Of course, the MEK is not a new threat to the mullahs in Iran, having fought them for four decades already, or a new presence on the internet. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has repeatedly displayed how much he fears the MEK and its ever-growing popularity, framing it as an “educational attack”.
But now, he sees that the MEK, which is the complete opposite of the fundamentalist regime in Iran, has gained mass popularity among the Iranian people and respect in the world. That’s why he said in a speech at the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) University on October 21 that cyberspace in “among the necessary tools” that the Regime would need to fight the MEK Iran.
While Ali Asgari, the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), showed his fear of the MEK during a meeting with the regime’s MPs, where he noted that the MEK is using social media to fight the regime in cyberspace.
Despite the fact that the MEK does pose an ever-present threat to the regime, it’s strange to hear for the regime calling for more action to be taken against the MEK when the regime already runs dozens of websites and TV channels dedicated to demonizing the MEK around the clock and around the world.
Yet still, Gholamreza Suleimani, the head of paramilitary IRGC Basij Organization, said in September that the regime has formed a thousand cyber regiments to support the regime on social media. But the Regime admits that tackling the MEK online is hard.
Gholamreza Jalali, brigadier general of the IRGC, said in July: “They try to impose negative influence on the public opinion and the society’s way of thinking, spreading despair and disappointment and exposing disability on the part of authorities. In my opinion, the new war with MEK in cyberspace is harder than Mersad (the greatest operation by the Resistance’s National Liberation Army in 1988) operation.”
The Regime has been running demonization campaigns against the MEK for decades, which have led to the Regime’s brutal suppression of the MEK. But still these campaigns are not getting anywhere and the regime officials have expressed major anxiety about the MEK’s role in organizing protests against the Iranian regime in recent years, especially the uprising that began in December 2017.
After years of demonizing the MEK and repeating the false claim that the MEK has no serious presence or role in Iran, acknowledging the real presence of the MEK in Iran is politically costly to the mullahs. This shows how big a threat the MEK is and officials warn that “major events” could still be forthcoming.
These are the actions of a regime desperate to prevent defiant youth from joining the MEK, but failing because they know that the people and the youth are on the side of the MEK.