Home/Daniel Larison/De-listing the MEK Would Be a Gift to Tehran

De-listing the MEK Would Be a Gift to Tehran

The Hill‘s Congress Blog has published a truly awful bit of pro-MEK propaganda by David Amess, a British MP and head “a leading member” of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom. Amess rails against appeasement and labels those who oppose removing the MEK from the FTO list “cronies” of the regime. In the midst of this smear, Amess has the gall to complain that opponents of de-listing are trying to “demonize” the paid advocates of the MEK. In fact, no one is “accusing them of speaking only to get paid.” That would be unfortunate, but that isn’t the issue. What is worse is that the people receiving the money say that they are speaking on behalf of the MEK because they truly believe its self-serving claims.

For a better treatment of the entire question, here is a new report for Free Radio Europe by Golfan Esfandiari. Esfandiari reminds us that the legitimate opposition in Iran is firmly opposed to the MEK/MKO and does not want it removed from the FTO list:

But the issue also draws protests from a less likely source — members of Iran’s Green Movement who themselves are critical of the exiled group and are wary of attempts by the MKO (aka People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran) and by the Iranian government to portray them as allies in opposition.

And Green Movement members also warn that removing the MKO’s terrorist designation could inadvertently send a negative signal to people in Iran and tarnish their view of the United States.

The MEK is so deeply loathed even in opposition circles that Iranian opposition figures state bluntly that they would rather keep the current government than have one led by that group:

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one Green Movement member in Iran claims that if he had to choose between the current leaders in Iran and the MKO — which is led by Maryam Rajavi and Massoud Rajavi (who hasn’t been seen or heard from in the past several years) — he would definitely “keep” the current regime.

“I know they claim abroad they’re part of the Green Movement [but] it’s a big lie,” he says. “We don’t want to have anything to do with them.”

The most obnoxious part of Amess’ screed is the insistence that only “cronies” of the regime could possibly oppose de-listing the MEK. If that were true, it would make the Green movement and the vast majority of Iranians into the regime’s “cronies,” and this is obviously not the case. Far from doing any harm to the Iranian government, de-listing the MEK would be a gift to the current leadership in Tehran and a disaster for the domestic opposition.

P.S. Here is a little bit of background on Amess’ group:

The committee is sponsored by the National Resistance Council of Iran (NRCI), evoking shades of the way Chalabi and his cronies claimed to speak for Iraq before 2003.

The NCRI is the political front for the MEK.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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