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Iran Interlink Weekly Digest -54

++ Behzad Alishahi’s wife has responded to the saga involving a threatening article in Iran Global. She says although she doesn’t usually look at anything from either the MEK or IRI, because this involves her husband she is obliged to set a few facts right. She explains that Behzad Alishahi has not been charged or criminalised. Instead, in June 2013 he was refused permission to stay in the Netherlands and in February 2014 was detained by the Immigration service for overstaying. He is not in prison but is being held in an immigration service camp for his own safety. He doesn’t have a case against him and there is no question about his going or not going to Iran; he has not left the Netherlands at any time since he arrived. He has never been questioned by either the police or the intelligence services. The problem is that he admitted to once being a member of the MEK and taking part in armed struggle and he has been refused permission to remain on these grounds. It is ironic, says Mrs Alishahi, that the MEK should be so excited and pleased about his situation instead of decently trying to help someone who had been involved with their armed struggle. She continues, “Having said this, I wish the MEK would go to Iran and understand more about the real situation there – how a series of pictures of women who took their scarf off, or young people who danced, has a much greater effect on the situation there than the MEK’s thirty years of so-called fighting Iran”. In conclusion she says that Alishahi has no complaint against him in his file let alone a 150 strong petition. These are fictions created by the MEK to divert from their own failures – the things they say they can do, but never have. The second reason is to terrify the stranded people inside the organisation with the fear that the same thing might happen to them. Thirdly, it is an attempt to intimidate MEK critics by claiming to be so powerful that they can make these things happen to them. But the allegation of ‘spying for Iran’ that the MEK banks on so much is entirely invalid because as long as Iran has an enemy like the MEK it doesn’t need to do any spying; the MEK can destroy any opposition much better than any spy could do. She concludes, “our problem has a solution, but the MEK’s problems will have no solution until, as my husband has always said, they sit down and see what it is they are doing and change.”

++ Sahar Family Association translated some Iraqi papers this week. In one example, Dr Adnan Al Seraj’s article in Al Mizan goes into detail about events of the last few yeas and how Rajavi has tried everything possible to hinder and prevent the UN from giving help to the people in Camp Liberty, whether to get them out or simply to give them help inside the camp itself. Quite a few items in the Iraqi media after the election cover many MPs speaking out and demanding that the situation with the MEK has to end. One is Vaheb MP, who clearly states that the UN has failed to live up to its agreement with the government of Iraq and that this needs to be looked at again and reworked. This failure means, he says, that although the MEK are under the protection of the Americans and the UN, they should be treated like the rest of the Saddamists and put on trial.

++ There has been a vast amount of writing from every side – from inside Iran, from ex members and from other opposition groups and personalities – about the new initiative to try to pass Maryam Rajavi off as a human rights advocate. Several point out that this is an insult to the intelligence of people across the globe. One witty writer observes, “This is like trying to paint a pigeon and sell it as a Volkswagen!”

In English

++ According to the Tehran Times, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, told a gathering of Revolutionary Guards, that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was standing strong against the Europeans in the nuclear talks in Vienna. He said that Iran has adopted a win-win approach in nuclear talks and will not grant any concessions to the West. He said that the Zionist, Arab and Mojahedeen Khalq lobbyists are campaigning hard against the Geneva deal in the U.S. Congress. Adding that if nuclear talks fail, no one can blame Iran.

++ The Canadian Iranian Coalition for Peace have asked Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, to rein in one of his MPs Reza Moridi who “knowingly or unknowingly, has supported an infamous ex terrorist group in Iran (Mojahedin Khalq) MEK and their lobbyist in Canada which have kept a few young Canadians in Camp Ashraf against their will. MEK is promoting hate and violence in Iraq and Iran which is totally against Canadian values and principles… MPP Moridi also supported the closure of Iranian consulate in Ottawa, which has caused a tremendous amount of inconvenience for all Canadian-Iranians in our country Canada. He is simply following the Conservative Party mandates. Supporting sanction and war, this is against the Liberal party’s policy and philosophy. Therefore our community cannot distinguish between the Liberals and the conservatives… We request that you as the leader of the Liberal party of Canada to guide some of the party members to follow the Liberal path, rather than their own personal agenda!”

++ Iran’s Fars News agency reported a meeting between Head of the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SCO) Ahmad Jarba and Maryam Rajavi in Paris. One former MEK member Mohammad Razzaqi said the MEK has been training some militant groups fighting the Syrian government, including the FSA, on bomb manufacturing, planting and detonation methods, assassination and street war. He noted that some MEK leaders have had a series of meetings with the Syrian opposition leaders in France and Jordan and discussed help and assistance to the FSA and a number of other extremist Salafi groups in Syria. In late 2012, deputy commander of the FSA Malek al-Kurdi said the MEK acted as a role model for Syrian insurgents. “Mojahedin-e Khalq is our role model, and we inform them that all doors of our houses are open to them.”

++ In a televised speech, Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Seyed Hassan Nasrallah congratulated his forces saying they had pushed back the Syrian opposition forces so far that they have been reduced to sitting and talking with the MEK in Paris which is nothing more than a defeated enemy, a dead horse.

++ An article by Mazda Parsi of Nejat bloggers begins with details of the MEK’s record of human rights abuses inside its own organisation. From this context, which explains more fully why UN Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed cancelled his speech at the Spotlight on Iran in the Canadian Parliament, Parsi says the decision looks less bizarre. Dr. Shaheed’s assistant explained that Shaheed felt the event’s framing “made it feel less like a briefing and more of something that encroached upon what he believes is his independence on the issue” of human rights in Iran.”

++ Iran Pen Association congratulates the people and prime minister of Iraq and wishes Iraq peace, stability and tranquillity. “We condemn the interventionist and divisive policies of MEK/PMOI and demand the leadership of MEK Cult, Mr. Massoud Rajavi and Mrs. Maryam Rajavi , that instead of plotting such desperate attempts and insisting on remaining in Iraq at any cost and victimizing the captive members in your Cult; try for once to be rational and stop persisting on your gross blunders and transfer these victims from Iraq.”

++ Iran Interlink interprets the result of the European Parliament election for the MEK in a short piece titled, ‘Rajavi/Saddamists stranded by European Parliament losses’. “The MEK and Saddamists have lost two key lobbyists in the new session of the European Parliament. Struan Stevenson (UK) threw in the towel and didn’t stand again. Alejo Vidal-Quadras (Spain) tried to garner the far right vote by creating the new Vox Party – which took less than 2% of the vote. Vidal-Quadras was exposed in the Spanish media before the election for supporting terrorism and being greedy for money. Both MEPs had previously worked in the Iraq Delegation for a bloc of anti-Maliki groups and MPs in Iraq which included the MEK.Rajavi will, of course, not be able to further influence the situation in Iraq where Maliki’s coalition was a clear winner. But the MEK will no doubt declare a ‘basij’ (gathering of forces) in the European Parliament to actively hunt, recruit and corrupt new MEPs to keep its terrorist-logo flag flying there!”

++ According to Press TV Iran’s diplomatic mission at the United Nations condemned a report in The Wall Street Journal as a fabrication. The US newspaper cited a report by the terrorist Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) as saying that Iran “has kept active and intact its core team of weaponization researchers.” The statement added “that Tehran expects the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the United States, China, Russia, France and Britain — plus Germany to abide by their commitments concerning Iran’s nuclear rights, regardless of the “uproar” by anti-Iran lobby groups.”

++ On the same subject, Eli Clifton writes in The Nation, ‘What the ‘Wall Street Journal’ and the MEK Get Very Wrong About Iran’s Nuclear Program’. “Even while uncritically reporting on the allegations, the article contained one major factual error… But perhaps more surprisingly, the WSJ editorial board apparently felt no compunction to inform readers about the source of this “plausible new report.” This, despite the fact that the Journal’s editorial team even includes one outspoken critic of the MEK, Sohrab Ahmari, an editorial page writer based in Europe.” “Noticeably, the WSJ did not claim to have verified the MEK’s allegations that Tehran has continued to pursue nuclear weaponization research.” Clifton concludes, “The MEK may be onto something with its contention that Iran continued with its nuclear weapons work (the IAEA’s reporting about the “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program only covers the period before 2003). But relying almost exclusively on the organization is, to borrow a word, problematic, and raises a question: Why did the MEK approach the ideologues of the Journal’s opinion pages instead of its newsroom staff with its exclusive report? Perhaps the paper’s veteran foreign affairs reporters, who have no doubt had many interactions with the MEK, are more skeptical of the group’s claim.”

30 May 2014

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