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The “Rehabilitation” of the MEK

The Christian Science Monitor reported on the opening of the MEK’s office in Washington last week:

An Iranian dissident group that languished on the US list of terrorist organizations for more than a decade under both Democratic and Republican administrations marked its full rehabilitation Thursday when it opened sleek new offices – complete with floors covered by plush Persian carpets – within sight of the White House.

The article doesn’t explain that the de-listing of the MEK was mostly a quid pro quo to get most of the group’s members in Iraq to relocate from its old base at Camp Ashraf. It also fails to mention that many of the people at Camp Ashraf were being held there against their will. Taken together with the many disgraceful displays of support by members of Congress and various former officials, all of this creates the impression that the group’s “rehabilitation” is much more meaningful than it is.

The group remains hated in Iran for its long period of collusion with Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war and afterwards, and it remains in its own organization a totalitarian quasi-Marxist cult, so the idea that it represents the aspirations of most Iranians is absurd on its face. If reports on the assassinations of Iranian scientists are to be believed, the group continues to engage in acts of terrorism inside Iran, but as far as some Iran hawks are concerned this is “useful” terrorism and therefore not something that needs to worry us. Few things better express the hostility that some Iran hawks have for the country and people of Iran than the warm embrace they have given the MEK.

The MEK is an awful group all on its own, but what makes it potentially so dangerous is that it has been embraced by so many prominent foolish Americans that want to treat it as a leading opposition group. Of course, the de-listing campaign was always just the beginning of a lobbying effort to try to get U.S. support for the MEK in the future. One passage from the Monitor article reveals just how deluded the group’s American supporters can be:

Senator Torricelli compared the NCRI in 2013 to when the “Free French” opened an office in London in 1940. “Maybe a lot of people didn’t notice,” he said, but the French resistance would go on to play a crucial role in France’s liberation.

The NCRI, with a new office in Washington, can start down that same path, he said, adding, “I’m proud to be a soldier in that struggle.”

There’s something especially perverse about likening the MEK to the Free French. The MEK was a group that collaborated with the invader of their own country, and they wanted to impose themselves on Iran with the backing of that invader. If the MEK had succeeded in its goals in the 1980s, it would have been the puppet leadership installed by Hussein to replace the Iranian leadership of the time.

By Daniel Larison 

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