Iran Interlink, August 24 2019:… This week suddenly the MEK’s websites – such as Iran Efshagar (notorious for swearing and bad language) have started attacking this man with foul language, swearing at him, his daughter, his wife and trying to silence him by defamation and swearing. MEK has filled Google (Farsi) with it. Akbarinsab replied, all very well and good, but you still haven’t answered my questions or concerns have you. Farsi commentators have also reacted. Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – August 23, 2019
Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – August 23, 2019
++ Reza Akbarinasab is an elderly man from Tabriz. He has tried for many years to contact his brother Morteza who is with the MEK, even just to have a phone conversation, but has had no success. His brother’s son died in Camp Ashraf in Iraq. The MEK claim he burned himself. Defectors say the MEK killed him and then burned his body. Morteza is unavailable for comment because he is being held incommunicado in the MEK camp in Albania. His daughter is in Germany. She has also tried without success to contact her Dad in Iraq and in Albania. Reza Akbarinsab is an effective critic of the MEK. His writing gets to the heart of the real issues concerning the MEK. In particular he points out that the MEK claim to be human rights advocates is ludicrous when what the MEK does to its own members is ten times worse than what the Islamic Republic does to its citizens. This week suddenly the MEK’s websites – such as Iran Efshagar (notorious for swearing and bad language) have started attacking this man with foul language, swearing at him, his daughter, his wife and trying to silence him by defamation and swearing. MEK has filled Google (Farsi) with it. Akbarinsab replied, all very well and good, but you still haven’t answered my questions or concerns have you. Farsi commentators have also reacted. They name people like Kazem Mostafavi, (pseudonym Hamid Assadian) or Mahvash Sepheri (pseudonym Nasrin) or Mohammad Eghbal and such like who claim to be human rights activists and rant about how bad Iran is, while themselves are on overdrive trying to silence anyone who criticises the MEK, especially by swearing at them. Some commentators compare them with those kind of low life sorts who, if challenged in the street for their bad behaviour start screaming and shouting so you’ll go away. One writer says, ‘it’s interesting that these MEK have to use pseudonyms. After the Internal Revolution, Massoud Rajavi ordered everyone to use other names. Asked why, he said: you’ll get big headed if you use your own name. Your real identity is me’. So, they use these pseudonyms which Google is happy to promote while blocking foreign minister Zarif or Press TV. But looking at it, we see that these are the words of Rajavi, not their own. This then is the identity of Rajavi – a very low class ranter.
++ The famous writer F. M. Sokhan wrote a piece in Gooya News titled ‘I’ll totally accept Maryam Rajavi’s ten-point program if…’ He says MEK lobbyists pressure me to read it and ask what’s wrong with it, why not support it? I have to answer them because they don’t leave me alone. I say to them, I totally accept the ten-point program, but it’s like getting a cheque from someone who has no credit or guarantees and is famous for not paying their money back. I would accept this cheque if they would do a few simple things to guarantee their word. Things like, allow access to members’ families, pay the members, stop swearing and intimidating critics, answer for some of those killed inside the MEK and other things. If they change direction, I will forgive them and accept the cheque.
++ This week, photos and documents surfaced in Albania showing MEK operatives following ex members in the street and taking film and photos. Some ex members say they have been threatened. MEK operatives tell them, ‘We know where you are, and we have the means and the government on our side. We will kill you. You know many have already disappeared, and you will as well.’
++ Nobody can be “comfortable” with regime change involving MEK, say Massoud and Anne Khodabandeh in an article published by Lobelog. This relates to a speech by Rudi Giuliani in Albania in July. Giuliani is one of the stalwarts of paid advocacy for the MEK and is clearly prepared to talk utter nonsense to earn his shillings. The Khodabandeh article use leaked photographs showing elderly MEK slave trolls at work in the closed camp in Albania to reveal the bitter truth behind the MEK’s glitzy image. MEK members kept as political slaves, coerced into working beyond their retirement age in conditions which any other employer would be prosecuted for under health and safety regulations. So no, no right-minded person can be “comfortable” with exploiting these people for regime change.
++ Ambassador John Limbert’s interview with Asieh Namdar for CGTN America revealed all that is missing from the Trump administration’s approach to Iran. Limbert, an experienced diplomat and fluent Farsi speaker, embodies all the qualities that would be effective in progressing a serious adult engagement with Iran (including a sense of humor). Not least, a clear understanding of the MEK’s place in the conundrum. “Well, I guess, if you liked Jonestown, and if you liked the Khmer Rouge, you would love the MEK. That’s the way I see them… The Iranians know who they are. And all this talk of democracy and secularism, they know is a smokescreen. I mean, the current, the Islamic Republic and the people ruling it, they may be brutal and inept and repressive, but perhaps they killed by the hundreds. MEK is Stalinist basically. They would kill by the millions. There’s no question about it… And the idea that these people are a viable alternative is absolutely ridiculous. Now, if it wasn’t for people like Bolton and Giuliani and others who shill for these guys, they would be just an odd footnote of history. This strange group which has transformed itself six or seven times and now is this cult like business with parts of Marxism and Islam and Feminism and Cultism and Cult of the Leader and so forth and so on, it would just be a footnote.”
++ As Reza Alghurabi points out in an article for Mehr News, very occasionally (presumably when they have nothing else of any importance to think about) the question of Massoud Rajavi’s whereabouts pops into the minds of those who have to deal with the cult. Rajavi disappeared only days before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003. He has not been seen or heard from since, except, as Alghurabi writes, for internal indoctrination purposes. “It seems that measures such as former Saudi intelligence chief Turki al-Faisal’s statements among members of the cult a few years ago in which he had called Masoud Rajavi dead or putting Masoud’s image among Iran’s deceased historical leaders, and, at the same time, denying his death by the cult’s ringleaders by occasionally broadcasting Masoud’s voice messages are the cult’s game to confuse members and even Iranian officials about the status of the group’s leader. The goals of this game are preventing the members’ exit as well as blinding Iranians’ desire to prosecute or exterminate Rajavi.” Alghurabi concludes that the MEK are so mired in notoriety and internal problems it makes no difference whether Rajavi is alive or dead.
++ The title of Anne Khodabandeh’ article in The Iranian is self-explanatory: ‘US-Backed MEK In Albania Akin To Dumping Toxic Waste Without A Decontamination Plan’. Khodabandeh writes about the various ways the MEK have interfered in the internal affairs of Albania to the great detriment of that country and to the great despair of its citizens. The Rama government, aiming to please the Trump administration, has allowed the MEK to interfere in the country’s politics, policing, security, foreign policy, media freedoms, citizens’ rights and more (including water supplies). Khodabandeh reminds us that: “The Trump administration loves the MEK solely because the group echoes regime change chants against Iran. The price for this is being paid by Albanians as American protection has allowed the MEK to continue its criminal activities in Albania with impunity. It’s time the citizens of Albania regain control of their country.”
++ Professor Tim Anderson in The Balkans Post also examines the MEK as a tool for America’s confrontation with Iran. He explains that while the MEK is not considered an effective tool against Iran, it is a destabilizing element inside Albania.
++ Mazda Parsi of Nejat Society writes a searching analysis of MEK behaviour, its western supporters and the problems this has brought to Albania. As well as the online disinformation and misdirection activities conducted from inside the MEK’s closed camp in Manez, historian Olsi Jazexhi says “The MEK has created a state within a state in Albania like Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda created in Afghanistan in the era of Mullah Omar.
“Albanian police, courts, prosecutors etc. have no power over the MEK. If any state body will ever dare to challenge what the MEK is doing – they will face the wrath of the Americans. By hosting the MEK and supporting its illegal activities the Americans have turned Albania into a kind of a European Guantanamo Bay.” Jazexhi warns about the influence of the US policy over Albanian politicians. ‘If you ask in private any Albanian politicians – including those who attend the MEK meetings with Maryam Rajavi – as to how much democratic MEK is, they will laugh’, he reveals. ‘The most enthusiastic supporters of the MEK will tell you in private “‘we know that they are terrorists. But America has told us to support them and we do it”’.”
++ San Francisco’s PipeLineNews site published a piece by Amil Imani examining ‘OIAC aka MEK Deceptive Tactics in USA’. Imani exposes the lovely sounding OIAC – all nonviolent and democratic – as a front for the MEK’s money laundering and propaganda industry. He reminds us that “A dozen diehard supporters of the Cult of Rajavi set themselves on fire to protest the arrest of Maryam. Two women were killed eventually.” Not so lovely after all. “Like her deceased husband, [Maryam Rajavi] is extremely narcissistic and an Islamist-Marxist fanatic. If she ever grabs the power in Iran, the first thing she would do is to eliminate the opposition and use the mass media to brainwash the people just as the MEK has done to their handful of followers. They will create a Stalinist dictatorship that would make both Iranians and Westerners nostalgic for the mullahs. Don’t do it!”
++ For anyone thinking that corruption of the media only happens in far off countries like Albania, Jordan Michael Smith in The Intercept brings us a sinister tale of the government paid Voice of America and its blatant role in demonising American Iranian journalists who dare to criticise the Trump administration’s line toward Iran. Since his election, VOA has become Trump’s mouthpiece. “Blatant propaganda” is how former executive editor Mohammad Manzarpour describes it. “For example, the MEK is covered heavily and favorably, despite having almost no support inside Iran, a history of terroristic violence, and a well-founded reputation as a cult. A VOA employee, who asked to speak anonymously for fear of reprisal, said, “VOA Persian, for the first time in decades, has been acting as media arm of MEK and is giving wall-to-wall live coverage of their gatherings and events.” And VOA Persian published multiple articles by Heshmat Alavi, a pro-MEK persona exposed by The Intercept this June as having been the product of a multiperson propaganda outfit housed in an MEK compound in Albania. (VOA Persian later said it would remove the articles.)”
++ Another piece by Mazda Parsi for Nejat Society looks at funding for the MEK. The usual suspect is Saudi Arabia. With an “abundance of free labor and lavish financial sponsorship”, it is not surprising that Camp Ashraf 3 was built in pretty short time in Albania.
++ As part of Iranian Oral History project, Ebrahim Khodabandeh (among other former MEK members) related his memories of events before, during and after the MEK’s failed Eternal Light operation in 1988. “Somewhere a member asked me if I have ever touched a gun. I said no. He asked if I have ever fired one. I said no. Within minutes he brought a Kalashnikov and trained me in its use, and I shot it. He said it was over. You’re trained right now! When the firing was over, I grabbed the barrel of gun, and as it was very hot, my hand burned badly and blistered. He said: ‘You’re so inexperienced that don’t know that after firing, the barrel gun is hot and can’t be touched.’ Later I found out that many people were in this situation, that is, they had quickly gathered people from outside.”
++ In an interview with Fars News Agency, Ebrahim Khodabandeh talked about the MEK’s role in serving the White House by acting in line with the Trump administration’s stances against Iran. This involves an online propaganda campaign aimed at making Iranians disappointed in their government and country. Spreading demoralizing propaganda against your own country is considered betrayal and according to Khodabandeh, this MEK betrayal originated in the White House.
++ Jonathan Harounoff in Haaretz examines the nature of MEK’s support under the Trump administration. Acknowledging that MEK is not the only opposition – Reza Pahlavi also puts on a good showing – the MEK has a great deal of support among U.S. politicians. This could be down to how the MEK projects itself. A five-day conference in Albania, attended by well-known paid speakers like Rudi Giuliani, Joe Lieberman, Stephen Harper and Matthew Offord, is how the MEK showcases its credentials as an active opposition. Such events don’t come cheap and Harounoff quotes Joanne Stocker, an editor at media outlet The Defense Post who has been investigating the MEK for a decade, who says the MEK’s money comes from Saudi Arabia and is used for propaganda – paying advocates and lobbyists. He also uncovers the use of front groups like OIAC to launder these finance streams. With this information established, Harounoff then looks behind the smokescreen to reveal the MEK’s real nature.
“A former MEK intelligence officer, Massoud Khodabandeh, tells Haaretz in an email interview that the group was no longer the highly organized and influential student-led movement of the ’70s that opposed the shah. By the ’80s, Khodabandeh says, the MEK had evolved almost unrecognizably into a violent, anti-ayatollah and pro-Saddam guerrilla organization that had no clear objectives other than pledging unwavering loyalty to the Rajavis.”
++ A piece in Canada’s National Observer by Shenaz Kermalli, asks why Canadian politicians engage with the cult-like MEK. For outside observers the MEK’s Albania event looks like a scene from The Handmaid’s Tale. But for the politicians who are paid for their attendance, the MEK clearly looks very different (a cash cow presumably). The article unwraps what Canadians already know about the MEK through years of adverse media revelations. Journalists who have covered the MEK say that politicians attending the group’s event “help create the illusion of legitimacy” and “creates the perception of influence”. Exactly, one would suppose, what the MEK is paying all that money for. As long as everyone is aware it is an illusion.
Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – August 23, 2019