The MEK and Its American Fans

Dan Benjamin reviews the history of the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) and its support from many American former officials and politicians:

Even more unsettling was the sheer creepiness of the group. While Maryam Rajavi was presiding over enormous conferences with American political celebrities and seas of smiling, waving people in Paris, at Camp Ashraf, the MeK leadership treated its people appallingly. Visitors, including from the U.N., painted a picture of relentless intimidation, shaming and coercion of the inhabitants by camp leaders [bold mine-DL]. The MeK, which is often described as a cult, had a long history of requiring that its members divorce and remain celibate. Now, it leaders were resolved that the group would remain together and none of the members would be relocated individually or in small groups—the Ashraf group was a bargaining chip that the leadership was cynically using for future leverage.

One of the more troubling things about American MEK supporters is their willingness to whitewash the group’s past as well as its present-day behavior. They aren’t content to work with an avowedly bad group against a common enemy, but feel compelled to pretend that the group is upstanding and noble. At an appearance in Paris last year, Giuliani called the cult leader Maryam Rajavi a “hero,” which either suggests that his understanding of heroism is extremely poor or that he will say anything to get paid.

It is hardly the first time that supporters of regime change in another country have aligned themselves with a disreputable group to pursue their goal, but the sheer dishonesty or credulity required to present a totalitarian cult as a group dedicated to freedom and democracy is nonetheless remarkable. This is perhaps the most insidious part of the MEK boosterism we have seen over the last few years: endorsing their makeover as a “secular, democratic” group and pretending that a group that has virtually no support inside Iran is the country’s “real” opposition. This is not only false, but it also does a real disservice to the Iranian opposition in Iran that wants reform rather than regime change. It also demonstrates contempt for and hostility to the people of Iran, since this same group is responsible for killing so many Iranians when it was serving Saddam Hussein. Above all, it attempts to promote the lie that a policy of regime change is supported by Iranians in order to lend that dangerous and destructive goal the appearance of some legitimacy.

By Daniel Larison,

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