The MEK and the Bankrupt U.S. Policy on Iran

The MEK and the Bankrupt U.S. Policy on Iran ... 15/11/2018 Politics

Keywords:#Albania, #American, #Ashraf, #Camp_Ashraf, #Donald_Trump, #Guardian, #Iran, #Iran-Iraq, #Iran-Iraq_War, #Iranian, #Iraq, #Iraqi, #Islamic, #Islamic_Republic, #Khomeini, #Marxism, #Maryam_Rajavi,, #Paul_R._Pillar, #Rajavi, #Saddam, #Saddam_Hussein, #Shah, #Shah_of_Iran, #Tehran, #Trump

The fact that a group as dubious as the Mujahedin-e Khalq figures so prominently in the Trump administration’s policy on Iran demonstrates the bankruptcy of that policy.
by Paul R. Pillar
Among the many indicators of misdirection in the Trump administration’s policy toward Iran, one of the clearest is the fondness for the cult-cum-terrorist group known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK. The national security advisor, John Bolton, and Donald Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, are among the group’s most prominent cheerleaders, having been featured speakers at its rallies. They and other shills for the MEK refer to the group as if it represented what it decidedly is not: a democratic alternative to the current Iranian political system.
Journalist Arron Merat, an experienced Iran-watcher who formerly was the Economist’s Tehran correspondent, has just published a 6,600-word article about the MEK in the Guardian. The piece is well worth reading as it forms a richly informed and up-to-date portrait that leaves no doubt about the nature of the group and the ghastly inappropriateness of using the MEK in any way as a vehicle for U.S. policy in the region.
The MEK originated as a student movement that opposed the Shah of Iran and spouted an ideology that weirdly combined Islamism and Marxism. The group was virulently anti-American from the beginning. Its terrorist operations targeted American-owned businesses, and it killed six American citizens in addition to its far more numerous Iranian victims. The MEK was a major player in toppling the shah in the 1979 revolution but soon had a falling out with the new Khomeini regime—among other things, the group opposed the regime’s release of the American hostages held at the U.S. embassy. The group continued its terrorism, with the only difference being that the Islamic Republic had replaced the shah’s regime as a principal target.
With the eight-year Iran-Iraq War already underway, the MEK threw in its lot with Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi dictator gave the group weapons, cash, and a compound called Camp Ashraf in return for its continuing attacks inside Iran as well as helping Saddam suppress his own domestic opponents. Iranians understandably viewed this phase in the MEK’s history as an unforgivable act of treason, and whatever support the group previously had in Iran was erased.
Merat’s article provides details of the cult-like aspects of how the MEK has functioned, earlier at Camp Ashraf and more recently, after the group had to leave Iraq, at a compound in Albania. As cult leaders, the husband-and-wife duo of Massoud and Maryam Rajavi have resembled the likes of Jim Jones and Shoko Asahara. Families have been broken up, married couples told to divorce, and women threatened with punishment if they did not “marry” Massoud and endure his sexual abuse. (Massoud dropped out of sight after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and it is not known whether he is dead or alive. Maryam continues as the public face of the group.) Stomach-turning details continue to emerge from the MEK’s current location in Albania, including stories of forced hysterectomies and would-be escapees subjected to solitary confinement. The former head of Albanian military intelligence says that MEK members live in the group’s current compound as “hostages” amid “extraordinary psychological violence and threats of murder.”
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