The Saudis and the MEK
Barbara Slavin comments on the appearance of a former Saudi ambassador to the U.S. and former intelligence director at the MEK’s rally in Paris this past week:
Observers have long been puzzled about how the group managed to shell out $25,000 speaker fees to the likes of Gingrich, Richardson, Dean, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and others given its small basis of support within the Iranian diaspora. It’s entirely possible that the Saudis have funded the MEK for years. Perhaps Turki on Saturday was simply making overt a covert record of collaboration.
Saudi backing for the Mujahideen-e Khalq (MEK) would help explain where the group gets its money to pay its credulous American fans. It also underscores both the recklessness of Saudi foreign policy in recent years and the absurdity of the MEK’s recent makeover as a supposedly “secular” and “democratic” group. The MEK already had zero credibility inside Iran, and the Saudi embrace of the group guarantees that the loathing that most Iranians have for them will only get stronger. According to one recent survey, 90% of Iranians view Saudi Arabia unfavorably (up from 71% before the war on Yemen began), so Iranians will view any cause they support with that much more hostility. Nothing could more effectively show that support for the MEK is driven by hatred of Iran and its people than Saudi Arabia’s endorsement of their cause.
Slavin goes on to point out how foolish the Saudi embrace of the MEK is:
But mixing with the MEK is a recipe for disaster and a distraction from the region’s and the world’s real enemy – the group that calls itself the Islamic State.
Contrary to the MEK’s claims, there is nothing democratic about this cultist organization, which requires its members to divorce their spouses or remain celibate and engage in Maoist-style struggle sessions of self-humiliation. Those that manage to escape often require long periods of de-programming.
By associating himself so closely with the MEK and publicly calling for regime change in Tehran, Turki is discrediting those in the Iranian government who have sought to reach out to Riyadh and strengthening those who advocate even more Iranian involvement in regional quarrels. What if the Iranians retaliate by giving more overt backing to Shi’ite dissidents in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia’s eastern province?
The Saudis have already shown over the last fifteen months of attacking Yemen that their leaders aren’t thinking about the consequences of their actions. If they have been prepared to wage an atrocious and unnecessary war against their neighbors for more than a year at considerable cost, they are probably willing to do a great many other stupid and short-sighted things if they think it might hurt Iran.