Note: the MKO is referred to by various names such as MEK or PLOI depending on the source.
Well oiled from the current war, U.S.A.’s propaganda machine has geared up for a possible war against Iran. As U.S. warships and the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower wait ominously in the Persian Gulf1, the media is launching a war of its own, using their patented method of demonizing Arabs as anti-Semites, misogynists and terrorists. Yet behind the scenes, the US government is collaborating with a group they define as terrorists- a group they cited to prove that Saddam Hussein had connections to terrorist organizations.
The Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO) identifies themselves as a Marxist-Islamist guerilla army, but has a long and complex history of violence and betrayal that makes it difficult to understand exactly who and what they stand for. Their recent collaboration with the U.S. intelligence and military blurs their identity ever more.
Send in the Terrorists
In an April, 2006 article from the alternative news website, The Raw Story, Larisa Alexandrova interviewed several former intelligence officials who implicated the U.S. in what appears to be the initial plans for a war with Iran. One of her sources said, “The US army secured a key MEK facility 60 miles northwest of Baghdad shortly after the 2003 invasion, but they did not secure the MEK and let them basically be because [then Deputy Defense Secretary Paul] Wolfowitz was thinking ahead to Iran.”
“These guys are nuts,” another former intelligence source was quoted as saying. “[Stephen] Cambone [the Undersecretary of Defense Intelligence] and those guys made MEK
members swear an oath to Democracy and resign from the MEK and then our guys incorporated them into their unit and trained them.”
The sources also indicated that among the US supporters of the MKO are former Attorney General John Ashcroft, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld; the latter two were responsible for the aforementioned plan to “convert” the MKO into democratic freedom fighters.2 “In 2000,” Wikipedia’s article on the MKO reads, “200 US congress members signed a statement endorsing the organization’s cause.”3
According to Green Left Online, some of the US intelligence on alleged nuclear weapons development came from Alireza Jafarzadeh, former spokesman for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the semi-legitimate political arm of the MKO. Jafarzadeh apparently provided US agents with drawings of planned underground tunnels where nuclear weapons were to be developed and tested.4
Which Side are They on?
I have to admit that as a western radical, at first glance the MKO is enticing. They formed in the 1960’s as a people’s liberation army, with a mix of Marx and Mohammed fighting against the Shah and, later, the oppressive clerical regime that has made a thousand empty promises to the poor of Iran. However, we shouldn’t fetishize or idealize the MKO, in the exact same way that western leftists in the early 70’s idealized the Khmer Rouge, right before they revealed themselves as genocidal psychotics in the vast killing fields of Cambodia.
To their credit, the MKO fought bravely and successfully to free Iran from the Shah and his puppet-masters, assassinating US officials and launching a guerilla war that helped turn the tides of the Iranian revolution. At one point in time the MKO were truly fighting for, and alongside, the people of Iran and had a good chance of gaining popular support for a full-scale revolution. But that time ended as the Ayatollah outlawed and began to persecute the MKO. It was then in the early 80’s during the Iran-Iraq war that they sought the assistance of Saddam Hussein, even as he murdered Iranians with bombs and mustard gas. Hussein armed and funded the MKO during and after the war in an attempt to destabilize Iran- the same strategy the US is now attempting. It failed for Saddam. In fact, Khomeini consolidated his power through the opposition of Iraq and the MKO.3
In 1989, the MKO moved their base of operations to Iraq, after being exiled from both Iran and France. They fought for Saddam, aiding him in his brutal campaign against both the Shiites and the Kurds. The instances of Hussein’s cruelty have been well documented by the mainstream media, so I won’t go into detail, but a quote from a former MKO leader will concisely illustrate their involvement: “Take the Kurds under your tanks and save your bullets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.”5
In the spring of 2005, Human Rights Watch interviewed 12 former members of the MKO, five of whom were held in Abu Ghraib after the MKO turned them over to Saddam Hussein’s regime. The interviews revealed MKO practices of “… detention and persecution of ordinary members wishing to leave the organization …” and “… lengthy solitary confinements, severe beatings, and torture of dissident members.” The Iraqi Republican Guard sent one of the men to Abu Ghraib and held him in solitary confinement for over eight years.6
A Deadly Hypocrisy
So after all of this the US is using the MKO to support their claims of an Iranian nuclear arms program and as a proxy-army to clear the way for a US occupation. The MKO, in turn, has no qualms about accepting the support of a foreign aggressor whose war will invariably cost many Iranian lives. This two-faced policy is obviously nothing new. Look no further than Saddam Hussein, Nicole Cescareau, Slobodan Milosevic or Alqueda and Bin-Laden himself and you will find a history of foreign policy rich in hypocrisy and the empire’s ability to turn their lackeys into monsters when they become inconvenient.
It is hard to wade through the propaganda of all sides and figure out exactly what the MKO are fighting for. Are they terrorists? A people’s liberation army? Are they even Marxists anymore? Although they still identify themselves as Marxist-Islamists, according to Wikipedia one of their demands is a free market economy in Iran.3 And the Raw Story article about CIA-MKO collaboration refers to them as “a right wing terrorist organization.” 2
Regardless of their ideology, the MKO supported Saddam in his attacks against Iranians and now appears like they will help the US military slaughter more of their own people. One can only imagine how the organization, with their unpopularity in Iran, will go after civilians who oppose them, as they have in the past. Unless the MKO dramatically changes its ways, its tarnished name and key members, it is no longer a viable means for Iranian liberation. The students, workers and youth on the other hand …
The defenstrator – By Colin Cascia – 2006-11-30