Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – 161

++ This week Farsi media has been dominated by analysis about the future of the MEK after they left Iraq. The BBC, Radio Farda, VOA and others predict the end of the MEK, as we know it, as a viable force. But as a mercenary force, we can only wait and see what they do next. At the same time, the MEK is on overdrive, using paid lobbyists, to say that ‘being deported from Iraq after thirty years is a victory’. This has been widely ridiculed by commentators.

++ There are many new films being broadcast from Albania, mostly by Albanian media, about the MEK in Tirana. Some show groups of MEK wandering about aimlessly, others are hiding behind windows and doors at the apartment block. Journalists have been able to talk with the MEK’s neighbours at their apartment block as well as other concerned citizens. The overriding message is that the MEK are ‘into themselves’ and don’t talk to anyone, not even officials. The neighbours see them as secretive people who hide behind closed doors and don’t interact with outsiders and who keep their curtains shut all day and night. The Arabic channel Akhbar Al’an managed to find a couple of MEK members outside the building and questioned them on camera. The film shows two women who are clearly ‘lost’. Asked ‘are you staying in Albania?’ One replied ‘Yes, this is our last stop’. But suddenly she looks at the other woman and then turns and says ‘No, we’re here until the regime is toppled’. The film shows the other woman hiding her face saying ‘my family in Iran are in danger’. But pictures of the same woman with posing with a Kalashnikov at the time of Saddam Hussein are all over the internet. All these reports conclude that the MEK as we know it is finished.

++ This week Iran’s President Rouhani spoke at the UN General Assembly in New York. As expected, the MEK staged a picket in a nearby square. This year, however, the attendance was negligible. None of the MEK’s usual lobbyists turned up and they had to make do with Joe Lieberman, who has clearly lost the plot and therefore resorts to unconvincing anti-Iran rants. Every year the MEK enacts a scenario showing a prisoner and prison guard to symbolise the human rights situation in Iran. This year however the actors in the MEK’s photos were blond haired. Perhaps they couldn’t find any Iranians to take part. There was no news coverage of the event except in Saudi media; they want to show that the MEK is still alive. However, in its weekly programme, Mardom TV broadcast some of the MEK’s photo-shopped images in which they try to disguise the fact there were no more than 20 people in the square. In some pictures, images of people holding a flag in each hand have been replicated over and over in an effort to show more flags. VOA had a brief discussion about the situation of the MEK. The MEK representative was Raymond Tanter who is a laughing stock for Iranians. Many wrote comments that ‘the death of the leader has to be announced by the former Saudi Intelligence chief, and on a Farsi broadcast channel the MEK send CIA-affiliated Raymond Tanter to represent them in English, which then has to be translated to Farsi for the audience’.

In English:

++ Fatjona Mejdini, Balkan Insight reports ‘Iranian Opposition Ex-Fighters ‘Transferred to Albania’. The article outlines the known facts about the agreement Albania made to accept 210 members of the Mojahedin Khalq in 2013. But says that since then “no official statement” has been released about the transfers by the Albanian government. Instead, the writer relies on American sources to provide information. “’In the last two years, Albania has accepted around 1,000 members of this group, and according to a high official of State Department, the country has promised that is going to accept also 2,000 others,’ wrote journalist Pam Dockins in an article for Voice of America after she was part of the press entourage accompanying US Secretary of State John Kerry to Tirana on February 14. Dockins’ article also said that during the visit, Kerry thanked the Albanian government for its effort in the taking the Iranians, although the issue was not publicly mentioned while he met the country’s political leaders.”

++ Pars Today (Translated by Nejat Society), Tirana, Albania, ‘How much does it cost to keep Iran’s enemies in Albania?’ The article does not dwell on the financial cost, but raises the issue of the political and security cost to Albania and Europe as the war between America and Iran has now been brought from Iraq to the border of Europe.

September 23, 2016

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