Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani, Think Progress, May 22 2019:… Meanwhile, talk of war is also coming from Trump’s allies in Congress. Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said last week that Iran could be defeated with just “two strikes.” Cotton is a supporter of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), an Iranian opposition group that both Iran and Iraq consider a terrorist group and that the United States did as well until 2012, and has been a vocal advocate of regime change inside Iran. End of MEK and Regime Change
Trump’s Retreat the end of MEK and Regime Change
Trump suddenly reverses course on Iran, says there is ‘no indication’ of threats
Trump has no coordinated strategy on Iran — and it’s obvious.
President Donald Trump spent the last week talking up possible military action against Iran, discussing the number of troops that would be involved, and threatening that war would mean the “official end of Iran.”
On Monday, he suddenly reversed course, claiming that there was “no indication” of threats from the country that would require such a response.
“They’ve been very hostile. They’ve truly been the no. 1 provocateur of terror,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House, before saying that there was, in fact, no threat. “We have no indication that anything’s happened or will happen, but if it does, it will be met, obviously, with great force. We will have no choice.”
That’s a huge about-face from his own tweet on Sunday, in which he wrote, “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”
A few days before that, Trump said he would send a “hell of a lot” more than 120,000 troops to the Middle East to counter Iran, referring to a New York Times report on an updated military plan should Iran attack U.S. forces or resume nuclear fuel production that it suspended under the 2015 nuclear agreement.
Experts say the mixed messages have to do with the administration’s lack of a coordinated Iran strategy in general.
“I oscillate between thinking the administration is being quite clever, and almost demonstrating irrationality in order to scare the Iranians into not doing anything stupid — or at least that’s what they think they’re doing — or just genuine total cluelessness, which is what I tend to lean towards,” said Dina Esfandiary, a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center and the Century Foundation’s Middle East Department.
“[Trump] wants to sound threatening and wants to basically demonstrate that the U.S. … will stand up to Iran, that the maximum pressure campaign is working,” Esfandiary said. “But he wants to do it up until the point where there’s a war, and he definitely wants to avoid war, to — I think — [National Security Adviser John] Bolton’s great dismay. I tend to lean towards that being the explanation for why there’s so much back and forth, they want to take them to the cusp of war and then basically reign it in and be like, ‘Wait, no actually, at the moment there’s no threat.’”
Alex Vatanka, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, said the back and forth has to do with the fact that the administration “has not made up its mind on what it wants to get from its Iran policy.”
Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), last year. He called it a “horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made,” ignoring the fact that it was a multilateral agreement also signed by the United Kingdom, Russia, France, China, and Germany. Since then, Trump has reimposed sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the deal and designated the country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization.
“What is clear is that by this stage the Trump administration had hoped that the historic sanctions would have brought the Iranians back to the table for a new set of talks,” Vatanka said. “That hasn’t happened, that’s unlikely to happen, and this new reality is creating an urgency for President Trump and his team in terms of Plan B.”
In his statement to reporters on Monday, Trump indicated that he would be open to negotiating with Iran. “If they called, we would certainly negotiate, but that’s going to be up to them,” he said.
But complicating any negotiations, said Vatanka, are two issues: Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal and the administration’s set of 12 demands that must be included in any future deal with Iran. Shortly after Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear agreement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced this list of requirements, which includes demands that Iran stop all uranium enrichment entirely and give the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) “unqualified access to all sites throughout the entire country.” (The IAEA has already repeatedly verified Iran’s compliance with the 2015 agreement.)
“The problem with finding a Plan B is that it kind of could really amount to an uncomfortable position that the Trump administration has to adopt … You’ve got on the one hand the option of escalating, which I don’t think President Trump wants to do, for obvious reasons with his reelection in mind and the promises he has made in the past about getting out of wars in the Middle East,” Vatanka said. “And number two is to … deescalate, bite the bullet, which could be obviously humiliating. That isn’t a President Trump-style item.”
“Neither side has given the other side much room to maneuver,” he added. “On the U.S. side we have those 12 points, demands. And on the Iranian side the idea that Trump has to come back to the nuclear agreement before they talk to him… The real challenge right now, given that neither side wants to go to war, how do you find something you can talk about? It has to be something small, it has to be something that both sides can say, ‘Well that just makes common sense, we don’t want accidental war, maybe we should create some sort of a back channel.’ It remains to be seen what they can actually talk about.”
Meanwhile, talk of war is also coming from Trump’s allies in Congress. Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said last week that Iran could be defeated with just “two strikes.” Cotton is a supporter of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), an Iranian opposition group that both Iran and Iraq consider a terrorist group and that the United States did as well until 2012, and has been a vocal advocate of regime change inside Iran.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has also called for regime change in the past, said Monday that Trump should “stand firm” against Iran and referred to a briefing from Bolton that revealed Iran “created threat streams against American interests in Iraq.”
Bolton has repeatedly called for regime change inside Iran — and was an architect of the 2003 invasion of Iraq — and Trump is reportedly growing frustrated with him.
Several U.S. officials told The Washington Post earlier this month that Trump is not convinced that now is the right time to attack Iran and is frustrated with Bolton and Pompeo’s Iran strategy.
“They are getting way out ahead of themselves, and Trump is annoyed,” one senior administration official told the Post. “There was a scramble for Bolton and Pompeo and others to get on the same page.”
The lack of a strategy could end badly, said Esfandiari.
“The only thing [this strategy] is doing is it’s worsening the situation, in terms of increasing the risk and likelihood of either miscalculation or accident leading to actual military confrontation, and it’s not working internally in Iran,” she said. “Because if the point is to foster some kind of regime change, well, all Trump’s maximum pressure campaign is doing is unifying the public behind its government and even unifying the system within Iran. Because like any other normal country, when you tend to have an external enemy, people tend to unify behind the flag.”
“Increasing the maximum pressure campaign, using sanctions as much as possible, threatening war, to them, it seems to be working,” she continued. “Because you know, when they talk about it … they seem to allude to the fact that we’ve reduced Iran’s oil imports, the Iranian economy is being severely squeezed, all of which is true.”
She added, “But again, as an analyst of international relations, you want to ask them, ‘Okay, but to what effect? What are you trying to achieve?’ And as soon as you ask people supportive of the policy that question, then the answer can begin to get a little bit more confused.”
MEK and Regime Change
Pompeo Set To Back The Wrong Group Again (MEK, Rajavi cult)
MEK and Regime Change
Anne Khodabandeh (Singleton), Iran Interlink, April 24 2019:… Exactly fifteen years ago we wrote about how making a deal with the MEK was a big mistake by the USA. At that time, the MEK led by Massoud Rajavi was closer to Saddam Hussein than the US. Today the MEK led by Maryam Rajavi is closer the Saudis than the US. Either way, the MEK leadership has proven over and over that they will always put their own interests above that of anything. To make this mistake once is shameful. For Mike Pompeo to repeat the mistake now is simply wrong.
Jafarzadeh has already published his suicide bombing note.
Wondering at those Americans who stand under the flag of Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, NCRI, Rajavi cult) only to LOBBY for the murderers of their servicemen
Pompeo Set To Back The Wrong Group Again (MEK, Rajavi cult)
Exactly fifteen years ago we wrote about how making a deal with the MEK was a big mistake by the USA. At that time, the MEK led by Massoud Rajavi was closer to Saddam Hussein than the US. Today the MEK led by Maryam Rajavi is closer the Saudis than the US. Either way, the MEK leadership has proven over and over that they will always put their own interests above that of anything. To make this mistake once is shameful. For Mike Pompeo to repeat the mistake now is simply wrong.
Once Again, the US Makes a Bad Deal with the Wrong Group – MEK and Regime Change
Anti War , April 22 2004
Link to the source
by Anne Singleton Posted onApril 22, 2004
Bob Woodward’s latest book, Plan of Attack, exposes the underbelly of the build-up to the US war with Iraq. In it Woodward reveals that the “CIA hired the leaders of a Muslim religious sect at odds with Saddam, but nonetheless with numerous members highly placed in Saddam’s security services. The CIA’s code name for them: the Rock Stars.”
Asked to reveal the identity of this sect, Woodward refused. But to observers of the scene looking at the various possibilities, it is not difficult to pinpoint exactly who this group is… the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) led by arguably the best conman in the Middle East, Massoud Rajavi. If that is the case, it really does call into question some decision-making at the top.
The MEK, although listed as terrorists in the USA since 1997, still maintained a high profile presence as a “democratic alternative to the Iranian regime” in the heart of the US government and had powerful friends, such as Richard Perle and Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, in the Pentagon, Congress, and the House.
With Alireza Jafarzadeh as Massoud Rajavi’s permanent representative in the US, and Mohammad Mohaddessin his “foreign minister” travelling back and forth on a weekly basis from Baghdad to Washington, this group was the only one with which the CIA had contact in Iraq. Certainly it ahs been the only group which had simultaneous open access to Washington’s corridors of power and to the top levels of the Iraqi regime. But whose side is Rajavi on?
In reality, Rajavi’s MEK is an isolated quasi-religious military cult which, based in Iraq for 20 years, had taken arms, training, and orders directly from Saddam Hussein. Saddam trusted the MEK completely, more so than the Iraqi’s surrounding him. After all, Rajavi’s stated goal was to grasp power in Iran. Hussein knew that Rajavi wasn’t trying to topple him, and knew also that Rajavi totally relied on Saddam’s help to achieve his goal.
Saddam gave Rajavi a free hand to undertake intelligence and security operations inside Iraq and as much logistical help as needed to run terrorist operations over the border into Iran, their common enemy. Ordinary Iraqi agencies didn’t dare to challenge MEK activities in their own country, so close was the organization to Saddam. It meant that MEK was acting right inside the Iraqi security system.
In a recently exposed videotape of Rajavi and some of Saddam’s top echelons, we get a picture of their relationship. After Rajavi had ordered his National Liberation Army to help suppress the Kurdish and Shiite rebellions in March 1991 after Gulf War I, Saddam praised and rewarded him. In a meeting with General Saber, Rajavi made a revealing speech:
“I think that the relations between us and you and Iraq, being the government of Iraq or the Baath Party and at the top of it Mr President [Saddam]. And on the other side the Iranian Resistance and the Mojahedin and the National Liberation Army.
I think that our relation is not a purely political relation and one cannot interpret our relations like that any more. And I think that the brotherhood relation has been completed. Such brothers that would not come short of anything for each other.
Whatever is against you, it is obviously against us, and visa versa. Our security is one. When we receive a blow, it is to both of us. And when there is progress, it affects us both…
…As far as we are concerned I have only one thing to say. In my mind and in my heart, I cannot separate the account of our interests from your interests. They are exactly matching each other. We may have some differences in our views. The reality is, that our interests match each other and are closely mixed together. Therefore I would ask you to send my sincere regards to Mr. President [Saddam] and say to him that there is no need for him to thank us or anything else. And tell him on my behalf that we have been in your house and we are with you and will be with you as far as is in our power.”
If the CIA had heard this speech, would they have been so ready to believe that Rajavi would help them? Even if they thought Rajavi’s co-operation with Saddam was cynically pragmatic, did it not occur to someone that his relationship with the US might be the same?
Rajavi most probably passed all the information he had from the CIA straight to Saddam. Why wouldn’t he? As he said himself “Whatever is against you [Iraq], it is obviously against us, and visa versa. Our security is one. When we receive a blow, it is to both of us.” Rajavi didn’t believe before the war that Saddam would, or even could, be toppled. He believed his Iraqi protector was invincible and would shelter him until he reached Tehran in some unforeseeable future. Rock Stars they may have been, but it was Saddam who rocked Rajavi’s world, not the US.
Woodward points out, the CIA is still not sure whether the intelligence they got from the sect was reliable or not. Why are we not surprised? It should have been obvious that a man who had already prostituted himself to anyone and everyone in his quest for power, a man who proudly headed ‘Saddam’s Private Army’, would not be an entirely reliable associate.
Even so, when it became obvious to Rajavi that Saddam would go, he turned around and promised the Americans full cooperation in exchange for protection. And he got it. Although the MEK bases were bombed and some of his fighters killed, this was most probably stage managed so that the group could surrender to the US without arousing the suspicion of the Iraqis. Rajavi was protected in his largest base, Ashraf, with 4,000 of his fighters around him and those fighters and the base itself protected by several hundred US soldiers. In Iraq, Rajavi couldn’t have found a safer place. The Iraqi people were ready to attack the MEK as remnants of Saddam’s regime. Even now, the Iraqi Governing Council has unanimously asked the US to get rid of the sect and remove them as soon as possible from Iraq.
When Ari Fleischer, the president’s spokesman, publicly praised the MEK on March 10 2003, it was widely interpreted as the result of a CIA deal.
Because of this deal, the MEK couldn’t believe their bases were being bombed and claimed these were Iranian airplanes. But when the US army confirmed that MEK in the camp had returned fire, Mohaddessin, shocked at the news panicked and in an interview announced that they had a deal with the Americans not to be attacked.
When the State Department quite logically added an MEK alias, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), to the list of terrorist entities on August 15, 2003, because of its close alliance with Saddam Hussein, Jafarzadeh, the MEK contact in Washington, suddenly gave up his job as MEK representative and was appointed top Iran Advisor for Fox News in Washington! Coincidence? We think not.
And what has the US got from this deal to protect the MEK? Intelligence in Iraq? A mouthpiece in the US media?
It’s a mistake to treat the MEK as a normal opposition group
Anne Khodabandeh, Iran Interlink, February 27 2019:… It is a mistake to approach the MEK as a normal opposition. Indeed, quoting MEK members is like giving a platform to Flat Earthers or Creationists. It is not balanced reporting. The MEK is a unique entity. Not an opposition, not a ‘group’ or ‘organization’, descriptions which imply a certain kind of accountable system and order.
It’s a mistake to treat the MEK as a normal opposition group
When reporter Luisa Hommerich wrote her investigative piece in Der Spiegel titled ‘Prisoners of Their Own Rebellion – The Cult-like Group Fighting Iran’, which exposes the grim situation for MEK members, I doubt she was expecting death threats to follow. After all, she was just doing her job. But that is exactly what the MEK reaction was. A Farsi language statement (written and published in Europe) promised her assassination. Nice.
Of course, for those who already know the MEK, this is not surprising. A timely reminder that the MEK cannot disown its past and cannot stop repeating its past, came in an interview with Nabi Ahamadi, who escaped the cult in Albania recently. Ahmadi was a close friend of Malik Sharai who was killed by MEK in June last year. He confirmed that Sharai was one of the few remaining witnesses to the mysterious death of 53 MEK members in Camp Ashraf, Iraq. He also confirmed that Sharai had asked to leave the group but was then held in solitary isolation before being physically eliminated by the MEK leaders. As a trained swimmer, Ahamdi says it is implausible that he drowned as MEK claim.
Another example is the suspicious assassination of Mohammad Reza Kolahi – the bomber of the Jomhouri Party headquarters in 1981 who was killed in the Netherlands in 2015. After he left the MEK Kolahi was always going to be a liability. He knew too much. So, why is nobody asking Maryam Rajavi about this convenient death?
One reason of course is that the MEK leader Maryam Rajavi refuses to engage with journalists, investigators, researchers. Anyone in fact who might get to the truth about her organization. Indeed, Hommerich did her job thoroughly, as did the journalists of Aljazeera, The Guardian, Independent, Channel 4 News, NBC and other down the years (there is a very long list). They all asked the MEK to give their side, to comment on their findings and to have a voice. The MEK called them all agents of the Iranian intelligence services and refused to talk.
Former MEK members Gholamreza Shekari and Hassan Heyrani from Albania, who were interviewed for the Der Spiegel article, revealed that not only did the MEK refuse Hommerich’s request for interviews, they sent armed guards to prevent her getting near to Camp Ashraf 3 in Manez. This is not the response of a normal political opposition. Issuing death threats to journalists is not the response of a normal political opposition. But then, there’s nothing normal at all about an opposition universally hated by their own people, inside and outside Iran.
It is a mistake to approach the MEK as a normal opposition. Indeed, quoting MEK members is like giving a platform to Flat Earthers or Creationists. It is not balanced reporting. The MEK is a unique entity. Not an opposition, not a ‘group’ or ‘organization’, descriptions which imply a certain kind of accountable system and order.
Hommerich asked to speak with someone from the MEK (NCRI) but they did not reply. Instead, she spoke with some of the many defectors who have escaped. Their stories do not differ much from the testimony of other former members over thirty years: the MEK is a cult that routinely and systematically abuses the human rights of its whole membership. According to 50-year-old Gholamreza Shekari, this is achieved through ‘lies, manipulation and fear’; a methodology known as Cultic Abuse.
For the record, the MEK is a cult. Maryam Rajavi keeps slaves. It is that simple.
Maryam Rajavi (Mojahedin Khalq, MEK leader) just doesn’t get it does she
Anne Khodabandeh (Singleton), February 10 2019:… Her desperate efforts to stay visible – parading on stage in glamorous outfits before paid speakers and audience – expose her ego rather than her leadership. As de facto leader of the MEK, Rajavi has successfully carved out a niche for the mercenary MEK in the anti-Iran front – acting out the silent wishes of America, Israel and Saudi Arabia, who might proclaim an interest in regime change against Iran, but who cannot necessarily do the dirty deeds. By continually insisting on her propaganda events she is overstepping her mandate: the MEK’s role is to get paid, do the work, then disappear.
Maryam Rajavi (Ideological leader of Mojahedin Khalq, MEK) just doesn’t get it does she
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has invited several of what are known as Iran’s ‘fake opposition’ to his Middle East summit in Warsaw on 13-14 February. (A thinly disguised Iran bashing fest!). But Rajavi is being kept at arms’ length, a barge pole’s length even. She has not been invited.
To be clear, Maryam Rajavi is notorious inside the MEK to be jealous and throw tyrannical temper tantrums. No doubt she reacted similarly to the photograph of Pompeo posing alongside the much younger controversial ‘activist’ Masih Alinejad circulating in social media. Though, apparently, these days just about anybody except Rajavi can have their picture taken with Pompeo.
Rajavi’s actions indicate that she really doesn’t understand why this is. Her desperate efforts to stay visible – parading on stage in glamorous outfits before paid speakers and audience – expose her ego rather than her leadership. As de facto leader of the MEK, Rajavi has successfully carved out a niche for the mercenary MEK in the anti-Iran front – acting out the silent wishes of America, Israel and Saudi Arabia, who might proclaim an interest in regime change against Iran, but who cannot necessarily do the dirty deeds. By continually insisting on her propaganda events she is overstepping her mandate: the MEK’s role is to get paid, do the work, then disappear.
Rajavi is not invited to Warsaw because, quite frankly, she and her organization stink. The smell of terrorism, murder, crime and corruption cling to the MEK in spite of all the group’s efforts to whitewash, re-write, lobby and otherwise hide their past and present. No other fake opposition is as dirty and untrustworthy as the MEK. No other fake opposition keeps its members as slaves and kills dissenters. No other fake opposition commits false flag ops to blame on Iran and destroy trust.
So, while western media is reluctant to delve deeper into what the MEK are actually capable of, the security services which advise those governments who turn a blind eye to this activity are fully aware of Maryam Rajavi’s weaknesses. The fact she is prepared to sell her homeland for dollars means she is just as easily capable of selling another country for Rials when the time comes!
Anne Khodabandeh, Open Minds, De-Radicalisation Consultant, PHOTO-EXHIBITION in Bruxelles
(International Terrorism Mojahedin Khalq, MEK, NCRI, Rajavi cult)
Albanian students! Go to Paris! Don’t let your political leaders take all the MEK freebies!
Mojahedin Khalq (MEK) leader Maryam Rajavi must have been furious that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo didn’t invite her to his Middle East summit in Poland on 13-14 February. What did she expect? Did she assume that as the ‘president elect of the main opposition to Iran’ she would have a seat at the table. Just like Ahmed Chalabi had before Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
The Americans may have used the MEK to manufacture a fake Iranian terrorism threat to scare the European Union with but they don’t support her or her cult.
Either she has misunderstood the MEK’s role as a mercenary force – get paid, do the work, then disappear – or she is wilfully doing more than she’s paid for. Either way, Rajavi, the queen of propaganda, will make sure she is not ignored and the MEK at least looks relevant in the regime change game against Iran.
Maryam Rajavi announced a rally in Paris to be held on February 8th. The only problem, where to find an audience. In typical MEK fashion, top members were immediately dispatched to Camp Manez in Albania to charge up the ancient residents there as if they were going on a military adventure. They are not what is needed though. The members are too old, sick and despondent to wave a flag and cheer, more importantly they do not have ID papers or travel documents to get to Paris.
Instead, MEK members are on an intensive recruitment drive to gather as many Albanians as possible to travel to Paris for the rally as a show of popular support. There is nothing new in this. For two decades the MEK has had to bus in paid rent-a-crowd extras because its own supporters and members have abandoned the cult in such great numbers.
According to on the ground sources in Albania, the MEK is targeting youth, especially students from rural areas. Here is the offer:
A free 4-5 day trip to Paris with free air ticket, free transport, free hotel and free food. The Albanians will also be given a free bus ride to take them to the Tati store for shopping where they can buy clothes, umbrellas and shoes at dirt cheap prices.
The only condition: They must attend the conference. But even there they will enjoy free coffee breaks, free lunch and free soft drinks and cakes.
At this point you may expect this blogger to tut and warn against such bribery and deception. But no. If Albania’s political class and its media are happy to take money and favours from Rajavi, why not her citizens. Why should Pandeli Majko and Elona Gjebrea and a lot of others take advantage of the MEK’s generosity, and not the poor citizens of the country.
Students should accept the MEK offer. Take a free break in Paris. Go to the MEK gathering; you won’t be interested, but you can take a book or magazine to read, or catch up with your course work while you are there!
Nobody who knows anything about the MEK will be fooled into thinking that you are Iranian, or that you have any knowledge of, or support for the group. Go. Enjoy yourselves. Don’t let your corrupt leaders get all the freebies.
Bolton/Pompeo used MEK to prep the table for Warsaw summit against EU interests
Anne Khodabandeh (Singleton), Balkans Post, January 27 2019:… The Poland summit is an indication that top officials in the Trump administration like former CIA chief Mike Pompeo and Trump’s Security Advisor John Bolton now feel confident they can create Trump’s foreign policy for him. The MEK’s use as a regime change tool is not new, but it was a speech made by John Bolton (before he was appointed Security Advisor) at the 2017 MEK rally in Paris that first indicated that his advocacy for using the MEK for regime change against Iran had a timeline.
Bolton/Pompeo used MEK to prep the table for Warsaw summit against EU interests
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s global summit in Warsaw on 13 and 14 February to discuss Middle East issues was greeted with scepticism. It was widely interpreted as a thinly veiled excuse to talk about Iran. And because Iran was not invited, the agenda could only be hostile.
But while it is acknowledged that Pompeo wants to build consensus against Iran, it is also understood that Pompeo’s first target is the European Union. Efforts to get the EU to withdraw from the JCPOA have already failed. This time, Pompeo hopes his approach will undermine the unity and integrity of the European Union itself. There are already divisions. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini has rejected the invitation. But European countries which may send representatives are those – Denmark, Belgium and Holland – which have allegedly been targeted by Iran for terrorist acts.
Manufactured threat to Europe
The Poland summit is an indication that top officials in the Trump administration like former CIA chief Mike Pompeo and Trump’s Security Advisor John Bolton now feel confident they can create Trump’s foreign policy for him.
Pompeo will come to Poland with a list of grievances against Iran, including human rights violations, destabilising the region, terrorism and of course, Iran’s ballistic missile programme. Some grievances are subject to interpretation – Iran of course is in Syria at the invitation of Bashar al Assad. Iran’s success in driving back Daesh in Syria and Iraq is undisputable. However, there is evidence that some grievances have been manufactured to deliberately demonise Iran. From its closed base in Albania, the Iranian Mojahedin Khalq (aka MEK, MKO, NCRI, Rajavi cult) been busy behind the scenes for over two years creating a false narrative designed to persuade European politicians that Iran is a threat to Europe.
The MEK’s use as a regime change tool is not new, but it was a speech made by John Bolton (before he was appointed Security Advisor) at the 2017 MEK rally in Paris that first indicated that his advocacy for using the MEK for regime change against Iran had a timeline. “Before 2019”, he told his audience, “we here will celebrate in Tehran”. Others chimed in; Albania’s former prime minister Pandeli Majko boasted that he would eat ice cream with the MEK in Tehran after they conquered Iran. As 2018 passed into 2019 commentators mocked. However, the idea of an active plan wasn’t picked up until last week when it was revealed that Bolton was doing everything within his power to push for President Trump to launch a military attack on Iran. The dots now begin to join up.
Regime Change Timetable
John Bolton is a long-term paid cheerleader for the MEK. He did not hesitate to visit them when they arrived in Albania to give them his blessing. And also, it seems, to enable their activities. In the Autumn of 2017, the MEK were given the green light to evade the de-radicalisation programme agreed by the Obama administration and regroup in a closed camp 30km from the capital where the cultic conditions of Iraq could be replicated.
Inside the camp the MEK were helped to create a click farm, using the slave labour of the members, to create and curate an online narrative concerning Iran to shape public and political perception on human rights, terrorism, nuclear intentions, etc.
In March 2018, the MEK made a false allegation against two retired Iranian journalists. They were invited to Albania to celebrate Norouz or Persian New Year by religious leader Baba Mundi and the Bektashi community. The MEK told police they were there to kill MEK members in their remote camp. Albanian police found no evidence and apologised to the men and the religious community. But the MEK narrative has been repeated so many times that it has taken on the aspect of fact. Indeed, it has now taken on the aspect of a ‘super-fact’ as faked embellishments to the story have been added; “A truck loaded with explosives was set to attack 3,000 members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) who are refugees in Albania, the dissident faction explained..”
In April 2018, the MEK the suspicious death of a troublesome member was a reminder that the MEK has a history of eliminating its members to whitewash its past. The impunity with which the MEK can act has transferred from Iraq to Albania because the MEK is protected by America. The Albanians do not have authority over the MEK in their own country.
In July 2018, just after the MEK held its annual propaganda rally in Paris to promote its regime change agenda an alleged assassination plot was immediately blamed on Iran. Iran however denied responsibility and called it a false flag op aimed at alienating the EU. Iranian media published information that two of those involved were long-term MEK supporters.
MEK are untrustworthy
With this background, it is hardly surprising that while anti-Iran pundits are happy to take money to promote the MEK as the main opposition, its leader Maryam Rajavi has not been invited to the summit in Poland. Not only would that ensure a total boycott, but Rajavi herself cannot answer for the criminal and subversive activities of her group. Instead of staying in the shadows though, Maryam Rajavi has insisted on holding her own propaganda rally in Paris on the 8th February, desperate to maintain the fiction that the MEK is relevant and popular and that it is the key to regime change.
Pompeo may echo this message but will fall short of promoting the MEK. The real reason for keeping the MEK at arms-length is not just because it is too dirty, but because ultimately the MEK cannot be trusted. The rally on 8th February is an example of the MEK doing its own thing. It may be a paid mercenary group but Rajavi doesn’t know when to stop. The Intelligence community knows the MEK. It is a group which will take money to kill Iranians. It is a group which may also, one day, take money to kill Americans. It would be disastrous for any government to share a platform with such people and Albania should follow America’s example; keep the MEK at a distance.
Anne Khodabandeh, is an expert in anti-terrorist activities and a long-standing activist in the field of deradicalization of extremists. She has written several articles and books on this subject, along with her husband, who is of Iranian origin.