FBI recently disclosed report reveals Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult) continued terror campain years after they claime to renounce terrorism
FBI recently disclosed report reveals
Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult)
continued terror campain years after
they claime to renounce terrorism
... According to the FBI. A recently disclosed FBI report from 2004 reveals Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult) continued to plan terrorist acts years after they claimed to renounce terrorism. The State Department has documented the MEK's disturbing record: killing Americans and Iranians in terrorist attacks; fighting for Saddam Hussein against Iran and assisting Saddam's brutal campaign against Iraq's Kurds and Shia; its "cult-like" behavior; the abuses and even torture it commits against its own members; and its support for the U.S. embassy takeover and calls for executing the hostages ...
US State Department claims no popular support for Mojahedin Khaq (MKO, MEK, Rajavi cult) among Iranains
... A U.S. State Department document released in May 2011 under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act says the MEK has no popular support inside Iran and “to the extent Iranians know about this group they are far more likely to oppose it than support it.” It added, “Any U.S. support for MEK would extremely damage its reputation amongst Iranians and would increase anti-American sentiments in Iran.” The State Department cables quoted defectors as describing MEK as a cult that punishes former members. The cables said the MEK leadership ordered the execution of all attempted defectors ...
A U.S. State Department document released in May 2011 under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act says the MEK has no popular support inside Iran and “to the extent Iranians know about this group they are far more likely to oppose it than support it.” It added, “Any U.S. support for MEK would extremely damage its reputation amongst Iranians and would increase anti-American sentiments in Iran.” The State Department cables quoted defectors as describing MEK as a cult that punishes former members. The cables said the MEK leadership ordered the execution of all attempted defectors.
IRANIAN POPULAR ATTITUDES TOWARDS THE MEK
Summary Showing a unanimity rare among Iranians, anecdotal information gleaned from both ordinary Iranians living inside Iran and abroad and from Iran analysts strongly indicates that the ‘Mujahedin-e Khalq’ (MEK) opposition group has not significant popular support inside Iran. To the extent that Iranian respondents are familiar with the MEK they express severe dislike for this group, primarily due to its alliance with Saddam Hussein during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war. All Iranians queried tended to disbelieve the MEK’s expressed allegiance to the ideals of human rights and democracy, with even hardened Iranian oppositionists and persecuted religious minorities such as the Iranian Baha’i saying they would prefer the current Iranian government to an MEK-affiliated one. Many Iranian respondents believe that any indication of USG support for the MEK would seriously harm USG popularity among ordinary Iranians, even among those Iranians who oppose the current Iranian government, would fuel anti-American sentiment, and would likely empower Iranian hardliners. END SUMMARY
******* THIS IS A COMBINED MESSAGE ****** SUBJECT: IRANIAN POPULAR ATTITUDES TOWARDS THE MEK
1. (SBU) NOTE: The following cable is based on input from State Department Iran-watchers and consular interviewing officers in the main posts that interact with Iranians on a regular basis, i.e. ANKARA, BAKU, BERLIN, DUBAI AND ISTANBUL. END NOTE.
2. (SBU) SUMMARY: Showing a unanimity rare among Iranians, anecdotal information gleaned from both ordinary Iranians living inside Iran and abroad and from Iran analysts strongly indicates that the ‘Mujahedin-e Khalq’ (MEK) opposition group has no significant popular support inside Iran. To the extent that Iranian respondents are familiar with the MEK they express severe dislike for the group, primarily due to its alliance with Saddam Hussein during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war. All Iranians queried tended to disbelieve the MEK’s expressed allegiance to the ideals of human rights and democracy, with even hardened Iranian oppositionists and persecuted religious minorities such as the Iranian Baha’i saying they would prefer the current Iranian government to an MEK-affiliated one. Many Iranian respondents believe that any indication of USG support for the MEK would seriously harm USG popularity among ordinary Iranians, even among those Iranians who oppose the current Iranian government, would fuel anti-American sentiment, and would likely empower Iranian hardliners. END SUMMARY.
3. (SBU) MEK – BACKGROUND (see Appendix): Originally a 1960s Islamic-Marxist group dedicated to violent overthrow of the Pahlavi regime, the ‘Mujahedin-e Khalq’ (MEK- a.k.a. ‘The People’s Warriors’) was one of the main popular organizations to emerge in the early days of the 1979 Revolution. The increasing ascendancy by clerical elements supporting Ayatollah Khomeini after the revolution let to this group’s gradual elimination from the ruling coalition and its eventual flight from Iran in the early 1980s. Using Iraq as its base, the MEK mounted attacks against Iranian military during the latter stages of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, then after the 1988 Iran-Iraq cease-fire it continued attacks against Iranian leadership until it was forced to stand down its Iraq-based operations as a result of ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ in 2003. Currently, MEK supporters claim the group has renounced violence as a tool and seeks a secular, democratic Iran, while its detractors claim it is more a cult of personality centred on a leadership unchanged since 1979 than a popular-based political movement. Its membership in its ‘Camp Ashraf’ base in Iraq consists of a few thousand rank-and-file members, mostly either older original ‘first generation’ members from the 1970s or younger Iranians from poorer ethnic minorities such as Iranian Baluch. Since deprived of Iraq government funding since 2003 the MEK has increasingly relied on fundraising in Europe under various front organizations that use popular antipathy towards the Islamic Republic to solicit money. END BACKGROUND.
4. (SBU) In January and February 2011 State Department Iran-watchers and consular offices in the main posts that interact with Iranians on a regular basis (Ankara, Baku, Berlin, Dubai and Istanbul) asked Iranian contacts and visa applicants their opinions on the MEK.
5. (SBU) In speaking to hundreds of Iranians both in the preceding two months and before, ordinary Iranians were almost uniformly dismissive of the MEK, reacting with either disdain or apathy, their responses strongly indicating a lack of any significant popular support for the MEK among Iranians living in Iran. Among older Iranians this lack of support was largely due to MEK support of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war. Among younger Iranians (i.e. most of the population) this lack of support was derived from both the MEK’s ‘treasonous acts’ in supporting Iraq during the war and also from a near–total lack of information due to the absence of any MEK influence inside Iran.
6. (SBU) The following direct quotes reflect what was heard from ordinary Iranians both inside Iran and abroad:
--- “The MEK are detested among the young and old in Iran, although many young Iranians don’t know much about them, and to the extent they do it is in relation to their pro-Iraqi activities during the Iran-Iraq war. Many young Iranians familiar with the MEK’s lack of any support inside Iran wonder why this group is so well-supported abroad and in international organizations.”
--- “They are hated among Iranians, since their hands are stained with the blood of their fellow countrymen.”
--- “I’m an Iranian Bahai (i.e. the most persecuted religious minority in Iran) and I can tell you that even Bahais in Iran would much prefer the current Iranian government to any MEK government.”
--- “We are scared of them because we think they want power. They are like Fidel Castro in Cuba. They will turn Iran into a North Korea or Cuba. It’s not correct to call them a terrorist group THOUGH: THEY JUST WANT POWER. THEY DO NOT HAve the support of the majority of people. They are not democratic just because they appointed a lady as ‘President of Iran’.”
---“They were supported and loved during the Revolution, especially among young people. We loved them. They were beautiful people. But their Marxist-Islamic ideology has passed away. The group’s ideology is far away from the people now.”
---“Aside from their cooperation with Saddam against Iran, their leadership is immoral – Massoud Rajavi has forced himself on many women, with Maryam’s awareness, and in their camp in Iraq they separate children from their parents. I had a distant relative who joined the MEK and once he did so the rest of the family disowned him.”
---“Nobody likes them.”
---“They have no support in Iran.”
---“The group is not popular. People hate them, and they are terrorists. They killed many people.”
---“Once they fought for what they believed in and they had some support but now we don’t really know who they are and what they do.”
---“They are a terrorist organization.”
---“The MEK is a joke.”
---“They are a bunch of #@$*!” [From a young Iranian male]
---“They MEK under the leadership of Massoud Rajavi and President Maryam Rajavi are meaningless in the domestic Iranian political spectrum and totally marginalized. They try however, with great effort, to create the impression that they are the most significant Iranian exiled opposition group.”
ANALYSTS ON MEK
7. (SBU) The above-cited characterization of the MEK by ordinary Iranians was replicated in feedback from political analysts focused on contemporary Iran, all of whom were Iranian by birth. Without exception these analysts said that the MEK lacked any significant popular support inside Iran, with Iranian popular reactions to the MEK varying from rank ignorance (mostly among the young) to extreme aversion (to those more familiar with their history).
8. (SBU) The following direct quotes from prominent analysts of contemporary Iran, all of whom are Iranian by birth, reflect the feedback received:
---“Right after the 1979 revolution the MEK had considerable support in Iran, especially among the youth. Even after the MEK began its campaign of assassination of official figures in June 1981 and the regime responded by executing several thousand of MEK supporters, there was still sympathy. But then MEK leadership left Iran and went first to France and then Iraq, began collaborating with Saddam Hussein’s regime, and acting as its spies. This turned the tide against the MEK, and the Iranian people began despising MEK for its support of Saddam, for its revealing information about Iran, and for still continuing its campaign of assassination while the nation was involved in a long war.
That has not changed, and in fact it has become stronger, since all sorts of horror stories have been told to the public by former MEK members who had become disillusioned with the leadership and wanted to leave Iraq and Camp Ashraf but were tortured and then delivered to Saddams intelligence as Iranian spies. It was also revealed that the MEK had a direct role in putting down the Shiites uprising in southern Iraq and the Kurdish uprising in northern Iraq right after the first Persian Gulf War. The fact that MEK revealed some information about Iran’s nuclear program also angered a lot of people, because they consider it treason. The net result is that, with losing thousands of its members to executions and consistent opposition to the IRIG, the MEK has no significant base of support in Iran. Given that 70 percent of the population is under 35, they do not even know who the MEK are.
Iranians who know about the MEK consider it nothing but a religio-political cult. MEK has the same power structure as does the IRIG; It has a “Supreme Leader”, Massoud Rajavi; a “President”, Maryam Rajavi, and it demands absolute obedience of the leadership. So, as we say in Persian, “as chaale dar biyaam to chaah biyoftim?” (We are getting ourselves out a small ditch in order to fall down in a deep well?)”.
---“The trick used by MEK is to approach the “simple man on the street” or politicians with little expertise on Iran and convince them that they are collecting signatures or money to protest human rights violations in Iran. These signatures are then used by the organization as proof of support for the organization’s broader political agenda. The organization works under a number of PSEUDONYMS. THE RECENT PROTEST MOVEMent in Iran that followed the 2009 elections showed quite clearly that the MEK has no noticeable support inside Iran and is isolated amongst exiled Iranians as well.”
---“Generally speaking I encountered two things concerning the MEK from living in Iran. The older generations’ has a disdain for the MEK because of their belief that MEK contributed mightily to the radicalism and violence of the early years of the revolution and for its siding with Saddam in the Iran-Iraq war. This disdain was not merely based on the fact that the government held MEK responsible for the bombings of the early revolutionary years. In addition, many liberal and/or secular people whom I know still hold MEK responsible for the radical Islamist turn of the revolution that was then manipulated by more established clerics. The younger generation’s views on the MEK are characterized by apathy and lack of basic knowledge about the group, its leadership, and its political positions. I have not found any evidence that MEK has been able to fire the imagination of a single university or high school student in Iran. Believe it or not, the few students who express interest in radical politics, instead of reform, were much more interested in Marxism than MEK”.
---“Outside Iran, a handful of groups and individuals have sought to emerge as centers of opposition. Among these groups is the MEK. It has no political base inside Iran and no genuine support on the Iranian street. The MEK, an organization based in Iraq that enjoyed the Baathist regime’s support, lost any following it may have had in Iran when it fought on Iraq’s behalf during the 1980-1988 war. Widespread Iranian distaste for the MEK has been cemented by its numerous terrorist attacks against innocent Iranian civilians and Iranian government officials. Since Saddam Hussein’s fall, the MEK now depend almost entirely on the goodwill of the United States, which placed it on its list of foreign terrorist organizations and, at most, seems prepared to use it as a source of intelligence and leverage in its dealings with Iran.
The most prominent international human rights organizations-- including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International -- have determined the MEK to be undemocratic, with a cult-like organizational structure and modus operandi that belies its claim to be a vehicle for democratic change.
During my time living and working in Iran, it became quite clear that the MEK is not at all popular among the Iranian people. Of the literally hundreds of people I interviewed and/or spoke with in Iran about the MEK, not one had anything positive to say about it. When Iran’s (2009) post-election turbulence commenced, the MEK quickly sought to join the frenzy of brewing opposition to the current government inside Iran. But by claiming links to this indigenous opposition, the MEK connected their name to genuinely disenfranchised voters, thereby providing the Iranian government with yet another excuse to “discredit” and crackdown on peaceful protesters.
Increased U.S. government support for the MEK will empower Ahmadinejad and other hardliners in Iran, thereby increasing their (Ahmadinejad and the other hardliners) overall domestic support exponentially. Never has the level of cohesion among regime “insiders” been so low (but) supporting the MEK will provide Iranian government insiders with a foreign-based treat that can be exploited to heal fractures within the regime, increase the number of Iranians that rally around the flag, and eliminate indigenous political opposition -- thereby hurting the very people that America seeks to help. Ironically, if the U.S. wants to help Ahmadinejad and the hardliners cement a long-term dictatorship in Iran, support for the Mojahedin is the way to do it. It will significantly reduce any chance of real rapprochement with the Iranian government, and severely curtail indigenous democratic progress in Iran. The Iranian people won’t forgive or forget this -- particularly given the history surrounding U.S. policies toward Mossadegh and the Shah. And this is one of the cardinal sins poisoning U.S. – Iran relations to this day. It is worth noting that increasing American support for the MEK is a step that the Bush administration—even at the height of its openly hostile Iran policy -- wasn’t willing to take. Even they understood that increased support for the MEK will exacerbate all of the challenges and problems that Iran policy currently poses to the USG.”
--- “The MEK is a dead political group in Iran, even if its specter is not anymore haunting the Iranian people. The MEK has no considerable support in the country, either among the elites or among the ordinary people, whether in the capital Tehran or in the PROVINCES. WHILE IRANIANS FOLLOW ON A DAILY BASIS different opposition websites, the MEK website is one of the poorest regarding the amount of its viewers (this fact is easily provable by checking the traffic the website has comparing to others). The truth is the MEK is one of the most hated political groups in Iran. If Iranians would be asked to choose between MEK and IRGC – Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – they would definitely go for the latter. The MEK is mostly known as a terrorist group in Iran; people are afraid of the group’s obsolete ideology, its aggressive and vengeful rhetoric and its authoritarian leadership.
The Iranian regime is aware how notorious the MEK is and takes advantage of this in certain political situations. During the 2009 unrests, the MEK’s support of the Iranian protestors was a gift for the regime, as it led many people hesitate to come anymore to the streets evidently afraid of their paving the path for MEK to take advantage of the situation. Regardless, the government accused the MEK of initiating terrorist attacks and gunning down people in the streets.
Any U.S. support for MEK would extremely damage its reputation amongst Iranians and would increase anti-American sentiments in Iran. People would regard such an act not as animosity towards the regime but towards the nation. They would assume that the U.S. intentions are not to promote freedom and democracy in Iran, but simply to spoil the country. The Iranian regime would definitely take advantage of such a situation, showing it as a proof of its claims of calling Americans as the enemy of the nation.”
---“The MEK are an Islamist-Socialist cult whose membership numbers in the thousands. Their popular support in Iran is negligible. Over a four year period living in and travelling to Iran I never met anyone who expressed any affinity for them. On the contrary they are widely perceived as brainwashed traitors who fought alongside Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war. The U.S. government should stay as far away from them as possible. Even (former NSC head) general Jones recent interactions with them have spurred concerned rumors among Iranian democracy activists that Washington may be flirting with the MEK.”
9. (SBU) COMMENT: The results of this admittedly unscientific polling of contacts and ordinary Iranians concerning the MEK confirms what those familiar with Iran already assumed to be the case: regardless of whether the USG deems it a terrorist organization, the MEK lacks any significant popular support in Iran, and to the extent Iranians know about this group they are far more likely to oppose it than support it. The pro-human rights and democratic ideals which the MEK now claims to espouse are ones which the USG also emphasizes in our own Iran policy. But one does not need to support the MEK to promote these goals, and indeed it seems to be the case that any increased show of USG support for this group will not help the cause of freedom and democracy in Iran, but will only adversely impact popular perceptions of the USG among ordinary Iranians, and could also strengthen support for Ahmadinejad and other hardliners. END COMMENT
APPENDIX: MEK HISTORY
1965: MEK Founded on Islamic-Marxist ideology by former members of Iran’s nationalist “Freedom Movement of Iran”.
1970s: MEK engaged in ideological work combined with armed struggle against the Pahlavi regime, to include terrorist killings of US military and civilian personnel in Iran.
1975: MEK splits in to two groups, Marxist and Islamist, with the Marxist group changing its name to “Paykar”.
1979: Massoud Rajavi assumes MEK leadership, and MEK becomes one of the main political groups active during the 1979 Islamic Revolution. MEK supports US Embassy takeover in November 1979.
1979-81: Like Iranian nationalists and leftists elements, MEK influence in government slowly eliminated by the clerical elements supporting Ayatollah Khomeini.
Early 1980: As IRIG moves against MEK, MEK elements inside Iran mount massive assassination campaigns against the IRIG leadership, killing approximately 70 high-ranking IRIG officials in one June 1981 bombing, with another MEK bombing two months later killing the IRIG President and Prime Minister. Hundreds of MEK supporters and members either arrested or killed. Massoud Rajavi forced to flee Iran in 1981, and majority of MEK relocates in France.
1981-1986: Using France as base of operations, MEK continues campaign of violence against Iranian government figures.
1986-1988: In 1986 due to improved Iran-France relations MEK relocates headquarters to Iraq, relaying on Iraq for basing, financial support, and training. During Iran-Iraq war its “NATIONAL LIBERATION ARMY” UNDER CONTROL OF THE IRAQI MILITary mounts attacks against the Iranian military, causing it to lose massive support among the Iranian people.
1988: Mass execution of MEK prisoners inside Iran by IRIG.
1989-2003: MEK continues assassination attacks against IRIG officials, receiving major financial support from Saddam Hussein, to include:
--1992 (April): MEK conducts near-simultaneous attacks on Iranian embassies and installations in 13 countries.
-- 1999 (April): MEK assassinates key Iranian military officers, to include deputy chief of the Iranian Armed Forces General Staff, Brigadier General Ali Sayyaad Shirazi.
-- 2000 (February): MEK launches series of attacks against Iran, to include a mortar attack against a major Iranian leadership complex in Tehran.
--2000-01: MEK conducts regular mortar attacks and hit-and-run raids against Iranian military and law enforcement personnel, as well as government buildings near the Iran-Iraq border.
1991: MEK assists Iraqi Republican Guards in crackdown on anti-Saddam Iraqi Shia and Kurds.
2001: FBI arrested seven Iranians in the United States who funneled $400,000 to an MEK-affiliated organization in the UAE which used the funds to purchase weapons.
2003: At start of Operation Iraqi Freedom MEK leadership negotiated a cease-fire with Coalition Forces and voluntarily surrenders their heavy-arms to Coalition control.
2003: French authorities arrest 160 MEK members at operational bases they believed the MEK was using to coordinate financing and planning for terrorist attacks.
Post -2003: High level MEK leave MEK’s “Camp Ashraf” in Iraq, relocating in various European capitals.
MEPs warned not to fall victim to misleading Mojahedin Khalq (MKO,MEK, Rajavi cult) lobby in European Parliament
Massive human rights violations inside the MEK must be investigated: individual screening and resettlement by UNHCR needed
... This infatuation with the PMOI also diverts our energy and attention away from the civil society movement known as the ‘green movement’ whose leaders have rejected any link with the PMOI. The PMOI lost all its credibility with the Iranian people when they formed an alliance with the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The only actor inside Iran who nowadays accords any importance to the group is the Iranian government: they have accused some of the arrested protestors from the demonstrations since the Presidential elections of 2009 of collaborating with the PMOI in order to discredit the pro-democracy movement ...
MEPs from five political groups have sent a letter to their colleagues to brief them about the PMOI lobby in the European Parliament. The letter, copied below, says that while the deaths at Camp Ashraf were uncacceptable, MEPs should not ignore the MEKs history in Iraq and the overwhelming evidence of human rights abuses inside the MEK. The letter called for screeing and resettlement of individual camp residents and fair trials for members which Iraq alleges have committed crimes against humanity in their country.
Text of the letter:
Strasbourg, 10 May 2011
Before Easter vacation, Vice-President Vidal Quadras has addressed a letter to all members of the European Parliament accusing the Chair of the Iran delegation, Ms. Lochbihler, of diffusing false information about the Iranian People’s Mujahedin, also known as Mujahedin e Khalq (MEK), PMOI, MKO or National Council of Resistance. For your information we attach the two letters.
The PMOI was protected by Saddam Hussein who hosted them from the mid-1980s until his demise. They collaborated in his internal repression against Kurds and Shiites and have since that time had a military camp known as Camp Ashraf. When the US disarmed the camp in 2003 it housed over 3000 PMOI fighters. The group has developed a very strong lobby in the European Parliament over the last couple of years claiming to be the only serious Iranian opposition group.
The events of April 8, when the Iraqi security forces tried to force their way into the camp with armoured vehicles brought the existence of this group into the lime light again. We fully support the serious concern and condemnation expressed by Ms Lochbihler over the killing of some 30 camp residents and the injury of many more. While the main responsibility for the incident seems to be with the Iraqi security forces, they have so far only acknowledged responsibility for the death of three inmates. We therefore fully support the call of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay for an independent investigation into the incident.
This unacceptable blood shed should not, however, distract us from an objective and level headed analysis of the track record of the PMOI. We urge all members to seriously consider the history, actions and behaviour of the PMOI before signing any declarations or letters of support in favour of this group in the future. Their method is very simple: they mobilise MEPs justified outrage at the nuclear issue, the human rights violations and the very character of the Iranian regime, but instrumentalised such opinion for a different purpose – the political legitimation of the Mujahedin organisation itself.
Surprisingly, the allegations of massive human rights violations inside the Mujahedin organisation are never subject of debate. According to overwhelming evidence the former militant group has turned into a repressive sect far removed from the respectable image the representatives of this group display when visiting the European Parliament. The human rights violations the leaders are committing against the group’s members are amply documented, starting with Human Rights Watch (HRW) and many witness reports of ex-members who were able to flee (including testimonies in the European Parliament).
The European Court of Justice removed the PMOI from the EU terrorist list in 2009 on a formality – the Member States who asked them to be included on the list refused to transmit the evidence on which their request was based to the court. This ruling does not make any statement as to the group’s practice of internal repression.
The support the PMOI receives from members of Parliament allows its leadership to perpetuate their absolute power over the rank and file, of which most are believed to want to desperately leave the group. The hundreds of members who have managed to escape from Ashraf and have been screened by the UNHCR bear witness of their plight.
This infatuation with the PMOI also diverts our energy and attention away from the civil society movement known as the ‘green movement’ whose leaders have rejected any link with the PMOI. The PMOI lost all its credibility with the Iranian people when they formed an alliance with the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The only actor inside Iran who nowadays accords any importance to the group is the Iranian government: they have accused some of the arrested protestors from the demonstrations since the Presidential elections of 2009 of collaborating with the PMOI in order to discredit the pro-democracy movement in the eyes of the population.
Instead of boosting the PMOI, with all its criminal activities, we should urge the High Representative and the member states to help to find a humanitarian solution for the remaining camp residents (screening by the UNHCR and individual resettlement) and a fair trial for the approximately 50 persons in the camp wanted by the Iraqi authorities for alleged crimes against humanity.
Sincerely Yours, Michael Gahler, Elmar Brok (EPP), Kurt Lechner (EPP), Maria Muniz, Ana Gomes, Hannes Swoboda (S&D), Marietje Schaake, Annemie Neyts, Jelko Kacin (ALDE), Isabelle Durant, Ulrike Lunacek (Greens/EFA), Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL)
Iran’s internal opposition succumbs to a dose of poisoned soup
Washington backed Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, NCRI, Rajavi cult) kills the Green Movement
... Sadly, no one could have been in any doubt, including – perhaps especially - the MEK’s backers, that people would disappear from the streets once terrorists backed by foreign powers were thrown into the pot. And it is not only in Iran but in demonstrations held in London, Paris, Brussels and Washington that this phenomenon shows itself. The destruction of Iran’s internal opposition, the so-called Green Movement’ simply cannot be all blamed on the IRI. It should be clear that those who greedily and imprudently contribute the fatal ingredients to the mix are more than any culpable of poisoning the Ash ...
Today, March 2, Iran’s Majles issued its report on the 14 February demonstrations. Its reading had been delayed in order to assess the outcome of yesterday’s demonstration which had been called by the opposition.
The result was disappointing for the organisers. Not many people turned out. And this poor turnout has now unfortunately given a clear indication that after one year during which the IRI has manoeuvred to separate Mousavi and Karoubi from their support base among people inside Iran, the time has now come to deal with them. The report from Majles makes it clear what the next steps will be.
But the poor turnout cannot be attributed to a lack of will on the part of the opposition as many, many ordinary Iranians are known still to strongly oppose their government. Neither can the poor turnout be laid exclusively at the door of the IRI which, contrary to predictions, did not strike with disproportionate force; unpleasant as the use of tear gas and beatings are for demonstrators anywhere in the world.
Instead it is probable that Iran’s internal opposition is being slowly murdered with a dish of poisoned Ash prepared with a fatal mix of ingredients; the pot provided by the hardliners in Iran and the fire provided by Israel, the chickpeas and beans provided by the neoconservatives, the herbs provided by American foreign policy and the salt and pepper of the dish was the addition over the last few months by warmongers and regime change pundits who liberally sprinkled ‘support for terrorism’ into the dish. This added seasoning was of course the overt American and Israeli support for the terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq working against the interests of the Iranian people.
The Iranian government chefs have proved themselves professional enough to use the ingredients to poison the soup. It’s not that people didn’t want to come out, and not that the regime had to use force; people didn’t come to the streets because they didn’t want to be associated with violent activists linked to the MEK.
Sadly, no one could have been in any doubt, including – perhaps especially - the MEK’s backers, that people would disappear from the streets once terrorists backed by foreign powers were thrown into the pot. And it is not only in Iran but in demonstrations held in London, Paris, Brussels and Washington that this phenomenon shows itself. The destruction of Iran’s internal opposition, the so-called Green Movement’ simply cannot be all blamed on the IRI. It should be clear that those who greedily and imprudently contribute the fatal ingredients to the mix are more than any culpable of poisoning the Ash.
... Today, the MKO is active in toppling both regimes ruling Iran and Iraq. On the other hand, the governments of Iran and Iraq are closely cooperating with each other. In recent months, some very influential politicians and political circles in the US have been actively supporting Mrs. Rajavi – as president – and strive to use the force at Ashraf Camp to change the Iranian regime. During the last three months alone, six important conferences were held in this regard and all six looked at this force as the agent of change in Iran... As these conferences began and progressed, it was clear that the Iranian and Iraqi regimes would not tolerate General Jones’s proposals ...
A group of prominent Iranian human rights activists and intellectuals have responded to the horrendous killings of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization members by publishing an open letter condemning the killings. The moderate and peaceful spirit of the letter is commendable and deserves support.
Harm to MKO members was feared from the day Saddam Hussein’s regime came to its end. Iranian freedom-lovers knew that in view of the nature of the new regime in Iraq the MKO would have difficulty in maintaining its camp, Ashraf Camp and organization. The new political realities would one day come bring their status to a dead-end. It was clear from many years ago that it was prudent for MKO leaders to decide to that its members should migrate to other countries.
When the US handed over Iraq’s complete sovereignty to the Iraqi government concerns amplified about the imminent catastrophe. Many Iranian organizations, including Etehade Jomhurikhahan Iran (The Union of Iranian Republicans) rightfully stressed the need for the MKO to immediately depart Iraq while also emphasizing governments to encourage the MKO to do this.
Unfortunately the leadership of the MKO spent its greatest and most effective resources on a campaign whose goal was to attain the right to remain at Ashraf Camp.
In view of the political goals and policies of the MKO today vis-à-vis the governments of Iran and Iraq, it is clear that attempts to maintain the MKO in Ashraf Camp will only lead to more violence and clashes. When the Mojahedin settled in Iraq Saddam Hossein ruled over Iraq and the war between his government and the Islamic republic of Iran was in full swing. The MKO too wanted to continue their war with the Islamic republic. Because of this, they received the full support of the Iraqi government and at the least their security was completely provided to them. Saddam’s relations with the MKO were very cordial while those with the Shiites and the Kurds were deeply inimical.
Today, the MKO is active in toppling both regimes ruling Iran and Iraq. On the other hand, the governments of Iran and Iraq are closely cooperating with each other.
In recent months, some very influential politicians and political circles in the US have been actively supporting Mrs. Rajavi – as president – and strive to use the force at Ashraf Camp to change the Iranian regime. During the last three months alone, six important conferences were held in this regard and all six looked at this force as the agent of change in Iran.
At these conferences US general James Jones, Obama administration’s former national security advisor is the key driver.
As these conferences began and progressed, it was clear that the Iranian and Iraqi regimes would not tolerate General Jones’s proposals regarding Iran. At the time I wrote a piece explaining that a new game had begun which was another source of danger for the country and the region.
The condemnation of the tragedy that took place on the morning of April 8 in Ashraf Camp is the least and simplest response that Iranian pro-democracy activists can undertake. But our responsibility goes further. We have a deep responsibility towards the 3,500 individuals who are trapped in the neo-conservatist policies of the US and Israeli dreams for Iran. The policy of staying and preparing itself for the eventual outcome pursued by the MKO cannot last. Pressure and insistence of the neo-conservatists for using this force as a pressure against the Iranian regime must end.
Before the tragedy repeats itself, now is the time to approach the MKO and its powerful international supporters and press for the organization to submit its request to the UN Secretary General to resettle the group and its members in a secure country, while at the same time condemning any killing or bloodshed by the Iraqi army and to press the Iraqi government to announce a moratorium on the MKO.
I specifically request of the MKO, General Jones, John Bolton, Mrs. Mary Robinson, and Messrs. Howard Deen and Patrick Kennedy who are the most influential supporters of keeping the MKO and recognizing it as the alternative to the Iranian regime to facilitate the departure of this group from Iraq and set a specific date for this. At the same time, the Iraqi government should provided assurance that it would not enforce its sovereignty over Ashraf Camp until the departure of the MKO.
"Supporting Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, NCRI ,Rajavi cult), kiss of death for Green Movement"
... First and foremost among such groups is Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an organization that has been designated by the U.S. government as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). But despite its obvious threat to global security, the MEK could be taken off the State Department's Terror List within the next week. If this happens, it promises to spell disaster for the pro-democracy movement in Iran, and will be a devastating setback in the country's attempts to move forward... It is highly unlikely that other U.S.-designated FTOs, such as al-Qaida, would enjoy this astonishing degree of latitude in the corridors of the U.S. military, and within its executive and legislative branches ...
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Right: supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi listen to his speech at a demonstration in Tehran on Thursday June, 18, 2009
(Mohsen Kadivar, left and Ahmad Sadri, right)
As Tunisians and Egyptians work through their respective political transitions, the Iranian government increasingly detaches itself from the realities of its restive population. The longer it resists meeting public demands, the shorter its lifespan becomes.
At the same time, within the Iranian Diaspora, some have sought to usurp leadership of Iran's indigenous pro-democracy movement. This has alarmed the leaders of the Green Movement in Iran. Mir Hossein Mousavi warned against "international surfers" seeking to wield their own axe in the furnace of the Green movement in his last communiqué that was issued before he was put under house arrest on Feb. 29.
First and foremost among such groups is Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an organization that has been designated by the U.S. government as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). But despite its obvious threat to global security, the MEK could be taken off the State Department's Terror List within the next week. If this happens, it promises to spell disaster for the pro-democracy movement in Iran, and will be a devastating setback in the country's attempts to move forward.
The MEK has no political base inside Iran and no genuine support on the Iranian street because it was long based in Iraq under Saddam Hussein's patronage. It lost any semblance of credibility it might have had inside Iran due to its opposition to the Shah's regime when its troops fought on behalf of Iraq toward the end of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. Hence, it would behoove U.S. policymakers to be skeptical of the boasts of MEK lobbyists regarding the extent of this group's popularity inside Iran.
Since Saddam Hussein's ouster in 2003, the MEK has been depending almost entirely on the uneven enforcement of existing U.S. laws concerning designated foreign terrorist organizations. Surprisingly, the MEK military compound in Iraq enjoys de-facto "protected persons" status, and its activities at the U.S. congress have long been unchecked. It is highly unlikely that other U.S.-designated FTOs, such as al-Qaida, would enjoy this astonishing degree of latitude in the corridors of the U.S. military, and within its executive and legislative branches.
Countless first-rate analysts, scholars and human rights organizations -- including Human Rights Watch -- have determined that the MEK is an undemocratic, cultlike organization whose modus operandi vitiates its claim to be a vehicle for democratic change.
Most importantly, MEK activities in Washington could be causing irreparable damage to Iran's home-grown opposition. When post-election turbulence commenced inside Iran, the MEK quickly sought to join the frenzy of brewing opposition to the current government. The Ahmadinejad government promptly connected the Green Movement to the MEK in an effort to discredit the pro-democracy movement. Opposition leaders such as Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard and Mehdi Karrubi immediately pushed back. Rahnavard pointedly said, "the Green Movement is a people's movement that is alive and dynamic and holds a wall between itself and the MEK." Opposition leaders in Iran have good reason to erect and maintain such a wall. They see the MEK as an organization capitalizing on U.S.-Iran enmity to shed its terrorist designation and subsequently receive U.S. government funding -- effectively becoming the Iranian version of Ahmed Chalabi's infamous Iraqi National Congress.
As Washington policymakers seek new ways to pressure their counterparts in Tehran to yield on nuclear developments, they must refrain from actions that would harm the long-term prospects of trust and friendship between the two peoples.
Removing the MEK from the FTO at this juncture would embolden Iran's hardliners to intensify their repression and discredit the Green Movement by implying that it is somehow connected to the widely detested MEK terror group. Furthermore, supporting the MEK would provide the Iranian government with the specter of a foreign-based threat that could be exploited to heal key fractures within the system, increase the number of Iranians who would rally around the flag, and facilitate the suppression of the indigenous political opposition.
For all of its mistakes in the Middle East, the Bush administration -- even at the height of its aggressive foreign policy -- understood that delisting the MEK from the State Department's terrorist list would be a dangerous gambit. It would trigger a huge loss of U.S. soft power in Iran, damage Iran's democratic progress and help Iranian hardliners cement a long-term dictatorship. The Iranian people won't forgive or forget such cynical moves. Bitter memories associated with U.S. policies toward the Shah and Mohammad Mossadegh, the prime minister overthrown with covert American assistance in 1953, continue to linger and poison U.S.-Iran relations to this day. We urge the U.S. government to avoid committing this critical mistake at a time when the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people hang in the balance.
Mohsen Kadivar, a leading figure in the Green Movement, is visiting professor of religion at Duke University. Ahmad Sadri is professor of sociology and James P. Gorter chair of Islamic world studies at Lake Forest College.