Challenges for MKO lobby in US

The relationship between the Mujahedin –e- khalq (MEK/MKO) and Israel is getting weirdly closer as the group’s large-scale campaign to get removed from FTO list of the State Department grows. It’s not a coincidence that the MKO adoring supporters among American neoconservatives seem also caring to the Zionist lobby in the US, AIPAC…

The relationship between the Mujahedin –e- khalq (MEK/MKO) and Israel is getting weirdly closer as the group’s large-scale campaign to get removed from FTO list of the State Department grows. It’s not a coincidence that the MKO adoring supporters among American neoconservatives – these days largely responsible for the push toward war in the Middle East- seem also caring to Israel and the Zionist lobby in the US, AIPAC. Having begun with an anti Zionism—even anti Jews-- and anti-imperialism agenda, the MKO's role to run the super powers' policy is considered controversial by experts. [1]

In a series of interviews with PBS, Keith Weisman former senior official of AIPAC shows his concern over a possible war that may be pushed by Israeli lobbies against Iran. He reveals how Israel funds and supports Iranian dissident groups like Mujahedin - e- Khalq for a further war and eventually regime change policy against Islamic Republic. Weisman asserts that his role to stop those policies was influential. After the American invasion to Iraq, Iran became front and center for Weisman at AIPAC, according to Robert Dreyfuss of Tehran Bureau, PBS. Weissman describes the situation at that time:

"Iran came back in a big way after the invasion of Iraq, because you had all these guys running around saying, 'Next stop Tehran!' and all that," says Weissman. Many within AIPAC, and some of Israel's top Iran-watchers, wanted to push hard for Iraq-style regime change in Iran, too, beginning with overt and covert support for dissidents, minority groups, and exile militia such as the Mojahedin-e Khalgh (MKO).

"You should see the people who crawled out of the woodwork to talk to me! I talked to monarchists, to socialists, to communists, everybody. And they all wanted AIPAC to support regime change," remembers Weissman. "Israel was also trying to unduly influence the United States, too. They were sending a lot of Iranian exiles to the United States from Europe to give talks, purporting to be Iranian leaders. A lot of times, I remember, when I went to Israel Uri Lubrani would take me to meet these people who were stashed in various hotels all over Tel Aviv and he would always make me switch cabs on the way, that kind of thing! This culture of regime change was very strong, very powerful, inside elements in Israel, and the Pentagon, the neoconservatives, a lot of pundits here."[2]

Weissman believes that regime change policy is a wrong one that no foreign force should impose on Iran. "[Support for regime change] was the personal opinion of many people in AIPAC, but it never uttered the words 'regime change.' And I think my efforts were part of the reason why they never did," he says, adding: "How would it look anyway? This is what makes it so stupid! The American Jewish community choosing the next government of Iran? Helping to change the next government of Iran? How can that government have any legitimacy? It's completely ridiculous. And I think the arguments that I raised against it convinced AIPAC, no matter what they personally thought, they realized that what I was saying was right." [3]

Besides, Philip Giraldi, a former CIA official, of American Conservative believes that American politicians who “have soft spot in their hearts for MEK because it is an enemy of the regime in Tehran”, are also “passionate supporters “of Israel.[4]

What causes Israeli lobbyist to get involved with a terrorist designated personality cult? The enemy of my enemy is not always a friend, writes Michael Rubin, criticizing US former officials for their blind support for MKO. Rubin describes the cult of Rajavi:”after liberation [of Iraq], the MKO embraced America not because it loves liberty or apple pie but rather because it is an ideological chameleon. Only fools would believe that the MKO is sincere in its pro-American rhetoric.”[5]

MKO’s Geobel-style propaganda misleads Western officials drawing their attention to their own agenda which is the overthrow of Iranian government. Weisman says to PBS that Iran was alarmed at the possibility that the United States might engage in overt and covert efforts to instigate opposition inside Iran. “Many in AIPAC, especially among its lay leadership and biggest donors, strongly backed regime change in Iran. "That was what Larry [Franklin] and his friends wanted," he says. "It included lots of different parts, like broadcasts, giving money to groups that would conduct sabotage, it included bringing the Mojahedin[-e Khalgh], bringing them out of Iraq and letting them go back to Iran to carry out missions for the United States. Harold Rhode backed this.... There were all these guys, Michael Ledeen, 'Next stop Tehran, next stop Damascus.'"

But when Franklin asked Weissman for help, he turned him down. "We didn't do anything. We chose not to do anything. I told Rosen it was a terrible idea, and it wouldn't work, and all it would do would be to make more trouble." [6]

On one hand it seems just ridiculous that US former officials are naïve enough to fall for MKO propaganda, on the other hand, high speaking fees paid to former GOP officials convince them to advocate for a terrorist designated group although, according to Danielle Pletka of the Enterprise blog, it should be investigated by both the FBI and Justice Department where this money comes from and how it is being transferred to a Foreign terrorist organization. She wonders how a group with dark record of “cult-like behavior, murder, terrorism or money laundering” that has the blood of Americans in its hands can own a lobbying campaign in the United States government.[7]

Lobbying on behalf of a terrorist destructive cult might embarrassingly harm the former politicians’ fame. Even engaging in conversation with the cult of Rajavi seems too credulous, let alone lobbying for them.

References:

[1]"In May24, 1974 for the anniversary of hanging of their leaders, this organization operated some explosive actions in American and Jewish economic companies and internal depended capitalists such as American and Jewish General, English0-Court Insurance Company Pork Shire and Jewish company Techno vice." Karami, Mohammad (former MKO member), Open Letter to President Obama, Iran-Interlink, May17, 2011

[2]Dreyfuss, Robert, AIPAC From the Inside/Part Two Wrangling Over Regime Change , Tehran Bureau, PBS, June 11, 2011

[3] ibid

[4]Giraldi, Philip, American Diplomacy 101, American Conservative, June 12, 2011

[5]Rubin Michael, What's Behind the Campaign to delist the Mujahedin al Khalq Organization?, Commentary Magazine, February 24, 2011

[6] Dreyfuss, Robert, AIPAC From the Inside/Part Two Wrangling Over Regime Change , Tehran Bureau, PBS, June 11, 2011

[7]Pletka Danielle, Lobbying for Terrorists, The Enterprise Blog, June 15, 2011


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