Mohammad Hashemi, Tehran Times, January 21 2018:… Foreign media outlets gave some coverage to the remnants of the old monarchist Pahlavi regime but it was the notorious Mojahedin-e Khalq terrorist Organization (MKO) that received the most coverage on Fox News, Voice of America and other outlets. Just as a side note, during a week of turmoil, the Voice of America Persian service “set an …
Time for reflection on unrest in Iran
It was after midnight on December 31 and I was checking the latest news about protests in Iran on twitter when one post attracted my attention. It claimed the “Iranian regime lost control of the central city of Kashan” –my hometown– and that “people have taken control of police stations and military installations in the city”. The writer of that post, who is the political editor of a very popular tabloid in Germany, further speculated in another post that this could be the beginning of “syrification of the conflict” in Iran!
By the time that gentleman decided to do some fact checking and deleted the fake news from his page, it was already retweeted nearly 600 times, allowing falsehood to proliferate in public discussion.
This was just one small example of distortion of reality regarding the unrest in Iran. But now that the dust of the protests has settled, it is time for some serious reflection on what happened.
The demonstrations began on December 28 in Iran’s second largest city, Mashhad, over alleged corruption, economic hardships and high unemployment and swept to other cities and towns. The number of people that were arrested in days of protests remains disputed. Iran’s judiciary spokesperson said “a total of 400 people were detained and 25 killed”. Other less official sources have given a higher number.
Post truth, information, and emotion
The news about the protests quickly spread on social media and in turn was picked up by foreign-based satellite channels. On the same outlets exiled journalists and activists living in their own bubble, urged people inside Iran to engage in civil disobedience with absurd actions which drew ridicule from many inside Iran.
In the midst of turmoil, the striking point was the coverage of major foreign media outlets from the U.S. to France and Germany seeking to hype the situation by disseminating sensational information, and assertions under the guise of news reporting. Their coverage was for most part one-sided comprising reports and interviews with foreign observers, exiled journalists and activists who were repeating the same old, emotional and gibberish narrative against the Iranian government.
This setting is a central part of the “post-truth” world which Oxford Dictionary defined as “circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.
The “post-truth” concept is not a new phenomenon and has been around for a while. But its usage spiked in 2016 both with the populist Brexit movement, resulting in the UK’s vote to quit the European Union, and Trump’s rise to the presidency.
Author Ralph Keyes in his book, The Post-Truth Era: Dishonesty and Deception in Contemporary Life, defines post-truth era as a time when “borders blur between truth and lies, honesty and dishonesty, fiction and nonfiction. Deceiving others becomes a challenge, a game, and ultimately a habit.”
Of course trying to mislead the public is nothing new but in the case of Iran one can hardly think of any other country where the outbreak of protests leads observers to reach for their revolutionary theory and hyperbole and “the fall of regime”.
What was different this time?
The latest demonstrations in Iran were different from most protests that have previously roiled the country since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Firstly, despite the geographical scale, the number of demonstrators was small and limited. While mostly ordinary working class people with contradictory slogans were taking part in the protests, middle class in large population centers stayed at home because they were not sure about the outcome. Moreover, this was not an authentic civic movement for change because it lacked clear goals and leadership that naturally turned chaotic in several provinces and towns when thugs and mobs set fire to state-owned buildings and damaged public properties.
Secondly, let’s not forget, just seven months ago more than 41 million people turned out in the presidential election with over 57 percent of them voted to continue Hassan Rouhan’s government of “hope and prudence”. That’s why it was highly unlikely that such overwhelming show of support and hope suddenly disappear.
What comes after is important
The unrest was a convenient pretext for anti-Iran opposition warmongers in the U.S. and elsewhere to exploit it for their own purpose of promoting regime change and substitute Iranian exiles as representatives of people who were protesting in the streets. Foreign media outlets gave some coverage to the remnants of the old monarchist Pahlavi regime but it was the notorious Mojahedin-e Khalq terrorist Organization (MKO) that received the most coverage on Fox News, Voice of America and other outlets.
Just as a side note, during a week of turmoil, the Voice of America Persian service “set an all-time traffic record with their coverage of the Iran protests with 5.5 million Facebook video views & nearly 3 million site visits,” Amanda Bennett, the head of VOA, wrote in a tweet on January 2.
Other major outlets misleadingly used propaganda pictures of rallies organized by MKO in the United States and Europe to distort perception of protests in Iran. MKO fought alongside the Iraqi army in Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. The group also carried out numerous bombings and assassinations after the Islamic revolution in 1979. The group was until 2012 on the U.S. terrorism list and now is pushing for sanctions against Iran. That’s why the group has no support among Iranians.
It is important to note that people of Iran are political savvy and while many may want a more liberal and Western like society, they hate U.S. antagonism and have reasons to distrust the United States. They have also seen the outcome of U.S. regime change policies in places such as Syria and Libya. Therefore, no sensible and intellectually honest Iranian takes MKO, monarchists, or other opposition groups and activists outside Iran as viable alternative to the current government.
Blindness to evidence
Gradual changes are taking place from Iran’s political development, social freedoms, human and minority rights, government accountability and transparency to even people’s style of living. One might argue for those changes in the merits but the truth is that foreign meddling in Iran has always adversely affected these developments.
Some people may not like history but they should be reminded that in 1953, the democratically-elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh was overthrown in a coup orchestrated by the CIA and British intelligence service. The U.S. and Britain backed Saddam Hussein in the war against Iran and over the past decades, Washington has imposed punishing economic sanctions on Iran, threatened it with war and funded anti-government opposition groups.
When Iran signed a landmark nuclear deal with six world powers in 2015, many Iranians had expectations that their economic situation would improve. Even part of Rouhani’s electoral appeal stemmed from expectations that the accord would bring foreign investment and jobs. Iran’s economy has recovered since, but because of U.S. sanctions such recovery was not enough to match the expectations or alleviate growing inequality.
Under President Donald Trump, the U.S. has stepped up efforts to isolate Iran — adding the country’s handling of protests to its list of reasons. The Trump administration’s support for unrest, regime change and encouraging social unrest including political statements of condemnation and biased media coverage to undermine the legitimacy of the government is definitely an obstacle to Iran’s democratic progress.
Post-truth era is characterized by “willful blindness to evidence and appeal to emotionally based argument,” and when it comes to covering Iran, misrepresentation of facts can really be harmful.
MEK Terrorist Death Cult: Meet Washington’s ‘Iranian Opposition’ (aka MKO, NCRI, Maryam Rajavi cult …)
Niall Bradley, Sott net, January 07 2018:… The FBI report named the organization’s HQ as Rue des Gords 17, Auvers-sur-Oise, on the northwest outskirts of Paris, France. Among the interesting tidbits they unearthed was that all calls to the MEK’s office at the National Press Club in Washington, DC were forwarded to the Falls Church address and that the organization’s official newspaper (the Mojahed Weekly) …
MEK Terrorist Death Cult: Meet Washington’s ‘Iranian Opposition’ (aka MKO, NCRI, Maryam Rajavi cult …)
Pro-government demonstrators march in Iran’s holy city of Qom on January 3, 2018
As hundreds of thousands of Iranians take to the streets in support of their government and against recent violent demonstrations in the country, the chief commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) reports that the rioting seen in several Iranian cities over the last week is now under control. Claiming that “the Iranian nation has been targeted due to its resistance against the US and its lackeys and for its support for oppressed nations worldwide,” Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari also reported that “a large number of the arrested trouble-makers at the center of the sedition had received training from counter-revolutionaries and the terrorist Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization[MKO/MEK – People’s Mujahedin of Iran, aka National Council of Resistance of Iran].”
When President Rouhani spoke with French President Macron yesterday, he urged France to stop hosting the MEK, which has been based in Paris since its leaders fled Iran after the 1979 revolution. Macron didn’t acknowledge his country’s support for the MEK, but he did call on the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel to cool their aggressive rhetoric. Much as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights spoon-feeds Western media with fake intel about what is going on there, and just as Turkey has to worry about the US-based fifth columnist Gulen network, Iran has to contend with a dodgy expatriate organization that Hillary Clinton got de-listed from the US List of Terror Organizations in 2012.
Undeterred by the sheer fantasy that a ‘democratic revolution’ could occur in a country that holds regular elections, it’s all-systems go for the US media in its effort to ‘catapult the propaganda’ against the Iranian ‘Islamic regime’. Fox News yesterday gave a platform toAlireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the Washington office of the MEK, in which he urged the Trump government to impose crippling sanctions (additional, presumably, to the existing ones) and to recognize his organization as the new government of Iran.
The heroic story of a righteous underdog fighting for noble ideals against a tyrannical regime has galvanized the US polity – right andleft, including some among the ostensibly anti-globalist ‘alt-media’ – to proclaim their impassioned support for ‘the Iranian opposition’, whom they portray as democratic white knights against the theocratic despots ruling Iran. But a closer look at the ‘better option’ certain Westerners have deigned the ‘saviors’ of Iran reveals quite a different tale.
Protesters around Shahyad Tower (later Azadi Tower), Tehran, 1979
What is the MEK?
The MEK has an unusual and bloody history. Like all revolutionary movements, it began with noble intentions to free a people from the yoke of imperialism, but underwent a series of metamorphoses. Today it is dominated by the cult of personality surrounding its leaders, Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, who have overseen its transition from an anti-Zionist, anti-imperialist, pseudo-Islamic, Marxist revolutionary movement to a bizarre terrorist suicide cult whose members believe its leaders are the divine rulers-of-Iran-in-waiting, a belief its leaders have successfully inculcated in Western policy-making circles. (Massoud Rajavi may in fact no longer be alive, but his wife still publicly leads the organization.)
The MEK partnered with Ayatollah Khomeini to overthrow the Shah but fell out of favour with the Iranian clergy when the dust settled in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Khomeini blocked MEK leaders from running in the first post-revolution presidential elections. The MEK responded by staging anti-Khomeini demonstrations, which provoked a violent backlash from the new government and ignited a vicious cycle of attacks and reprisal that led to the imprisonment, torture and death of thousands of Iranians in the early 1980s, predominantly anyone of left-leaning persuasion.
A fanatical MEK devotee at Camp Ashraf
All told, some 10,000 Iranians have been killed by the MEK in its war against the Mullahs. Among their high-profile victims in devastating bombings were top Iranian officials, including President Rajai and Premier Mohammad Javad Bahonar in 1981. A number of MEK leaders were arrested and executed. Rajavi and his supporters then fled into exile in France. While reconstituting the organization in Paris, Massoud Rajavi decided that he needed a partner to run things jointly with him. The story goes that Mayriam Rajavi became his wife when a deputy within the organization ‘voluntarily’ divorced her so that she could marry Massoud.
This bizarre move was echoed a series of extreme measures that transformed the organization into the cult it has become today. All married couples were told they must divorce. Their children were sent into foster care with MEK members in cells abroad. The sexes were physically kept apart, both in Iraq and in France, including all the children from birth. Eye contact between the sexes was forbidden. Daily and weekly sessions were organized at which members would confess their most intimate thoughts, including their feelings towards other members. All emotions were to be channelled towards adoration of their leaders, the Rajavis, and “the revolutionary struggle to free Iran.” Basically, Scientology for Muslims.
The MEK is vilified by most in Iran because of its collaboration with Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, which cost Iran about 1 million deaths. Iranian officials refer to the movement as Munafiqeen, ‘hypocrites’, a pun on Mujahideen. The MEK has been positioning itself as the Opposition to the Iranian government, and Maryam Rajavi likes being referred to as The President of Iran. Yet even the Green Movement (an Iranian ‘color revolution’ outfit), which amassed significant support in Iran in the run-up to the 2009 presidential elections (albeit with the dubious support of Western intelligence agencies), has distanced itself from the cult. Zahra Rahnavard, wife of reformist presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi, has stated categorically that “Mr. Mousavi, Mr. Khatami, Mr. Karroubi and all of us within the Green Movement do not consider the MEK a part of the Green Movement.”
Massoud Rajavi and Saddam Hussein (inset)
By the late 1980s, the Rajavis had amassed a heavily-armed force, some 14,000 strong, which conducted raids into Iran. Towards the end of the Iran-Iraq War, on 26 July 1988, six days after Ayatollah Khomeini announced his acceptance of a UN-brokered ceasefire resolution, Massoud Rajavi ordered his forces to cross the border on a suicide mission they called Operation Eternal Light. Their convoy of tanks got as far as the Iranian town of Islamabad-e Gharb, which they razed to the ground, before being beaten back to Iraq by overwhelming Iranian firepower. The MEK’s last major offensive was conducted against Iraqi Kurds in 1991, when it joined Saddam Hussein’s brutal repression of the Kurdish rebellion. Maryam Rajavi reportedly told her loyal subjects to, “Take the Kurds under your tanks, and save your bullets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.”
With Saddam Hussein falling out of favor with the West in the First Gulf War, the Rajavis reconfigured their organization. They began to present a more benign image to the West, focusing their energy on the dissemination of propaganda and lobbying Western officials. At the same time, their military wing carried out violent attacks against Iranian targets in the West, the most spectacular of which was a wave of coordinated attacks on 5 April 1992 when MEK true-believers stormed Iranian diplomatic missions, took hostages and heavily vandalized premises in New York City, Canada, Germany, France, Britain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Australia.
Shortly after the US State Department placed MEK on its list of terrorist organizations in 1997, an illuminating report appeared in The Iran Brief, a private monthly publication read in Washington circles. The report describes some of the findings of Operation Suture, an FBI investigation of MEK activities in the US, which found that the organization had set up hundreds of front companies in the US through which it, among other things, was actively buying political favors.
Maryam Rajavi with Rudolf Giuliani, who has said on numerous occasions:”The MEK is the only way to stop Iran.”
That US Congressmen were taking bribes isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but taking campaign contributions in cash from an officially-recognized terrorist organization that was extremely cosy with, and funded by, Saddam Hussein at a time when US media was painting Saddam as ‘The New Hitler’ is pretty extraordinary. Congressmen were apparently taken in by the Rajavis’ slick efforts to distance their bloody war against Iran from their ‘new-found mission’ to raise awareness of human rights violations in Iran. But not everyone was fooled.
According to an August 2002 FBI report sent to Francis Taylor, Coordinator for Counter-terrorism at the US State Dept, the FBI executed a warrant to search the premises of MEK’s converted offices in Falls Church, Virginia, 5 miles from the CIA’s Langley HQ. The FBI was investigating how the various fronts (MEK, PMOI, MKO, NLA, NCRI, etc) all linked together. The FBI report named the organization’s HQ as Rue des Gords 17, Auvers-sur-Oise, on the northwest outskirts of Paris, France. Among the interesting tidbits they unearthed was that all calls to the MEK’s office at the National Press Club in Washington, DC were forwarded to the Falls Church address and that the organization’s official newspaper (the Mojahed Weekly) was prepared there. The FBI also seized publications containing details of NLA military activities, training manuals, operations maps and signed blank cheques used to pay their representatives’ expenses and fund their activities. Contrary to what the MEK leadership was telling its gullible recruits and Washington dignitaries, the FBI concluded unequivocally that “the NRCI operates as an alias of the PMOI/MEK, despite whatever claims these entities make publicly that may fool outsiders and even some of those inside the entities.”
This mattered to the FBI because, 5 years previously, in 1997, despite having bribed then Vice-President Al Gore while he was on the campaign trail with the Clintons back in 1992, the MEK was officially listed as an ‘FTO’ (Foreign Terrorist Organization) by the US State Department because it had assassinated three US military officers and three defence contractors in Iran in the 1970s, was suspected of numerous other assassination attempts on American citizens and was attacking Iranian targets in the US and Europe. This prompted the FBI in 2004 to launch a criminal investigation (Operation Eastern Approach) into MEK activities in the US.
MEK training at Camp Ashraf in Iraq
Through wiretaps, the FBI’s LA offices discovered that the MEK was planning bombing attacks from their Paris headquarters and that its fundraising activity had actually increased since being outlawed in 1997. Money coerced from wealthy Iranian expatriates in the US and through drug trafficking into the US was being “transferred overseas through a complex international money laundering operation that uses accounts in Turkey, France, Belgium, Germany, Norway, Jordan and the UAE.” Although just one MEK affiliate was sentenced in the case of US v. Tabatabai, hundreds of MEK members were arrested or questioned by the FBI in joint operations with German and French intelligence. The FBI concluded that “this organization [MEK] routinely lobbies unwitting members of Congress under the pretext of human rights issues in Iran.”
The FBI further found that the organization was procuring equipment and false passports throughout the US and Europe for fellow members to commit acts of terrorism in Iran. The organization designates military-style ranks to members based on their loyalty, uses complex communication methods designed to hide their traces and operates very much as elements of the US intelligence community claim Hezbollah does, with cells within cells and the resources to get things done. But unlike the substantially contrived ‘al Qaeda’ or ‘ISIS’ networks – which are largely entrapment schemes whereby the FBI infiltrates groups of unemployed Muslims, pays them large sums of money, gives them bomb-making equipment, then entraps them by suggesting they blow up public landmarks – the MEK terrorist network is real.
The MEK’s Parisian camp is essentially a series of buildings knocked into one complex, which is heavily guarded with armed security checkpoints. This is ostensibly to protect its members from ‘the Iranian threat’, but one suspects that it is in fact required to keep cult members from escaping. In an interview Massoud Rajavi gave to Corriere della Sera in 2002, the journalist described the level of security he witnessed there:
His [Rajavi’s] dwelling in Auver-sur-Oise, in the Parisian suburbs, is much like a fortress. There is a high wall keeping it concealed from suspicious eyes. There are high voltage barbed wires around as well as searchlights on the walls illuminating the surroundings. The road to Massoud Rajavi’s villa (leadership centre) is controlled by two French check-points equipped with machine guns. The only entrance to the villa is guarded by Mojahedin forces themselves.
The raid of the MEK’s Paris compound in 2003, which prompted acts of self-immolation by some of its members.
In June 2003, when a French court ruled that the MEK and its numerous front groups constituted a terrorist organization, French anti-terrorist police raidedvarious MEK offices in and around Paris, including its garrison at Auvers-sur-Oise, arresting 160 of its members and confiscating millions of euros. Nicolas Sarkozy, Interior Minister at the time, expressed concern that the MEK “wanted to make France its support base, notably after the intervention in Iraq,” while Pierre de Bousquet de Florian, head of France’s domestic intelligence service, warned that the group was “transforming its Val d’Oise centre into an international terrorist base.” (Their concerns were of course disingenuous given that this had already been the case for over a decade, but they speak to the mixed feelings of Western leaders about sheltering such a dangerous organization.)
MEK cells across North America and Europe whirled into action, busing their devotees to coordinated protests. 40 cult members went on hunger strike. Assisted by fellow devotees, another 16 set themselves on fire, two of them fatally. Maryam Rajavi and the rest of the French MEK leadership were immediately released. Whatever was said to French president Jacques Chirac, he backed down immediately. The MEK has since been left alone by successive French governments.
How the Myth of Iran’s Nukes Began
You get an idea of how instrumental the MEK is when you see its role in propagating Western narratives about Iran. Three months prior to the French court ruling and police raids, in March 2003, the US launched Operation Iraqi Freedom. While Bush was prancing around the USS Lincoln in a codpiece declaring ‘Mission Accomplished’ in Iraq, something very interesting was taking place in the background, something which was only revealed four years later in 2007, on a BBC Newsnight program. Let’s call it ‘the original Iran deal’.
Realizing that it was in its interest to prevent Iraq from sliding into all-out civil war, the Iranian government sent a letter to the White House offering the following:
- Iran would use its influence to support stabilization in Iraq
- Iran would open its civilian nuclear energy program to full international inspections
- Iran would end its support of Hamas and Hezbollah
In return, Iran requested the following:
- A halt to US hostile behavior
- Abolition of all economic sanctions
- Most specifically, the pursuit of the MEK leadership and the repatriation of their members
Then US Vice-President Dick Cheney turned down the offer.
It was all there; Iran was prepared to cooperate with the US in Iraq, cooperate with Israel and the US in Palestine, Syria and Lebanon, and allow full transparency of its nuclear program… if only the US would desist from harboring MEK terrorists. The US State Department apparently wanted to pursue it, but certain Neocons torpedoed the deal.
Mohammad Mohaddessin, now Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the NCRI (MEK), presenting ‘intelligence’ on Iran at one of hundreds of press conferences he has held in Brussels and Washington, DC.
Just think of the ramifications of this US refusal to accept what amounted to an extraordinary olive branch. America’s ‘mission accomplished’ devolved into a decade-long slaughterfest that spawned ISIS. The Israeli invasion of Lebanon would never have happened because Hezbollah would have been finished as a fighting force. And Operation Cast Leadwould never have happened because Hamas would never have come to power in Gaza.
Then again, we cannot forget just how profitable war is for warmongers, how much Israel needs to be surrounded by hostile foes, and the lengths Saudi Arabia is willing to go to hold its undeserved position in the Middle East by sabotaging peaceable Iranian economic development.
But what is really twisted here is that the three specific offers made by Iran in 2003 later became the very same conditions the US said Iran must meet if it was to avoid increased sanctions and the threat of airstrikes on its nuclear installations by the US and allies, followed by certain all-out war.
So why didn’t the Iranians and Americans just revisit the original offer and shake on it?
Because since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, the duplicitous MEK has been busy selling the world the Iranian equivalent of the Big WMD Lie. It was the MEK who told the Bush White House that Iran was secretly building nuclear weapons. In fact, at least 20 “startling revelations about Iran’s nuclear weapons program” all came from the MEK. That’s right, the incessant barrage of propaganda about Iran’s intentions vis a vis its nuclear program stems from false information provided to US administrations by a nutty personality cult that lobbies every US administration – Trump’s is just the latest – to overthrow the Iranian government on its behalf.
Our Kind of Terrorists
Former MEK member Anne Singleton has reported that when it became obvious to Massoud Rajavi that Saddam was history, he reached out to the Americans and promised full cooperation in exchange for protection. In April 2003, the US publicly announced that it had brokered an agreement with the Rajavis whereby the MEK switched allegiances from Saddam Hussein to the US government.
The US State Department apparently understood that cooperation with the MEK was bad news and wanted to dismantle its camps, but the Pentagon wanted to keep them operational because the CIA realized they would be useful as leverage over Iran. This schism was apparent in a 2007 Sunday Telegraph article which reported that “a faction in the US Defense Department wants to unleash the MEK.” This “faction” has kept the MEK alive since Saddam was removed from power. When a $400 million budget was passed by the US Congress in 2007 to orchestrate regime change in Iran, the “faction” made sure the MEK was the largest recipient of funds.
Seymour Hersh wrote in the New Yorker in 2012 that from 2005 to 2008 US Joint Special Operations Command conducted training for cult members of this then-designated FTO at a ‘counterintelligence training facility’ in the desert north of Las Vegas. Hersh’s source told him the purpose of disrupting Iran’s nuclear energy program was not to “take out Einsteins” but to “affect Iranian psychology and morale” by “demoralizing the whole system.” This extended to attacking oil and gas pipelines, oil refineries, transport infrastructure and targeting civilians through indiscriminate bombings. The operations were “primarily being done by MEK through liaison with the Israelis.” Even the Israeli Stuxnet virus which crippled Iranian IT systems was delivered by an MEK agent.
Now we can begin to understand how this relatively small player came to be the organization that broke the news that Iran had been ‘secretly hiding’ uranium enrichment facilities from the IAEA for two decades. Capitalizing on the issue of Iran’s purported nuclear weapons, the MEK network focused on telling the Necocon chicken-hawks in Washington exactly what the Israelis wanted them to hear. Taking outward form as either the NCRI or the PMOI, the cult has been freely holding press conferences at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, in London, New York, Paris and Brussels, where they cite their ‘unnamed sources’ (probably Mossad) and dish out the latest ‘intelligence’ on Iran.
Post-war Iraqi governments repeatedly stressed that they wanted the cult out of the country as soon as possible. Families of its remaining 3,000 or so brainwashed members in Iraq held daily vigils at the gates of the sprawling Camp Ashraf desert complex until their eventual removal from Iraq in 2016, when Reuters reported that the last batch of 280 MEK terrorists were relocated to Albania, in a move brokered by the US via the UN Refugee Agency. Another 2,000 or so had previously been disbursed to a dozen unnamed countries in the EU.
In August last year, a delegation of senior US Senators met with Maryam Rajavi and other MEK leaders in Tirana, Albania. What could they possibly have been planning?
Senior US Senators meet with MEK leadership in Tirana, Albania, August 16th, 2017
MEK presents an interesting case study in how proxy forces – mercenaries, effectively – can be moved around on the global chessboard. In May 2013 Le Figaro reported that two members of the organization were found dead in Idlib, Syria, citing a “European parliamentarian in contact with the anti-government rebels.” In August that year, Qassem Al-Araji, a member of the Security Commission in the Iraqi Parliament, confirmed that MEK was engaged in the war to unseat Assad in Syria. While generally careful to adjust their propaganda to suit Western narratives, The Nation reported that when ISIS took Mosul in 2015, “one MEK website gave a triumphalist account of the conquest, referring to ISIS as ‘revolutionary forces.”
Snake in a suit: Maryam Rajavi speaking about the evils of the Iranian government at yet another conference in which she is flanked on either side by high-level paid advocates and her every word cheered by adoring cult followers.
Maryam Rajavi has become the public face of the organization in the West, where for over a decade she has been hosting marathon conferences in Washington, Paris, Brussels and elsewhere. The MEK’s initial aim was to get itself ‘de-listed’ from the US terror list – which Hillary Clinton did for them in 2012. But now it is seeking nothing less than its triumphal return to Tehran as the new regime. Former CIA Director Porter Goss, while bemoaning the MEK’s predicament at a high-level conference in Paris in 2012, told a large crowd of flag-waving MEK supporters that “once we get through the Republican primaries, I think it’s a certainty that this issue [the MEK] will become a front and center issue because it symbolises all of the values that we want to address in this election on national security and human rights.”
Others who gave rousing speeches on the MEK’s behalf at that Paris conference in 2012 included former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani; François Colcombet, a senior French judge and founder of the French Committee for a Democratic Iran; Philippe Douste-Blazy, UN Deputy Secretary-General and former French Foreign Minister; US General Hugh Shelton, former chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff; Judge Michael Mukasey, former US Attorney General; Ingrid Betancourt, Columbian presidential candidate; Yves Bonnet, former head of French Counter-terrorism; John Sano, former CIA National Clandestine Service’s Deputy Director; General David Phillips, former Commander of US Military Police; Geir Haarde, former Icelandic Prime Minister; Aiham Samarrae, former Iraqi cabinet minister; Carlo Ciccioli, member of Italian parliament; Lord Ken Maginnis, member of UK House of Lords; André Glucksmann, member of New France Philosophers; and William Bourdon, a prominent French jurist.
That’s the list of speakers I found at just one conference; there have been many other rallies and conferences, year after year, countless videos of which are posted on YouTube. Unsurprisingly, the MEK has been paying each of these speakers huge speaking fees, with the money apparently coming through Saudi Arabia and Israel.
If the MEK represents the ‘democratic opposition’ the US and Israel would like to see take power in Iran, and assuming this organization and its powerful patrons are indeed currently involved in capitalizing on dissent within the country, then you will forgive me for not cheering on the demise of yet another Middle Eastern government in the face of deranged fanatics who would do literally anything to attain power.
Niall Bradley has a background in political science and media consulting, and has been an editor and contributing writer at SOTT.net for 8 years. His articles are cross-posted on his personal blog, NiallBradley.net. Niall is co-host of the ‘Behind the Headlines’ radio show on the Sott Radio Network and co-authored Manufactured Terror: The Boston Marathon Bombings, Sandy Hook, Aurora Shooting and Other False-Flag Terror Attacks with Joe Quinn.
Protests in Iran were also manipulated by Mojahedin Khalq (MEK, MKO, Rajavi cult) in Albania
Olsi Jazexhi, Fox Web, Tirana, Albania, January 04 2018:… Many of the protesters, people associated with the Mojahedin Khalq (MEK, MKO) who are based in Albania, have used violence in the past, killing hundreds of guard workers or ordinary citizens. With the establishment of ISIS, the Iranian government intervened to support Iraq and Syria against ISIS. Iran, Russia and Turkey have become a …
Link to the source
(Translated by Iran Interlink)
Olsi Jazexhi at Fax News: Protests in Iran were also manipulated by Mojahedin Khalq (MEK, MKO, Rajavi cult) in Albania
Fax News invited Dr Olsi Jazexhi, an academic and historian, to comment on the recent protests in Iran. He said the protests were manipulated by foreign agents.
He also emphasized the fact that the protests started for economic reasons, but were later manipulated by being converted into political protests.
“Foreign-controlled protesters manipulated the protests by turning them into violent protests. The problem is that the governments in the US and Israel were able to take advantage of these protests. Today, there were protests against the government, announcing the end of violence against the institutions.
The protests have been taken hostage and officials from the Iranian government accuse them of being infiltrated by foreigners. They are students belonging to terrorist organizations.
Iran has a strong embargo on restricting economic exchanges. Traders are free and this freedom has led to abuses, causing consumer goods to become more expensive for many citizens. Social assistance benefits have been limited and the price of fuel has been raised. These are among the measures that have caused dissatisfaction. The protests in 2009 were due to elections which was another movement.
Today, the situation is worse economically as sanctions continue against Iran. The president was elected promising the country’s liberalization. The Americans did not keep their promises. Most of them condemned the protests when economic protests became politicized and turned violent. Many of the protesters, people associated with the Mojahedin Khalq (MEK, MKO) who are based in Albania, have used violence in the past, killing hundreds of guard workers or ordinary citizens.
With the establishment of ISIS, the Iranian government intervened to support Iraq and Syria against ISIS.
Iran, Russia and Turkey have become a common force and struggle to maintain stability. This fact raises concerns for the Americans and Israel, who are trying to promote conflicts. There has been a manipulation of economic protest and convention in a political protest”, said Jazexhi. (M.Q / Faxweb)
Olsi Jazexhi në Fax News: Protestat në Iran u manipuluan edhe nga muxhahedinët në Shqipëri
Olsi Jazexhi, studiues dhe historian i ftuar në Fax News për të komentuar mbi protestat e fundit të ndodhura në Iran është shprehur se protestat janë manipuluar nga agjentë të jashtëm.
Ai gjithashtu theksoi faktin se protestat janë nisur për arsye ekonomike , por me vonë janë manipuluar duke u konvertuar në protestë politike.
“Protestuesit të kontrolluar nga jashtë, manipuluan protestat duke i kthyer në protesta të dhunshme. Problem është që qeveritë përëndimore më në krye SHBA dhe Izraelin u mudnuan ta rrëmbejnë këtë protestë. Sot pati protesta pro qeverisë, duke njoftuar që ka marrë fund dhuna kundër institucioneve
Protestat janë marrë peng dhe zyrtarë nga qeveria iraniane akuzojnë për të infiltruar të huaj. Janë studentë dhe që u përkasin organiztave terroriste.
Irani ka embargo të fortë për shkëmbimin ekonomike. Tregtarët janë të lirë dhe kjo liri ka çuar në abuzime duke shkatuar që për shumë qytetarë mallrat e konsumit të shtrenjtohen. Janë kufizuar benefitet e asistencave sociale dhe është ngritur çmimi i naftës, janë këto masa që kanë shkatuar pakënaqësi. Në 2009 ndodhën për shkak të zgjedhjeve, ishte tjetër lëvizjë.
Sot situata është më e rënduar ekonomikisht, embargoja vazhdion kundër Iranit. Presidenti u zgjodh duke premtuar liberalizimin e vendit. Amerikanët nuk i mbajtën premtimet e tyre. Shumica e tyre i dënoncuan protestat, kur protestat ekonomike u politiziuan e u kthyen të dhunshme. Shumë nga protestuesit, njerëz të lidhur me muxhahedinët që janë dhe në Shqipëri, kanë përdorur dhunë duke vrarë qindra punojnës të gardës apo qytetarë të thjeshtë.
Me krijimin e ISIS qeveria Iraniane ndërhyri duke mbështetur Irakun dhe Sirinë kundër ISIS
Irani Rusia dhe Turqi janë bërë një fuqi e përbashkët dhe luftojnë për të ruajtur stabilitetin ky fakt shqetëson Amerikanët dhe Izraelin, që mundohen të nxisin konflikte. Është bërë një manipulim i protestës ekonomike dhe konevertimi në protestë politike.”shprehet ai. (M.Q/Faxweb)
Double standards in Albania’s fight against terrorism
Olsi Jazexhi, Daily Sabah, November 15 2017:… What Rajavi and MEK does in Albania is exactly what many Salafists were doing in 2013 and 2014. The Salafists were calling for the violent overthrow of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and replacing his regime with their caliphate. Imam Genci Balla, one of the Salafist imams who was calling for the fight against Syria in 2013 has been jailed by the Court of Serious Crimes and condemned to 17 years in prison …
Double standards in Albania’s fight against terrorism
On Nov. 7, Albania’s High Criminal Court changed the sentences of two Muslim Albanians from prison to house arrest. The detainees, Xhezair Fishti and Medat Hasani, who are Salafists, were arrested in November 2016 by Albanian counter-terrorism units on suspicion of planning an attack on the Israeli national football team, which was scheduled to play Albania on Nov. 12, 2016.
These Salafists were two of some 150 Muslims who the Albanian police detained that month. Albanian authorities, who generally regard Muslims with suspicion, conducted mass arrests and closed the borders with Kosovo and Macedonia. They did this so that Muslim Albanian fans could not attend the football match between Albania and Israel and shout anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian slogans.
However, out of the 150 people who were detained, four were singled out as terrorist suspects and accused of plotting to attack the Israeli team. This counterterrorism operation was coordinated along with the Kosovar police, which, for its part, arrested another 19 Muslims with the same excuse. Now a year later, Albania’s High Criminal Court has not been able to find any incriminating evidence for the arrests and therefore was forced to free them from jail and instead hold them under house arrest.
It seems that the detention by the Albanian authorities of four Muslim Albanians in 2016 was made based on false Israeli media claims, since now, a year later, no charge has been proven against the detainees.
Since 2014, the government of Albania has been very aggressive in arresting Sunni Muslims and surveilling their mosques and civil society organizations as part of its policies for “fighting terrorism”. Pressured by the American administration and U.S. Embassy in Tirana, the Albanian government has changed many of its laws, arrested and jailed dozens of Muslims and imams who “sympathize” with Daesh, confiscated properties belonging to terrorist suspects and with the help of the U.S. administration has put pressure on Muslims in Albania to cooperate and spy on other Muslims and imams who are seen as “potential terrorist supporters”. In its fight against terrorism, the Albanian government has been helped a lot by Turkey, which has extradited Daesh suspects to Albania when the government asked for their extradition.
However, while the Albanian government has been more than zealous in appeasing the Americans during their fight against terrorism and cracking down on Daesh sympathizers, it has not shown the same zeal for fighting other terrorist organizations that presently operate or have members hiding in the country.
Two foreign governments have accused Albania of hosting members of two terrorist organizations in the country. The first is Turkey, which has asked Albania to detain Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) members and close their organizations in the country. The second is Iran, which has asked Albania to not host and at least to curb the activities of the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an Iranian terrorist organization that advocates the violent overthrow of the current government of Iran.
FETÖ and the MEK are terrorist groups as much as Daesh is. These terrorist organizations seek to overthrow the governments of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran by means of violence and terrorism. Albanian Criminal Code Articles 231 and 265 condemn the participation, incitement, recruitment, organizing, leading and training in terrorism and calls for the overthrow of regimes in other countries. Daesh, FETÖ and the MEK do or have done these things during the past years against many governments in the Muslim world. However, while the governments of Turkey and Iran have demanded that Albania help them in their fight against terrorism, Albanian authorities have continuously failed to stick to their laws and fight terrorism impartially and without bias.
Even though the Turkish Embassy in Tirana and many Turkish authorities have continuously asked the Albanian government to crack down on FETÖ and detain terrorists who abetted the coup of July 15, 2016, Albanian authorities have neglected their duties. The latest example of this double standard was on Oct. 7, 2017, when Albanian border police detained Muhammed Aydoğmuş, a FETÖ suspect whom Turkey had placed on Interpol’s wanted list. Aydoğmuş, who was detained while trying to exit Albania with falsified documents after being found to be a FETÖ member, was released and not detained as both Albanian and Turkish law demands.
Apart from his crimes in Turkey, Aydoğmuş had committed two crimes according to Albanian Penal Code Articles 189 and 297, which carry a jail sentence from three to seven years for people who falsify documents and try to illegally cross the border. However, Aydoğmuş got special treatment from Albanian authorities. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and a number of Western officials asked Albania to release the FETÖ suspect with the excuse that his arrest was political. The Albanian government and its courts have so far refused requests by the Turkish Embassy in Tirana for his extradition and he is not even being held in detention for his crimes in Albania, as any other person might be.The double standards that Albania displays in its fight against terrorism can be seen even in the case of MEK that Albania hosted on the request of the U.S. after 2013. This organization, which was relocated in its entirety from Iraq to Albania in 2016, now has several camps in Tirana. They run different operations against Iran from these camps and the leader, Maryam Rajavi, and the commanders continuously call for the violent overthrow of the government of Iran. Prominent U.S. senators and officials, including John McCain and John Bolton, have visited Albania over the past months and together with Rajavi and a number of Albanian politicians such as Pandeli Majko and Fatmir Mediu have called for war against Iran.
What Rajavi and MEK does in Albania is exactly what many Salafists were doing in 2013 and 2014. The Salafists were calling for the violent overthrow of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and replacing his regime with their caliphate. Imam Genci Balla, one of the Salafist imams who was calling for the fight against Syria in 2013 has been jailed by the Court of Serious Crimes and condemned to 17 years in prison. He was arrested in 2014 and charged under Articles 231 and 265 of the Albanian Criminal Code. He and many of his friends were charged with inciting terrorism and for calls to take part in military action in a foreign country.
Many Salafist Muslims who followed Balla ask in their Facebook postings why their imam is in jail but the Iranian MEK, which makes the same calls as Balla did in the past, are never charged, but instead honored by American and Albanian politicians. Other people ask why Albania does not extradite FETÖ suspects to Turkey in the same way that Turkey extradited Daesh suspects to Albania in 2013.
The release of Aydoğmuş, who was caught breaking the law, and the detention on false charges of Fishti and Hasani by Albanian authorities shows that Albania has different standards in its fight against terrorism. If one happens to be an Albanian Salafist Muslim, the chances are that they can very easily be jailed on false charges and mere suspicion of being a terrorist, but if one is a FETÖ or the MEK member and are caught breaking the law or even making open calls for a terrorist war against Turkey or Iran, the Albanian precedent shows that they will not face justice for terrorist-related activities. It seems that for as long as U.S. foreign policy is hostile to the country in which one wants to wage their terrorism, Albania will obey and not punish them if they engage in terrorist activities.
Anne Khodabandeh (Singleton) exposing Maryam Rajavi’s MEK activities in Albania
Ne dokumentarin me poshte al Jazeera tregon historine e terrorit te muxhahedineve iraniane. Menyrat e manipulimit dhe rekrutimit qe ata i kane bere qytetareve iraniane, masakrat kunder kurdeve dhe abuzimin me anetaret e tyre. Kjo eshte organizata qe Shqiperia strehon qe prej vitit 2013. Emisioni Kulti i Kameleonit eshte prodhuar ne vitin 2007.
IMPAKT 97: Jihad 2.0? What are the Iranian Jihadis (MKO, Rajavi cult) doing in Albania? (part 1)
IMPAKT 97: Jihad 2.0? What are the Iranian Jihadis (MKO, Rajavi cult) doing in Albania? (part 2)
Does Albania have an America problem?
Belen Fernandez, Middle East Eye, August 22 2017:… German citizen Khaled el-Masri, was flown to Albania when the CIA apparently didn’t know what else to do with him after having wrongfully abducted him from Macedonia to Afghanistan. el-Masri was “sodomised” and otherwise subjected to “torture” by CIA agents, according to a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. Albania has also been referred to as a “dumping ground” for victims …
Does Albania have an America problem?
A willing rendition partner, a ‘dumping ground’ for Guantanamo Bay detainees, and now sending troops to fight IS in Iraq… What won’t Albania do for the US?
Among the more eccentric features of the Albanian landscape these days are an estimated 700,000 concrete bunkers scattered throughout the country’s farms, mountains, beaches, and city centres – an enduring testament to Albania’s Cold War history of self-imposed isolation under Stalinist ruler Enver Hoxha, who in addition to detecting ubiquitous enemies also banned religion and private cars.
After the fall of communism in the early 90s, certain of Albania’s international enemies were quickly rehabilitated – hence the current existence of a George W Bush Street in the capital of Tirana, a George W Bush statue in the village of Fushe-Kruje, and a (perhaps prematurely erected) Hillary Clinton statue in Sarande.
In his book Modern Albania: From Dictatorship to Democracy in Europe, Fred Abrahams, a special adviser at Human Rights Watch, describes the scene awaiting the convoy of visiting US Secretary of State James Baker in 1991: “[A]n ecstatic mob engulfed the cars, hoping to glimpse the guest from the West. Men threw flowers, kissed the windshields, and tried to carry Baker’s limousine into town.”
Similar enthusiasm was on display for the visit to the Muslim-majority nation of the aforementioned Bush in 2007, when, as Abrahams notes, the Albanian post office also “issued a set of commemorative stamps”.
I myself can safely report that Albania is the only country out of the 60-plus I have visited where my admission to being American has elicited the word “fantastic” in response. During my stay this summer in a small coastal town in south Albania, a town resident found it necessary to set off 4 July fireworks.
Of course, the US has got more than just a stamp collection out of the arrangement. International affection is, after all, meaningless unless it can be exploited for politico-economic gain.
Quid pro quo
For starters, as part of its newfound 90s alliance, the Albanian government not only demonstrated considerable hospitality vis-a-vis US drones before the era of drone obsession had even commenced but also participated in US extraordinary rendition schemes before renditions were really A Thing.
Of course, rendition became even more exciting following the launch of the war on terror – a bandwagon onto which Albania leapt and rode as far as Iraq and Afghanistan.
On one occasion in 2004, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, Khaled el-Masri, was flown to Albania when the CIA apparently didn’t know what else to do with him after having wrongfully abducted him from Macedonia to Afghanistan. During his intercontinental trajectory, el-Masri was “sodomised” and otherwise subjected to “torture” by CIA agents, according to a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.
Albania has also been referred to as a “dumping ground” for victims released from America’s favourite offshore penal colony, Guantanamo Bay.
As for global combat zones more proximate to Albania, we mustn’t forget a certain military campaign of 1998-99 that later enabled Telegraph headlines like this one: “Bill Clinton unveils statue of himself in Kosovo.”
Even the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman, who had advocated the US “pulverising” Serbia back to the year 1389, backtracked months later to hint that the war chronology might not have been exactly as advertised by the US & Co: “NATO bombed, and Mr Milosevic began ruthlessly killing and evicting Kosovar Albanians.”
Among NATO’s impressive wartime feats, incidentally, was the accidental bombing of Hoxha-era bunkers inside Albania, which were apparently mistaken for Serb positions.
In his Modern Albania, Abrahams discusses Washington’s use over the years of the Balkan territory to “house spy planes, to base troops, and to exert a moderate influence on ethnic Albanians in neighbouring Kosovo and Macedonia”.
Which brings us to the perennial question of how a country that so often bombs civilians to smithereens can preach moderation. The only plausible answer, it seems, is that superpowers are immune to logic – but not, as it turns out, to blowback.
Now, in an age in which the US is conveniently both fuelling and fighting terror, a programme by the name of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) is being forced down the world’s throat as a means of distracting from the fact that much of what the US itself does is extremely violent.
Unveiled during the rule of Barack Obama, the upshot of CVE is that Muslims are susceptible to radicalisation for reasons having nothing to do either with US wars on them or with other related activities such as the annual US inundation of Israel with billions of dollars to make Palestinian life a living hell.
Albania, naturally, has not been spared the CVE epidemic; last October, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) helped stage a conference on the subject in the city of Elbasan.
The following month, Albanian police claimed to have thwarted an Islamic State (IS) attack on Israel’s national football team, in Albania for a World Cup qualifying match. The mastermind was said to be Kosovo native Lavdrim Muhaxheri, described in The Independent as “the self-proclaimed ‘commander of Albanians in Syria and Iraq’”, who was then killed this June in a US coalition air strike on Syria – an event the coalition finally confirmed in August.
Earlier this year, meanwhile, reports surfaced that Albania would be redeploying troops to Iraq to assist in the fight against IS – thereby participating in yet more global non-solutions Made in USA.
The world’s destiny
But what, in the end, is the point of examining the intersections between US foreign policy and an obscure nation generally regarded as irrelevant to world affairs?
The goal is certainly not to augment sensational coverage of the Balkans as a dangerously overlooked “hotbed” of Islamic radicalism – the terror hub on our doorstep, as it were – or to suggest that Albanian history pre-US-love-affair has no bearing on present dynamics and that everything is perfectly black and white.
Rather, the point is to draw attention to the destructive ways in which power reverberates across the earth – where, it bears emphasising, the vast majority of countries happen to be in the same boat as Albania in terms of perceived earthly irrelevance.
Recounting Bush’s 2007 descent upon Albania, Abrahams quotes the reaction of Edi Rama, then the mayor of Tirana and now the country’s prime minister: “The US is something that is really crucial for the destiny of the world.”
Unfortunately, destiny has now entailed the bestowal of honorary citizenship on none other than Donald Trump by the mayor of a town outside Tirana. Let’s just hope there’s enough space for all of us in those bunkers.
– Belen Fernandez is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work, published by Verso. She is a contributing editor at Jacobin magazine.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.
Photo: Albanians look at a statue of former US president George W Bush unveiled in downtown Fushe-Kruje (AFP)
Some related documents:
Lets create another Vietnam for America(pdf).
(Mojahedin English language paper April 1980)
Letter to Imam (Khomeini) (pdf).
(Mojahedin English Language paper April 1980)
Some questions unanswered regarding the US military invasion of Iran (pdf).
(Mojahedin English Language paper June 1980)
link to one of the Mojahedin Khalq songs
advocating terror and killing Americans
(In Persian written and distributed after the Iranian Revolution)
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
Massoud Khodabandeh, Toptopic, July 03 2016:… 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 report