Ali Alavi, Iran Interlink, October 29 2021:… Speaking at a NCRI meeting is one way to illustrate Pence’s uncompromising stance on Iran and the JCPOA. Past speakers at NCRI events have included former national security adviser John Bolton, former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, and most recently Pompeo. His appearance is likely to draw criticism, too. Critics of the NCRI and MEK—both led my Maryam Rajavi since the disappearance of her husband Massoud Rajavi in 2003—dismiss the groups as fringe organizations with little support inside Iran. Tehran rejects the groups as terrorist organizations working on behalf of foreign powers .Lobbyist Mike Pence Mujahedin Saddam Hussein.
1- Mike Pence Mujahedin Saddam 2016:
Salon, July 2016
Link to the source
Mike Pence’s Iraq lie: The VP candidate (wrongly) announced the discovery of WMDs
In 2004, Mike Pence tried to help George W. Bush by declaring “weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq”
By SIMON MALOY
PUBLISHED JULY 21, 2016 9:58AM (EDT)
Back in May 2004, the Iraq war wasn’t going particularly well. It had been over a year since George W. Bush had triumphantly landed on an aircraft carrier to declare semi-victory in the war he had initiated against Saddam Hussein’s regime, and the situation in Iraq had been steadily unraveling ever since. Insurgent attacks were on the rise, American human rights abuses had been uncovered at Abu Ghraib, and the weapons of mass destruction the Bush administration had warned were present in Iraq had not been discovered. The CIA’s former chief weapons inspector had said in January that, in all likelihood, those weapons did not exist.
With the security situation in Iraq deteriorating and the rationale for the conflict crumbling, President Bush and his Republican backers in Congress found themselves in a politically dangerous situation. They needed some good news, something to lift their spirits and prove the war critics wrong. One man stepped up: then-Indiana representative, and current Republican vice presidential nominee, Mike Pence.
On May 19, 2004, Pence gave a short speech on the floor of the House of Representatives pushing back against the idea that America under George W. Bush was substantially worse than it had been four years earlier. As evidence of how things had improved, Pence argued that in the year 2000, Saddam Hussein had “amassed weapons of mass destruction,” but four years later Hussein had been captured and “we have found pieces of his WMDs.”
It wasn’t entirely clear what Pence meant by “pieces of his WMDs,” but he helpfully elaborated on this claim the following day. On May 20, 2004, Pence once again took to the floor of the House and said “I am here to report… weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq.”
As Pence made clear in his remarks, he was referring to the discovery of two (2) munitions by U.S. soldiers that were found to contain sarin and mustard gas. In Pence’s estimation, those two weapons validated the administration’s arguments for war. “‘Where are the WMDs?’ We’ve been asked that again and again,” Pence said. “They are where they’ve always been: hidden in Iraq, within the reach of terrorists, a threat to the Iraqi people, U.S. soldiers and the world.”
Here’s what actually happened. Pence, in claiming that WMDs had been found, was way out ahead of the Bush administration itself, which was unwilling to wave around the discovery of these munitions as validation of its rationale for war. The reason the administration held back was simple: they weren’t the weapons Bush and his top officials had warned about. They were old munitions from the weapons program Saddam Hussein had discontinued in 1991. The Bush administration’s argument for the war was that the Iraqi dictator had restarted chemical weapons production and stockpiled new WMDs.
Indeed, contemporaneous news reports show Bush administration officials urging caution in drawing any conclusions from the discovery the munitions. Here’s what the Associated Press reported on May 18, 2004:
But officials stopped short of claiming the munition was definite evidence of a large weapons stockpile in prewar Iraq or evidence of recent production by Saddam’s regime – the Bush administration’s chief stated reason for invasion.
Some U.S. officials and weapons experts suggested the artillery shell may be an experimental design that predates the 1991 Gulf War.
A defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the origin and age of the artillery shell are under investigation, but said shells of this type have a long shelf life, so it could have been constructed some time ago.
Sure enough, it was later determined that the sarin shell was an experimental remnant from the Hussein regime’s old chemical weapons program. A few months after the discovery of those shells, the Iraq Survey Group released its final report which found that “while a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991. There are no credible indications that Baghdad resumed production of chemical munitions thereafter.”
But Pence just blew right past all the warnings and grandiloquently declared that these old, degraded munitions were evidence of the chemical weapons stockpile Saddam Hussein had allegedly “amassed” in the years leading up to the war. It was a politically motivated lie that not even the Bush White House was willing to go along with.
2- Mike Pence Mujahedin Saddam 2021:
Newsweek October 2021
Link to the source
Mike Pence Says Joe Biden’s Iran Nuclear Strategy Shows ‘Weakness’
BY DAVID BRENNAN ON 10/28/21 AT 1:38 PM EDT
Former Vice President Mike Pence has claimed President Joe Biden‘s efforts to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal with Iran risk encouraging more regional aggression by Tehran.
Pence told a Washington, D.C. event on Thursday that Biden’s “embrace” of the nuclear deal was dangerous for the U.S.
His decision to appear at the event organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)—the political wing of the controversial People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK)—reiterates his hawkish stance on Iran.
“Peace follows strength,” Pence told the attendees. “With our current administration’s embrace of the JCPOA, their hesitation to condemn rockets being fired at our cherished ally Israel, and the heart breaking and disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, our adversaries may be sensing weakness in the current American administration.”
Pence added: “They may be emboldened to test our resolve.
“Weakness arouses evil.”
The summit—attended by interventionist figures including former Democratic senator Joe Lieberman and former Marine Corps Commandant General James Conway—was called to condemn what NCRI called Iran’s “nuclear defiance, terrorism, regional meddling,” and the role of Iran’s conservative President Ebrahim Raisi in a 1988 massacre of Iranian political dissidents.
Pence condemned the “tyranny” of the Iranian government and dismissed Raisi as a “brutal mass murderer,” suggesting his election was a “sign of the regime’s growing desperation and vulnerability.”
Pence added: “His crimes must not go unpunished.”
JCPOA talks remain stalled, despite President Biden’s desire to revive the landmark nuclear deal that Trump ditched in 2018.
Since then, Iran has broken from the deal’s restrictions and significantly expanded its stockpile of enriched uranium and its enrichment capabilities.
Iran’s “breakout time”—i.e. how long it would take Tehran to build a nuclear bomb if it decided to do so—is disputed, though it is believed to be less than six months and possibly as low as a matter of weeks.
JCPOA talks in Vienna, Austria, faltered when Raisi came to power in August, taking over from President Hassan Rouhani who negotiated the 2015 deal with former President Barack Obama.
Iran’s new chief negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani said on Wednesday that talks are expected to resume by the end of November.
Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian, however, said this week that Tehran did not wish to resume negotiations from where the Rouhani administration left off.
Meanwhile, tensions abound in the Middle East. U.S. troops and interests have been the target of semi-regular attacks by Iranian-allied militias in Iraq. Earlier this month, troops at a U.S. base in southern Syria came under drone attack which officials blamed on Tehran.
A National Security Council spokesperson told Newsweek: “As we have said many times, we are prepared to return to Vienna, and we believe that it remains possible to quickly reach and implement an understanding on return to mutual full compliance with the JCPOA by closing the small number of issues that remained outstanding at the end of the sixth round of talks in June.”
“As we have also been clear, this window will not remain open forever as Iran continues to take provocative nuclear steps, so we hope that they come to Vienna to negotiate quickly and in good faith.”
Any success on the JCPOA will have to overcome fierce GOP opposition in the U.S. Most Republicans consider the deal an unacceptable capitulation and endorsement of Tehran’s aggressive regional strategy.
Speaking at a NCRI meeting is one way to illustrate Pence’s uncompromising stance on Iran and the JCPOA. Past speakers at NCRI events have included former national security adviser John Bolton, former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, and most recently Pompeo.
His appearance is likely to draw criticism, too. Critics of the NCRI and MEK—both led my Maryam Rajavi since the disappearance of her husband Massoud Rajavi in 2003—dismiss the groups as fringe organizations with little support inside Iran. Tehran rejects the groups as terrorist organizations working on behalf of foreign powers.
The NCRI and MEK leadership has dismissed such criticism, framing itself as the most significant anti-regime force inside the country with a network of informants and activists.
The group publicly gave up its armed struggle in 2001 and says it has not engaged in any violent operations since.
The MEK was a proscribed terrorist organization in the European Union and U.S. until 2009 and 2012, respectively.
Pence described the MEK as “a well-organized, fully prepared, perfectly qualified and popularly supported alternative” to the current government in Iran. Rajavi, he said, is “an inspiration to the world.”
Newsweek has contacted Pence’s team to request comment on his relationship with the NCRI and MEK.
“While I no longer speak on the behalf of the United States government…I am confident I speak for the views of tens of millions of Americans,” Pence told the crowd.
“And I tell you with certainty that the American people support your goal of establishing a democratic, secular, non-nuclear Iranian Republic that derives its powers from the consent of the governed.”
Pence has long been hawkish on Iran, as were the majority of Trump’s top team during his term. Pence backed Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA in 2018, and later even pressed the European signatories to also ditch the deal.
After the assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani in January 2020, Pence peddled conspiracy theories linking Soleimani and Iran to the 9/11 attacks. Pence said Soleimani was an “evil man” and claimed Trump “took the world’s most dangerous terrorist off the battlefield” via the Baghdad drone strike.
On Thursday, Pence again celebrated Soleimani’s assassination. “Qassem Soleimani is gone,” he said, to a standing ovation, describing the killed commander again as “the most dangerous terrorist in the world.”
At times, reports framed Pence as a moderating check on Trump’s aggressive instincts.
The New York Times reported in December 2020 that Pence—along with Pompeo—was among the advisers warning that a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program could escalate into a wider conflict.
But other reports depict Pence as more hawkish. The New Yorker reported in July that Pence and Israel’s then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed Trump to strike Iran in his final weeks in office.
In one meeting where Trump was not present, Pence was asked why he was so intent on military action. “Because they are evil,” the vice president replied, according to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley.
Trump’s administration was criticized for the impact its “maximum pressure” strategy had on the people of Iran, particularly measures that humanitarian groups said blocked the import of vital medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Indeed, on Thursday Pence spoke of the crippled Iranian economy. “The Iranian regime has never been weaker than it is today,” he said, noting runaway inflation, unemployment, and the falling value of the rial.
“Four out of five Iranians now live below the poverty line,” Pence said.
Newsweek has contacted Iran’s United Nations mission in Geneva for comment.
Update 10/29/21. 3:45 a.m. EDT: This article has been updated to include comment from the National Security Council.
(Iraq shelters terrorist groups including the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO), which has used terrorist violence against Iran and in the 1970s was responsible for killing several U.S. military personnel and U.S. civilians)
Biden Dilemma : Iranians Saw Trump As A Mad Man But Blame America For Their Woes
Anne 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 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.
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
Tectonic Shift In World Order After Unforced Error By Trump
Massoud Khodanbandeh, Responsible Statecraft, January 09 2020:… In another reckless act of overturning Obama’s legacy, the new Trump administration halted Hillary Clinton’s plan to de-radicalise the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) in Albania. Since then, American anti-Iran politicians have stuffed the MEK down the throats of the international community as the regime change opposition that will bring freedom and democracy to Iran. Since Iranians hate the MEK more than the current Islamic Republic, this has been a gift to the hard-liners in Iran. To quell every protest or demonstration since then, Iran’s security forces have only to claim that MEK are involved in inciting violence for the ordinary people to go home and announce their abhorrence of the MEK. Tectonic Shift In World Order After Unforced Error By Trump
Tectonic Shift In World Order After Unforced Error By Trump
After Soleimani’s Assassination, There Will Be No Regime Change in Tehran
Anyone who believes that President Trump’s order to illegally assassinate Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani, Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and several more Iraqis, was an act of strength has not been properly paying attention. This is the latest in a series of stupid policy errors by this administration which have not only strengthened the hand of America’s enemies but have also now ensured that the rest of the world, with the exceptions of Israel and Saudi Arabia, now at best views the U.S. with mistrust, or at the very worst hate America more than any other country on earth. This is a remarkable achievement for a man who promised to end the “endless wars” and “drain the swamp.”
Trump started his presidency with the ambition of overturning the Obama administration’s achievements. However, he inherited a foreign policy already predicated on waging war and which was soon re-staffed and promoted by Republican warmongers. In this context, withdrawing unilaterally from the Iran nuclear deal might have appeared to be a strong-arm tactic to Trump, but to America’s allies in Europe it looked like a betrayal, and a slap in the face. Still, none were willing to come out on the side of Iran at that time. Even Russia and China were holding back at that stage. So, what were the steps in between which culminated in late December in an unprecedented four days of joint naval manoeuvres between Iran, China, and Russia in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman? What happened to embolden this trio to flex military muscle in the Middle East?
A review of these steps reveals that the blinkered aim of the Trump administration’s foreign policy to manufacture regime change against Iran by any means possible including all-out war has in fact resulted in the opposite result. Regime change is now in its coffin and the assassination of Soleimani is the last nail hammered in.
Instead of promoting freedom and democracy in the Middle East, American interference is destroying every possibility of ordinary people rising up and demanding change from their own governments. In Syria, the people rose up against President Bashar al-Assad because of genuine grievances against that regime. The outcome of U.S. support for Sunni extremists in Syria has been a swing from people supporting the American aim of ousting Assad to rallying behind their own terrible government to save them from the spread of Islamic fundamentalism. With an irony that can be lost on no one, authoritarian Russia and the theocracy in Iran are now allies of Syria in that struggle.
In another reckless act of overturning Obama’s legacy, the new Trump administration halted Hillary Clinton’s plan to de-radicalise the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) in Albania. Since then, American anti-Iran politicians have stuffed the MEK down the throats of the international community as the regime change opposition that will bring freedom and democracy to Iran. Since Iranians hate the MEK more than the current Islamic Republic, this has been a gift to the hard-liners in Iran. To quell every protest or demonstration since then, Iran’s security forces have only to claim that MEK are involved in inciting violence for the ordinary people to go home and announce their abhorrence of the MEK.
American actions are consolidating people around their own hated governments instead of helping them express their legitimate demands. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s response to the anti-government protests in Iran in November was to repeat false information published by the MEK about the death toll. When Pompeo retweets MEK propaganda it destroys any trust among Iranians that the U.S. has their interests in mind.
In another remarkable example of how Pompeo has frittered away American power and influence, just weeks ago, disgruntled Iraqi citizens were in the streets demonstrating against Iranian interference in their country. Instead of supporting them, Pompeo oversaw the U.S. bombing of Iraqi militia forces that were fighting against ISIS. The Iraqi people cannot take the U.S. side over this no matter how anti-Iran they are. If America had done nothing, said nothing, Iraqi people would still be in the street demonstrating against their own government. Instead, different Iraqis attacked the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Now, in a pivotal act of hubris, the illegal assassination of Soleimani and Iraqi militia leaders at an international airport not only allows Iran to describe the U.S. as a terrorist state, but has brought Iranians of every belief together to rally together to mourn a national hero, the man who saved Iran from ISIS.
But it would be a mistake to believe that the U.S.’s Middle East foreign policy mistakes only impacted that region. In 1981, France gifted the CIA some land to host the MEK outside Paris from where they could plan their armed resistance to the new regime. Although France did not use the MEK politically as America did, their presence was tolerated. Until, that is, MEK activities began to impact European security and democracy.
In 2017, John Bolton, just before he became Trump’s National Security Advisor, promised the MEK they would celebrate in Tehran before the 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution in February 2019. That did not happen, of course. But events subsequent to this promise certainly indicated there were already plans afoot to use the MEK to undermine European policy toward Iran. A bomb plot against the MEK in France was discovered by security forces in France and Belgium to have been a false-flag operation by the MEK used to blame and demonize Iran. After numerous acts of violence and confirmation that the MEK had funded Spain’s far-right Vox party in its EU election bid, several European countries, including Germany and the Netherlands as well as France and Belgium moved to expel MEK leaders, including leader Maryam Rajavi, to Albania.
In Albania, the MEK have caused multiple headaches for the government and the opposition there. The worst result of which has been the EU’s refusal to allow Albania to join the union. After kicking out the MEK, no European country would allow them to enter through the back door again.
Significantly, what these policy steps over time have revealed to America’s foes and her friends alike is that the U.S. cannot be trusted. The Trump administration has shown a reckless disregard for normal behavior in the international scene. It acts with callous cruelty and indifference against enemies and allies alike.
The unwanted assassination of Soleimani will result in tectonic shifts in the world order. No matter how hard mainstream media in the West works to normalize America’s actions, security and military experts the world over will have their own ideas about what the future holds.
Tectonic Shift In World Order After Unforced Error By Trump
Mike Pence Mujahedin Saddam
Nobody Can Be “Comfortable” With Regime Change Involving MEK
Massoud 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
Nobody Can Be “Comfortable” With Regime Change Involving MEK
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.
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”.
Mike Pence Mujahedin Saddam
Bolton Vs. Zarif On MEK
Massoud Khodabandeh, Lobe Log, May 03 2019:… Hillary Clinton did not take money from the MEK while it was listed as a terrorist entity. And taking the group off the U.S. terrorist list, though controversial at the time due to the MEK’s own well-funded pressure campaign, was not wrong, as it enabled the UNHCR to relocate the members to the safety of a third country. Her plan to correct the mistakes of the Bush administration was a vital step toward making the Middle East and the rest of the world, including the United States, a safer place. Meanwhile, John Bolton continued to take money to promote the MEK’s warmongering agenda against American interests. Bolton’s False Flag Op Involving MEK
Bolton Vs. Zarif On MEK
Hillary Cinton and John Bolton
When Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif took to the airwaves during his visit to the UN in New York, particularly for an interview with Fox News, a frisson of surprised anticipation swept the American political polity. How was it possible that Iran, the pariah nation, not only had the audacity to enter the lion’s den, but from there to lecture the lion on its dirty behavior!
Of course, this is a spat that Iran cannot easily win. What mattered most was that Zarif did not go for the throat of the lion but instead those who are pulling its chain. In short, he accused a “B team” of actively working to wage war on his country. And he singled out National Security Advisor John Bolton for supporting the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), a group that believes in fomenting violent regime change in Iran.
A goaded Bolton went on Fox News to reply. But instead of answering Zarif’s accusations, Bolton merely blamed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for taking the MEK off the U.S. terrorism list in 2012. This was fantastic hubris. Bolton himself supported the MEK all the time it was on the list, attending rallies and taking speakers’ fees worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Bolton’s accusations against Clinton do not hold water. He, along with then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, started the war with Iraq partly on the pretext that Saddam Hussein supported terrorist groups, including the MEK, as an instrument of his foreign policy. Bolton was also on board with Rumsfeld when the United States unilaterally granted Protected Persons status to the MEK even while it was recognized a terrorist entity—in direct violation of international law.
With the election of President Obama in 2009, newly appointed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was left to clear up the mess Bolton and the cabal of neoconservatives created in Iraq. One of those problems was continued U.S. support for the MEK (which the United States designated a terrorist entity in 1997). With the help of a new tough negotiator in the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, Clinton set about finding a peaceful resolution to the standoff between the sovereign Iraqi government and the unwanted and parasitic MEK.
Clinton searched for third countries to absorb the MEK. But the MEK, enjoying the backing of anti-Iran regime change pundits in Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the United States (including Bolton), dug in its heels and refused to be disbanded. In the end, only the dependent NATO ally Albania agreed to take the group’s members. Clinton authorized $10 million for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to transfer the MEK to Albania. She paid another $10 million for the establishment of a de-radicalization institute in Tirana to first deal with the MEK as preparation for handling returning Islamic State families. Another $10 million languishes in the account of the U.S. embassy in Tirana, money to rehabilitate the MEK members into normal society that Bolton and his cabal blocked.
All this was written into an agreement between the governments of Iraq, the United States, and Albania along with the UNHCR and the MEK. At that time this author was working as a consultant to the Iraqi government on security issues, including the safe containment and deportation of the MEK. I was relieved when the Obama administration found a safe and above all a peaceful solution to the threat posed by the MEK to the security of Iraq. I was pleased to find in this agreement specific steps toward humanizing individual MEK members and restoring them to normal life and their families.
As someone familiar with the MEK, John Bolton must then and is certainly now fully cognizant of the beneficial elements of this agreement. Yet, almost as soon as President Trump was elected, the de-radicalization project was put on hold, allowing the MEK over the next year to regroup and reactivate its anti-Iran activities. With the support of Bolton, former Senator John McCain, Rudi Giuliani, and a whole cast of minor cheerleading warmongers, the MEK has constructed a purpose-built closed training camp in Albania in which the members are kept as modern slaves to serve the MEK’s propaganda and terrorist agenda.
For all her faults, Hillary Clinton did not take money from the MEK while it was listed as a terrorist entity. And taking the group off the U.S. terrorist list, though controversial at the time due to the MEK’s own well-funded pressure campaign, was not wrong, as it enabled the UNHCR to relocate the members to the safety of a third country. Her plan to correct the mistakes of the Bush administration was a vital step toward making the Middle East and the rest of the world, including the United States, a safer place. Meanwhile, John Bolton continued to take money to promote the MEK’s warmongering agenda against American interests.
Before 2016, Iran did not have a diplomatic presence in Albania. Its embassy there dealt primarily with economic and cultural relations. But in 2018, the Albanian government of Edi Rama expelled two newly arrived Iranian diplomats at the behest of the Trump administration. John Bolton boasted about the achievement. Due to overt US support for the MEK, Iran drew its front line not in the Middle East but on the edge of the EU.
Now, with the Iranian foreign minister boldly speaking to the media inside the United States, Bolton has been reduced to deflecting rather than rebutting his accusations. Bolton’s master plan for a war against Iran has not only backfired but prompted Tehran to redraw its front line once again, this time in Washington, DC itself.
Massoud Khodabandeh is the director of Middle East Strategy Consultants and has worked long-term with the authorities in Iraq to bring about a peaceful solution to the impasse at Camp Liberty and help rescue other victims of the Mojahedin-e Khalq cult. Among other publications, he co-authored the book “The Life of Camp Ashraf: Victims of Many Masters” with his wife Anne Singleton. They also published an academic paper on the MEK’s use of the Internet.
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