Earlier this month, I pointed out that Newt Gingrich had been an eager booster of the Mujahideen-e Khalq, an Iranian exile group and totalitarian cult that was until a few years ago officially listed as a terrorist organization. Gingrich remains a booster of the group, traveling to Paris once again this week to attend their rally. Rosie Gray reports:
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is attending the annual conference of a controversial Iranian dissident group that was until 2012 on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
Gingrich is just one of many former officials and ex-politicians over the last few years to become vocal advocates for the MEK and the so-called National Council for Resistance of Iran, the political umbrella organization that includes the cult. He was backing them when they were still listed as a foreign terrorist organization, and remains one of their high-profile American supporters. As I said in my previous post, Gingrich ought to be disqualified from consideration for the VP slot for his MEK boosterism alone, since it demonstrates such appallingly poor judgment and an obsessive commitment to regime change. The fact that they are getting behind this group and treating it as the legitimate Iranian opposition also demonstrates how poorly Gingrich and his colleagues understand Iran and its politics.
Elizabeth Rubin profiled the group five years ago, and what she said then is still true today:
Mujahedeen Khalq is not only irrelevant to the cause of Iran’s democratic activists, but a totalitarian cult that will come back to haunt us.
Besides being a group responsible for killing Americans in the past, the MEK is probably best-known for its role fighting on the side of Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war against their own country. That is one of the chief reasons why the group is still loathed by almost all Iranians in Iran and around the world. The idea that this group speaks for dissident Iranians is nonsensical and insulting to the latter, and the fantasy that such an abusive, totalitarian cult has any interest in the freedom of Iranians is laughable even by Washington’s low standards. Support for the MEK coveys nothing but contempt and hatred for the people of Iran, and Gingrich and his colleagues are either too blind or fanatical (or corrupt) to see that.
Americans should be very concerned that so many prominent politicians and former officials have thrown in with such a despicable organization, not least because it risks dragging the U.S. towards open conflict with Iran. It also shows how willing so many of our politicians and former officials are to side with any group, no matter how disreputable, because it happens to be hostile to Iran’s current government. That’s a dangerous habit, and one that will contribute to the warping of our foreign policy debates in the future.