Iran Interlink Weekly Digest – 168

++ A characteristic of internal American politics this past week has been for individuals notorious for being paid by the terrorist MEK, to aim a few vicious kicks at the outgoing POTUS in an effort to take the heat of scrutiny off their own past. In Farsi, commentators are describing Maryam Rajavi as confused, not knowing how to respond to this murky political environment. On one side, the MEK has material which can be used for leverage over these paid individuals if they do get appointed in any capacity in Donald Trump’s cabal. [See last week’s article in English by Iran Interlink]. But on the other side, such people, if in a position of power, would seriously distance themselves from the MEK. So, Rajavi has splurged buckets of money on these lobbyists only to find that once in power they will serve different interests and will be against the MEK. Now that Rajavi has announced another of her carnival gatherings on Saturday 26th November, it will be interesting to see which no-hopers turn up; people who will take the money because their political careers are already over and they have nothing to lose.

++ Neda-ye Haghighat website has published the last of a series of articles – ‘Three decades of cultish behaviour in Iraq’. The articles examine what the MEK leadership did to the membership in Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty in terms of destroying themselves from the inside.

++ Iran’s ‘Day of the Student’ marks a pre-Revolution event in which three students were killed while protesting the Shah’s regime. Each year Rajavi tries to hijack it and every year the Farsi response is ‘you, who are with Mossad, the Saudis, Giulinani, etc, want to pretend to be anti-Imperialist? Nobody is listening to you!’

++ Last week was the 40th of Ashura – Arbain – in Karbala. The MEK self-identify as Shia, but everything they publish or say echoes Saudi Arabian anti-Shia rhetoric. Whatever is broadcast by Alarabiya TV and published by Asharq al-Awsat is uncritically re-posted by the MEK. Farsi commentators say this reminds them of what the MEK did for Saddam Hussein. This fawning support has reached the point that the MEK has now almost celebrated yesterday’s bombing in which eighty Iranians were killed. Like Saudi, the MEK blames Iran for the act, even though Daesh claimed responsibility, adding that the Iranians were deliberately followed and specifically chosen as targets.

++ In Albania, former MEK members report that the number of people escaping the cult is increasing daily, and one complains that Hotel Almira in Tirana doesn’t have any spare capacity for more. Families still do not have access to their loved ones. Some, particularly mothers, have given interviews to Mardom TV in Washington. They complain that the Americans struck a deal with the MEK leaders which granted them privileges in Albania if they agreed to leave Iraq, including promising the MEK they would not allow families to contact the members. But the families refuse to give up and remind us that this is a human rights issue and the MEK’s American backers will have to give way on this issue.

In English:

++ Open letters from two formers urge Axel Fischer (Vice-President of the Parliament Assembly and the Council of Europe and Chairman of the EPP Group) to attend an MEK rally in Paris on November 26th to which he has been invited.

++ Axel Fischer does not have far to go for reasons not to get embroiled with the MEK as many media outlets in America and Europe have exposed the background of several individuals in the US political class who have taken money from the MEK in the past – some for over a decade, including when the group was listed as a terrorist entity – and who now want to disavow the group in order to get valuable and influential appointments in Donald Trump’s cabinet and wider cabal. The three most prominent (among many Republicans and Democrats) are John Bolton, Newt Gingrich and Rudi Giuliani. All three have been cited in an informative and thoughtful article by Professor Michael Axworthy in The Guardian ‘Why Donald Trump needs the Iran nuclear deal’.

++ Mohammad-Javad Larijani, Secretary General of Iran’s High Council for Human rights, has written to Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to respectfully point out that European support for the MEK is not in line with the EU’s claim to respect human rights. Highlighting the current refugee crisis which has arisen from Middle East terrorism, the letter concludes: “Adopting double standards towards human rights and instrumental view regarding it, supporting a group that for many years have killed thousands of Iranian people and their hatred is ingrained in the hearts of the people of Iran, is not at all acceptable. Therefore, I would ask your Excellency and other European authorities to take into account the extensive crimes committed by this terrorist group, and take serious measures to prevent the members and supporters of this group from freely operating in Europe and bring the leaders and criminal members of the group to justice and hold them accountable.”

++ Former Ambassador Daniel Benjamin in Politico Magazine writes ‘I was at State when we took the MeK off the terrorist list. But team Trump’s ties to the group still worry me’. Benjamin’s excellent article is informative, erudite and offers a wry in-depth look at the MEK and the Americans who support them.

“Even more unsettling was the sheer creepiness of the group. While Maryam Rajavi was presiding over enormous conferences with American political celebrities and seas of smiling, waving people in Paris, at Camp Ashraf, the MeK leadership treated its people appallingly. Visitors, including from the U.N., painted a picture of relentless intimidation, shaming and coercion of the inhabitants by camp leaders. The MeK, which is often described as a cult, had a long history of requiring that its members divorce and remain celibate. Now, it leaders were resolved that the group would remain together and none of the members would be relocated individually or in small groups—the Ashraf group was a bargaining chip that the leadership was cynically using for future leverage.”

November 25, 2016

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