By INU Staff
INU - A critical point missed by Michael Rubin’s article for The National Interest, which essentially was a take-down of the main Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), is that the reason this Iranian opposition group has survived for so long is precisely because it has support inside Iran.
For instance, in July 1988, after the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, after sacrificing the lives of almost 1 million Iranians, agreed to a cease-fire with Iraq, Khomeini began to worry about the vulnerability of his regime to public unrest. So, the Supreme Leader ordered a fatwa that ensured the execution of some 30,000 MEK members and sympathizers who were being held in regime prisons.
During the summer of 1988, Iran executed thousands. Shockingly, Iran’s current judiciary chief—Ebrahim Raisi—served on the “death commission” that sent many of these prisoners to the death.
While Mr. Rubin writes that this group, is “unable to win any support from Iranians inside Iran,” the facts seem to give little credibility to his statement. In fact, Iran has been facing unprecedented waves of protests throughout the country since December 2017. Iranians from all classes, social backgrounds, and from the country’s thirty-one provinces have been demonstrating against clerical rule, especially the young. Students, merchants, truck drivers, the educated and illiterate have all called for an end to the Iranian regime.
Video evidence from inside Iran shows that many of these protestors are MEK supporters. Pictures of Maryam Rajavi, the head of the MEK’s parent organization, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), hang from highway overpasses, and signs that condemn the regime are paraded. The MEK is endorsed outside mosques and at major squares in Tehran, Isfahan, Mashhad, Shiraz and even Qom.
These supporters are putting their lives on the line — just like in 1988 — if they are caught, they and their family members will be arrested, tortured and some will probably be executed. Still, they persist.
If Mr. Rubin contends that the MEK are inept, then why is the Iranian regime so obsessed with demonizing them. Why would a group with little support inside Iran merit such attention? Like the nineteen movies, series, and documentaries that Iran’s state-run media has produced to demonize the MEK. In 2018, eighteen major books were published by the regime against the MEK. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei excoriated the MEK by name at least four times. As well, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has directly blamed the MEK for organizing public protests.
When the protests in Iran were at their height in January 2018, President Rouhani personally phoned French President Emmanuel Macron and asked him to limit the activities of the MEK in France. However, Macron refused.
Recently, the head of a major Canadian think tank revealed that the Iranian regime embassy offered him up to $80,000 to refer to the MEK as a "cult" in his publications. This is unprecedented. This demonization campaign displays the regime’s fear of the MEK (and only the MEK) as an existential threat.
Now, Iran’s government has resorted to terrorism to silence the MEK. At least three major terrorist plots coordinated by the regime against the MEK were uncovered in 2018 in the United States, Albania, and France.
As far back as 2004, the United States recognized the rights of the MEK as “protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention,” after an exhaustive sixteen-month investigation of each and every member of the MEK by seven different agencies of the U.S. Government. They concluded that “there was no basis to charge any member of the group [MEK] with the violation of American law.”
The MEK's base of support lies in the hearts and minds of the legions of Iranians. Soon their dream of a peaceful and democratic Iran may be realized, with the help of the MEK.