Michael Rubin is a former pentagon official and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute whose major research areas are the Middle East, Turkey, Iran and diplomacy. He publishes his analytical comments onthe Commentary Magazine. He has several times discussed issues relating the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (the MKO). Following the election of Donald Trump as the next US president, Rubin finds it crucial to discuss the possibility of embracing the MKO by the Trump administration. His post on the Commentary Magazine is titled “Will Trump Embrace the MKO?” .
Rubin considers embracing the MKO as “going into an uncharted territory”. “Some Trump advisors appear to have endorsed the group at one point or another, “he asserts. “To be fair, the MKO is no longer designated a terror group, and its advocates argue that the only reason it was in the first place was in order to appease Iran. Not only prominent Republicans but also Democrats have appeared with Maryam Rajavi, the group’s leader.
However he warns the Trump administration about the truth of the MKO, ”Still, it is important to remember that the MKO is a Marxist, authoritarian cult with minimal support inside Iran.” Rubin’s claim on the MKO’s unpopularity inside Iran is based on his authentic experience of spending a seven- month long residence in Iran during the 1990s. Based on his real life account Iranian people have various views about the Islamic Republic and the exiled opposition groups but “the only unifying factor was the absolute antipathy with which they viewed the MKO, a group which allied itself with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War.” He clarifies his account writing, “Many Iranians view the MKO in the same way as Americans view John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban. That the MKO conducted terrorism which victimized ordinary Iranians has only solidified Iranian public opinion against the group even further.”
While Rubin is a detractor of the Iranian government and criticizes it ruthlessly, he is very sensible about the fraudulent propaganda of the MKO. He writes, “The MKO’s rhetoric about democracy can be alluring, but if the goal of the Trump administration is to contain, weaken, and roll back the influence of the Islamic Republic, then outreach to the MKO is the worst possible move because it would rally Iranians around the flag and strengthen the current regime.”
He advises President Trump by the ending sentence of his commentary: “The enemy of an enemy is not always a friend.”
Michael Rubin, Commentary Magazine