This Omid Memarian profile of the MEK is from February, but it is worth reading in light of the new wave of enthusiasm for the terrorist group. Memarian shows why it is very misleading even to refer to the MEK as an Iranian opposition group, since the leaders of the Iranian opposition flatly reject any connection with them:
The MEK is now largely discredited in Iran, both with the regime and among the opposition. Leaders of the opposition Green Movement have denounced its goals and leadership. “The MEK can’t be part of the Green Movement,” said Zahra Rahnavard, a prominent opposition figure and wife of former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi. “This bankrupt political group now makes some laughable claims, but the Green Movement and the MEK have a wall between them and all of us” — including former President Mohammad Khatami and presidential candidates Mehdi Karroubi and Mir Hossein Mousavi.
Back in March, Mohsen Kadivar and Ahmad Sadri warned that the MEK was one of the groups attempt to claim leadership for opponents of the Iranian government:
At the same time, within the Iranian Diaspora, some have sought to usurp leadership of Iran’s indigenous pro-democracy movement. This has alarmed the leaders of the Green Movement in Iran. Mir Hossein Mousavi warned against “international surfers” seeking to wield their own axe in the furnace of the Green movement in his last communiqué that was issued before he was put under house arrest on Feb. 29.
First and foremost among such groups is Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), an organization that has been designated by the U.S. government as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). But despite its obvious threat to global security, the MEK could be taken off the State Department’s Terror List within the next week. If this happens, it promises to spell disaster for the pro-democracy movement in Iran, and will be a devastating setback in the country’s attempts to move forward.
Obviously, no decision on removing the group from the list has happened yet, but there continues to be significant pressure to de-list the group on the specious grounds that this will aid the Iranian opposition and undermine the regime. As Kadivar and Sadri made clear several months ago, de-listing the MEK would have exactly the opposite effect:
Removing the MEK from the FTO at this juncture would embolden Iran’s hardliners to intensify their repression and discredit the Green Movement by implying that it is somehow connected to the widely detested MEK terror group. Furthermore, supporting the MEK would provide the Iranian government with the specter of a foreign-based threat that could be exploited to heal key fractures within the system, increase the number of Iranians who would rally around the flag, and facilitate the suppression of the indigenous political opposition.
The real Iranian opposition repudiates this group and wants nothing to do with it. As Hooman Majd has written in The Ayatollah Begs to Differ:
Even Iranians most strongly opposed to the Islamic Republic cannot abide the MEK and its leaders, Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, who were allies of Khomeini in the revolution that toppled the monarchy but broke with the regime, it is widely thought, not because of any discomfort with its interpretation of democracy, but because they were excluded from power by the clerics. (p. 204)
Support for the MEK would be akin to backing Trotskyists just because they happened to oppose Stalin for their own very different reasons. Why then do so many Americans want the U.S. to reward and support such a group?
At the same time, we reject inclusion on any level of the MKO and the National Council of Resistance of Iran in our genuinely popular and indigenous movement which enjoys a large social base, unlike this group.
Duss has another post on this subject today.