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How cost effective is western support for the MKO ?

How cost effective is western support for the Mojahedin Khalq (MKO, MEK, NCRI, …)?
Following the Iranian election, some in the western media gave their assessment; the ensuing popular protests conducted by ordinary people in Iran following the presidential election had “failed”.

Of course, ‘failure’ indicates that there was some prior agreed aim or achievement, which in this case was not fulfilled. And there can be little doubt in anyone’s mind that what these ‘experts’ mean is that what the Iranian people ‘failed’ to achieve was regime change.

In fact, recent events have exposed, if nothing else, that the real failure has been in outsiders’ understanding and assessment of Iranian society and politics.

Looking at Iran from outside and through the lens of ‘regime change’ has led many western analysts and politicians to a false perception of the country – one based on wishful thinking rather than facts on the ground.

Perhaps it is this generally upheld false perception which has allowed American politicians, in particular, to convince themselves to pursue unhelpful – even damaging – policies aimed at ‘supporting’ Iranian people’s desires for social change and political progress. This has continued for some time in spite of clear calls from Iranians themselves (many in the USA) to stop funding so-called ‘opposition’ groups – among which it has become axiomatic that American support for your cause is the ‘kiss of death’.

There is, however, one group which has actively courted American support and which indeed is entirely dependent upon it because it has no constituency among Iranians, whether inside or outside the country. Of all the CIA backed ‘regime change’ groups, the nefarious Mojahedin-e Khalq is markedly different. For one thing, the group is profoundly unpopular among right thinking Iranians wherever they live and whatever their politics. Indeed in western countries, post-election protestors of all persuasions have angrily and vigorously expelled MKO activists from their demonstrations. The roots of this unpopularity certainly go back to the MKO’s collaboration with Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war. But it can also be traced to the MKO’s ideological belief in violence, its quasi-religious status and its use of cult methodology to recruit and maintain its membership.

To cover up this lack of support the MKO held its annual ‘bigger than ever’ June 20 commemoration rally in Paris in order to ‘prove’ its credentials. The fact that it has to pay attendees and that it reports attendance at around 1000% greater than the capacity of the venue does not embarrass the group or its backers.

It may seem strange, even in the context of American ‘interfering politics’, that such an unpopular group has western backers. But clearly the MKO offers something which no other group does. In simple terms the MKO offers Camp Ashraf in Iraq.

Camp Ashraf was established by MKO leader Massoud Rajavi and Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war and remains the MKO’s main ideological and military training base.

What makes the MKO unique in the context of external opposition to the Islamic Republic of Iran is the group’s willingness to use violence. In all its bases, but in Camp Ashraf in particular, the group’s members are indoctrinated using cult methodology inthe group’s ideology of violence and self-sacrifice so that they will perform acts of violence, terrorism and assassination to order without question.

This naturally renders them a valuable asset for any external enemy of the IRI which is prepared to fund and facilitate that violence.

No wonder the regime change proponents refuse to let the group follow its natural path of diminution and dissolution. No wonder the American Army was tasked with protecting and maintaining the group in Iraq even after the same force had disarmed the group as a foreign terrorist entity in 2003, and even though the MKO has been on America’s own terrorism list since 1997.

So far so logical. But where the logic falls down is in the detail and that detail is the MKO’s actual track record. For thirty years the MKO has carved out a niche for itself by preying on the Iranian people’s legitimate struggle against the narrow constraints imposed on them by their successive governments by posing for an ignorant and gullible western audience as a their leading cohort.

Although allegedly implicated in the recent violence in Iran and in Sweden, in reality over the past thirty years the MKO has been unable to effect any change whatsoever inside Iran through any means. The group’s last viable attempt to overthrow the ruling system was in 1988 with the Eternal Light operation. The attempt failed and thousands of MKO civilians lost their lives. Since then the group has been impotent and has done little more than launch irritant terrorist attacks into Iran from neighbouring Iraq. (Ironically, Maryam Rajavi recently donned a green scarf supposedly to signal to Mir Hossein Moussavi’s supporters that she is ‘on their side’. The MKO appear to have conveniently forgotten that Mr Moussavi was Iran’s Prime Minister in 1988.)

Currently the Iraqi Government is acting upon its legal obligation to remove all foreign terrorist groups from the country. This means the MKO’s base Camp Ashraf is in the process of being dismantled. The former militants living there will be removed to third countries; namely Europe. Of course, the removal of Camp Ashraf does not mean that the MKO will no longer be able to provide mercenary forces for regime change proponents. The MKO’s foreign terrorists will relocate to Europe and will have to adapt their tactics accordingly.

What the MKO’s western backers might want to consider is the cost effectiveness of continued support for a group which has nothing but self-promoting propaganda to show for itself after thirty years.
By Ann Singleton

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