The US backed Iranian opposition are neither “revolutionary,” nor even “in” Iran. Yet they have been designated as Washington’s proxies of choice, and an alternative government they seek to place into power in Tehran.
As the US-led proxy war in Syria reaches a relative stalemate and with time on Damascus and its allies’ side, Washington’s wider agenda of using the conflict as a stepping stone toward regime change in Iran is leading into a much larger conflict.
Geopolitical expert F. William Engdahl has pointed out the means through which Western oil corporations have orchestrated global schemes to raise oil prices to make American shale oil production profitable. At the same time, the US has for years now used sanctions against Iran, political subversion in Venezuela, war in Libya, and proxy war in Ukraine to prevent Tehran, Caracas, Libya’s opposition, and Moscow from benefiting long-term from higher oil prices.
For Iran, undermining its oil revenues and reintroducing sanctions and secondary sanctions on nations that refuse to recognize America’s withdrawal from the so-called Iran Nuclear Deal, is done in tandem with direct, covert subversion inside Iran itself.
Together, these efforts seek to cripple Iran as a functional nation state, as well as reduce its influence through the Middle Eastern and Central Asian regions.
US Portrays Terrorist Cult as “Iranian Opposition”
Just as the US has done in Libya and Syria, it is using terrorist organizations to attack and undermine the Iranian state.
With Iranian-backed militias already fighting Al Qaeda and its multitude of affiliates including the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq, the likelihood of these militant forces being exported into Iran itself – should Iranian-backed militias be pushed out of Syria and Iraq and destabilization inside of Iran itself reach that threshold – is high.
But there is another, lesser known group the US is portraying as the voice of Iran’s opposition, a group that is – by its own US sponsors’ admission – undemocratic, terroristic, and cult-like.
It is the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, also known as the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK).
Until 2012, MEK was listed by the US State Department as a foreign terrorist organization. Only through immense lobbying was MEK delisted. Since being delisted, no evidence suggests the fundamental aspects of MEK that make it a terrorist organization have changed. In fact, US-based corporate-financier policy think tanks that have advocated MEK’s use as a proxy against Iran have admitted as much.
The Brookings Institution in a 2009 policy paper titled, “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran” (PDF), would openly admit (emphasis added):
Perhaps the most prominent (and certainly the most controversial) opposition group that has attracted attention as a potential U.S. proxy is the NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran), the political movement established by the MeK (Mujahedin-e Khalq). Critics believe the group to be undemocratic and unpopular, and indeed anti-American.
Brookings would elaborate regarding its terrorist background, stating (emphasis added):
Undeniably, the group has conducted terrorist attacks—often excused by the MeK’s advocates because they are directed against the Iranian government. For example, in 1981, the group bombed the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party, which was then the clerical leadership’s main political organization, killing an estimated 70 senior officials. More recently, the group has claimed credit for over a dozen mortar attacks, assassinations, and other assaults on Iranian civilian and military targets between 1998 and 2001.
Brookings also mentions MEK’s attacks on US servicemen and American civilian contractors, noting:
In the 1970s, the group killed three U.S. officers and three civilian contractors in Iran.
Brookings would also emphasize (emphasis added):
The group itself also appears to be undemocratic and enjoys little popularity in Iran itself. It has no political base in the country, although it appears to have an operational presence. In particular, its active participation on Saddam Husayn’s side during the bitter Iran-Iraq War made the group widely loathed. In addition, many aspects of the group are cultish, and its leaders, Massoud and Maryam Rajavi, are revered to the point of obsession.
Brookings would note that despite the obvious reality of MEK, the US could indeed use the terrorist organization as a proxy against Iran, but notes that:
…at the very least, to work more closely with the group (at least in an overt manner), Washington would need to remove it from the list of foreign terrorist organizations.
And in 2012, after years of lobbying, that is precisely what the US did. Regarding that decision, the US State Department’s 2012 statement titled, “Delisting of the Mujahedin-e Khalq” would claim:
With today’s actions, the Department does not overlook or forget the MEK’s past acts of terrorism, including its involvement in the killing of U.S. citizens in Iran in the 1970s and an attack on U.S. soil in 1992. The Department also has serious concerns about the MEK as an organization, particularly with regard to allegations of abuse committed against its own members.
The Secretary’s decision today took into account the MEK’s public renunciation of violence, the absence of confirmed acts of terrorism by the MEK for more than a decade, and their cooperation in the peaceful closure of Camp Ashraf, their historic paramilitary base.
Nothing in the US State Department’s statement indicates that MEK is no longer a terrorist organization. It simply notes that it has publicly – as a means of political expediency – renounced violence. It should be noted that the Brookings Institution’s 2009 policy paper’s mention of MEK is under a chapter titled, “Inspiring an Insurgency,” inferring armed violence all but guaranteeing MEK militants will indeed be one of several fronts carrying out that violence in their capacity as US proxies.
It would be the “cultish” MEK leader, Maryam Rajavi, whom prominent American politicians and political lobbying groups would work with for years before MEK was removed from the US list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations in 2012. This includes prominent pro-war advocates – particularly war with Iran – now current National Security Adviser John Bolton, Newt Gingrich, and current legal adviser for US President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani.
This year at the annual “Free Iran” conference held in Paris, US State Department-funded and directed Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty would report in its article titled, “Trump Allies Tell Paris Rally ‘End Of Regime’ Near In Iran,” that:
Close allies of U.S. President Donald Trump have told a “Free Iran” rally in Paris that the end of the Iranian regime is near and that sanctions against the country will be “greater, greater, and greater.”
“We are now realistically being able to see an end to the regime in Iran,” legal adviser Rudy Giuliani said on June 30 at the rally, organized by exiled opponents including the former rebel People’s Mujahedin, which is banned in Iran.
Giuliani pointed to recent protests that have erupted in Iran amid continued financial hardships following Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Tehran.
Thus, virtually every aspect of the 2009 Brookings paper is being openly pursued as a matter of US foreign policy, including US support for MEK – an organization that has previously killed US servicemen and American civilian contractors, and by its own supporters’ admissions, is still involved in terrorism.
The ultimate irony is that these same US MEK supporters claiming the MEK and its political NCRI wing will overthrow the “dictatorial ayatollahs,” admit the MEK itself is “undemocratic” and “cultish,” everything Iran’s government is accused of by US politicians and pundits.
The MEK May Help Destroy Iran, But Will Never Rule It
Just as other “pro-democracy” groups have been promoted by Washington amid previous regime change efforts, “Iranian” MEK terrorists will be used to destabilize, pressure, and possibly even overthrow the Iranian government, but Iran will be left in fractured ruins.
MEK and its NCRI political wing will never rule a functional and unified Iranian nation-state, just as US-backed terrorists in Libya preside – and only tenuously so – over fractions of Libya’s territory and resources.
This further exposes what the US intends to do regarding Iran, and that it has nothing to do with improving the lives or prospects of the Iranian people – especially considering Iran’s collective plight is owed not to Iran’s current leadership, but to America’s decades-long policy to encircle, contain, undermine, and overthrow Iran’s institutions.
America’s foreign policy in regards to Iran must be understood in this context – that it is merely a continuation of Washington’s use of violent, terrorist fronts to divide and destroy targeted nations to eliminate competitors and their influence from regions of the globe US special interests seek to reassert themselves in – and nothing more.
The high costs continued conflict with Iran will represent will be paid by the American taxpayers, and should this conflict be allowed to escalate, by the blood of American service members. The result – should this foreign policy continue forward, will not be in the interests of either Americans or Iranians – who will collectively suffer the consequences of future conflict, just as the American people and nations invaded by the US have suffered in the past.
Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.