Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Beeman--Mojaheddin-e Khalq (MEK) Can Never Rule Iran

Foreign Policy Analysts Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett reported in a recent blog post:

. . .one of the more noteworthy developments is an accelerating campaign to remove the mojahedin-e khalq, or MEK, from the U.S. Government's list of foreign terrorist organizations.  Over the last few months, a number of prominent Republicans-including John Bolton, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former White House homeland security and counterterrorism coordinator Fran Townsend, and new House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen-have been publicly agitating to delist the MEK.  But this effort has now gone bipartisan and big time, including engaging the services of a Washington, DC consulting firm.

To document this last point, we link here to the video of an event held in Washington last week, clearly designed to build public support for delisting the MEK as part of a U.S.-led campaign for regime change in Tehran.  The event was organized by Executive Action, LLC, which describes itself as "a McKinsey & Company with muscle, a private CIA and Defense Department available to address your most intractable problems and difficult challenges".  (Exactly who engaged Executive Action's services for this event is not clear.)  Featured speakers included not only Republican figures like Mukasey, but also retired U.S. Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni; former New Mexico Governor, Clinton Administration cabinet officer, and Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson; former Democratic New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli; and retired Marine Corps General James Jones-who just stepped down, in November 2010, as President Obama's first national security adviser.  All of the speakers argued for bringing down the Islamic Republic and forging a new political order in Iran-and for embracing the MEK as the foundation of a new Iranian "opposition" capable of bringing about both of these objectives. 

I really don't know what to say to the fans of the MEK in Washington. They apparently have no ability to look at this situation from the viewpoint of the Iranian people. The MEK was a rival for power during and after the Iranian Revolution. They fully expected to take over the government from the "mullahs" and the secular nationalists. They were ousted and purged during the hostage crisis. They went to Iraq where Saddam Hussein gave them support, and a place to mount their attacks against the Islamic Republic. The fact that they stayed in Iraq under Saddam's protection during the Iran-Iraq war caused widespread expressions of hate for them in Iran.  Of course they are completely guilty of terrorist operations in the pre-Revolutionary days, and they continue to take credit for bombings and civil unrest in Iran--which I guess doesn't count as terrorism since it is directed at Iranian citizens.

But the most important fact that Bolton, Ros-Lehtinin and others fail to comprehend is that the MEK could never, never in a million years form an alternative government in Iran. The Iranian people mistrust them at best, and most thoroughly despise them and think them to be traitors. Their supporters are largely cynical "get rid of the Mullahs at any price" types who also don't believe in their "cause" whatever that is.

Not only that, but they are aging, and not recruiting new supporters. This is a bankrupt group that is not going to do what the Right Wing neo-con dead-enders in Washington hope they will do. It is sad and pitiful for anyone to be hitching their horse to this group. I only wonder who is paying the lobbyists and others trying to gin up their empty cause.

It is also sad that Washington politicians waste their energy on cockamamie schemes such as getting this group off the terrorist list so that we can throw millions of taxpayer dollars down their rat hole in the utterly vain hope that they will bring about regime change in Iran rather than seriously trying to engage Iran ourselves.

Bill Beeman
University of Minnesota