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The MKO relocation; victory for who?

Following the relocation of the last members of the Mujahedin Khalq Organization in Albania, various arguments were stated by different sides.  MKO’s propaganda has also been active in releasing the most absurd and surprising reaction to this relocation. The move was celebrated by the group as a “Victorious Relocation”!

Regarding the background of the MKO’s presence in Iraq, the claim that the move to Albania is a victory seems bizarre. In the early 1980sthe group leader Masoud Rajavi accepted the offer by the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to take shelter in Iraq in order to fight against Iranians. They joined Saddam’s troops in killing many Iranians. The irony is that they killed their own country fellow men which will never be forgotten by Iranians. They considered Saddam as the enemy of their enemy so he is a friend. This is the most ridiculous statement in justifying the killing of your countrymen.

Saddam Hussein granted land, money and military equipment to the MKO.  Camp Ashraf, Located 60 kilometers North of Baghdad, 120 kilometers from Iranian border, became the headquarters of the group from which they launched their military attack against their own countrymen. The MKO WAS Saddam’s fifth column and proxy force against Iran.

After the fall of the Iraqi dictator, the MKO agreed to offer the same service to the US and Israel. The MKO was a very good option for the US and Israel to launch their proxy wars against Iran and to pry the secret out of Iranian nuclear program. They also aided Israel to assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists. Obviously, the MKO received a large sum and safe haven for their services by Israel and West.

Therefore, the presence of the MKO in Iraqi territory neighboring Iran has always been advantageous for the group leaders. However, it was disastrous for the rank and file of the group because they were stuck in Camp Ashraf that was occasionally attacked by the Shiits who were seeking to revenge the supporting role of the MKO in the suppression of Shiit’s uprisings by Saddam Hussein during the 1990s.

Although the members of the Cult of Rajavi –kept in the camp as hostages—were living in a hazardous area, the group leaders denied to leave the camp. The newly established Iraqi government was determined to expel the MKO but the group leaders urged to maintain their strategic container, Camp Ashraf. Ultimately, the camp was shut down by the Iraq government after several members of the group were killed in clashes between the group and the Iraqi police or Iraqi rebels.

Camp Liberty was a temporary location near Baghdad airport that hosted the MKO. Members were supposed to be resettled in third countries by the help of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the United States. In June 2013, the then UN envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler told the Associated Press that efforts to relocate residents of an Iranian dissident camp in Iraq are being stymied in part by lack of cooperation from the exiles themselves. Besides, Koberacknowledged that a major problem in resettling camp residents is a shortage of countries willing to accept them. He repeated his call for U.N. member states, including the U.S., to do more. “We do not have enough recipient countries. … There is also reluctance from the side of the Liberty residents to cooperate with the UNHCR," he said, referring to the U.N. refugee agency. [1]

Finally, it was the US government that convinced Albanian authorities to receive the MKO in exchange for US dollars. The part of Albanian government to accept the formerly terrorist designated MKO was so significant that the US Secretary of State John Kerry praised the country’s “humanitarian” aid. Thus, based on what kind of calculation or philosophy one can consider the MKO’s relocation as a “victory”?

While Maryam Rajavi calls the departure from Iran’s neighboring territory “a hammer that will descend upon the ruling theocracy”, Mustafa Saadoun of Al Monitor asserts that the Islamic Republic was the winner of the recent move criticizing the Iraqi government for its failure to take more advantages from the case. “Of course, the MEK’s departure from Iraq after they had been present there for 30 years has eliminated the threat posed against the Iranian regime, since the MEK’s proximity to Iranian interests in Iraq could not have been easy for Tehran,” he writes. [2]

Regarding Saadoun’s argument, it should be noted that the MKO has never been a real threat for Iran because of the popular base it lacks among Iranian public. The American journalist Barbara Slavin describes the MKO as “far from democratic organization it purports to be”. She reveals the cult-like nature of the MKO,”the group is a cult that forces members to be celibate, to give up personal wealth and to show complete allegiance to Ms. Rajavi.” [3]

Concerning the unpopularity of the MKO, Slavin finds it hard to imagine the MKO as the alternative of the Iranian government. “Hopefully, the former residents of Camp Ashraf will be able to construct new lives outside Iraq and memories of the movement will fade,” she writes. [4]

The relocation of the MKO may only be a victorious move for those brainwashed members who are taken by the group leaders as hostages. They are not in the danger of rocket attacks and bombings as they suffered in Iraq. Besides, living in Europe they seem to be able to find more opportunities to escape the bars of the Cult of Rajavi.

By Mazda Parsi


[1] The Associated Press, AP Interview: UN Iraq rep urges exile cooperation, June 26, 2013

[2]Saadouin, Mustafa,What’s next for Baghdad-Tehran ties as last MEK members leave Iraq?, Al Monitor, September 10, 2016

[3] Slavin, Barbara,State Department Removes Last MEK Members from Iraq, Voice Of America, September 14, 2016

[4] ibid

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