Robert Fantina, Counter Punch, August 02 2019:… The oddly named People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (known as the MKO or MEK), whose sole purpose is the overthrow of the people’s government of Iran, has been busy. Some of their members, who seem to be mainly elderly, are technologically savvy, and use social media to further their disgraceful cause. But they don’t just individually post to Facebook, Twitter and other sites; they establish accounts under a variety of names, and ‘tweet’ and post from them, thus giving the impression that the MEK has widespread support. The MEK : Illusion vs. Reality
The MEK : Illusion vs. Reality
The oddly named People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (known as the MKO or MEK), whose sole purpose is the overthrow of the people’s government of Iran, has been busy. Some of their members, who seem to be mainly elderly, are technologically savvy, and use social media to further their disgraceful cause. But they don’t just individually post to Facebook, Twitter and other sites; they establish accounts under a variety of names, and ‘tweet’ and post from them, thus giving the impression that the MEK has widespread support.
It does, however, have some significant support from the United States government, which once designated it a terrorist organization, but now embraces it.
One may wonder why the U.S., which purports to support the self-determination of people everywhere (except in Palestine, Iran, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Libya, Yemen, Syria, the Philippines, Guam, Cuba, and other places too numerous to name right now), would support an organization responsible for the deaths of many innocent people, that seeks the overthrow of the Iranian government. It really isn’t too much of a mystery. After the U.S. overthrew the democratic government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953, it installed the brutally oppressive Shah of Iran. His disregard for human rights and disdain for his own people was all fine with successive U.S. administrations, but in 1979, the people of Iran had had enough, overthrew him, and established the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Shah had done the bidding of the U.S. government; if any of its citizens disagreed, they simply disappeared. But once the new Islamic Republic of Iran was created, there was an entirely different set of rules by which the U.S. had to play, and they weren’t rules of the U.S.’s making. And it didn’t like them one bit. No longer did the U.S. have a complacent ally, which posed no threat to Israeli hegemony. No longer could the U.S. call the shots in the Straits of Hormuz. No, things were different now, and the mighty U.S. was no longer in control.
For years, the MEK was officially considered a terrorist organization by much of the world, but the U.S. rescinded that designation in 2012. Why it would endorse an organization whose sole purpose is the overthrow of a foreign government would be puzzling, but this is the hypocritical, terrorist United States we are discussing.
And what of the MEK? It’s current leaders, Maryam Rajavi and her husband, Massoud Rajavi, see themselves as the future rulers of Iran, if they are successful in their quixotic quest to thwart the will of 80,000,000 people. Outside of the repressive, anti-government circles of their own organization, they appear to have little Iranian support, although the U.S. would be happy to establish them as U.S. puppets.
And then there is the MEK’s distinguished journalist, Heshmat Alavi, a prolific anti-Iranian writer, who simply doesn’t exist! Yes, those tech-savvy MEK members created him, so they could write a variety of articles under one name, which would then become ‘prominent’ in anti-Iran circles.
Photographs purporting to be of dedicated MEK members, hard at work at their computer screens, probably writing articles that will be published under the name of a non-existent writer, or busy ‘tweeting’ and posting from accounts of non-existent people, indicate that most of them were probably born early in the terrorist reign of the Shah. This writer reviewed five such photographs, and of the dozens of people shown, perhaps two are under the age of sixty. There is nothing wrong with being older; wisdom often (but certainly now always) comes with years, but youthful optimism and enthusiasm have long since left these people. Even assuming that some Iranians, for some bizarre reason, support the MEK, these pictures represent the group that opposes the will of most of Iran’s 80,000,000 people. It is hard to imagine a dynamic leader emerging from this group of people, one who will inspire the masses to rise up against the very government they selected forty years ago.
So let us summarize: with the support of the United States and a few other governments, the MEK has assembled a group of mainly elderly people who create social media accounts under fictitious names, and ‘tweet’ and post anti-Iranian information. They write articles and submit them, often successfully (one must give them credit for deceiving some major U.S. news outlets) under the name of a non-existent journalist. Like all those social media accounts, said journalist is a figment of MEK’s creative imagination. They take their instructions from a woman who sees herself as Iran’s new savior. They see themselves as being able, with the assistance of the U.S., of course, to defeat the 40-year-old people’s revolution.
When this writer visited Iran in the summer of 2017, he found a modern, vital and exciting nation. Illegal and immoral U.S. sanctions have certainly taken a toll on the economy, but as a friend of his from Iran commented, Iranians are accustomed to sanctions, and manage fine anyway.
The MEK and its criminal members and leaders will not prevail; the Iranian people are proud of what they have accomplished, and will not allow a few disillusioned people, even those who have the support of the United States, to defeat them.
Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).
The MEK : Illusion vs. Reality
White House supporters of MEK Terrorists
Melissa Etehad, Les Angles Times, July 29 2019:… For decades, the United States categorized the Mujahedin Khalq, or MEK, as a terrorist organization. In the Trump era, members of the Iranian dissident group, which seeks to topple the government in Iran, have found key allies in Washington. People close to President Trump, including national security advisor John Bolton, and Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, are supporters of the Mujahedin Khalq. For years, Bolton and Giuliani have called for a change of government in Tehran and have described the Mujahedin Khalq as a viable alternative to the government of the Islamic Republic. White House supporters of MEK Terrorists
White House supporters of MEK Terrorists
This Iranian opposition group was labeled a terrorist organization. Now it has supporters in the White House
For decades, the United States categorized the Mujahedin Khalq, or MEK, as a terrorist organization. In the Trump era, members of the Iranian dissident group, which seeks to topple the government in Iran, have found key allies in Washington.
People close to President Trump, including national security advisor John Bolton, and Trump’s personal lawyer,Rudolph W. Giuliani, are supporters of the Mujahedin Khalq. For years, Bolton and Giuliani have called for a change of government in Tehran and have described the Mujahedin Khalq as a viable alternative to the government of the Islamic Republic.
This month, Giuliani appeared at a Mujahedin Khalq conference in Albania, where he gave a speech condemning the Islamic Republic and described the group as a “government in exile.”
“This is a group that we can support. It’s a group we should stop maligning and it’s a group that should make us comfortable having regime change,” Giuliani said to a cheering audience.
During a 2017 Mujahedin Khalq conference in Paris, Bolton told a room filled with its members that U.S. policy should be “the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran.”
He added, “There is a viable opposition to the rule of the ayatollahs and that opposition is centered in this room today.”
Both Giuliani and Bolton have received tens of thousands of dollars from the group in exchange for speaking at its rallies and conferences.
Founded five decades ago by leftist students in Iran who opposed the Western-backed monarchy of Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, the Mujahedin Khalq is an insular organization with a militant past. Many Iranians despise the group and from 1997 to 2012, it was on the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist organizations in part because of its bloody attacks in the 1970s that left American diplomats and businessmen dead.
The Mujahedin Khalq and its supporters claim that the group stands for a free and democratic Iran and that its decades-long struggle has helped make it the most qualified opposition group. But critics and human rights organizations describe the group as a cult, and many lawmakers and State Department officials don’t believe it has popular support or influence.
The group has a history of networking with U.S. politicians on both ends of the political spectrum.
“Different people come and go with each administration. We’ve had the same position and demands over the years no matter who is in the White House,” said Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a Mujahedin Khalq-linked group based in Washington.
But despite its continued lack of support among many in Washington, the Mujahedin Khalq feels emboldened now that tensions with Tehran have escalated and it has key supporters who have Trump’s ear. “I can’t recall in the past 40 years seeing such a two-year period where there’s been lots of developments shaping Iran,” said Jafarzadeh.
The Mujahedin Khalq, founded in the early 1960s by husband-and-wife team Massoud and Maryam Rajavi,carried out a series of terrorist attacks during the 1970s against Iran in which several U.S. military personnel and civilians who were working on defense projects in Tehran were killed, according to a 1994 U.S. State Department report.
The group also helped the country’s Shiite Muslim clerics topple the shah during the 1979 revolution. But it didn’t take long before the newly formed conservative theocracy headed by anti-Western Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini came to view the Mujahedin Khalq as a rival.
About 2,000 members of the group relocated to Iraq during the 1980s.
In addition to providing shelter, then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein armed the group with heavy military equipment. During the Iran-Iraq war, its members teamed with Baghdad in an attempt to take down the Islamic Republic. Iraq remained a safe haven for the Mujahedin Khalq for nearly two decades.
Throughout that time, the group continued to launch attacks inside Iran and on its embassies abroad. The State Department described the Mujahedin Khalq in its 1994 report as “the single most violent underground group” in Iran.
“Shunned by most Iranians and fundamentally undemocratic,” the report said, the Mujahedin Khalq is not “a viable alternative to the current government of Iran.”
U.S. relations with the group, however, grew complicated after the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Although the group disarmed and was confined to Camp Ashraf, a 14 square-mile former Iraqi military base , the new Iraqi government wanted its members to leave. Faced with a potential humanitarian crisis, officials in Washington sought to find the Mujahedin Khalq a new home.
Daniel Benjamin, the State Department counter-terrorism coordinator under then-President Obama, said that was a factor in removing the Mujahedin Khalq from its list of foreign terrorist groups.
“All these people were the subject of violence, that’s what really caused the U.S. to look at the issue … to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe,” Benjamin said.
Eventually the U.S. brokered a deal with the government of Albania.
“The Albanian government basically wanted reassurance that they weren’t a terrorist group. I didn’t promote them as an ideal group but they didn’t deserve to be slaughtered,” said Daniel Fried, who was tasked by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to find a country that would accept Mujahedin Khalq members.
Their future looked grim up until after the presidential election in 2016, when Trump’s “maximum pressure campaign” on Iran became American policy.
Already, several policies that the Mujahedin Khalq had long advocated for, such as designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group and placing U.S. sanctions on Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have been implemented under Trump.
“This administration sees ‘the enemy of my enemy as my friend.’ So any organization that opposes that Islamic Republic is fine by them,” said Barbara Slavin, the head of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council. “The administration knows it makes the Iranian government crazy. It sends a message of animosity.”
But the extent to which the Mujahedin Khalq can gain stronger credibility in Washington — even during the Trump administration — remains uncertain.
“The MEK has American blood on its hands. No serious observer or scholar of the region that I’ve met has thought that the MEK was remotely acceptable to any significant percentage of the Iranian people,” Benjamin said.
And in recent months some officials in the Trump administration have taken steps to distance it from the Mujahedin Khalq.
In April, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo met privately with a small group of Iranian Americans in Dallas. Michael Payma, an attorney, was one of those people invited to attend the roughly hourlong conversation.
“Pompeo said he knows Giuliani and Bolton have had some kind of relationship with the MEK, but he made it clear that neither him nor the president have any association with the group,” Payma recalled.
In June, Brian Hook, U.S. special representative for Iran, reiterated those points when he told reporters that the State Department meets with all members of the Iranian diaspora and that the future of Iran will be decided by its people, not the United States.
“We have been, I think, zealously neutral with respect to groups who all care very much about the future of Iran, and that’s going to be something which the people of Iran decide for themselves,” Hook said.
Regardless, Washington’s cozier relations with the Mujahedin Khalq has Tehran concerned.
In recent years, there has been an uptick in attacks against the group by Iran. Two Iranian suspected of surveilling the Mujahedin Khalq were arrested in Albania in 2018, and an Iranian diplomat in Vienna was arrested on suspicion of plotting to bomb a Mujahedin Khalq rally outside Paris.
Nader Karimi Juni, a Tehran-based analyst, said Iran is on edge because the Mujahedin Khalq has members and supporters in positions of power in the U.S. and Europe.
“Iran has good reason to regard the MEK as a threat,” Juni said.
Special correspondent Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran contributed to this report.
White House supporters of MEK Terrorists