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MKO is a Cult and should remain in the list

VOA Interviews Dr. Rasool Nafisi , academic and Middle East expert

Siamak Dehqanpour: a group of political activists have recently written a letter to call for keeping MKO in the terrorist list. You were one of the signatories of the letter. Why do you believe that MKO should remain in the list of the State Department and what kind of organization is the MKO?

Rasoul Nafisi: firstly I’d say that the letter was not signed by political activists. None of them were political activists but all of those 38 people are well-educated experts on Middle East affairs. I had a personal reason to sign the letter.

In my opinion, delisting the MKO is harmful to the youth in the US. Why? Unleashing the group opens the way for them to deceive the Iranian youth– a lot of whom have no information on the history of Iran. The organization has had a awkward life .They have always been imprudent, they have never cared about people’s lives, and the example was the operation “Eternal Light”( Forough-e-Javidan)
Neither am I a member of an organization, nor a political activist.

I am a scholar. I don’t have political idea or goal. I’m not paid by anyone. And I don’t pay anyone either.

I am morally concerned about the MKO as a guilty, imprudent organization that simply plays with people’s lives. In the infamous case of “Forough-e Javidan”, 600 foreign passports were found. MKO was basically established on political –military basis. It has a military ideology although it claims to be democratic. Furthermore, the problem about the MKO is that it [has held] a large number of Iranian youth in a country which was Iran’s enemy. The MKO sided with Saddam Hossein in a very very sensitive time, when he wanted to occupy Iranian soil.

Now the MKO’s problem is that Saddam Hossein has been collapsed but the MKO’s trained army remained in Iraq. No one knows what to do with them. If you want to move them to another country , I don’t think any country accepts them. If you want to send them individually to other countries, the MKO doesn’t accept the option.

The research done by RAND Corporation in 2009 indicated that about 70 percent of Ashraf residents are kept there against their will. Besides, when the American forces wanted to enter the camp in order to disarm them completely, hey were threatened to mass suicide [by the MKO].
I’d like to mention that they are a “cult”. A cult has some criteria;

– It has religious background
– They adore a personality
– They don’t accept any opinion from outside the group
– All decisions are made inside the group
– Most cults recommend their members to commit suicide. For instance, the case of James Jones. He made the 500 followers under his control commit suicide when finally he was stuck in a cul-de-sack …

I’d like to view this group from sociological point of view. There are good books about it. I think one of the best ones is the book by Ervand Abrahamian, the prominent Iranian historians who investigates the MKO’s history really impartially and even he has some sympathy for the group. He describes how a socially-politically founded organization finally turns into a cult.

Siamak Dehqanpour: there is an important point, the MKO has declined to annihilation several times since 1965 but each time they could stand up again and restart their activities. What’s the secret of such a thing?

Dr. Rasoul Nafisi: first of all, we should admit that the MKO is really well-organized. We have recently witnessed examples of it. They paid hundreds of thousands dollars to American military and political personalities, brought them to public to speak in favor of them. Unfortunately most of them were from right-wing. Again and again the MKO reconstructs itself. In a cult-like organization, all problems are in the system and the main cause of the system is its survival and its power and nothing else, that’s why it can survive.

Siamak Dehqanpour; do you think, it will be a crushing defeat [for the MKO] if Ashraf is shutdown?

Rasoul Nafisi: I actually see Ashraf as a wealth in hand of the MKO’s leadership. They use it to raise funds from the countries in the region. Some of military supporters of the group in the US officially say that “We want to use the group to destabilize Iran”! It is much to be regretted that. I mean the history has shown that the MKO is ready to do [what the US wants] as they allied with Saddam Hussein. They will absolutely ally with anyone else. They claim that they are democratic and tolerant because they are now in a weak condition.

I always consider groups, people and their words when they are in power, when they have the upper hand. See what they did with their allies in the council [National Council of Resistance] and in other cases.

Translated by Nejat Society

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