The Mojahedin Khalq (MEK) is busy preparing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an annual ‘June 21st’ rally which celebrates its failed coup d’état in 1981. This year, as every year, the MEK will be paying for both audience and speakers alike to attend. The show convinces nobody. For years the MEK has survived solely on a hollow propaganda campaign which tracks and mirrors Neoconservative and Israeli interests. To please its Western backers the MEK has, over the years, supported Saddam Hussein and more recently Saddamists and insurgents in Iraq, played a part in manufacturing a nuclear crisis for Israel, acted as a loudspeaker for the Israeli/Neoconservative ‘bomb Iran’ narrative and, when all these failed, most recently postured as human rights advocates.
After thirty years, the MEK’s promise of regime change and the establishment of a pro-West Iranian government has come to nothing. Even during the 2009 post-election unrest, the Iranian people showed no inclination to start another revolution or to overthrow their government and especially didn’t resort to violence; such designs exist only in Massoud Rajavi’s personal grandiose delusions. Clearly the Iranian people, assessing the Rajavi cult as an alternative, overwhelmingly prefer the governance they currently have, even with all its faults to that of a mind control cult.
But worse for the defunct MEK is that since President Rouhani’s election a seemingly irreversible and fundamental shift in approach has taken hold on both sides of the Iran-West confrontation and the MEK is being firmly shoved off the bandwagon. The MEK are rapidly losing what specious ground they held in the world of Iran bashing. Significantly, since the beginning of nuclear negotiations last Autumn, a wave of government representatives and businesses have visited Iran from all over the globe, not just Western countries, keen to do business. These changes are characterised in the opening paragraph of an article in the Washington Post on May 28: “For the first time in decades, businesspeople from the United States are visiting Iran in significant numbers, exploring the possibility of future partnerships as Iranian and American entrepreneurs begin to envision a reopening of long-closed commercial channels.”
Nothing could be more toxic to the MEK’s role as purveyors of chaos and violence than the establishment of trade and economic ties. But it is not only on the issue of Iran that the MEK has lost. Since 2003, the group had made itself indispensable to the Saddamists and pro-war and pro-Israel elements who tried to claw back power in Iraq through exactly that continuation of chaos and violence. Now the successful elections in Iraq at the end of April have turned the tide irrevocably against them in that country too. Nor did the MEK fare any better from the European Parliament elections either, losing its two key lobbyists Struan Stevenson and Alejo Vidal Quadras from the Iraq Delegation of the European Parliament.
So the British Prime Minister’s personal appointment of Baroness Emma Nicholson of Winterbourne as his Trade Envoy to Iraq with the mandate to ”increase trade and economic co-operation between the UK and Iraq”, was certain to provoke a fierce reaction from the MEK. Baroness Nicholson is an old adversary of the MEK, as she was of the entire Saddam Hussein regime. In a MEK-fed blog, Samuel Westrop questions her appointment because of “Her pattern of support for the Iranian regime” before asking “Exactly whose interests will Baroness Nicholson be serving?” For a group which operates on the basis of corruption, deception and exploitation, naturally this would be their primary question. But the naïve answer to their own rhetoric, ‘Iran’, shows total lack of comprehension about the real world and politics. Emma Nicholson, whose ‘British Establishment’ credentials run through her veins, will work for the interests of Britain of course, and not even party political agendas or partisan groups.
This is not the real issue though. The precursors to economic and trade links are stability and security.
Mindful of its urgent need to establish security in the country, the Iraqi government formally asked the United Nations to fulfil its obligations to expel members of the MEK and transfer them to other countries to protect Iraq’s national security and that of its neighbours. The Iraqi Cabinet goes further, however, and suggests scrapping the 2009 agreement between the US, the GOI and UNAMI because of the inordinate delays and stalling by the UN in fulfilling its obligations. This would allow Iraqi security forces to close Camp Liberty and scatter its occupants as well as bringing some of the MEK to justice for crimes committed in Iraq in the same judicial manner that other elements of the Saddam regime were brought to justice.
It is no wonder then that the MEK is panicking as it faces the dissolution of rank and file members on which it bases its claim to be the “main opposition” or “only alternative” to the IRI. The group is rapidly losing its unique position as a proponent of regime change and war because the world has moved on. It is occupying an increasingly isolated position, one which has fewer and fewer customers. Even so, grooming the MEK for use in the armoury of tactics to attack the IRI began some years before the current impasse was reached. After the MEK was removed from the US terrorism list in 2012, Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen began her promotion of the group, introducing Maryam Rajavi as a human rights advocate. Toward the end of 2013, as the manufactured nuclear crisis began to lose its potency as a platform for more sanctions and threats of war and bombs, the MEK tried hard to re-fashion itself to suit the anti-Iran agenda pursued by Ros-Lehtinen and Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu – that of attacking Iran’s human rights record.
But the debacle in the Canadian Parliament revealed that inclusion of the MEK in a human rights forum only exposes the politicised nature of this platform and the anti-humanitarian agenda of its proponents. Maryam Rajavi, a woman who personally dispatched thousands of untrained, badly armed civilian MEK supporters to fight the battle hardened Iranian army and IRG in the 1988 Eternal Light operation resulting in around 2000 futile deaths, and who stands accused by tens of hundreds of former MEK members of violating their rights and abusing them, cannot ever be held up as an advocate of human rights.
In Israel itself there is a backlash against Prime Minister Netanyahu over this use of the MEK in an increasingly desperate attempt to derail the nuclear negotiations. It seems that Netanyahu and the MEK stand alone while the rest of the world has moved on.
The fresh economic vision for the Middle East which is increasingly beginning to take hold in the imagination of Western governments depends on peace and security. When these conditions are established not only do trade links improve and economic prosperity grow, but when a country is thereby able to open itself up to greater engagement with the international community this helps improve the human rights situation for its citizens too. In direct contrast to Maryam Rajavi and the MEK’s destructive role, Baroness Nicholson’s involvement in Iraq as Britain’s Trade Envoy will not only be helpful for the British economy but will also help in improving human rights in Iraq.