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The MEK and the Deal with Iran

AIPAC has been lobbying against the nuclear deal as one would expect, and this week they are touting the opposition of a handful of former military officers to the agreement. The first one that they cite is Hugh Shelton, who recently penned an op-ed objecting to the deal while praising the virtues of the “former” terrorist group Mujahideen-e Khalq’s political umbrella organization, the so-called National Council of Resistance of Iran. It is telling that they edited the quote to leave out his reference to the latter, since they probably know it would discredit what Shelton says.


Shelton is a longtime MEK booster, and was cheering them on even before they were removed from the official list of foreign terrorist organizations. The MEK seeks to overthrow the Iranian government, as do the cult’s many American fans, so they are predictably opposed to any agreement with Tehran. Anyone that sides with this group is pushing a regime change agenda that is extremely unpopular among Iranians, and so shouldn’t be taken seriously on anything related to Iran.

As he has done before, Shelton presents the cult and its allies as Iran’s “main opposition,” but this is plainly false. The group is widely hated inside Iran and has almost no support in the Iranian diaspora. It is wildly unrepresentative of what most Iranians in Iran and elsewhere want for their country, and it is also at odds with what most Iranians think about the nuclear deal. Most Iranians support the deal, as do most dissidents inside Iran, so it is dishonest in the extreme to assert that the MEK’s rejection of the deal represents the wishes of “the Iranian people.” Shelton is recycling the propaganda of a fanatical exile group and trying to pass it off as something radically different in order to influence a major policy debate here in the U.S.

By Daniel Larison

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