John Bolton and MEK , Wars and Sanctions

John Bolton and MEK , Wars and Sanctions

John Bolton and MEK , Wars and SanctionsAljazeera and CNN, September 14 2019:…In 2015, he penned an editorial in the New York Times entitled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” He was a regular (paid) speaker at the annual meetings of Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), an Iranian exile group which for years was hosted by Saddam Hussain, and which until 2012 was on the US State Department’s terrorist list.At his most recent appearance at a MEK meeting, in 2018, Bolton declared: “The behavior and the objectives of the [Iranian] regime are not going to change and, therefore, the only solution is to change the regime itself.” John Bolton and MEK , Wars and Sanctions 

John Bolton and MEK , Wars and SanctionsWorld catching on Bolton’s warmongering

John Bolton and MEK , Wars and Sanctions

 

1- Bolton was fired after disagreeing with Trump on Iran: Report

Aljazeera, September 12 2019
Link to the source

The US president said he disagreed with Bolton, who ‘forcefully’ opposed easing of Iran sanctions, Bloomberg reports.

The sacking of John Bolton, US President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, is tied to a fundamental disagreement over the possible easing of US sanctions on Iran, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing three people familiar with the matter.

Trump announced via Twitter on Tuesday that he had fired Bolton, saying he had “strongly disagreed” with many of Bolton’s hawkish positions.

Taking aim at Bolton, Iran said the US should distance itself from “warmongers”.

Bolton offered a different version, saying he had submitted his resignation a day earlier.

While it is no secret the two men had not seen eye to eye on a number of key foreign policy issues, the timing of Bolton’s exit is more specifically linked to his pushback against Trump signalling his willingness to ease sanctions on Iran as a way to secure a meeting with President Hassan Rouhani, Bloomberg said.

Citing three anonymous people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported that Bolton had argued forcefully against the idea when it was brought up in the Oval Office on Monday.

After Steven Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, expressed his support for Trump’s idea, “Trump decided to oust Bolton” later in the day.

Bolton was a strong advocate of the US’ “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran, where he had spearheaded the US abandonment of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and the reimposition of sanctions. He has also long called for pre-emptive attacks on Tehran to destroy its nuclear programme.

Meeting Rouhani with ‘no preconditions’

According to the individuals cited by Bloomberg, the White House has begun preparations for Trump to meet Rouhani on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly during the week of September 23 in New York.

When asked after Bolton’s departure if Trump might meet Rouhani, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – who for months has rarely missed an opportunity to bash Iran – was strikingly upbeat.

“Sure,” Pompeo replied. “The president has made very clear he is prepared to meet with no preconditions.”

Yet Trump has remained ambiguous on the subject of easing sanctions on Iran, telling reporters on Wednesday: “We’ll see what happens”.

However, Rouhani has said he will only consider a meeting if the US removes sanctions, a prospect that is anathema to Bolton, who is close to the opposition People’s Mojahedin of Iran (MEK), an armed political opposition group whose members are mostly based in Albania. The MEK has in the past called for military force, further sanctions on Iran, and regime change.

However, Rouhani has said he will only consider a meeting if the US removes sanctions, a prospect that is anathema to Bolton, who is close to the opposition People’s Mojahedin of Iran (MEK), an armed political opposition group whose members are mostly based in Albania. The MEK has in the past called for military force, further sanctions on Iran, and regime change.

John Bolton Next Stop Albania 

According to Charles Kupchan, a senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations, now that Bolton is out of the picture, the chances of a military escalation in the Middle East have been reduced.

“It’s too hard to say if a meeting will happen given the question of whether it’s politically palatable for both leaders,” Bloomberg quoted Kupchan.

“But the likelihood of a meeting has gone up because one of its main detractors is now out of a job.”

‘What a disaster’

The fractious relationship between Bolton and Trump has long been demonstrated in their disagreements over international policy.

On Wednesday, Trump said Bolton had been a “disaster” on North Korea policy, “out of line” on Venezuela, and had not gotten along with important administration officials.

Trump said Bolton had made mistakes, including offending North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un by demanding that he follow a “Libyan model” and hand over all his nuclear weapons.

“We were set back very badly when John Bolton talked about the Libyan model … what a disaster,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

North Korea has denounced Bolton as a “war maniac” and “human scum.” Last year, it threatened to call off a first summit between Kim and Trump after Bolton suggested the Libya model of unilateral disarmament. In the past, Bolton had proposed using military force to overthrow the country’s ruling dynasty.

Trump’s efforts to engage with North Korea nearly fell apart altogether in February after he followed Bolton’s advice at a second summit in Hanoi and handed Kim a piece of paper that called for the transfer of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and bomb fuel to the US.

Analysts say Bolton’s removal could help US efforts to revive the talks but will not make it easier for Washington to persuade Pyongyang to give up nuclear weapons.

Washington has given no indication so far that it will soften its demand for North Korea’s ultimate denuclearisation, even though, with Bolton gone, the risky all-or-nothing gambit is unlikely to be repeated so bluntly.

“This change in personnel could carve out some space for new approaches or thinking about what defines success and how to achieve it,” said Jenny Town at 38 North, a Washington-based North Korea project.

“Whether it actually does or whether Bolton’s view was more deeply entrenched in US thinking on this matter is yet to be seen.”

2- Bolton bolts and Iran war fever suddenly drops

CNN September 12 2019
Link to the source

The price of oil fell by 2.2% just minutes after news spread that US National Security Advisor John Bolton was out of a job. In an instant, the prospect of a catastrophic war in the Middle East seemed to recede dramatically.

Bolton is famously the man who never met a war he didn’t like (except Vietnam, which he avoided). And conflict with Iran was the war he seemed to like most.
In 2015, he penned an editorial in the New York Times entitled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” He was a regular (paid) speaker at the annual meetings of Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), an Iranian exile group which for years was hosted by Saddam Hussain, and which until 2012 was on the US State Department’s terrorist list.
At his most recent appearance at a MEK meeting, in 2018, Bolton declared: “The behavior and the objectives of the [Iranian] regime are not going to change and, therefore, the only solution is to change the regime itself.”
Bolton is famously the man who never met a war he didn’t like (except Vietnam, which he avoided). And conflict with Iran was the war he seemed to like most.
In 2015, he penned an editorial in the New York Times entitled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” He was a regular (paid) speaker at the annual meetings of Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), an Iranian exile group which for years was hosted by Saddam Hussain, and which until 2012 was on the US State Department’s terrorist list.
At his most recent appearance at a MEK meeting, in 2018, Bolton declared: “The behavior and the objectives of the [Iranian] regime are not going to change and, therefore, the only solution is to change the regime itself.”
He has previously advocated for regime change in Venezuela, Iraq, North Korea, Libya and Syria, to name a few.
Bolton was, mostly via his perch at Fox News, one of the most vocal critics of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. He assumed the position of National Security Advisor in April 2018 and, a month later, the US unilaterally pulled out of the agreement.
With Bolton gone, the mantle of Iran hawk now passes to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. But, unlike Bolton, Pompeo seems to have prioritized his relationship with President Trump.
A recent profile of Pompeo in The New Yorker included a quote from a former senior White House official describing the Secretary of State as “among the most sycophantic and obsequious people around Trump.” A former US ambassador told the article’s author that Pompeo is “like a heat-seeking missile for Trump’s ass.”
The departure of Bolton may change the style of Trump’s position on Iran, but perhaps not the substance.
Washington’s policy of “maximum pressure” is designed, according to Pompeo, to change Tehran’s behavior. But going by the severity of the sanctions, they appear designed to bring Iran to its knees.
“We’ve now made Iran’s economy a shambles,” Pompeo boasted to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Sunday, describing the effect of US sanctions. “We think their economy could shrink as much as 10 or 12% in the year ahead.”
Just two days later — a few hours after Bolton’s departure — Pompeo said Trump could meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani “with no preconditions.”
With Bolton out of the way, such a meeting can now go ahead without much resistance within the Trump White House.
It’s not clear, however, what might come out of a Trump-Rouhani meeting. If we look at the example of North Korea, while the nature of the relationship between Trump and Kim Jong Un may have changed — the leaders now exchange “love letters” instead of insults — the underlying issues, such as North Korea’s nuclear program, international sanctions, and so on, remain unchanged.
Without sanctions relief, or the promise of it, the Iranians are unlikely to play like Kim.
Also mitigating against a dramatic shift in US-Iran policy is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has lobbied successive American administrations to take a harder stand on Tehran.
Trump has been more than willing to grant Netanyahu almost all his wishes. He has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the US embassy there, cold-shouldered and cut funding to the Palestinian Authority and to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, and closed down the Palestinian diplomatic mission to Washington.
After months of bellicose rhetoric on Iran, this summer Trump began to change his tune. Rather than bomb Iran, he began to toy with the idea of talking with it.
So has Trump gone cold on confronting Iran? The 2020 elections loom large and the prospect of war with Iran combined with the real possibility of an economic downturn in the US could spell disaster for the President.
Never big on loyalty, Trump dumped Bolton unceremoniously. The loudest voice for confrontation with Iran has now been banished to the wilderness, or perhaps to Fox News, from whence he came.
While it’s always dangerous to try to predict Trump’s actions, there is now a real prospect of a slight improvement in the long and unhappy relationship between the US and Iran.
Trump is not known for his deep understanding of the complexities of the Middle East, or for a thoughtful approach to the delicate affairs of state.
Nor has he ever expressed much interest or sympathy for those who live here. But perhaps by design or — more likely — by happy coincidence, by dumping Bolton, President Trump may have made war less likely.

(End)

John Bolton and MEK , Wars and Sanctions

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https://iran-interlink.org/wordpress/mek-advocate-john-bolton-fired/

MEK advocate John Bolton fired

MEK advocate John Bolton firedJason Rezaian, Washington Post, September 11 2019:… His absence also means that the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), a reviled Iranian opposition group that long lived on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist groups, no longer has a powerful ally in the White House… The MEK can claim no popular support, and among Iranians of nearly all political orientations, inside the country and in the diaspora, it was Bolton’s paid alliance with the cultlike group that made him such an odious character. With the MEK suddenly nowhere in the conversation, ordinary Iranians who would prefer to see their government negotiate its way out of the sanctions that currently have a stranglehold on the country’s economy will be more inclined than ever to support such a process with U.S. leaders. MEK advocate John Bolton fired 

MEK advocate John Bolton firedNobody Can Be “Comfortable” With Regime Change Involving MEK

MEK advocate John Bolton fired

Bolton’s departure will fundamentally alter Trump’s Iran policy

Whether national security adviser John Bolton was fired by President Trump or he quit is irrelevant. The change in foreign policy leadership will have a profound impact on how this administration’s Iran policy is shaped and implemented.

While it’s fair to call both Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hawkish on Iran, their posturing on best practices for dealing with Tehran have always differed.

Bolton favored the ever-present threat of military action against the Islamic republic and has often openly advocated for it, including the episode in June when Trump approved military strikes in response to the downing of a U.S. drone, which he abruptly aborted when he learned the projected casualties.

Bolton, though, thought the attacks should proceed as planned. For decades he has been consistent in his contempt for the leaders in Iran — and other longtime adversaries — and not shy about the need to spill innocent blood sometimes to reach what he perceived to be U.S. strategic goals.

His absence also means that the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), a reviled Iranian opposition group that long lived on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist groups, no longer has a powerful ally in the White House.

His absence also means that the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), a reviled Iranian opposition group that long lived on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist groups, no longer has a powerful ally in the White House.

The now former national security adviser and U.S. to the United Nations was one of dozens of U.S. politicians, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, to accept large speaking fees in exchange for publicly advocating the organization as a viable replacement for the Islamic republic.

The MEK can claim no popular support, and among Iranians of nearly all political orientations, inside the country and in the diaspora, it was Bolton’s paid alliance with the cultlike group that made him such an odious character.

With the MEK suddenly nowhere in the conversation, ordinary Iranians who would prefer to see their government negotiate its way out of the sanctions that currently have a stranglehold on the country’s economy will be more inclined than ever to support such a process with U.S. leaders.

And those millions of Iranians who prefer a regime change can be more confident now that the United States has no serious plans to install the hated group if the Islamic republic were ever toppled.

Either way, when it comes to Iran, the Trump administration’s hands are no longer tied by Bolton, an ideologue who views diplomacy as a weakness rather than a tool.

The shake-up creates the first real opportunity for Trump to pursue a policy of engaging Iran, which both he and Pompeo have publicly advocated for since this administration’s decision to exit the 2015 nuclear accord with the Islamic republic.

Bolton assumed duties as the national security adviser in April 2018, a month before Trump pulled out of the deal. Although Trump threatened to do so long before he took office, the timing probably pleased Bolton, as he loved to be seen as tough on Iran.

It was yet another reason Bolton’s mere presence in the administration — and at such a high level — made talks between the Trump administration and Tehran all but impossible.

Trump and Pompeo must now make a clear choice and stick with it: actively pursue a new deal with Iran’s leadership as Trump has promised to do since he was a candidate, or continue with the disingenuous charade that is their “maximum pressure” campaign, a policy that has only had the discernible effect of making the lives of average Iranians more miserable.

Trump and Pompeo have time and again put the possibility of new talks, without preconditions, on the table. Now they can prove it. Bolton’s departure, two weeks before the annual United Nations General Assembly session, puts the ball squarely in Tehran’s court.

If President Hassan Rouhani and his foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, refuse the offer to meet with their U.S. counterparts while in New York, it is they who will suddenly appear to be the unreasonable party.

The only thing that can be said for Bolton’s position on Iran was that it was clear, but he was a liability from the moment he joined this administration. The ways in which his ouster might change the direction of Trump’s Iran policy will prove it.

End

MEK advocate John Bolton fired

Link to the source

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sponsors MKO terrorists Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sponsors MKO terrorists 

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https://iran-interlink.org/wordpress/nobody-can-be-comfortable-with-regime-change-involving-mek/

Nobody Can Be “Comfortable” With Regime Change Involving MEK

Nobody Can Be “Comfortable” With Regime Change Involving MEKMassoud Khodabandeh, Lobe Log, August 23 2019:… So, when Giuliani says we should be “comfortable” with this group, right-minded people the world over can honestly and unequivocally answer, “No, we are not comfortable ignoring this harsh reality just because the MEK amplifies an anti-Iran message to the world, and no, we don’t believe the MEK have any kind of future in Iran”. Nobody Can Be “Comfortable” With Regime Change Involving MEK 

MSNBC_Massoud_KhodabandehThe MEK’s man inside the White House (Maryam Rajavi cult, Mojahedin Khalq)

Nobody Can Be “Comfortable” With Regime Change Involving MEK

By: Massoud and Anne Khodabandeh (Middle East Strategy Conslultants)

Nobody Can Be “Comfortable” With Regime Change Involving MEKLeaked photo of MEK’s Albanian headquarters

In 2017, John Bolton promised the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK)—wrongly, it turned out—that they would be celebrating in Tehran before the Iranian Revolution’s 40th anniversary in February 2019. This July, at the MEK’s five-day conference in Albania, keynote speaker Rudy Giuliani still insisted the MEK is a “government in exile” and claimed the MEK is “a group that should make us comfortable having regime change”.

For context, promoting a group which is universally despised by Iranians inside and outside the country as traitors already stretches credulity. There is no evidence that Iranians are calling for severe sanctions against themselves. Nor are they calling for regime change. The MEK’s only audience in this respect are a warmongering cabal of Americans, Saudis, Israelis, and British, who like to hear what they want to hear. The rest of the world just isn’t that comfortable with this bizarre, terrorist cult.

Lately, even Europe has distanced itself from lending succour to the group. The MEK no longer has free access to the European Parliament where its activists would harass the MEPs and their staff. This year the MEK was barred from holding its annual Villepinte rally in France and was also banned from rallying by Germany. As a result of this, MEK leader Maryam Rajavi has decamped from Paris to Albania and the MEK announced that Albania is the group’s new headquarters.

The move from Iraq to Albania ought to have allowed unprecedented access to Western journalists keen to investigate the honey pot around which the anti-Iran cabal buzz with excitement. They were soon disappointed, as the MEK built a de facto extra-territorial enclave in Manëz and posted armed guards to keep out unwanted attention. But although the group were physically hidden from view, they were very exposed through their cyber activities.

Although it had been known for some time that the MEK operates a click farm from Albania, it was Murteza Hussain in The Intercept who revealed how the MEK uses fake social media accounts to curate a false narrative about Iran to influence US policy. The Heshmat Alavi scandal focused media attention on what is really happening inside the MEK behind the slickly marketed brand image that Giuliani so admires. This endeavour to scrutinise the MEK has been aided by a series of photographs which were leaked from inside the MEK’s camp in Albania and published in Iran. The photos are very revealing, but in ways that the MEK probably didn’t intend or realise when they were taken. Since the MEK so zealously hides its inner world from public scrutiny, these photos offer us an unguarded glimpse into the operational and organisational life of the cult.

The fact that the photos were taken at all is significant. At first glance they could be showing a session for seniors at the local library or community centre. But we see the women are wearing military uniforms and the men are all wearing similar shirts. Some are wearing ties. This is something the MEK don’t ever do unless in a public facing role. This indicates the images have been deliberately staged for a particular external audience. Certainly they were not meant for internal consumption, but neither is this for the wider public or else they would be on the MEK’s own websites. Based on information about the MEK already in the public domain, we can assume these photos were commissioned by Maryam Rajavi as a marketing ploy to ‘sell’ the MEK brand to financiers and backers.

Nobody Can Be “Comfortable” With Regime Change Involving MEKLeaked photos showing MEK members at work

There is clearly a deliberate effort to show that the MEK are “professional” workers in this computer room. Everyone is posed looking intently at a screen. Nobody is “off duty” in the pictures; yawning, stretching, drinking coffee, the normal activities of any workers. There is no evidence of relaxed, friendly chat between co-workers, everyone looks very serious. There are no cups of coffee or snacks on the desks. No pictures of family, husbands, wives, children, pets even. No plants or flowers. In spite of the rows of desks being squashed together closely, everyone looks very isolated.

There might be nothing wrong with that. After all, employers want to see their workers busy. But organisational photographs are also about marketing a brand, which includes marketing the core values of an entity. A group which claims, as the MEK does, that it is funded by public donations to struggle for democracy and human rights would surely want to create an image in the mind of the public about transparency, effectiveness, and positivity. By way of contrast, see how Human Rights Watch advertises its work culture. Even a quick Google image search on ‘call center worker’ reveals pictures of relaxed and smiling workers rather than people who look like battery hens. This is not the image any normal company or government office would use to promote their workplace.

In the MEK’s advertising photos the workers are gender segregated. Men sit in one room, women in another. The women all wear hijab. There is no pluralism here. The use of garden chairs and workers using glasses unsuited to screen work reveals that this management doesn’t care at all about the safety, comfort or wellbeing of the workers. They are using a mixture of outdated monitors and laptops. The cables are frayed and tangled.

There is no indication that the workers are happy at their workstations or enjoying their work. Why would they be with the picture of their leader bearing down on them, as in all dictatorships, lest they forget why they are there and who is in charge? (The picture of a solitary Maryam Rajavi is a clear acknowledgement that her husband Massoud Rajavi is dead.)

The MEK’s cultic system means that decisions are imposed from the top down. This means that those decisions are only as intelligent as the leadership. What Rajavi doesn’t understand is that these photos show beyond any words that the MEK doesn’t share our values. The leader is selling unthinking, unquestioning, obedient slaves, people who won’t act or speak unless ordered to do so. And that would only be ordered if it were productive for the MEK, regardless of the needs or desires of the worker.

What these images portray are conditions of modern slavery. These are elderly people who are unable to escape this cult and are coerced into performing work for which they receive no recompense. They exist on cruelly basic accommodation and sustenance, whereby even asking for new underwear puts the petitioner under question about their loyalty to the leader and the cause. They cannot leave because in Albania they have nowhere to go, no identity documents or work permits, no money, and they do not speak the local language. And also because the Trump administration wants the MEK to be there.

So, when Giuliani says we should be “comfortable” with this group, right-minded people the world over can honestly and unequivocally answer, “No, we are not comfortable ignoring this harsh reality just because the MEK amplifies an anti-Iran message to the world, and no, we don’t believe the MEK have any kind of future in Iran”.

(End)

Nobody Can Be “Comfortable” With Regime Change Involving MEK

Link to the source

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The Many Faces of the MEK, Explained By Its Former Top Spy Massoud KhodabandehThe Many Faces of the MEK, Explained By Its Former Top Spy Massoud Khodabandeh

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