Several events in the last few months, especially in the context of the process of re-examining some major topics of Washington’s foreign policy – including the relationship with Iran – brought to the attention the Mojahedine e-Khalq (MKO), a controversial anti-Tehran regime group with a complex history dating from the ‘970s.
The annual meeting of the MKO held in July 2016 in Paris surprised many observers by its important international attendance.
Among the foreign supporters of MKO who took part, there were former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, former Spanish prime minister José Luis Zapatero, former U.S. Congress speaker Newt Gingrich, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. The gala was hosted by Linda Chavez, a former Reagan administration official.
The most significant presence, however, was that of former Saudi General Intelligence Directorate (GID) Chief, prince Turki al-Faisal, who currently chairs the Board of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies. Although the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran is not new, Prince Turki al-Faisal’s speech to the group surprised because it was marked by the spectacle of the Iranian exiles chanting, in Arabic: “Al Shaab Yureed Isqat al-Nitham!” (“The People Demand the Fall of the Regime!”), at which Turki al-Faisal responded “I, too, want the fall of the regime.” The open call for regime change in Tehran from a Saudi royal, struck Iranian journalists and activists as a turning point. It was also deeply ironic, given that the chant was used in the pro-democracy protests across the Middle East in 2011 that Saudi Arabia fought so hard to repress.
In this context, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, an advisor to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, declared that there is no doubt about the Saudi security bodies’ relations with the MKO. According to other Iranian officials, Saudi Arabia increased its financial support for MKO up to 800 percent in the past two years.
Also in July 2016, several weeks after the annual MKO rally, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with NCRI/MKO leader Maryam Rajavi in Paris, talking allegedly on the latest regional developments. The Abbas-MKO meeting was seen in Iran as a signal of a reestablishment of a Fatah-MKO coalition, which fought together against Iran during the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran war.
MKO activities are closely followed by the authorities in Tehran, which promptly cautioned, internally and internationally, against the group being used for anti-government movements.
a) A report of the Iranian regime’s Ministry of Intelligence, released on 13 January 2017, admitted that Iranian young people become more attracted by the MKO, which seeks the removal of the Velayat-e faqih regime in Iran. The report also mentioned the most important methods to confront MKO: “Introducing and fully identifying the (MKO) organization… to prevent, in this way, people and new members from joining the organization which would lead to increased damage to the system.” It added, “Strengthening the borders and increasing the country’s defense power: By this action, we can prevent entry of the MEK members into the country… and so we will be able to avert and ward off the enemies of the system (regime) outside the borders.” Read the rest of this entry »