On April 30, ForeignPolicy.com ran an article on the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) that was riddled with lies and baseless allegations. Here is the official rebuttal.
“Bolton’s ascent gives Iranian group a new lease on life” (ForeignPolicy.com, April 30) is a rare collection of threadbare allegations against the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and the National Council of Resistance of Iran that the propaganda machine and smear campaign of the mullahs’ regime have been conjuring up for years. What is very telling is the timing of the article.
The trend of events totally changed in Iran subsequent to major anti-regime protests in more than 140 cities and towns throughout Iran in late December and January, in which protesters’ slogans, like “Down with Khamenei” and “Down with Rouhani”, clearly manifested their desire for the overthrow of the clerical regime in its entirety. In addition to the mullahs, their apologists and lobbyists in the West were the biggest losers of this development since it proved all their assessments of Iran to be simply myths.
The ruling theocracy has continued its reign for almost four decades based on ruthless repression at home and export of Islamic extremism and terrorism throughout the world. Until recently, appeasement was the underlying policy in the West in general and the U.S. in particular, and it contributed to the continuation of the mullahs’ rule, against the most important interests of the Iranian people and the region.
The mullahs and their lobbyists and apologists in the West reasoned that the regime was stable and enjoyed popular support, and realpolitik dictated that the only sensible approach was one based on appeasement and reaching compromise with the regime. Demonization and disseminating all sorts of lies against the MEK, the main Iranian opposition movement, was part and parcel of this policy.
The popular uprising that stemmed from undeniable, bitter realities on the ground was a nail in the coffin of the appeasement policy and all its supporting theories. The protesters echoed the slogans advocated by the Iranian resistance in general and the MEK in particular for a long time, and thus proved the viability of that movement.
Nowadays the staunch advocates of appeasement are hearing the death knell of this policy and are becoming totally bankrupt politically and are in a desperate state. The Foreign Policy article is a vivid case in point, manifesting the desperation on their end.
The crux of the article is that the MEK lacks popular support among the Iranians and does not represent a viable alternative. The popularity of the resistance movement is not to be determined in Washington, DC or any other capital by this or that “expert.” Rather, the people of Iran are those who have paid the heaviest price and as such have made their political allegiance clear.
More than 100,000 activists of the MEK have been executed for their defense of democracy and human rights in the last three decades. In a clear case of crime against humanity, more than 30,000 political prisoners, primarily MEK activists, were executed in the course of a few months in the summer of 1988 for their steadfastness and their firm beliefs and principles. Fearing that the legitimacy and popularity of the MEK would be more widely realized by the Iranian people, the regime suppressed any talk of the massacre for almost three decades.
On January 9, Ali Khamenei, the regime’s leader, underscored that the MEK was the main force behind the recent uprising and had planned for it months in advance. In a phone conversation with French President Emanuel Macron on January 2, Hassan Rouhani, the regime’s president, complained that the MEK was causing the unrest in Iran and he asked his French counterpart to restrict the activities of the group. Khamenei’s startling admission and Rouhani’s desperate appeal fly in the face of claims about the MEK’s lack of popularity in Iran. The IRGC’s Deputy Commander for Political Affairs said it was the MEK and in particular its female activists who led the unrest, and Khamenei’s representative in Mashhad, the second largest Iranian city, also noted that 40-50 of those who were arrested were MEK team leaders. In recent months, hardly a day goes by that the mullahs’ senior officials would not manifest their fear and anxiety over expansion of the MEK’s influence and sympathy inside of Iran, in particular among the youth.
The role of the MEK and their presence in the social-political setting of Iran have been so conspicuous that the mullahs have had no choice but to acknowledge it as of late. The MEK supporters form an extensive social network inside Iran amongst various sectors of the society like academics, intellectuals, scientists, traders and businessmen. The MEK has the largest non-governmental social network inside Iran. The MEK activists outside of Iran are among the most educated, intellectual and productive members of the Iranian society who have left their homeland only due to the existing crackdown and suppression. They have formed hundreds of official and known associations and entities. According to international media, more than 110,000 took part in the latest MEK gathering outside of Iran, which was held in Paris on July 1, 2017.
It is not at all a coincidence that individuals like Barbara Slavin and Karim Sajadpour who have been introduced as “Iran experts” in the article and have questioned the popularity of the MEK are the same characters who for years were the standard bearers and advocates of hollow claims of moderation and reform by the regime. Slavin often has described Rouhani as the leader of the “reformists.” But the Iranian people also debunked the assertions by these “experts” in the protests, via slogans like “reformists, principalists, this game is over now.” As far as the Iranian people are concerned, this narrative has run its course and is doomed.
The support of American and European dignitaries, parliamentarians, Congressmen and Senators for the 10 point plan of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president of the National Council of Resistance of Iran is totally bipartisan. The most senior U.S. officials dealing with national security issues and decision-making in four consecutive administrations as well as the most senior U.S. military commanders as well as bipartisan delegations of the U.S. Congress have taken part in the resistance’s major international gatherings in Paris over the years. The basis of such participation has been nothing but their political understanding and sympathy with the Iranian people’s aspirations to establish democracy and human rights in Iran, as well as the dignitaries’ opposition to the policies and destructive conduct of the clerical regime. The dignitaries have underscored time and again that such bipartisan cooperation is rather unique on any political issue. In addition to scores of Republican dignitaries, a number of Democratic luminaries including Ed Rendell, former Chairman of the Democratic Party, Howard Dean, former presidential candidate and chairman of the Democratic Party, Bill Richardson, former UN Ambassador, and Congressman Patrick Kennedy, have taken part in these events.
The bipartisan support of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives who represent and reflect the sentiments of the American people dates back to 25 years ago. In 1992, a majority of members of the House emphasized in a statement the deep grassroots support for the MEK inside of Iran as an important factor in neutralizing the Islamic fundamentalism and extremism emanating from the clerical regime.
The claim of Daniel Benjamin, the former Director of Counter-terrorism Bureau of the U.S. State Department, regarding the inclusion of the MEK in the U.S. terror list and the delisting is 180 degrees away from reality. In other words, it is a blatant lie that has been uttered with sinister political objectives. The blacklisting of the MEK in the US took place on October 1997. Senior Clinton administration officials acknowledged that this was done to send “a good will gesture” to Mohammad Khatami, the president of the regime at the time. The blacklisting was the backbone of the appeasement policy and was so illegitimate that it was rejected by the most senior US Congressmen and Senators from both parties and by former US national security officials. On March 29, Howard Dean wrote on Twitter: “I repeat. The MEK was placed on the terrorist list. I am proud I had a role in getting them off and safely out of Iraq.” The MEK was delisted after 20 judgments by the highest courts in the UK, EU and US, which ruled unanimously that there was not an iota of evidence linking the MEK to terrorism.
In Europe, having reviewed all relevant documents, the UK’s chief justice called the designation “perverse.” In France, a judge concluded an 11-year investigation by declaring that the MEK’s actions amounted to legitimate resistance against tyranny, and not terrorism.
In the U.S., the MEK challenged the designation at the highest courts, including the Washington court of appeals, and in all cases the courts ruled in their favor. But each time the U.S. administration, which was involved in negotiations on the nuclear issue with the mullahs, refused to implement the court verdict with various excuses. Finally, when the federal court of appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit granted a Writ of Madamus filed by the MEK, the first of its kind since 1803, on June 1, 2012, ordering the State Department to either provide documents proving the MEK’s involvement in terrorism within four months or remove their name from the list. The State Department procrastinated until the last minute and eventually implemented the court verdict on September 28, 2012, and the designation was rescinded.
Ironically, Mr. Benjamin was one of those who strongly opposed the de-listing of the MEK and delayed it many times. While in a formal hearing in the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, on May 5, 2011, he said that the MEK’s review process, which the court demanded, would be significantly shorter than six months. In mid-2012, he had no answer for the question of why the State Department had still not taken any action. The real answer was that the Obama administration had no desire to delist the MEK during the nuclear negotiations with the mullahs. Contrary to Mr. Benjamin’s claim, this procrastination provided precious time to the regime and its proxies in Iraq to increase pressures and to intensify their conspiracies against several thousand defenseless Iranian refugees. I.e. MEK members at Camp Ashraf in Iraq.
This political game involving the terrorist designation of the MEK continued for several years, solely to appease the mullahs and to accommodate their demands. According to The Wall Street Journal on May 7, 2008, “Iranian officials for years have made suppression of the MEK a priority in negotiations with western governments over Tehran’s nuclear program and other issues, according to several diplomats who were involved in the talks.”
When the mullahs’ failed to eliminate the MEK from the Iranian political scene by massacring its activists, they complemented their reign of terror with a massive demonization and smear campaign against them. One of the regime’s diplomats told the French daily Le Figaro on December 23, 2008 that the mullahs’ regime conjured up this description of the Iranian resistance during the presidency of Mohammad Khatami. In light of what has been explained regarding the conduct of the MEK and its pervasive social support, it is rather obvious that the claim is utterly preposterous.
Quite contrary to what has been claimed in the article, the presence of the MEK in Iraq and its campaign to put an end to the carnage of the Iran-Iraq War is a source of credibility for the MEK. It was only Khomeini who intransigently pursued the continuation of the war, which resulted in the slaughter of one million young Iranians. The Peace Plan of the National Council of Resistance of Iran in 1986, was endorsed by more than 6,000 parliamentarians, political parties and political leaders in Europe.
The claim of the MEK’s cooperation with the former Iraqi government is an outlandish lie. The MEK maintained its independence throughout its three decades long presence in Iraq that included a long period before and after the invasion of Iraq. Eight American agencies confirmed this via a 16-month investigation and even the current, Tehran-controlled government of Iraq has not been able to provide any evidence to the contrary.
The unique role of the MEK in the disclosure of the nuclear weapons program of the mullahs’ regime is not in dispute. The MEK played a leading role in exposing various aspects of Tehran’s secret nuclear weapons program, relying on its extensive network inside Iran and taking high risks as a patriotic duty and in order to prevent the world’s main sponsor of terrorism from acquiring the most dangerous weapon in the world. Over the course of a quarter century, in more than 100 revelations, the MEK took the lid off the secret sites and hidden projects. Many senior US officials, including US President George Bush, his National Security Advisor and his Secretary of State, declared on many occasions that it was the MEK which exposed key sites of the clerical regime’s clandestine nuclear weapons program, including Natanz and Arak.
The fact is, if it wasn’t for these revelations, the world might have been exposed to the nightmare of nuclear-armed mullahs. In addition to disclosing the key sites of Natanz and Arak in August 2002, disclosure of sites such as Kala Electric, Laser project at Lashkar Abad- Karaj, Fordo’s hidden enrichment site, Shian-Lavizan Research Centers and the headquarters responsible for the bombing project (currently operating under the name of SPND), are a small portion of these disclosures.
According to the New York Times on January 5, 2010 “Frank Pabian, a senior adviser on nuclear nonproliferation at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico said, “They’re right 90 percent of the time,” he said of the council’s disclosures about Iran’s clandestine sites. “That doesn’t mean they’re perfect, but 90 percent is a pretty good record.”
What has terrified the mullahs and their friends in the West in general, and in Washington in particular, is that the voice of the MEK has become more prominent than ever in the past three decades, and where it most matters: The streets of Tehran and other cities throughout the country.
The mullahs had calculated that they could silence this voice with the massacre of the MEK and with the appeasement policy. But the Iranian people’s demand for democracy and the adherence of the MEK to their principles for realizing the aspiration of the Iranian people has been much deeper and more profound than what the mullahs and their friends in the West had perceived.
The mullahs correctly sense that their nightmares is turning to reality: Confronting the people and their organized resistance without any international assistance against these threats.
Victor Hugo said: “No army can stop an idea whose time has come.” It should be said to the mullahs that the time that your friends in the West including in Washington could prevent the realities be known by resorting to such a smear campaign against the resistance is over.
Welcome to a new era in Iran.
People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran