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Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – 168

++ After Donald Trump won the Presidential election, the MEK abruptly changed their tune and began to support him. In addition, this week the MEK held celebrations in Auvers sur Oise and Tirana. Several articles ridiculed this saying ‘they actually think Trump will save them’.

++ Farsi radio channels outside Iran, such as VOA and Radio Farda, have similar articles as the English language media about Giuliani, Bolton and Gingrich and their past financial and lobbying association with a terrorist group which has killed Americans. The MEK tried at first to ignore this media crisis, but then decided to get members and supporters to add comments as individuals to articles in support of the MEK as the ‘main opposition’. Commentators ridiculed this because it is evident this is orchestrated by the MEK. What is worse is that these comments have made it worse for the targets of these articles. They want to whitewash their past support, not have it proven loud and clear in every media outlet.

++ News from Tirana is that two top ranking MEK members were arrested trying to enter the country with false passports. Up to yesterday one was still in prison while the other was released with an electronic tag into the MEK camp. Rumours circulated that Maryam Rajavi had visited Tirana clandestinely. Insiders from the MEK say the group doesn’t deny these rumours. Instead, they want this to circulate because it makes the MEK seem more active and important. Members in Tirana have been calling supporters in other countries to say ‘she came, we cried, we begged forgiveness’. They want to promote Maryam because it is becoming increasingly clear that she is incapable of managing the MEK. The message they want supporters to get is that the close membership worship Maryam as they did Massoud.

++ At the same time, two days ago, a letter from Massoud Rajavi was read to members. In the letter, he congratulates Donald Trump on becoming President of the USA. Rajavi claims things will now change rapidly for the MEK and the regime will soon be overthrown. This has not had the desired effect. People did not cheer and clap. They looked despondent and afterwards began to talk about their problems and the problems of the MEK. Some asked, ‘why does Rajavi write a letter. Now we’re safe in Albania why doesn’t he join us here?’ Some commentators have placed this in the context of Maryam Rajavi‘s effort to replace her husband. But, they say, even if Massoud himself came he could not pick up where he left off, let alone her trying to lead the cult. The same evening this letter was read, five people left the MEK and joined other formers in Tirana.

In English:

++ The close scrutiny of President-elect Trump’s possible choice of cabinet members has allowed journalists to single out Rudi Giuliani, John Bolton and Newt Gingrich – among many others – as problem appointees due to their past support for the Mojahedin Khalq terrorist group. That support was given when the MEK was still on the US terrorism list. As well as revealing corrupt behaviour, Massoud Khodabandeh wrote in the Huffington Post that these links would pose a security threat. The MEK have recorded and filmed private meetings and conversations these three held with MEK members which could be used as leverage (blackmail?) if they are appointed to positions of influence.

++ The MEK may be basking in the warmth of fresh attention and Maryam Rajavi may even believe it heralds a change in the group’s fortunes. But what is really happening is that the ‘cost’ of supporting the MEK is becoming more and more expensive. If neither Giuliani, Bolton nor Gingrich achieves political position because of their past association with this terrorist cult, then other politicians will be more reluctant to support them for fear it will damage their careers.

November 18, 2016

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