drejtat e njeriut të anëtarëve të vet, imponon vetë artificialisht fazën qendrore të këtyre diskutimeve.
Fakti është se gjatë vitit të kaluar peizazhi politik perëndimor ka ndryshuar në mënyrë dramatike. Dy grupe të dallueshme janë shfaqur: një grup i vendeve anti-Iran, duke përfshirë SHBA-në, Mbretërinë e Bashkuar, Izraelin dhe Arabinë Saudite nga njëra anë, që me sa duket ndjekin verbërisht ndryshimet e regjimit kundër Iranit me çdo kusht, dhe Evropa – pa Mbretërinë e Bashkuar pas Brexit – (dhe aksidentalisht Rusia dhe Kina) që po ndjekin afrimin dhe mundësitë tregtare.
Në këtë kontekst, vëmendja për veprim duhet të bjerë në Francë, në shtëpinë e selisë së MEK. Ne duhet të pyesim qeverinë franceze se pse këta njerëz që i përkasin bllokut të ndryshimit të regjimit vazhdojnë të marrin me qera tokën tuaj pas 36 vjetësh? Çfarë kanë bërë amerikanët apo MEK-u për ju, që ia vlen reputacioni i keq që i bashkëngjitet mbështetjes së këtij grupi? Cili është benefiti i të pasurit MEK-un në vendin tuaj? Çfarë implikimesh ka prania e tij e vazhdueshme në politikën tuaj të jashtme dhe të tregtisë? Si mundet Republika të vazhdojë ta lejojë këtë grup të nxisë ekstremizmin dhe terrorizmin e dhunshëm në tokën franceze?
Në të kaluarën, natyrisht, ishte e pakuptimtë t’i bëje këto pyetje – edhe pse ato ishin pyetur si çështje të përhershme të pazgjidhura. Heqja e MEK-ut nga Franca dhe vende të tjera evropiane ishte problematike – dëbimi i tyre në Irak ishte i pamundur për shkak se të drejtat e tyre njerëzore nuk mund të garantoheshin. Por në vitin 2016, amerikanët ndihmuan largimin e MEK-ut nga Iraku në Shqipëri. Nuk ka arsye të besohet se Evropa nuk mund të lehtësojë në mënyrë të ngjashme largimin e sigurt të udhëheqësve të MEK-ut nga Franca dhe vendet e tjera evropiane në Shqipëri. Udhëheqësja e MEK-ut, Maryam Rajavi ka kaluar tashmë disa javë në Tiranë. Nuk ka asgjë që të parandalojë ngritjen e një selie të përhershme atje me ndihmë të mëtejshme nga amerikanët.
Lëvizja e re qëndrore e Presidentit Emmanuel Macron ka fituar një shumicë të madhe në parlamentin francez, duke i dhënë atij një dorë të fortë për të luajtur. Ai tashmë e shpalli veten si një sfidues të zgjuar dhe mjeshtëror në marrëdhëniet ndërkombëtare kur ai ia mori në kthesë presidentit Donald Trump në samitin e NATO-s në Bruksel në maj. Ndoshta për Francën ka ardhur më në fund koha për një vlerësim të ri të asaj që nënkupton zero tolerancë. Mesazhet e MEK-ut që promovojnë ndryshimin e regjimit të dhunshëm nuk duhet të tolerohen më.
/ © Gazeta Impakt
ISIS Drew On MEK Expertise For Terror Attacks On Tehran (Mojahedin Khalq, Rajavi cult)
Massoud Khodabandeh, Iranian.com, June 20 2017:… The following piece has been written by somebody I know well. He does not want his real name to be used because that would jeopardize the sensitive nature of his current work in counter terrorism in Europe – Massoud Khodabandeh… As a former member of the Mojahedin Khalq terrorist organization (MEK), I followed the news of terrorist attacks on Tehran with shame, guilt and anger. My shame and guilt stem …
ISIS Drew On MEK Expertise For Terror Attacks On Tehran (Mojahedin Khalq, Rajavi cult)
The following piece has been written by somebody I know well. He does not want his real name to be used because that would jeopardize the sensitive nature of his current work in counter terrorism in Europe – Massoud Khodabandeh.
As a former member of the Mojahedin Khalq terrorist organization (MEK), I followed the news of terrorist attacks on Tehran with shame, guilt and anger.
My shame and guilt stem from having been involved in such attacks in the past as a member of the MEK. My anger springs from what I see as the MEK’s ongoing influence in these current attacks. Based on my inside knowledge of the MEK I believe this organization has now helped the most notorious terror organization in the world to attack our country and our people.
As I followed news of the attacks I was forced to remember my own role in a similar mission and how my membership of the MEK had almost cost me my life. While analyzing the details of the ISIS attack as they emerged, it was easy to see that these operations in Tehran had been based on the expertise of MEK operations in several ways. I have identified some of these similarities which I have given in outline below.
The targets selected by ISIS were sites constantly targeted by the MEK. The Iranian Parliament and its members had always been primary targets for the MEK since the 1980s. The group had managed to assassinate several members of the Parliament and tried to plant a bomb there at one point. They were unsuccessful and some members were killed by security forces while other terrorist teams were arrested. Similarly, after Ayatollah Khomeini’s shrine was created, Massoud Rajavi, the late MEK leader, announced that “Khomeini’s grave must be exploded”. It became a mantra among MEK members which they would chant in indoctrination sessions. The MEK tried unsuccessfully to send terrorist teams there in 1991 and 2002.
While ISIS and the MEK have the same interests in attacking Iran, ISIS could have caused much greater anti-government fear and hatred among the civilian population in line with its regime change agenda if they had bombed a civilian target like transport infrastructure or a shopping mall. They could have done more damage by targeting the Revolutionary Guards whose forces are in Syria. Instead, the ISIS targets matched those which had been constantly under attack by the MEK for thirty years.
ISIS used locally recruited Iranians for this attack. Their main challenge was to get their weaponry to Tehran without being detected by Iranian security forces. This had always been the main challenge for MEK terrorists. They used different methods to get their weapons to Tehran. For example, hiding the weapons in a small truck loaded with food or inside an empty computer case. The MEK experiences were helpful to the ISIS attackers. They paid a female acquaintance to join them to go to Tehran, pretending it is a family visit. This was to raise less suspicion. Between 2000-2003, the MEK used the same approach to get their terrorists from Iraq to Tehran. The first suicide bomber in Iran was a female MEK member. Since then, the MEK used women in suicide operations to ‘normalize’ their terrorist teams.
The suicide mission
An important similarity is the human factor. Just like the MEK, ISIS terrorists selected and trained for suicide missions are thoroughly brainwashed first. They undergo intensive indoctrination and psychological manipulation sessions and afterwards they are not allowed to think of anything else but their mission; terror. From the videos and reports, it is clear that the terrorists are numbed and fearful people who are prepared to use weapons as a first resort against innocent unprepared people. The ISIS terrorists exploded their vests in their first moments of contact with security forces. A couple of them even exploded their vests as soon as they just saw the security forces. This is similar to MKO terrorists who were brainwashed to assassinate unarmed civilians or perform a mortar attack in a large city like Tehran. They were also armed with cyanide pills and a hand grenade and ordered that rather than risk capture they must commit suicide and hurt as many of the people around them as possible.
It has been widely reported that, just like the MEK, ISIS also gets support from inside Saudi Arabia. After the Tehran terrorist attacks neither Saudi Arabia nor the MEK condemned the events. This echoes MEK behaviour under the Saddam regime. The MEK could not and would not condemn any action of Saddam or the Saudis because they were being paid and supported by them.
The MEK needed governmental level backing to move across national borders. Saddam arranged for MEK operatives to get inside Iran from Pakistan and Turkey rather than cross the Iraqi border which was under international scrutiny. ISIS has also been able to cross borders and move weapons and fund its activities in a way that indicates governmental level of support.
There is no indication that the MEK were directly involved in the Tehran attacks. But from my inside knowledge and based on having performed a similar style of suicide attack in Tehran myself some years ago, there is little doubt in my mind that ISIS have been able to use MEK expertise to pursue this modern terrorist attack.
Debate in the European Parliament ‘What is to be done about the Iranian Mojahedin Khalq (MEK)?’
Massoud Khodabandeh, Huffpost, June 02 2017:… The meeting was organised by Ana Gomes, SND (Portugal) and seconded by Marietje Schaake, ALDE (Netherlands) and Michael Gahler, Christian Democrats (Germany). Two expert speakers were invited to address the meeting: Nicola Pedde, Director Institute for Global Studies, Italy and Massoud Khodabandeh, Director Middle East Strategy Consultants, UK. …
Debate in the European Parliament ‘What is to be done about the Iranian Mojahedin Khalq (MEK)?’
A meeting in the European Parliament on 30 May discussed the problems associated with the Mojahedin Khalq Organisation (MEK) both inside the Parliament and across Europe and the wider world.
The meeting, which was attended by MEPs, researchers and analysts along with representatives of agencies outside the parliament such as security personnel, was organised by Ana Gomes, SND (Portugal) and seconded by Marietje Schaake, ALDE (Netherlands) and Michael Gahler, Christian Democrats (Germany).
All three have a clear record as outspoken critics of Iran’s human rights record and are concerned about the impact of MEK activity on this issue.
Since all the participants have seen first-hand that the MEK spends enormous amounts of money for publicity and lobbying, the first issue to be discussed was ‘who funds the MEK and what is their agenda?’ It soon became apparent that the MEPs are fully aware that the MEK has never existed as an independent group and has benefitted over three decades from funding streams from specific circles which are trying to engineer regime change in the Middle East. The question then became whether these sponsors understand that the cost benefit of supporting the MEK is not giving positive returns but in fact has a negative result for them in their regime change agendas.
Further discussion by representatives revealed that the MEK has been shunned by almost every Parliament across Europe.
In spite of this, MEK members can still gain access to the European Parliament because it is an open institution. The problem this presents is the bullying tactics used by the MEK to intimidate MEPs and their staff. Several delegates at the meeting gave first-hand evidence of this. One MEP said that within ten minutes of taking one particular stance he was bombarded by mass emails some of which contained swearing and threats. Delegates agreed that this is incompatible with the fundamental principles of any Parliament in which representatives must be able to speak and act free from any pressure or intimidation.
Nicola Pedde described to delegates his work in the Italian Parliament where MPs are persuaded to sign petitions by bogus human rights campaigners. Pedde said that when he asked, many of the signatories were unaware that the MEK was behind the petition and didn’t realise that various sentences or paragraphs were added afterwards to give support for Maryam Rajavi and her agenda. Pedde said some MPs were even strongly against the MEK and were very angry about being deceived in this way. They had thought they were condemning human rights abuses in Iran, but their names were then misused to depict them as supporters of terrorists in Albania.
The discussion moved on to the problem of accepting the MEK as advocates of human rights for Iran. Ana Gomes said that when Iranian Nobel Human Rights Prize winner Shirin Ebadi visited the European Parliament, she was unequivocal in saying that the MEK do not have the right to be described as human rights activists. Quite the opposite, they are abusers themselves, she said. Massoud Khodabandeh reminded delegates that in a recent interview with AP, Reza Pahlavi – who wants to restore the monarchy to Iran – dismissed the MEK as a cult. In addition, every Iranian opposition group from the Greens to the Nationalists has rejected the MEK as human rights advocates and as a political entity.
More concerning for delegates is that the government of Iran is quick to use the MEK’s advocacy for human rights as a means to dismiss the issue, pointing out that the terrorist group murdered thousands of Iranian citizens and still commits human rights abuse against its own members. Massoud Khodabandeh gave an example from the UK House of Lords in which Haleh Afshar – a prominent Iranian feminist and academic who now sits in the House as Baroness Afshar – hosted a parliamentary debate about human rights in Iran. The challenging discussion, with valuable contributions from several informed members, was completely undermined by one of the MEK’s supporters who asserted that only Maryam Rajavi and her group could bring freedom and human rights to Iran. The government of Iran cannot be expected to even respond to such a debate said Khodabandeh.
Nicola Pedde made an interesting comment when he said that the MEK cannot be considered as a viable force because, as a result of its cultish behaviour, the MEK do not have a second generation. They have effectively killed themselves, he told delegates, because marriage and family are banned for all members.
The third issue to be discussed was the MEK presence in Albania. Delegates heard how the MEK had been forced to leave Iraq and how the Americans arranged for the UN to be able to transfer them to Albania. The government of Iraq was relieved to be rid of three thousand MEK who had been part of Saddam Hussein’s repressive forces, but the problem has now simply been moved to Albania. The Americans promised help to de-radicalise the MEK members. But, as Massoud Khodabandeh pointed out, this did not happen and the group was allowed to re-group as a terrorist cult and treat its members as modern slaves.
Delegates discussed Albania’s candidature to join the European Union in light of this situation and agreed that this is not just incompatible but that having trained terrorists on the doorstep of Europe is already a security threat to Europe. Delegates stressed that European security services need to take this threat seriously from now.
Reports also described the human rights abuses inflicted on MEK members by their own leaders. They are living in conditions of modern slavery because the UNHCR is acting illegally by paying refugee allowances to the organisation instead of to the individual members. This means members are forced into dependency on the group and cannot leave. Members are also prevented from contacting their families or even other former members so they do not have any recourse to external help or support.
As the two speakers gave their expert analysis throughout the meeting, they also offered suggestions for solutions. Khodabandeh urged delegates to put pressure on the Albanian authorities and the UNHCR to resolve the hostage condition of MEK members in Albania.
Pedde said MEPs should be briefed about the danger of supporting human rights through using groups like the MEK.
At the end the meeting was also opened to the audience for discussion. Former MEK members, Ali Akbar Rastgou, Batoul Soltani, Reza Sadeghi and Ghorban Ali Hossein Nejad were able to join the discussion at this time.
In conclusion delegates discussed various solutions which are open to them. It was important, they said, to find ways to tackle these problems because parliament cannot be held hostage to bullies. A package of activities was agreed in order to curtail the MEK’s deceptive and intimidating activities in Parliament. Other solutions to the wider problems were also agreed and will be put in place throughout the rest of the year.
Parlamenti Evropian: Shqipëria rrezikon integrimin në BE për shkak të muxhahedinëve (MEK)
Një takim në Parlamentin Evropian më 30 maj diskutoi problemet që lidhen me Organizatën Muxhahedin e-HalK (MEK) si brenda Parlamentit, ashtu edhe në të gjithë Evropën dhe botën e gjerë.
Takimi, në të cilin morën pjesë deputetë, hulumtues dhe analistë, së bashku me përfaqësues të agjensive jashtë parlamentit si personel i sigurisë, u organizua nga Ana Gomes e Partisë Socialiste (Portugali), dhe u suportua nga Marietje Schaake e partisë ALDE (Hollandë) dhe Michael Gahler i Partisë Kristian Demokrate (Gjermani).
Të tre kanë një rekord të qartë si kritikë të sinqertë të të dhënave për të drejtat e njeriut në Iran, dhe janë të shqetësuar për ndikimin e aktivitetit të MEK në këtë çështje.
Dy ekspertë u ftuan për të adresuar takimin: Nicola Pedde, Drejtor i Institutit për Studime Globale, Itali, dhe Massoud Khodabandeh, Drejtor i Këshilltarëve të Strategjisë për Lindjen e Mesme në Mbretërinë e Bashkuar.
Meqë të gjithë pjesëmarrësit kanë parë që MEK shpenzon shuma të mëdha parash për publicitet dhe lobim, çështja e parë për t’u diskutuar ishte ‘kush e financon MEK-un dhe cila është axhenda e tyre’? Shumë shpejt u bë e qartë se deputetët janë plotësisht të vetëdijshëm se MEK nuk ka ekzistuar kurrë si një grup i pavarur, dhe ka përfituar më shumë se tre dekada nga financimi nga qarqe të veçanta që po përpiqen të kurdisin ndryshimin e regjimit në Lindjen e Mesme. Më pas u bë pyetja nëse këta sponsorë e kuptojnë se kostoja e mbështetjes së MEK-ut nuk po jep kthime pozitive, por në fakt ka një rezultat negativ për ta në axhendat e ndryshimit të regjimit.
Diskutimet e mëtejshme të përfaqësuesve zbuluan se MEK është shmangur nga pothuajse çdo Parlament në të gjithë Evropën.
Përkundër kësaj, anëtarët e MEK-ut ende mund të fitojnë qasje në Parlamentin Evropian, sepse është një institucion i hapur. Problemi që paraqet kjo është taktika e persekutimit e përdorur nga MEK për të intimiduar deputetët dhe stafin e tyre. Disa delegatë në takim dhanë dëshmi të dorës së parë për këtë. Një deputet i parlamentit tha se brenda dhjetë minutave nga marrja e një qëndrimi të veçantë, ai u bombardua nga emaile masive, disa prej të cilave përmbanin betime dhe kërcënime. Delegatët ranë dakord se kjo nuk është në përputhje me parimet themelore të kujtdo Parlamenti në të cilin përfaqësuesit duhet të jenë në gjendje të flasin dhe të veprojnë pa ndonjë presion ose frikësim.
Nicola Pedde u përshkroi të deleguarve punën e tij në Parlamentin Italian, ku deputetët janë bindur për të nënshkruar peticione nga aktivistët e rremë të të drejtave të njeriut. Pedde tha se kur ai i pyeti, shumë nga nënshkruesit nuk ishin në dijeni se MEK ishte prapa peticionit, dhe nuk e kishin vënë re se më pas ishin shtuar fjali ose paragrafë të ndryshëm për të dhënë mbështetje për Marjam Raxhavin dhe axhendën e saj. Pedde tha se disa deputetë ishin madje shumë kundra MEK dhe ishin shumë të zemëruar që ishin mashtruar në këtë mënyrë. Ata kishin menduar se po dënonin abuzimet e të drejtave të njeriut në Iran, por emrat e tyre më pas u keqpërdorën për t’i përshkruar ata si mbështetës të terroristëve në Shqipëri.
Diskutimi vazhdoi me problemin e pranimit të muxhahedinëve si avokatë të të drejtave të njeriut për Iranin. Ana Gomes tha se kur fituesja e çmimit Nobel për të Drejtat e Njeriut, Shirin Ebadi vizitoi Parlamentin Evropian, ajo ishte e qartë që muxhahedinët nuk kishin të drejtë të përshkruheshin si aktivistë për të drejtat e njeriut. Përkundrazi, ata janë vetë abuzuesit, tha ajo. Massoud Khodabandeh u kujtoi delegatëve se në një intervistë të kohëve të fundit me AP, Reza Pahlavi, princi i kurorës në Iran – i cili dëshiron të rivendosë monarkinë në Iran – hodhi poshtë MEK-un si një kult. Përveç kësaj, çdo grup i opozitës iraniane, që nga të Gjelbrit deri te Nacionalistët e ka hedhur poshtë MEK-un si avokatë të të drejtave të njeriut dhe si subjekt politik.
Më shqetësuese për delegatët është që qeveria e Iranit është e shpejtë në përdorimin e avokimit të MEK-ut për të drejtat e njeriut si një mjet për të hedhur poshtë çështjen, duke vënë në dukje se grupi terrorist ka vrarë mijëra qytetarë iranianë dhe ende kryen abuzime të të drejtave të njeriut kundër anëtarëve të vet. Massoud Khodabandeh dha një shembull nga Shtëpia e Lordëve në Mbretërinë e Bashkuar në të cilën Haleh Afshar – një feministe dhe akademike e shquar iraniane, e cila tani është ulur në Shtëpi si Baronesha Afshar – priti një debat parlamentar mbi të drejtat e njeriut në Iran. Diskutimi sfidues, me kontribute të vlefshme nga disa anëtarë të informuar, u dëmtua plotësisht nga një prej mbështetësve të MEK-ut, i cili pohoi se vetëm Marjam Raxhavi dhe grupi i saj mund të sillnin liri dhe të drejta të njeriut në Iran. Qeveria e Iranit nuk mund të pritej as të përgjigjej për një debat të tillë, tha Khodabandeh.
Nicola Pedde bëri një koment interesant kur tha se MEK nuk mund të konsiderohet si një forcë me gjasa për sukses, sepse, si pasojë e sjelljes së tij kulturore, MEK nuk ka një brez të dytë. Ata kanë vrarë në mënyrë efektive veten e tyre, u tha ai delegatëve, sepse martesa dhe familja janë të ndaluara për të gjithë anëtarët.
Çështja e tretë për t’u diskutuar ishte prania e MEK-ut në Shqipëri. Delegatët dëgjuan se si MEK ishte detyruar të largohej nga Iraku dhe se si amerikanët organizuan që OKB-ja të ishte në gjendje t’i transferonte ata në Shqipëri. Qeveria e Irakut u lehtësua që shpëtoi nga tre mijë muxhahedinë që kishin qenë pjesë e forcave represive të Sadam Huseinit, por problemi tani thjesht është zhvendosur në Shqipëri. Amerikanët premtuan ndihmë për de-radikalizimin e anëtarëve të MEK-ut. Por, siç vuri në dukje Massoud Khodabandeh, kjo nuk ndodhi dhe grupi u lejua të ri-grupohet si një kult terrorist dhe t’i trajtojë anëtarët e tij si skllevër modernë.
Delegatët diskutuan mbi kandidaturën e Shqipërisë për t’u bashkuar me Bashkimin Evropian nën dritën e kësaj situate, dhe ranë dakord se jo vetëm që kjo është e papërputhshme, por trajnimi i terroristëve në pragun e Evropës është tashmë një kërcënim për sigurinë e saj. Delegatët theksuan se shërbimet e sigurisë evropiane duhet ta marrin seriozisht këtë kërcënim prej tani.
Raportet gjithashtu përshkruan abuzimet e të drejtave të njeriut të shkaktuara ndaj anëtarëve të MEK-ut nga udhëheqësit e tyre. Ata jetojnë në kushte të skllavërisë moderne, sepse UNHCR-ja vepron në mënyrë të paligjshme duke ia dhënë ndihmat për refugjatët organizatës, në vend që t’ua japë anëtarëve individualë. Kjo do të thotë se anëtarët janë të detyruar të varen nga grupi dhe nuk mund të largohen. Anëtarëve u pengohet gjithashtu që të kontaktojnë me familjet e tyre ose edhe me anëtarët e tjerë të mëparshëm, në mënyrë që ata të mos kenë ndonjë ndihmë apo mbështetje të jashtme.
Ndërsa dy ekspertët prezantuan analizën e tyre gjatë gjithë takimit, ata gjithashtu ofruan sugjerime për zgjidhje. Khodabandeh u kërkoi delegatëve të ushtrojnë presion ndaj autoriteteve shqiptare dhe UNHCR-së për të zgjidhur gjendjen skllavërore të anëtarëve të MEK-ut në Shqipëri.
Pedde tha se deputetët duhet të informohen për rrezikun e mbështetjes së të drejtave të njeriut përmes përdorimit të grupeve si MEK.
Në fund takimi u hap edhe për diskutim nga audienca. Ish anëtarët e MEK-ut, Ali Akbar Rastgou, Batoul Soltani, Reza Sadeghi dhe Ghorban Ali Hossein Nejad ishin në gjendje të bashkoheshin në diskutim në këtë kohë.
Në përfundim delegatët diskutuan zgjidhje të ndryshme që janë të hapura për ta. Është e rëndësishme, thanë ata, që të gjenden mënyra për të trajtuar këto probleme, sepse parlamenti nuk mund të mbahet peng i frikësimeve. U ra dakord për një paketë aktivitetesh për të kufizuar veprimtaritë mashtruese dhe frikësuese të MEK-ut në Parlament. U dhanë gjithashtu zgjidhje të tjera për probleme më të gjera, që do të vendosen në punë gjatë gjithë pjesës tjetër të vitit. / © Gazeta Impakt
Maryam Rajavi — MEK Propaganda Queen — Advertises Her Services For Iran’s Enemies
, Huffington Post, July 08 2016:… Clearly this message is not aimed at Iranians. The clamour for regime change in Iran does not emanate from inside the country in spite of its many social, civic and political problems. Who then is Maryam Rajavi’s constituency? From whom is she hoping to garner support?Many constituencies outside Iran wish fervently for its destruction. It is enlightening that Maryam Rajavi’s …
Maryam Rajavi — MEK Propaganda Queen — Advertises Her Services For Iran’s Enemies
Co-authored by Anne Khodabandeh
The Middle East is in turmoil. Deaths and destruction are a daily occurrence throughout the region. Families flee their homes in fear, forced into an uncertain future. No end is in sight. Yet into this calamitous scenario a slick, sophisticated terrorist recruiter’s advert has popped up which ISIS itself could learn from.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) website carries a glamorous advertising campaign for a Grand Gathering. Surrounded by glitzy pictures of flag-waving youth, the central focus of this gathering is ‘Our pledge: regime change’.
Well, we all know what that means. Don’t we? Apparently not. Because this advertising doesn’t reflect the destruction wrought in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen. Here is no promise of jihad and the caliphate. It looks very much like a carnival. Which is exactly what it is – a show. So, what is meant by the promise of regime change?
The first port of call is to understand that the NCRI is just another name for the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) which was also known as the National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA).
Back in 1994, MEK leader Massoud Rajavi tasked his wife Maryam to leave Iraq for America in order to regain political recognition of the Mojahedin Khalq as ‘the’ Iranian opposition which had been lost when he refused to abandon Saddam Hussein during the First Gulf war.
Refused entry to the USA as the leader of a terrorist entity Maryam instead took up residence in France as a refugee. But instead of meeting politicians to talk about how the MEK could overthrow the Iranian regime, she discovered she could simply create the illusion of support by paying both audience and speakers. She discovered a talent for dressing up, holding fancy dinner parties and talking about her cult ideology.
To create the appearance of a willing audience for her views, she recruited a rag-tag following of Iranian economic refugees who would happily turn up when paid for their services. She paid for feminists from North America, Europe and Scandinavia to visit Auvers-sur-Oise and attend dinner parties. She posed in her hijab to speak about her version of feminism to these western women; carefully spelling it out for them that they would never really understand what feminism is until they understood her husband Massoud Rajavi.
When Massoud recalled her to Iraq in 1997 she had spent a third of the total MEK budget and had no political support to show for it. She had lost around half the loyal MEK members who had defected whilst in Europe. With morale at an all-time low, Maryam was forced to retreat to Iraq with what remained of her personnel and leave the western bases in the hands of largely uneducated paid ‘supporters’.
When allied forces next invaded Iraq in 2003 Maryam Rajavi again fled to France. This time, as luck would have it, western politics was focused on curtailing Iran’s nuclear programme which it insisted was aimed at creating a nuclear weapon. The MEK’s services as propaganda experts were just what was needed, ensuring the MEK’s ostensible survival as an opposition group.
But in reality the MEK was already in terminal decline. Its fighting forces, disarmed in 2003, are currently being transferred from Iraq to Albania by the UNHCR to begin a process of de-radicalisation and reintegration back into normal society. Nobody expects veterans with an average age of sixty to wage the terrorism of thirty years ago. Disarmament also allowed American experts to investigate years of complaints about human rights and cultic abuses inside the MEK. As long as the MEK was being used to muddy the waters of the nuclear negotiations, such details could be glossed over. But since last year when agreement was reached, the MEK’s murky past can no longer be dismissed.
The main reason, of course, is that the new theme for challenging Iran in the international community is based on the country’s dismal human rights record. But Maryam Rajavi has her own well documented human rights abuse dossier to answer for. The MEK, under whatever name it is used, is simply the wrong tool to use to demonise Iran.
Beyond this, the MEK is not the popular opposition its own advertising claims it to be. The group is almost universally despised among Iranians both inside the country and in the diaspora. Not only did the MEK fight alongside Saddam Hussein’s army during the devastating eight-year Iran-Iraq war, but the MEK’s anti-Iran role in the nuclear negotiations hit a nerve with most ordinary Iranians who regarded support for their country’s right to nuclear technology as an issue ofnationalism rather than politics.
Maryam Rajavi cannot get support from Iranians unless it is paid for. Nor can Maryam Rajavi deign to share a platform with any other Iranian opposition personality. So this year Maryam Rajavi will again do what she does best; pay audience and speakers alike to give the illusion of support.
So, back to the recent advertising campaign. Any publicity campaign will be successful if it is newsworthy. Maryam, however, simply churns out the same scenario ad infinitum. Starting with describing a terrible situation in Iran – based on news items that can be gleaned from any serious reporting outlet – she then proposes a ten-point plan for Iran, approved this year by Italian parliamentarians. And then she promises regime change.
Clearly this message is not aimed at Iranians. The clamour for regime change in Iran does not emanate from inside the country in spite of its many social, civic and political problems. Who then is Maryam Rajavi’s constituency? From whom is she hoping to garner support?
Many constituencies outside Iran wish fervently for its destruction. It is enlightening that Maryam Rajavi’s websites are home to a bizarre mixture of anti-Shia, anti-Iran, anti-Syria, items which reflect very closely the views of neocons, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Maryam Rajavi is not promising regime change, she is advertising her services as a propaganda queen.
National Geographic, March 04 2017:… Leading MEK members squirm under the knowing gaze of Michael Ware. Watch the shifty looks and glances as the MEK representatives try to lie about their true intentions. They admit to wanting regime change, but claim to be pacifists. Ware asks ‘Why does a political organization still need to have a para-military organization?’ He then cleverly gets them to …
Associated Press, February 16 2017:… The group at one point successfully infiltrated the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, according to a State Department report. And a series of bombings attributed to the MEK accompanied visits by presidents Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter to Iran, including one to target an American cultural center. In 1973, MEK assailants wearing motorcycle helmets shot dead U.S. Army Lt. …
Iran Interlink, February 15 2017:… The following OpEd by MEK advocate Col. Wes Martin was published first in The Hill, followed by Mojahedin Khalq’s “Iran Probe” and the “NCRI” websites. Iran Interlink has published it here as indication of how hysteria has become the new normal in American published writing. A form of madness appears to have infected US politics and now all and sundry are dancing …
Massoud Khodabandeh, Huffington Post, February 07 2017:… He also signals that his war is not with ISIS but with the country Iran. Donald Trump rose to victory in part on the promise to take on ISIS and defeat the group. Yet ISIS cannot be defeated except by a coalition of forces that includes Iran. The facts on the ground in Syria and Iraq demonstrate unequivocally that ISIS forces in Aleppo and Mosul have been defeated largely due to the involvement
Gazeta Impakt, Albania, Translated by Iran Interlink, January 01 2017:… According to Fatos Klosi, former director of the National Intelligence Service, the American CIA chief has warned Albania that Donald Trump will renounce support for the MEK terrorists and it will be the Albanian Government itself which must deal with internal security and must confront a group trained militarily from the time of Saddam Hussein …
Massoud Khodabandeh, Huffington Post, December 24 2016:… That can only happen if journalists and investigatory bodies (human rights, nuclear experts, war crimes, etc) are able to base their work on facts and not the fake and fictionalised fantasies of stooges like the MEK, which are clearly designed to misinform on these issues. The information laundry cycle is not difficult to follow – the Washington Times takes its report …
Massoud Khodabandeh, Huffington Post, November 12 2016:… In particular, Rudi Giuliani, John Bolton and Newt Gingrich. Putting aside their weak personalities as well as their individual neoconservative agendas, the common thread which links these names together is their decade long support for the Mojahedin Khalq terrorist organisation (also known as Saddam’s Private Army or Rajavi cult). It is certain that …
Iran Interlink, October 30 2016:… Local observers in Tirana are reporting that the Mojahedin Khalq cultic terror group (MEK) is buying and creating several sandwich and kebab shops in the city and is using the MEK members to work in these fast-food businesses. On the surface this may look like a positive move. In an article titled ‘Albania: What would a de-radicalization program for the Mojahedin Khalq involve’, it was …
Anne and Massoud Khodabandeh, Iran Interlink, October 16 2016:… In spite of American promises, no de-radicalisation programme is in place to deal with over 2500 members of the Mojahedin Khalq terrorist group who have relocated to Tirana from Iraq. The MEK has a long history of violent and criminal activity. This has not stopped now they are in Tirana. Unless the Albanian government introduces its own programme, it must accept …
Anne and Massoud Khodabandeh, Huffington post (and Top Topic), October 09 2016:… For the local citizens, mystery surrounds their arrival and their lifestyle. Should these secretive and covert neighbours be treated with suspicion or kindness? At a local level, the first thing neighbouring families need to be aware of is that among all MEK members, sexual relations have been banned for over 25 years. This means there are no marriages or children or young people in the organisation. More troubling …
Massoud & Anne Khodabandeh, Huffington Post, July 14 2016:… Whether Rajavi is already dead or now killable is not known – only he can answer this – but he and his whole organisation are certainly now, body and soul, in the capable hands of the Saudi Prince. If he is still alive, Rajavi’s only role is to act as go-between to instruct his wife what she must do on behalf of the Saudis. If he is dead
Massoud Khodabandeh, Huffington Post, July 08 2016:… Clearly this message is not aimed at Iranians. The clamour for regime change in Iran does not emanate from inside the country in spite of its many social, civic and political problems. Who then is Maryam Rajavi’s constituency? Fro