Guest post by Ali Safavi
After recurring embarrassing failures, a desperate Michael Rubin is still scraping the bottom of the mullahs’ oil barrel when it comes to attacking the main Iranian opposition Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). His newest approach amounts to nothing more than putting together a narrative based on a bunch of lies that the MEK is anti-American.
Two key tenets have shaped the MEK’s policy and positions: a commitment to democracy and a focus on promoting the national interests of the Iranian people.
As such, the MEK has always been transparent in its opposition to America’s unconditional and immoral support for the Shah’s ruthless and corrupt dictatorship, restored to the throne by a CIA/MI6 coup that toppled the popular and revered Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq. Had he not been overthrown, the course of Iran’s history would have changed forever, and the fundamentalist mullahs would have not even had the opportunity to assume power.
But the MEK was not alone in its criticism of US policy vis-à-vis the Shah’s dictatorship. “Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe — because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty,” President Bush told the National Endowment for Democracy in November 2003.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the US reinforced its image as the protector of a brutal dictatorship, sowing the seeds of the popular anti-American sentiment in 1979. The MEK has been the primary victim of the mullah’s “anti-imperialist” propaganda. On January 24, 1979, for example, the MEK insisted on safeguards for democratic freedoms. When the MEK’s campaign for a secular democracy gained popular support, the mullahs tried to counter the trend through the takeover of the American embassy in November 1979. Since 1979, the MEK has persistently called on western governments to isolate the theocracy and instead support the popular will of the Iranian people to establish a democratic republic.
In this regard, Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield’s book, “The MEK: Shackled by a Twisted History,” sets the record straight. Rubin claims to be an academic but deliberately ignores indisputable historical facts because they render his claims worthless.
Rubin repeats the anti-American regime’s propaganda after he spent months in Iran rubbing elbows with the mullahs’ officials. He was even trusted to explore the archives of a notorious IRGC Foundation, something even loyal regime journalists have not achieved. In 1999, he “exchanged views” in Iran with “an audience of about 500” that included “government officials.” Rubin wants to hide his own troubling past of cooperation with a regime that considers the US to be the “Great Satan;” a regime which was executing my fellow MEK colleagues, group after group at that time.
During the Cold War, the nerve center for the Soviet KGB’s propaganda network was called “Department A. According to a London School of Economics study, the nerve center had a network of “agents of influence,” which included a range of full-fledged spies to unwitting accomplices.
The analogous version of the Soviet “Department A” is the “Directorate of Nefaq (MEK)” of the Iranian regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). According to a US Library of Congress report, “After the 1991 Persian Gulf War against Iraq, MOIS made anti-MEK psychological warfare one of its main objectives, but MEK nonetheless has remained a viable organization.” At the same time, the intelligence branches of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have a section dedicated to the MEK, called the “Elteqat (eclectic).” These departments are large, well-funded, and sophisticated. Their day-to-day operation consists of disseminating false narratives about the MEK to discredit and weaken the organization.
That is why Rubin is favorably covered in hundreds of articles produced by the regime’s media outlets like Alef, Raja News, SNN, Farda News, Mehr News, Bultan News, ISNA, the Qods Force’s Young Journalists Club, Kayhan, the mouthpiece of none other than the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and MOIS affiliated websites. Indeed, when a discredited MOIS-run outfit, Nejat Association, reprinted his previous article against the MEK, Rubin, eager for attention, promptly retweeted it. However, realizing his blunder, he hastily deleted the tweet. Nejat regularly publishes Rubin’s hit-piece on the MEK.
In such a political terrain, Rubin is at worst a regime ghostwriter and at best an unwitting agent of influence for Tehran’s KGB. His narratives are an outgrowth of the regime’s Department A propaganda.
Rubin is no stranger to propaganda. After a New York Times investigation into his involvement in a “propaganda campaign” in Iraq, Rubin simply dodged questions about his activities and alleged financial gains. In 2014, he was linked to an investigation that revealed the UAE’s multimillion dollar deal with PR firm Camstoll. He has a similar track record with Turkey.
Members of the US House of Representatives said in 2011 that the MEK “seeks freedom, democracy, and human rights for the people of Iran.” Referring to MEK’s revelations about the mullahs’ malign activities, they added, “Senior United States military officers have acknowledged on multiple occasions that MEK’s intelligence has played a positive and effective role in saving the lives of American soldiers by exposing the threats and dangers of Iran’s terrorist interventions in Iraq.”
When Rubin was involved in advocating the invasion of Iraq in 2003, US-led coalition forces bombed the MEK’s bases, killing 50, including two women, and wounding dozens more, in the context of a secret deal with the devil in Tehran.
Rubin’s latest pathetic claims were first propagated by the Iranian regime’s KGB-style MOIS in 2019. They are ridiculous.
It is despicable that while the Iranian regime was killing American soldiers in Iraq using IEDs and EFPs, Rubin was coordinating with the regime’s intelligence operative in Iraq, Ahmad Chalabi. At that time, an August 24, 2006 Memorandum for the Record by Lt.-Col. Julie S. Norman, Joint Interagency Task Force commander at Camp Ashraf, Iraq, noted that MEK “intelligence has been very helpful… and in some circumstances has helped save the lives of [US] soldiers.”
Safavi (@amsafavi) is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)