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Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – 267

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++ Since Soleimani’s assassination Albania has been on overdrive to prove its ass licking credentials to Pompeo; left, right and center are praising Pompeo and ranting against Iran. To date, Iran has ignored this. The more silent Iran is the more Albania is pushed by Pompeo – from ordering the expulsion of two Iranian diplomats, to the point of placing ads in various media, arresting former MEK members and closing the private school which was funded by Iran. In the midst of this MEK is always there, as though Iran is so bothered about their existence in Albania. The Americans use MEK there to provoke Iran, but Iran doesn’t react. In Farsi this is a well-known scenario. Everyone knows what is happening. For the MEK it is a dream come true. This is what they have asked from the CIA before – to be able to silence ex members. Some writers have exposed dealing between the MEK and the CIA which mean that MEK have agreed to obey the order to leave Europe because this would happen anyway. In exchange, the CIA promises to make Albania safe for MEK to do what they want. According to this deal, MEK will rule Albania, not Rama. MEK will have the last word, not the government. Writers over last two weeks remind us that Saddam attacked Iran on the order of America. It was America that backed Saddam, who hosted the MEK. But this is something that Albania cannot replicate. The country is not big enough. The maximum that can be achieved is a military base like Israel. Albania is not capable of doing anything and the Americans are wasting their time.

++ As far as MEK is concerned, last week they have another three deaths. They have already gone to plan B – just die.

++ Rajavi jumped up trying to pretend that he’s crying for the airplane victims. This has attracted a very bad backlash, even among those close to MEK. Critics point out that for years Rajavi was giving directions for the Iraqi military to bombard civilians in Iran. Rajavi even praised America for hitting the Iranian Air passenger Flight 655 in 1988. ‘With this history’, they say, ‘you have nothing to say’.

In English:

++ Former MEK who live in Albania have written an Open Letter to the Minister of Justice, Etilda Gjonaj, concerning the detention of Ehsan Bidi who is being held without access to a lawyer. Bidi, who has a ten-year residence permit, is being threatened with deportation. The letter asks for justice to be served so that he is freed.

++ Pompeo’s flip flop over contact with militant Iranian exile and opposition groups was reported in various media. After the first directive was made public, James M. Dorsey, Euro-Asia Times concluded that “Mr. Pompeo’s directive is unlikely to persuade Iran that Washington has had a change of heart. Indeed, it hasn’t. Mr. Trump maintains his campaign of maximum pressure and this week imposed additional sanctions on Iran.” After the directive was overturned, The Daily Beast piece summed up the situation by quoting Jarrett Blanc, a former Obama administration official who worked on Iran policy: “There are at least two problems with this reversal. The first is that the policy is wrong. U.S. diplomats should not be meeting with MEK or its affiliates. They represent a dangerous cult. We should avoid all the mistakes of the Iraq war including being hoodwinked by purported diaspora opposition with no links at home. The second problem is that it reflects the total incompetence and chaos of this administration’s policy making —to send out an instruction and less than a week later countermand it. They just don’t know what they are doing.”

++ As Pompeo flip flopped over contact with MEK, a significant amount of commentary focused on the MEK in Albania and that country’s relationship with America and Iran. Along with the UK, Israel and Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Rama came out strongly in support for the illegal assassination of general Qassem Soleimani. But Rama confessed that although Albania had accepted to host the MEK as a humanitarian gesture, the group now posed a national security issue. Elis Gjevori for TRT World reported in detail the problems caused by the MEK presence in that country. Dr Olsi Jazexhi, an Albanian academic and expert who has been tracking MEK activities in Albania, said “The reason for the MEK being brought to Albania is the general ignorance of Albanian politicians who do not understand the danger of international terrorism and the implications that this terrorism has on nation-states.” Adding, “MEK with its paramilitary camps that they have in Manza has created a state within a state.” The article concludes that “MEK actions in an impoverished country like Albania, which is still struggling to emerge from a communist dictatorship, doesn’t bode well for its long-term stability or rule of law. Iraq has become a battleground of influence between the US and Iran, a faraway conflict for many Albanians.”

++ Several pieces also focused on MEK’s role in online propaganda with the enslaved members in Camp Ashraf 3 used for cyber activity. In Mother Jones, Daniel Moattar interviewed Peyman Jafari, researcher and historian at Princeton University’s Center for Iran Persian Gulf Studies. Jafari mentioned the disinfo campaigns which emanate from Iran and the US. “Trump was bragging about his tweet in Persian being the most retweeted Persian-language tweet. But much of that retweeting happens by these bots, and through these online activist cyber armies like the MKO. Their activism, now, is basically tweeting. They have these halls of aging activists sitting behind computers and sending out tweets all day long… When Trump tweeted in Persian, a lot of Iranians’ reaction was just, ‘Shut up. You have instituted a travel ban. You have targeted our cultural sites. You have been sanctioning us.’ People are aware of that.”

++ Deutsche Welle reported on Albania’s involvement in the standoff between the US and Iran. But reporting MEK spokesman Behzad Safari crying wolf and Rama cringeworthily comparing MEK with persecuted Jews in WW2 does not have the effect they hope for. Instead, placing Albania in the crosshairs of Iran means that hosting the MEK is a disaster for the Albanian people. Mazda Parsi writing for Nejat Society which helps former MEK to rehabilitate, warns that the “Albanian government is definitely gaining advantages by offering safe haven to the MEK but they should be absolutely warned that a terrorist cult-like establishment like the MEK will come back to haunt their country someday. This is a serious warning.”
Jan. 24 , 2020

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