The Iran Hawks’ Creepy Embrace of the MEK

Originally appeared on The American Conservative.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge resumes his discrediting advocacy for the Mujahideen-e Khalq:

Which is why I include myself among an incredible cadre of men and women from across every spectrum of life and political affiliation, in Europe and here in America, who have decided to embrace publicly the viable alternative to the clerical regime, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and the 10-point Plan advocated by the NCRI’s leader, Maryam Rajavi.

It is rather incredible that so many former government officials and retired officers have embraced a totalitarian cult as the “alternative” to another country’s government, but it has been going on for the better part of a decade now. All of the MEK’s American boosters have proven that they have such extraordinary bad judgment that they should have no business talking about Iran policy (or any other foreign policy issue), and their continued advocacy on behalf of this awful organization is proof of how easily corrupted our foreign policy debates are. The MEK probably does still engage in terrorism, since its members were reportedly the ones responsible for murdering Iranian scientists a few years back, but there is absolutely no question that they are not and never could be a “viable alternative” to the current government. It is an indictment of Ridge and others like him, including the National Security Advisor, that they are so gullible or so obsessed with regime change that they are willing to make such ridiculous claims in public.

Ridge unsurprisingly doesn’t mention that almost all Iranians everywhere hate the MEK and want nothing to do with it. They certainly don’t want them to take over Iran, and I think it’s safe to assume that any attempt to force this group on the people would be met with overwhelming resistance. So much for being “viable.” It is a reflection of many Iran hawks’ ignorance of the country and its people that they think this could possibly work. He omits that Rajavi is a cultish leader who used to fight on the side of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and he leaves out the group’s long history of abusing its members that continues to this day in their creepy compound in Albania. Every time that a prominent American shills for the MEK, it is an insult to the genuine Iranian opposition and another reminder that Iran hawks have nothing but contempt for the Iranian people.

In addition to shilling for the cult, Ridge urges the Trump administration to be merciless in its application of sanctions in order to strangle Iran’s economy even more than it already has:

President Trump’s views on Iran are both clear and appropriate, but frankly, I would like to see zero exports of energy. Some say that means the Iranian people will suffer, but they are suffering now. Inflation is at 40 percent, unemployment at 50 percent. The rial has lost 70 percent of its value. And the recent devastating floods engulfing 27 out of 31 provinces are a damning indictment of the mullahs for their 40 years of mismanagement, incompetence and the looting of Iran’s national wealth. We must encourage the president, the administration and Congress to sustain the pressure.

Existing sanctions are responsible for causing much of the suffering that Iranians are already experiencing, and Ridge’s answer to that is to cause even more harm in the vain hope that this will lead to regime change. Toppling the government in Tehran seems to be the only thing that matters to these fanatics, and they don’t care how many millions of people have to be punished along the way.

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and is a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter. This article is reprinted from The American Conservative with permission.

9 thoughts on “The Iran Hawks’ Creepy Embrace of the MEK”

  1. Daniel Larison is so hysteric in his opposition to the MEK, that he ignores obvious facts. The MEK has formally renounced violence since June 2001, and seven different US agencies investigated every single member of the MEK at Camp Ashraf for 16 months and concluded that “there was no basis to charge any member of the group with the violation of US law,” according to the New York Times on July 27, 2004. Had there been any evidence of MEK collusion with the Iraqi government as Larison falsely claims it would have turned up 16 years after the fall of the Iraqi government.

    On September 28, 2012, two senior State Department officials in a briefing for reporters unequivocally rejected the hollow claims made by the pro-regime NBC news that the MEK had been involved in the killing of Iranian scientists. Re the “abuse” of unhappy members, suffice it to say that a court in Hamburg issued a verdict, rejecting the lies in the Spiegel magazine, very similar to the ones in the article Larison has linked by an Iranian “journalist”, ordering it to remove those outlandish allegations or pay 250,000 euros and face six months jail time for each allegation, if it refused to remove them. And Speigel promptly carried out the court order.

    And there’s nothing creepy about the MEK’s new home in Albania. Dozens of real journalists, and not fake ones, as well as US Senators, European Parliamentarians and US embassy officials have visited that location and spoken to many residents privately.

    Iranians are suffering not because of the sanctions, but because a criminal mafia has been looting their wealth for the past 40 decades, filling the pockets of the mullahs and spending the rest to prop up the mass murderer Bashar Assad, the terrorist Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen and the murderous Shiite militias in Iraq. No Mr. Larison, you are the gullible one, if not outright shill of the tyrants who rule Iran today.

    1. The MeK is a terrorist group, whether we call them that or not. They don’t attack the US- yet- but that doesn’t absolve them of their crimes.

      1. John S: In the world of fake news, lies cannot replace facts. As Miguel de Cervantes wrote, “Truth will always bear up
        against falsehood, as oil does above water.” I leave it at that.

    2. Albania is a hub for drugs and human trafficking. Also, its people want to ethnically cleanse Serbs from Kosovo.

      But you don’t care about Serbs, because you hate Christians.

    3. As opposed to the US-backed criminal mafia who was looting the country for the 25 years before that, ever since the US overthrew the legitimate (secular, too) government of Iran and installed the Pahlavis?

  2. Larison is writing about a group of people so incalculably stupid that they didn’t realise removing Saddam would empower Iran in Shia-majority (60%) Iraq. D’oh!

    Powerful, but stupid.

    Trump, on the other hand, seems intent only on relatively innocuous actions against Iran. I doubt he’ll start a war or attempt a coup.

    1. I think you’re wrong. Why else would he hire John Bolton, a neoconservative chickenhawk among chickenhawks who notoriously wants to attack Iran, to an unelected senior advisory position so that his saber-rattling minority views can be given a soapbox and so that those views can be injected into policy discussions at the highest levels in DC?

      1. A theory is he hires such morons to appease Congress, donors, other powers-that-be. So, Trump could be positioning himself to appear aggressive against Iran without actually doing much. Another theory is Trump has no idea whom to hire, so he just hires fellow Republicans. He ostensibly needs someone with “experience” (as a “centrist”).

        Israelis love Trump. I don’t mind being in the pro-Israel party, provided it can also be an anti-intervention, anti-police state party as well. Politics is about forming coalitions.

        Despite his rising poll numbers, I expect Tulsi could be a threat to Trump in 2020 if he’s not careful. If he rejects populist positions, she could win the primary and ultimately defeat him by wielding those positions against him.

        No one currently expects much from Tulsi, but if Trump starts a war or otherwise gives up much populist ground, he’s going to be in trouble. The only way to keep Dems in the extreme “centrist” camp is for Trump to remain populist. His move to the centre is a mistake.

        What many don’t realize also is increased “socialism” is counter to globalism, because it makes mass immigration too expensive and potentially creates unemployment if wages are artificially set high. We could really see an anti-globalist left arise in the Dems if Trump moves away from it. It’s all related.

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