MEK PR machine on the wrong track

MEK PR machine on the wrong track

MEK PR machine on the wrong trackNejat Society, June 23 2021:… While the objective of regime change in Iran has been seemingly firm since the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO/ MEK/ PMOI/ Cult of Rajavi) came into conflict with the newly established Iranian government in the early 1980s, the strategy to achieve the objective has changed from time to time based on the circumstances. MEK PR machine on the wrong track 

MEK PR machine on the wrong trackChallenges of The Cult of Rajavi in Western media

MEK PR machine on the wrong track

While the objective of regime change in Iran has been seemingly firm since the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO/ MEK/ PMOI/ Cult of Rajavi) came into conflict with the newly established Iranian government in the early 1980s, the strategy to achieve the objective has changed from time to time based on the circumstances.

Having been disarmed by the US army in 2003 –after the collapse of the MEK’s former sponsor Saddam Hussein– the propaganda campaign of the group became comprehensive. Today, various events including gatherings and demonstrations, publications and media are considered as the group’s most important strategic weapons. Meanwhile, social media has helped it with more intensive activity. However, it has not been so simple for the group to run its propaganda machine.

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Having been described as a terrorist organization, MEK has endured efforts to change the world community’s view of them. They have worked vigorously to make connections with Western politicians, and organize press conferences, rallies and demonstrations in North America and Europe. Maryam Rajavi has hosted the so-called NCRI conferences in Washington DC, Paris, Brussels and now in Tirana, Albania.

The offensive multi-million-dollar lobbying campaign of the group has yielded some results. The campaign has offered them support from some American and European politicians. For the United States’ part, it allegedly includes representatives, senators, ex-generals, former ambassadors and current policymakers of all political stripes including former United States security adviser John Bolton and Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudi Giuliani.

MEK also pays its guests large sums to speak at its rallies. It has been said that the group receives financial support from Saudi Arabia. Saudi speakers have participated in the group’s rallies, for instance Prince Turki al-Faisal, who is a former intelligence chief and diplomat attended and spoke in the group’s gathering in 2016.

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The group also organizes demonstrations against Iran in several countries including Scandinavia. In the so-called demonstrations –that hardly ever comprise a dozen of participants– the group calls the West to isolate and put more pressure on the Iranian government through sanctions and even military actions.

In fact, the very famous proverb “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is often used to understand the support of Western politicians for MEK. It is suggested that this is easiest way to irritate and pressure Tehran, and not necessarily an expression of a real belief that MEK is an alternative to the Iranian government.

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MEK PR machine on the wrong track 

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The Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and Its Media Strategy: Methods of Information Manufacture

Massoud Khodabandeh on MEK PropagandaIran Interlink, February 04 2015:… A review authored by Massoud and Anne Khodabandeh has been published in Asian Politics and Policy, Media Reviews. The article titled ‘The Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and Its Media Strategy: Methods of Information Manufacture’ looks at the MEK’s historical manipulation of various media over thirty years …

Massoud Khodabandeh on MEK and PropagandaISIS supporter Maryam Rajavi attacks Obama

Asian Politics and Policy
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com

Massoud Khodabandeh on MEK PropagandaThe Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and Its Media Strategy: Methods of Information Manufacture

A review authored by Massoud khodabandeh and Anne Khodabandeh (Singleton) from Middle East Strategy Consultants has been published in Asian Politics and Policy, Media Reviews. (Volume 7, Issue 1, January 2015)

The article titled ‘The Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and Its Media Strategy: Methods of Information Manufacture’ looks at the MEK’s historical manipulation of various media over thirty years. Other terrorist entities such as Al Qaida and ISIS have only recently shown themselves media savvy and have been able to create artificial reputations through exploiting both media and internet communications. In this review the authors demonstrate that the MEK has long pursued this propaganda strategy.

“… this overview seeks to demonstrate how and why, through a sophisticated and persistent media campaign, the MEK has created a place for itself on the Iranian political scene totally disproportionate to its capabilities and support base; and how from this aggrandized position the MEK has exerted a negative influence over Western opinion and policymaking toward the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) and Iraq, which began long before and reaches far wider than its role in Tehran’s nuclear dossier. Also, this review seeks to indicate that while this propaganda campaign has been highly successful for the MEK, it has been deliberately detrimental to the growth of a civil opposition movement in Iran as well as significantly affecting Western foreign policy toward the IRI in adverse ways.

“The MEK stands out as perhaps a unique example of a belligerent entity that exploits to the maximum a range of propaganda methods and outlets in the West to project itself in the international community as a constructive, almost benign, force. Far from avoiding publicity, the MEK has done everything in its power to maximize what can be described as its virtual presence. In addition to its native Farsi, the group disseminates information about and projects an image of itself in English, French, German and Arabic, in print, in broadcast and on Internet media. But insofar as it has no popular support among indigenous or diaspora Iranians, its image as a popular resistance movement has been largely invented.”

Read the full article at:

Khodabandeh, M. (2015), The Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and Its Media Strategy: Methods of Information Manufacture. Asian Politics & Policy, 7: 173–177. doi: 10.1111/aspp.12164

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/aspp.12164/full

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Heshmat Alavi Deeply Humanitarian Transformation for Biden – Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – Jan 22, 2021

Heshmat Alavi Deeply Humanitarian Transformation for BidenIran Interlink, January 23 2021:… The MEK’s click farm in Albania has removed all pro-Trump posts from their sites and magically transformed into human rights advocacy as if they are supporters of Biden now. To the point that Heshmat Alavi has now become a deeply humanitarian human rights advocate. MEK are now giving advice to Biden, whereas before they were totally against him. Members outside the click farm have been instructed not to talk about politics in spite of all the things that have happened in America. MEK leaders have scolded the members saying ‘we’re not in Tehran because you are not ideologically committed enough. Heshmat Alavi Deeply Humanitarian Transformation for Biden

Heshmat Alavi Gate , Trump and MEKTrump and MEK

Heshmat Alavi Deeply Humanitarian Transformation for Biden – Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – Jan 22, 2021

Iran Interlink Weekly Digest Mojahedin Khalq MEK NCRI Rajavi cult++ The MEK’s click farm in Albania has removed all pro-Trump posts from their sites and magically transformed into human rights advocacy as if they are supporters of Biden now. To the point that Heshmat Alavi has now become a deeply humanitarian human rights advocate. MEK are now giving advice to Biden, whereas before they were totally against him. Members outside the click farm have been instructed not to talk about politics in spite of all the things that have happened in America. MEK leaders have scolded the members saying ‘we’re not in Tehran because you are not ideologically committed enough. Ideological classes and discussions have begun in which members are told about ‘how at the start of Islam, the people sacrificed themselves for prophet Mohammad and how you haven’t sacrificed enough’. Basically, members are told: ‘It’s your fault we’re not in Tehran now. Your leader did everything they could, but you are not doing what is needed. Some of the older members have got it and understand that every time the leaders don’t succeed, they introduce some new lecture to bamboozle the members. Some members are asking ‘what else can we give? We gave our kids, our families, our time, energy, our thoughts and emotions, we have nothing left’. Alongside these grumblers are those who don’t buy it at all and who question ‘why, we were promised that if we stay for four years Trump will start a war and we will win’. That didn’t happen so the leaders are keeping these critics separate because they don’t submit to the leaders’ commands. They are being threatened that ‘there is no vaccine out there if you leave, just wait, we will soon have the vaccine and then you can go’. But as critics point out, since 2003 they have been creating false deadlines to prevent people leaving.

++ Outside the camp, MEK are putting pressure on some members who don’t want to live with MEK but are getting paid to stay on the sidelines as supporters. MEK has agreed with the Americans, Albanians and UNHCR to be responsible to pay for their members. Now they have corrupted officials in Albania to not only not mention this agreement, but to also deny dissenters ID cards and work permits if they leave MEK, and to put all kinds of obstacles in their way so they don’t contact their families for support. Now they have cut their money as well. Last week we heard about the latest victim of the freshly humanitarian MEK’s treatment of its members. Mansour Barahoui is a MEK member living outside the camp. Nobody knew he was out until MEK denounced him in an official statement on their sites. MEK declared ‘We asked him to take a stance against the agents of the regime (his family who have been trying to contact him), he hasn’t said anything therefore we have cut his allowance (around $200 per month in LEK). In a matter of only a few short weeks, Barahoui has gone from publicly labelling the BBC as “agents of the Iranian intelligence services” for reporting about Saddam’s POWs in MEK, to now being labelled an agent himself for refusing to denounce his own family who want to contact him. Commentators in Albania say MEK are withdrawing payments because of panicking that the Biden administration won’t put pressure on the Albanian government like the Trump administration did. They are in the process of pulling themselves together to face an uncertain future. Inside they conduct ideological brainwashing work, outside they pressure dissenters to come back to them. Meanwhile over the past few weeks, every 2-3 days someone escapes the camp and in spite of their difficulties – they say they thought they would come out and die – they have announced their separation from MEK. Also, every 2-3 days a death due to COVID-19 is announced. But those who are escaping the camp say that MEK don’t announce even a third of the deaths. They bury them inside the camp, and there are many more than they say.

Heshmat Alavi Deeply Humanitarian Transformation for Biden

++ Behzad Moezi, the pilot who flew the Shah out of Iran and then went back and later took Massoud Rajavi and Abolhassan Bani Sadr to Paris, died last week. Massoud Rajavi (if he’s alive) praised him as a ‘top member’. ‘Moezi came back for us as we asked him to’, claims Rajavi. This has led to people asking ‘if he was your member why did he take the Shah, and why did the CIA take his family to America before he came out with you? It more likely that he was ordered what to do by the CIA. And that means you were cooperating with the CIA before coming out of Iran. Describing this scenario has been a big gaffe by MEK. In Albania Maryam Rajavi has been advertising his death with her enthusiastic praises. Two days ago, however, his daughter Maryam Moezi posted Tweets in English and Farsi announcing that: Contrary to what MEK say, he never supported them, as the whole family didn’t support MEK. As far as we know our father didn’t support them but had nowhere else to go. If he were alive, he would hate what they say about him. From Maryam Rajavi’s unwanted praise to the ridiculous claim that he was good at playing the violin – he never touched one in his life.’

++ Homeira Mohammadnejad – a former MEK member now in living in Germany – wrote about the situation of COVID in camp. She explains that members are dying because of the lack of distancing, lack of attention to illness, and lack of medical help etc. While Maryam Rajavi sheds crocodile tears for people in Iran over COVID, Mohammadnejad gives statistics – comparing per thousand cases in populations around the world with the situation in the MEK camp. She concludes that the MEK camp is worst by far in the whole world per population. In a population of 80m, the deaths in Iran are about a hundred per day. MEK’ population is around 2000 individuals and 2-3 are dying per week. Mohammadnejad then talks about her own memories. “When I was in Camp Ashraf in Iraq, I became ill and they took me to their ‘hospital’ there. I was there among other seriously ill people, all in one room. I remember that in front of us the orderlies were counting how many calories per day we were consuming and discussing whether we were worth it in relation to our lack of ‘productivity’. ‘They are not giving anything to the leadership’ they said, ‘these calories belong to the leaders Massoud and Maryam Rajavi so being ill is anti-leadership, they are a waste of calories’.”

In English:

++ While many foreign policy experts and commentators have been keen to advise President Biden to go back to the JCPOA as a way to manage Iran, Anne and Massoud Khodabandeh have written a piece suggesting an alternative response. The article outlines the situation of Iran now after four years of an American ‘state of war’ against the country. Iran is now more militarised, and the Middle East less safe for Americans and Israel. Biden must accept that Iranians blame America for their woes, not just Trump. And he must demonstrate that his administration will be different. The authors write that a quick and effective policy win would be to go back to the agreement under the Obama administration to de-radicalise the MEK in Albania and return them to civilian life and their families. “By dismantling and deradicalizing the MEK, Biden can score easy wins in a variety of arenas. In Albania it would free around two thousand members from conditions of modern slavery, allowing them to reintegrate into normal society and be reunited with their families. It would relieve the Albanian government and security services of the headache caused by MEK crime, corruption and impunity in their country. For Iranians who universally regard the MEK with loathing as traitors and cultists, it would send a clear message that America will not tolerate terrorism or human rights abuses in pursuit of its foreign policy aims. Iran’s people would view dismantling this terrorist group as a goodwill gesture; building a modicum of trust that may sway some voters in June to have faith in the efficacy of diplomacy with the west.
“But the most significant win for Biden would be to start tackling the corruption inside America which facilitated Trump’s belligerent agenda and that of his backers. Dismantling the MEK would stem one of the hidden conduits for the flow of foreign money and false narratives into America.”

++ Daniel Larison in The American Conservative reviews a book by Philip Gordon, a former Obama official, which examines ‘Losing the Long Game: The False Promise of Regime Change in the Middle East’. Larison outlines the book’s main argument: “Regime change leads to long-term costly failure even when it initially ‘works’ at bringing down another government. Toppling a foreign government always causes more instability and costs more than its advocates expect. Both the U.S. and the affected country end up being worse off than if the old government had been left in place, and any ephemeral benefits that might come from overthrowing the government are soon far outweighed by the losses that follow.” But in conclusion, Larison says: “While Gordon makes an overwhelming case that regime change is not worth doing because of its long-term deleterious consequences, he does not rule out the option entirely. He allows that there might be occasions when a government is sufficiently dangerous or atrocious in its treatment of its own people that regime change is worth considering, but he qualifies this immediately by saying “such cases will be rare to non-existent.” That being the case, it isn’t clear why Gordon feels the need to leave the door to regime change open even a little bit. Just as there are certain tactics that the U.S. refuses to employ because they are inherently illegitimate and wrong, we should be able to rule out regime change for good.”

++ Robert Fantina, Global Research, outlines why ‘The Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) Intrusion in Albania, Threatens Regional Stability in Middle East and Balkans’. Fantina writes that during the Civil War in Albania in 1995, military depots were looted and masses of weapons were stolen by various criminal groups and the Kosovo Liberation Army. “And now an Albanian journalist, Ebi Spahiu, an independent analyst on Central Asian and Western Balkan Affairs has sounded the alarm about weapons being in possession of anti-Iranian terrorists. This journalist expressed her concern about the possibility of Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization’s (MKO; sometimes referred to as MEK) having access to these weapons and the danger of rearming themselves.” The article concludes: “Indications of future violence are in clear evidence; even Twitter briefly restricted the group’s activities, and suspended the leader.

“Beyond the MKO, the presence of jihadist extremists, especially in southeastern Albania, bring widespread activities of arms and drug trafficking. Adding the presence of the Mujahedin-e Khalq into this already-deadly mix further jeopardizes the safety of the citizens in this country and further destabilizes the entire region.

“The support that the United States currently offers to the MKO must end. Without that support, the MKO would be unable to continue its operations in Albania, and the risk of further terrorist activities by its members would decrease significantly.”

++ Mazda Parsi of Nejat Society asks ‘Who is mercenary? MEK or Critics? The question arises because MEK have accused an Albanian historian, Olsi Jazexhi, and Albanian investigative journalist, Gjergji Thanasi, of being ‘mercenaries for the Iranian regime’. The pair produced an indignant riposte which demonstrated the fallacy of MEK’s stance. Parsi examines this in more detail and turns his scrutiny back on to MEK and its brazenly mercenary behaviour and activities. He concludes “The expenses of maintaining thousands of members in the group’s camp in Albania and those large amounts of fees they pay their western supporters to speak on behalf of them, require the MEK leaders to work harder as mercenaries. To all those facts on MEK’s mercenary work, you may want to add the allegations about trucks of gold bars and Rolex watches that were donated to the group by Saudi Arabia.”

++ Iran Interlink reported on a protest by local residents of Manez after land which had been earmarked for the expansion of their overcrowded cemetery somehow got sold to MEK for burial of their rapidly increasing dead. MEK’s response was to label the townsfolk as ‘agents of the Iranian regime’ who have been manipulated by Iran to threaten MEK. The article points out that the MEK have complete disregard for the dead unless they can turn a profit from them – such as publicity. “This kind of gaslighting and misdirection practiced by the MEK is not new. It is their modus operandi; to deflect investigation, criticism, and prosecution. But this reaction over such a sensitive issue as a cemetery only shows there is no bottom to the depths the MEK will go.”

++ Nejat Society continues its activities in campaigning for the families to be re-connected with their loved ones in MEK. Nejat is also appealing to the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances to investigate and pursue justice for the ‘disappeared’ MEK members.

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Heshmat Alavi Deeply Humanitarian Transformation for Biden

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https://iran-interlink.org/wordpress/biden-dilemma-iranians-blame-america-not-only-trump-the-mad-man/

Biden Dilemma : Iranians Saw Trump As A Mad Man But Blame America For Their Woes

Biden Dilemma Iranians Blame AmericaAnne and Massoud Khodabandeh, Iran Interlink, January 18 2021:… President Joe Biden will only have months to make a difference if he wants to pursue a diplomatic route. He must demonstrate through policies and actions that Trump was a hiccup, not the way things will be. Trump was not America. If Biden wants to start talking with Iran he must accept where Iran is now, not what it used to be. Confrontation and containment cannot be the starting point for negotiations; there will have to be more carrots. Biden Dilemma : Iranians Saw Trump As A Mad Man But Blame America For Their Woes 

Biden Dilemma : Iranians Blame AmericaTrump Campaign Used Mujahedin-e-Khalq ( MEK ) Troll Farm In Albania

Biden Dilemma : Iranians Saw Trump As A Mad Man But Blame America For Their Woes

By Anne and Massoud Khodabandeh

After enduring four years of President Trump’s hostile and belligerent policies and actions – the Muslim travel ban, extreme sanctions, incitement to violence, support for terrorist groups, assassinations of nuclear scientists and of general Qasem Soleimani – the Iranian people are entitled to conclude that America is waging a war against them. And Iran has responded; maximum pressure resulted only in maximum resistance. The sanctions, unfortunate as they have been for Iran’s economy, have not destroyed it. Indeed, evidence is emerging that Iran’s resistance culture itself has led to an entrepreneurial response to overcome the restrictions. Iran’s military opened a trade and security corridor through Syria and Lebanon to the Mediterranean coast. A dedicated port is under construction. The U.S. can no longer control Iran’s finances since it is no longer limited to trading through Dubai. The only way to stop that is using bombs; an actual declaration of war, which puts Israel at risk.

Biden Dilemma Iranians Blame America

Trump and his allies spent four years trying to crush Iran, to force regime change and failing that, threats to bomb the country back fifty years. They failed. The unintended consequence of that failure has been the militarisation of Iran. The Revolutionary Guards have become stronger and their power embedded in the wider region with allies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon. Commemorations to mark the January 3rd anniversary of the assassinations of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi Commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were titled ‘Martyrs Without Borders’ signifying their wider relevance. Although Iraq is in step with Iran to eject American forces from the region, the Trump administration failed to understand that Ayatollah Khamenei’s ‘harsh revenge’ could be achieved as much through regional soft power and international law as military strikes.

Furthermore, the assassination of Soleimani unified Iran in a way that no internal politics could have hoped to achieve as Iranians rallied round their flag. Back in 2016, Iran’s leaders were almost equally divided between western leaning moderates and revolutionary hardliners. Now we hear president Rohani echoing the speeches of Ayatollah Khamenei, and foreign minister Javad Zarif amplifying the role of the Quds Force in Iran’s foreign policy. National unity against the perceived external threat of America has now created grounds for military officials to be allowed to run for president in June’s elections. If the military prevail, it will make conflict more likely, not less. Iran says its missile program is defensive, that it does not want war, but with missiles in Iran and Lebanon trained on U.S. interests in the region, Israel is clearly less safe than before.

President Joe Biden will only have months to make a difference if he wants to pursue a diplomatic route. He must demonstrate through policies and actions that Trump was a hiccup, not the way things will be. Trump was not America. If Biden wants to start talking with Iran he must accept where Iran is now, not what it used to be. Confrontation and containment cannot be the starting point for negotiations; there will have to be more carrots.

Iran experts are focused on re-joining the JCPOA. But this will not be enough on its own to recalibrate relations between the two countries. Not only will Iran expect sanctions to be lifted but will feel entitled to demand compensation for the financial losses suffered under extreme sanctions. People were denied medicine. Iranians saw Trump as a mad man, but they blame America for their woes. The damage done by Trump will take years to redress, but there is no reason why trust building cannot begin straight away. To start with Biden must treat Iran with respect. Acknowledge that assassinations and incitement to violence and terrorism are not how civilized countries behave.

Of course, the new presidency will be hampered by America’s internal problems. Biden inherits a deeply divided country. Yet, the decades long problem of Iran could very well offer a route to a new bipartisan consensus on a way forward. Although Trump has gone, the Adelson family, Neocons and Fox News will still be there; war is still on the agenda. Theirs is not a battle between Democrats and Republicans, but between warmongers and peacemakers. Their agenda doesn’t depend on who is the president. They want to defeat Iran. If Trump couldn’t do it, they will force the Democrats to do it. They want a war at any price. If Biden cannot prevent war, they will have won.

In this respect, this expert would advocate a much easier, cheaper and effective course of action to start with. Biden should immediately restore the Obama administration’s plan to deradicalize the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) terrorist cult in Albania. The MEK are, of course, the darlings of both the anti-Iran cabal in the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia, and the hardliners in Iran. Both sides have used the MEK to destroy Iran’s indigenous opposition movement and to control the prevailing narrative on Iran in international politics.

By dismantling and deradicalizing the MEK, Biden can score easy wins in a variety of arenas. In Albania it would free around two thousand members from conditions of modern slavery, allowing them to reintegrate into normal society and be reunited with their families. It would relieve the Albanian government and security services of the headache caused by MEK crime, corruption and impunity in their country. For Iranians who universally regard the MEK with loathing as traitors and cultists, it would send a clear message that America will not tolerate terrorism or human rights abuses in pursuit of its foreign policy aims. Iran’s people would view dismantling this terrorist group as a goodwill gesture; building a modicum of trust that may sway some voters in June to have faith in the efficacy of diplomacy with the west.

But the most significant win for Biden would be to start tackling the corruption inside America which facilitated Trump’s belligerent agenda and that of his backers. Dismantling the MEK would stem one of the hidden conduits for the flow of foreign money and false narratives into America.

The MEK paid thousands of dollars for the likes of Rudi Giuliani and John Bolton to attend their rallies in Paris and Tirana to peddle the false narrative that the only way to deal with Iran is confrontation, regime change and war. The Heshmat Alavi scandal which exposed an industry of fake social media messages and accounts and a click farm in Albania, revealed that what had previously been covert activity had, under Trump, become mainstream.

In America, Professor Raymond Tanter has been tasked with creating a bi-partisan group to undermine the work of the new Biden administration. Funding for this project relies on the kind of corruption that has become embedded in the body politic. The example of MEK funding for the extreme right Vox Party in Spain reveals how the MEK use individual and fake association accounts to channel foreign funds into anti-Iran projects.

It is incumbent on the Biden administration to approach relations with Iran on a new page. Purging the old regime need not be as difficult as it first appears. The costs of erasing any traces of the MEK from that page are low, the benefits are great and many.

Biden Dilemma : Iranians Saw Trump As A Mad Man But Blame America For Their Woes

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