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Bolton’s Favorite Deranged Cult

The Guardian has published a lengthy article [1] by Arron Merat on the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK), and it details the group’s ongoing abuses and crimes at its new base in Albania. This is what John Bolton’s favorite “opposition” group does to its own members:

I spoke to about a dozen defectors, half of whom are still in Albania, who said that MEK commanders systematically abused members to silence dissent and prevent defections – using torture, solitary confinement, the confiscation of assets and the segregation of families to maintain control over members. In response to these allegations, an MEK spokesperson said: “The individuals who are described as ‘former members’ were being used as part of a demonisation campaign against the MEK.”

The testimony of these recent defectors follows earlier reports from groups such as Human Rights Watch, which reported former members witnessed “beatings, verbal and psychological abuse, coerced confessions, threats of execution and torture that in two cases led to death”.

It should be obvious that a group that abuses its own members so cruelly is unfit to hold political power over anyone. It is a disgrace that so many prominent American and European officials and politicians have aligned themselves with such a despicable organization, and it shows how willing many Iran hawks are to overlook the group’s horrific record because it gives them a convenient ally in their pursuit of regime change.

The MEK was removed from the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations six years ago, but that wasn’t because the government believed they had given up on using violence to achieve their goals:

Daniel Benjamin, who was then the head of counter-terrorism at the state department, told me that the US decided to remove the MEK from the list of foreign terrorist organisations not because it believed it had abandoned violence, but to “avoid them all getting killed” if it remained in Iraq [bold mine-DL]. After the MEK was no longer designated a terrorist group, the US was able to convince Albania to accept the 2,700 remaining members – who were brought to Tirana on a series of charter flights between 2014 and 2016.

The Obama administration’s concerns about the safety of the members were understandable, but the de-listing decision was clearly a mistake as many of us said at the time. Unfortunately, that decision has made it easier for a truly awful group to operate and buy more American support.

The cult was heavily dependent on Saddam Hussein during the first decades of their exile, but in recent years they have found a new patron that shares their hostility to Iran:

“The money definitely comes from Saudis,” says Ervand Abrahamian, a professor at the City University of New York and author of the definitive academic work on the group’s history, The Iranian Mojahedin. “There is no one else who could be subsidising them with this level of finance.”

It is not surprising that the MEK would have to rely on money from Iran’s regional rivals. The group has no support inside Iran and virtually none among Iranians in the diaspora, and so it makes sense that they would have to turn once again to a government that would presumably like to use them to harm Iran. Iranians understandably regard them as traitors for their role in the Iran-Iraq war and in their subsequent attacks on their former country. It is remarkable that a group that served as Saddam Hussein’s henchmen for decades could be so quickly and easily rehabilitated. The article recounts the MEK’s role as internal enforcers for Saddam Hussein’s regime, which used them to suppress the uprisings following the Gulf War:

Karwan Jamal Tahir, the Kurdistan regional government’s high representative in London, was a fighter for the Kurdish peshmerga in 1991. He told me that he remembers how the MEK arrived in the town of Kalar, about 93 miles (150km) south-east of Kirkuk, just after Saddam had lost control of the north of Iraq after the first Gulf war. “They came in Saddam’s tanks,” he said. “We thought they were returning peshmerga because the tanks were covered with portraits of Kurdish leaders … but they opened fire on the town … It was a big atrocity.”

An organization with a record of committing atrocities is clearly not one that should ever be entrusted with power in the future, but this hasn’t stopped Bolton, Giuliani, and many others from cheering for them and treating them as if they were Iran’s government-in-waiting. Whatever else it may claim to be, the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) is still a deranged totalitarian cult steeped in the blood of many innocent people. The Western politicians and officials that lend legitimacy to this group have discredited themselves on all matters relating to Iran.

11 Comments (Open | Close)

11 Comments To "Bolton’s Favorite Deranged Cult"

#1 Comment By seesaw On November 9, 2018 @ 9:49 am

“It is a disgrace that so many prominent American and European officials and politicians have aligned themselves with such a despicable organization”

It should be a disgrace, but nobody seems to pay much attention. Bolton and Giuliani are acting like the politicians who hung around with Jim Jones before he moved everybody down to Jonestown. When the inevitable MEK-related disaster happens they’ll just do like neocons always do and say “who knew?” and “nobody saw this coming.”

#2 Comment By Sid Finster On November 9, 2018 @ 10:07 am

Sort of like how Bolton and his merry band of neocons seized upon Ahmad Chalabi and his merry men as some sort of Authentic Voice of Resistance to teh Evil Saddam. Does anyone else remember that?

Bolton et al. know better. As long as this gets them the regime change that they and their owners in Jerusalem and Riyadh demand, they do not care.

#3 Comment By rayray On November 9, 2018 @ 11:07 am

You can always tell just how deep our understanding is of a country by the opposition we choose to support.

As @Sid Finster pointed out, the fraudulent Chalabi was a good bellwether of our true understanding of Iraq, and the MEK shows just how equally deep we understand Iran.

#4 Comment By SDS On November 9, 2018 @ 11:13 am

Can’t say if Bolton is just a nut; but Giuliani, et. al…are probably just being paid; like any other prostitute. IF the $$ stop; they will then say “who knew?”….
AS with Trump; S.A. would have no problem paying enough for them to perform any act demanded.

#5 Comment By SDS On November 9, 2018 @ 11:14 am

…Sorta’ gives prostitution a bad name…

#6 Comment By b. On November 9, 2018 @ 12:14 pm

So Obama sees a “Responsibility to Protect” MEK war criminals and the business interests of Dean, Bolton, Guiliani et.al, but is perfectly happy to let the Saudis “cross the blood red line” for years to save himself some headaches on JCOPA – an “agreement” that was not worth the paper it was written on without Congress actually binding itself by ratification.

But his minions did consider designating the Houthi “terrorists”.

The intended Clinton-Obama “transition” had all the marks of a protection racket, all governance transient and passing and resting on the edifice of unconstitutionally expansive claims of executive power.

#7 Comment By Clyde Schechter On November 9, 2018 @ 5:23 pm

” Whatever else it may claim to be, the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) is still a deranged totalitarian cult steeped in the blood of many innocent people. ”

So true. So, why, Mr. Larison, are you perplexed by the fact that deranged totalitarians like Bolton support MEK?

#8 Comment By Sid Finster On November 9, 2018 @ 5:38 pm

@rayray, thank you for the kind words, but my position is more accurately stated as follows:

I suspect that in 2003, Bolton knew and knew full well that Chalabi was an opportunist at best. A fraudster, a monster, a sociopath, delusional, to put it more bluntly. That his support in Iraq was nil, and that Chalabi would be rejected immediately and rightfully, as an American puppet. Bolton may even have known that Chalabi was in the pay of Iran.

Like the MEK now, as long Bolton gets the war he so craves, he doesn’t care about any of that.

#9 Comment By Mark Krvavica On November 9, 2018 @ 8:18 pm

During the Cold War we allied ourselves with some unsavory people, but that era is over. I want to tell the Mujahedeen-e Khalq and Jair Bolsonaro that we have no use for them in the 21st Century.

#10 Comment By K squared On November 10, 2018 @ 9:21 am

Bolton’s Favorite Deranged Cult

the republican party under trump?!?!?!?


#11 Comment By Dave K On November 11, 2018 @ 12:12 am

SDS: Bolton did indeed get paid, $150k for one speech iirc. He’s also a nut and easily one of the most dangerous humans on the planet.

One of the most disgusting things to me about the Obama Admin was not immediately arresting him, Giuliani, Dean, Ridge, etc. for material support of a terrorist organization, which MEK still was when they were being paid lobbyists.

People lament Trump abandoning the “rule of law”. I’m not sure the US has ever really followed such, at least applying it to the highest echelons.