Is Iran expanding its spying and lobbying efforts?

The Iranian intelligence minister’s recent remarks, pertaining to Tehran overseeing a spy/lobby network in important capitals across the world, is cause for concern. Mahmoud Alavi, Iran’s spy chief, bragged about the regime’s capability to run a lobby group in Washington with the aim of promoting Tehran’s hardline agenda.

According to Alavi, Iranian dual citizens in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom have maintained their loyalty to the “Islamic revolution,” the mullahs’ hallmark motto ever since 1979, through which they have wreaked havoc across the region and beyond.

A “lobby group for the Islamic Republic of Iran” is actively bolstering Tehran’s status in the international stage and helping to sell and legitimize its nuclear ambitions as just causes to the globe, Alavi claimed

The head of Iran’s intelligence apparatus did not bother to name the specific lobby entity. One certain group, however, the National Iranian American Council, has been the target of major criticism in the past several months, with accusations of the group lobbying on Tehran’s behalf. Various dissident organizations are demanding the Trump administration to launch an official probe digging into NIAC’s history and nature of its current events.

Congress has also been petitioned to investigate ties between Iran and the NIAC, and the latter’s active drive to promote a pro-Tehran agenda in Washington. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., who chair the foreign affairs committees in each chamber of Congress, have received specific letters signaling the importance of urgent action in this regard.

NIAC was once again under the spotlight this January for its actions of presenting a positive image of the Iran nuclear deal and advocating a pro-diplomatic approach with Tehran. The media reported extensively on how two senior Iranian regime supporters, former Iranian nuclear diplomat Hossein Mousavian and NIAC founder and president Trita Parsi, enjoyed access to the Obama White House on more than 30 occasions, conducting meetings with senior administration officials.

Such meetings took place at critical points of the Obama administration’s decision-making process and engagement with Iran in their effort to push forward the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Alavi’s recent remarks are source for serious concern as entities advocating Iran’s agenda in the American capital are obliged by the Foreign Agents Registration Act to disclose the nature of their work. This even includes conditions where the relationship does not involve money exchanges, at least not through legal and opaque channels.

A legitimate question now hovers over the possibility of any ties between the groups referred to by Iran’s intelligence minister and the Islamic Republic’s positions on foreign policy.

Another just query circles around the many visits Parsi has made to the White House and the State Department during former President Obama‘s tenure, and can they be attributed to what the Iranian intelligence minister describes as lobbying for Tehran.

Any group seen to be advocating the promotion of Iran’s ballistic missile program, and caring less about the Iranian people’s human rights and the regime’s crackdown, should be subject of suspicion.

For years Iran has been known to forward an official plot of boosting relations with groups promoting anti-war and pro-regime policies in the West. Improving contacts with Iranian dual nationals living in the West has been high on Tehran’s agenda on this matter.

One major task of this network has been discrediting those opposing the regime in Tehran and taking measures against any efforts voicing support for Iran regime change. The main Iranian opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, and its most important member, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), have been the constant target of smear campaigns launched and orchestrated by the Iranian regime and NIAC.

Their nightmare involves Washington discussing possibilities with Iranian opposition groups, and upscaling the effort into direct cooperation aimed at further sanctions and ultimately regime change.

Originally published in Washington Examiner

Amir Basiri (@amir_bas) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner and an Iranian human rights activist.

How Deep Was the Obama-Iran Relationship?

The Obama administration’s effort to engage Iran remained a matter of suspicion until the 44th American president left the White House. Concerns began mounting especially after Obama turned his back on the 2009 uprising  in parallel to the revelation of secret correspondence with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

As more light is shed, the more we realize how far this relationship expanded. Known members of Iran’s lobbies and others enjoyed unprecedented access to the White House. This new knowledge calls for a complete overhaul of the corrupt U.S. foreign policy establishment.

Shocking Numbers

Through the course of the nuclear talks that rendered the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Obama White House welcomed a slate of different Iranian-American so-called “experts” and organizations who agreed completely over how Washington must engage in Tehran rapprochement.

Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a known Iran-funded lobby, was reportedly welcomed in up to 33 meetings in the White House, from 2013 to 2016.

Seyed Mousavian, a former Iranian diplomat and head of its national security council, was hosted at the White House at least three times,” the Washington Free Beacon explained.

Parsi’s record was second only to Jeremy Ben Ami, President of J Street, described as a strong advocate of the Iran appeasement camp, who visited the White House on 44 occasions.

And finally, one NIAC alumni, Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, National Security Council Director for Iran in Obama’s White House, reached the point of obtaining daily access to the White House and promoting a pro-Iran regime approach.

“President Obama’s NSC Director for Iran, Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, apparently worked as a lobbyist for NIAC,” according to Western Journalism.

Who is Trita Parsi?

Described as having links to the Obama White House’s cheerleading of the narrative in support of the Iranian regime, Parsi, head of NIAC, was able to meet with several senior Obama administration officials in dozens of White House visits, according to the logs.

Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security advisor, provided exclusive access to Parsi in private talks. He also arranged meetings with Colin Kahl, former Vice President Joe Biden’s national security advisor.

Various sources also indicated Parsi meeting with other senior officials including NSC director for Iran.

One instance shows West Wing intern Solomon Tarlin, known to support J Street, signed Parsi into the White House.

However, Parsi is a figure who during the Bush administration dined with Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, suggesting that he pursues the interest of the Iranian regime in its entirety, and not the so-called “moderates“.

Parsi was also pictured in conversation with the brother of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Parsi is known to brag about his access to senior Iranian regime officials.

“Few analysts in Washington have the access of Dr. Parsi to decision makers in Iran,” he described in a bio.

NIAC

NIAC, a Washington-based lobbying organization founded by Parsi in 2002, focuses on influencing senior American officials and politicians. A piece written by Iranian dissident Alex Shirazi in the Daily Blaze sheds more light on NIAC’s intentions, serving completely in Iran’s interests.

NIAC was architected by the little known Namazi family in Iran, described as favoring “political interests in the Islamic Republic.”

Insight into NIAC’s background can be obtained from regrets made public by Carl Gershman, President of the National Endowment for Democracy. Gershman accused NIAC of misrepresenting its true nature.

“… NIAC showed itself as a lobby organization, so we have nothing to do with them anymore.”

Al Arabiya English cited the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg referring to Parsi as an individual who “does a lot of leg-work for the Iranian regime.” (Goldberg at one point retracted this description, but shortly afterward retracted his retraction.)

NIAC misleadingly presented its agenda as meeting U.S. national interests. The very regime NIAC sells is known for “Death to America!” mantras and killing at least hundreds, if not thousands, of American personnel.

NIAC goes as far as claiming to advocate “human rights” in Iran and “civil rights” in the U.S., insulting Americans by placing their country alongside the ruthless regime in Iran.

In fact, NIAC lobbies for a friendly U.S. relationship with the current Iranian regime and strongly opposes economic sanctions. All this goes while Iran state media describe NIAC as the “Iran lobby in the U.S.”

NIAC and Parsi Exposed by Others

There has been abundant reporting about the true nature of NIAC and Trita Parsi.

“…Parsi admits that his group only has 2,500 to 3,000 members. Internal documents, uncovered by Lake, show that less than 500 people responded to a membership survey that the group put out last year. So, far from representing the views of any appreciable number of Iranian Americans, it is far more accurate to say that NIAC represents the views of Trita Parsi.

“…may be guilty of violating tax laws, the Foreign Agents Registration Act and lobbying disclosure laws, according to law enforcement authorities…

“… former FBI special agent in counterintelligence and counterterrorism Kenneth Piernick, said, ‘It appears that this may be lobbying on behalf of Iranian government interests.’”

The report continues:

“…the group’s acting director for policy, Patrick Disney, authored a memo last year in which he stated, “I believe we fall under this definition of “lobbyist.’” And according to other communications Lake obtained, Parsi himself used the word ‘lobby’ to describe the purpose and mission of NIAC.”

Parsi and Zarif

Released email records indicate close ties between Parsi and Tehran, especially through Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Reports in this regard are quite vivid.

According to NIAC emails released under a lawsuit, in April 2006, Zarif, then Iran’s ambassador to the U.N., gave a copy of Iran’s 2003 offer for a “grand bargain” to Parsi, subsequently released to the press and used in a campaign to prove Iran was ready for peace and dialogue. (For more information on Parsi’s role in providing a copy of Iranian offer to the press, read theWashington Post, Anti-War, and IPS reports.)

A few weeks later, Parsi launched the “Iran Negotiation Project” and began arranging meetings between Congressional members and Zarif. Then in his 25 October 2006 email, Parsi told Zarif about Congressional members who had decided to oppose George Bush’s policy on Iran and requested a meeting.

A Deeper look into NIAC

Many within the Iranian-American community consider NIAC to be a de facto lobby for the Iranian regime. In 2008 as criticism against NIAC’s pro-regime activities mounted, NIAC and Parsi raised a defamation lawsuit against one of its critics, attempting to destroy him through the financial burden of a lawsuit and as a result silence all other critics.

In 2012 a court dismissed the lawsuit and sanctioned NIAC and Trita Parsi for abuses which included false declarations to the court, ordering them to pay $184,000 towards the defendant’s legal expenses.

This lawsuit forced NIAC to release some internal documents that turned out to be devastating. The Washington Times and many others published these documents.

NIAC claims to have a goal of preventing war between the U.S. and Iran. Critics, however, affirm NIAC’s lobby has always primarily focused on business and the peace mantle it wears is nothing but a face for its lobby efforts.

In a memo sent to Washington lobbyist Roy Coffee, Parsi explained the true nature of his efforts.

Back in 2002-03, Parsi used his access to the U.S. Congress to prepare reports about the latest developments regarding Iran and send the reports to Tehran.

Final Thoughts

This newly revealed White House log shows how the Obama administration bent over backwards in hosting advocates seeking Iran’s interests, and not that of America.

Allowing Parsi into the White House more than 30 times, despite his foreign policy positions being completely in line with the Iranian regime, provides intriguing insight into how far the Obama administration went to aid the mullahs, while they continued, and continue today, to describe America as the “Great Satan”.

The access provided to the likes of Parsi and NIAC provides all the knowledge needed about the true nature of the highly flawed nuclear deal sealed by the Obama administration with Tehran.

And this is only a tip of the iceberg of how far Obama’s failed appeasement policy provided unprecedented access to NIAC, and to this end, the Iranian regime.

This signifies the necessity of the new Trump administration to completely overhaul agencies dealing with Iran, and to impose radical changes on Washington’s Iran policy altogether.

Originally published in American Thinker

Iran apologists have a misleading narrative on Trump’s policies

By Amir Basiri

The Trump administration’s decision to put Iran “on notice” for its provocative ballistic missile test and to subsequently slap new sanctions on individuals and entities affiliated with its missile program was a positive break from the previous administration’s policy of ignoring Iran’s belligerent behavior while showering it with concessions.

The measure was welcomed by the critics of the failed appeasement policy toward Iran in Capitol Hill and across the world.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., called the announcement “a new day in U.S.-Iran relations,” stressing that it’s past time to undertake a “coordinated, multi-faceted effort to push back against a range of illicit Iranian behavior.”

Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., ranking member of the House Foreign Relations Committee, welcomed the new round of sanctions and underlined the need for the United States and its allies to deal with Iran’s destabilizing behavior around the world.

Mohammad Mohaddessin, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the exiled opposition group National Council of Resistance of Iran, called the measure “a positive step” in confronting an illegitimate and terrorist dictatorship, and stressed the need to impose total sanctions on Iranian entities involved in suppression, terrorism and fundamentalism.

Proponents of rapprochement also reacted to Trump’s tougher stance against Iran. In order to prevent the unraveling of their interests, however, they are driving their point by drawing dangerous conclusions through a narrative based on misrepresenting the facts of Obama’s tried-and-failed playbook.

Organizations like NIAC, an Iran lobby deeply tied to Tehran, suggest that communication channels created between the Obama administration and Iran paved the way for a nuclear deal that prevented a war with the country and also facilitated the release of ten U.S. sailors captured by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) in early 2016, both false assumptions.

The former is a flawed deal that has only made the Iranian regime a more hostile state by legitimizing its nuclear program and giving it billions of dollars to squander on its violent agenda in Syria and elsewhere, while the latter was an opportunity that the IRGC seized upon to humiliate the U.S.

Swedish-Iranian expat Trita Parsi refers to the release of U.S. hostages as another achievement of open dialog with Iran, referring to the Obama administration’s $1.7 billion ransom, which drove the mullahs into turning hostage-taking into a lucrative business.

Another example is former Obama advisor Philip Gordon’s op-ed in The New York Times, in which he claims that under the previous administration, “the United States made significant efforts to contain Iran.”

However, in the same piece, Gordon admits that the nuclear pact has failed to address Iran’s ballistic missile program. He also implicitly confesses that Iran’s Shiite proxies in Iraq, which grew in size after Obama’s hasty retreat from the country, are a potential threat for U.S. troops in the region.

This is not exactly what you would call containment.

Both writers base their argument that Trump should continue to appease Iran on the presumption that a firm stance toward Tehran will lead the U.S. to a military confrontation, or “an embarrassing retreat,” as Gordon likes to put it.

But the U.S. doesn’t need to go to war with the Iranian regime to contain it. There is already an organized Iranian resistance movement, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK/PMOI), which is quite capable of doing so and has strong bipartisan support among U.S. lawmakers and politicians.

Backers of diplomatic capitulation to Iran have constantly tried to discredit the MEK in order to conclude that the only solution to mend fences with Iran is to seek moderates within the regime, a proven hoax and myth and an empty goal that will only help keep the leading state sponsor of terrorism in power.

If the past is any indication, appeasing regimes that have no respect for universal democratic values is a recipe for disaster, yielding short-term jubilation at the expense of long-term insecurity.

Thanks in large part to the Obama administration’s kid-glove treatment of Iran, the Middle East is already a hotbed of chaos and extremism, a powder keg that can only be defused by a serious change in policy. That change should be to stand with the Iranian people in their plight and struggle for freedom and regime change, a crucial step toward promoting peace in the Middle East and across the globe.

Originally posted in Washington Examiner

Trump and U.S. foreign policy vis-à-vis Iran

00By Shahriar Kia

The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States has wreaked havoc among the regime in Iran. Iran’s lobbying groups in Washington are going the distance to influence Trump’s foreign policy vis-à-vis the mullahs in Tehran. Continue reading “Trump and U.S. foreign policy vis-à-vis Iran”

Can propaganda save the threadbare Iran appeasement policy?

With President Obama‘s administration expiring in a few weeks, the Iranian regime, its lobbies in the United States and Iran apologists with vested interest in the continuation of rapprochement with Tehran have initiated a widespread propaganda campaign to avoid losing their earnings in Obama’s eight years of appeasement policy vis-a-vis Iran. Continue reading “Can propaganda save the threadbare Iran appeasement policy?”

Iran-backing yellow journalism in the U.S.

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Iran continues lobby efforts in the West, especially the U.S.

By Heshmat Alavi

The likes of Daniel Benjamin, former counterterrorism chief in the U.S. State Department, and Daniel Larison, known to write for Iran’s lobby against its opposition, have recently resorted to a new low standard of yellow and biased journalism. Continue reading “Iran-backing yellow journalism in the U.S.”

On Trump’s Presidential Victory: Losing Graciously and Winning Humbly

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Harvard-educated Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

Originally posted in the Huffington Post

If politics were like sports, the losers would take their losses graciously; but Washington politics are not like sports.

Some still appear to have a difficult time at accepting the results of the presidential election, but they should not act like an attorney who lost his case before the judge, and walks outside seeking to relitigate it in front of the public and the media. They should not be in the pounding table and yelling stage, but they should understand that the case is closed.

Some are even heavily criticizing potential Cabinet nominees even before the President-elect Donald Trump has picked any specific individual for the key White House positions.

For example, Daniel Benjamin, a former Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the State Department, recently posted an article in regard to the potential Cabinet nominees as well as a grassroots Iranian organization.

We should adequately and meticulously analyze the politics, facts, and the law.

The Politics

On politics, the 2016 elections are over: Donald Trump won. Republicans control the White House, Senate, and the House of Representatives, and the decades-old policy of appeasement of the Islamic Republic of Iran has received a major blow. Therefore, let’s just get over it.

The Facts

On Nov. 23, Benjamin launched a broadside against the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran/Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (PMOI/MEK); it is the largest and best-organized Iranian opposition movement within the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which acts as the parliament-in-exile.

He criticized a number of former U.S. officials including Mayor Rudy Giuliani for their support for the MEK. In a recent article, he said, “With Giuliani, as perhaps with Gingrich and others, the attraction to the MEK may be more grounded in plain old greed than foreign policy.”

Nevertheless, there exists robust evidence, gathered by U.S. officials, confirming that the mainstream MEK was not responsible for the killing of U.S. citizens in Iran. Rather, those assassinations were the work of a breakaway Marxist-Leninist faction, known as Peykar, which hijacked the movement after the arrest and execution of the leaders of the MEK and killed both the MEK members who resisted the hijacking of their organization and several Americans in Tehran.

Upon being released from prison during the 1979 Revolution, after serving 8 years of his life term, MEK leader “[Massoud] Rajavi had to rebuild the organization, which had been badly battered by the Peykar experience,” said Patrick Clawson in a Council on Foreign Relations interview. He is an Iran scholar and director of research at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The Law

In March 2012, the Treasury Department seemed to suspect that advocates of the MEK were providing material support for a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). The Department began to issue subpoenas to distinguished former U.S. officials who advocated on behalf of the MEK. But Treasury ended its inquiry about a year after the courts and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delisted the MEK in September.

Treasury cited no violations of any laws, either by the Iranian-Americans who were organizing the conferences or the speakers who appeared at these events. So, there is no legal leg on which anyone can make the case that advocates of the MEK were or are in violation of the law, which prohibits providing material support to a listed organization. And, more fundamentally, one is innocent until proven guilty.

Mr. Benjamin wrote that the MEK “inclusion on the FTO list underscored a central principle of U.S. counterterrorism policy, namely, that the target of terrorist violence is irrelevant, and the killing of innocents to advance a political agenda is always wrong.” But according to a report by Dr. Kenneth Katzman, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs, at the Congressional Research Service, State Department reports on international terrorism till 2011 did not assert that MEK ever targeted civilians purposely.

And most importantly the European Court and the United States ruled in favor of the MEK. Therefore, getting the politics, facts, and the law correctly is critical.

The Way Forward

First, based on politics, facts, and law, refrain from falling back; rather let us look forward together.

Second, the future lies with those who lose gracefully and those who win humbly, as Clinton and Trump have done so well.

Third, former Camp Liberty residents of MEK held under strenuous conditions by the Iraqi Government are now in Albania and other European countries.

The US thanked Albania for resettling members of MEK, “U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has used a visit to Albania to thank the government for resettling members of an Iranian opposition group known as the Mujahedin e Khalq, or MEK”

The real debate, however, is over the U.S. policy on Iran. On the one hand, those who favor the policy of appeasement wish to follow in the footsteps of President Obama. But they are on their way out, with little chance for having any substantial impact at least for the next four years.

On the other hand, there are those who favor holding the Iranian regime accountable for its hostility and terrorism against the United States and its allies in the region. They have also called for imposing additional sanctions for Iran’s abysmal human rights record, and its involvement in terrorism. They are also on the record that they like to see democratic change in Iran by relying on the Iranian people.

For its part, we cannot escape the fact that the MEK appears to be the single mostimportant internal player that can facilitate the democratic change in Iran, as they have demonstrated their extraordinary ability to organize. That explains all the criticisms and attacks on the MEK as well as on those who espouse a favorable view about the MEK, including dozens of senior bipartisan former government officials, such as Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Speaker Newt Gingrich, Governors Howard Dean, Ambassador John Bolton, Secretary Tom Ridge and Governor Edward Rendell.
The proponents of the appeasement policy should realize that the tide is turning, they won’t succeed in resisting it.

_____________________

You can sign up for Dr. Rafizadeh’s newsletter for the latest news and analyses on HERE.

Harvard-educated, Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is an American political scientist, president of the International American Council on the Middle East, business advisor, and best-selling author. He serves on the advisory board of Harvard International Review.

Dr. Rafizadeh is frequently invited to brief governmental and non-governmental organizations as well as speak, as a featured speaker, at security, business, diplomatic, and social events. He has been recipient of several fellowships and scholarships including from Oxford University, Annenberg, University of California Santa Barbara, Fulbright program, to name few He is regularly quoted and invited to speak on national and international outlets including CNN, BBC World TV and Radio, ABC, Aljazeera English, Fox News, CTV, RT, CCTV America, Skynews, CTV, and France 24 International, to name a few. . He analyses have appeared on academic and non-academic publications including New York Times International, Los Angeles Times, CNN, Farred zakaria GPS, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, The Nation, The National. Aljazeera, The Daily Beast, The Nation, Jerusalem Post, The Economic Times, USA Today Yale Journal of International Affairs, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, and Harvard International Review. He is a board member of several significant and influential international and governmental institutions, and he is native speaker of couple of languages including Persian, English, and Arabic. He also speaks Dari, and can converse in French, Hebrew. More at Harvard.

 

You can also order his books on HERE.

You can learn more about Dr. Rafizadeh on HERE.

You can contact him at Dr.rafizadeh@post.harvard.edu or follow him at @Dr_Rafizadeh.

 

Iran executes 11 inmates in 48 hours

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Iran continuously executing more inmates

The inhumane mullahs’ regime has executed 11 inmates in a span of 48 hours. This killing spree began when four prisoners were hanged Wednesday, November 23rd, in public in the town of Qeshem in southern Iran. Continue reading “Iran executes 11 inmates in 48 hours”

Iran lobby in U.S. resorting to yellow journalism

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Dan Benjamin’s anti Iranian opposition, MEK, tirade is a pathetic reaction to his rebuke by Secretary Clinton and US Congress, and the American people’s rejection of failed policy of appeasing the ayatollahs

November 23, 2016

Reading through Daniel Benjamin’s vitriolic, holier-than-thou, screed, against Rudy Giuliani was truly astounding. We are not in a position to defend America’s Mayor here, as his record speaks for itself and he can do that job ably. Mr. Benjamin is disingenuous and clueless in his pro-mullah attacks on the Iranian opposition movement known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI). What we, members of Iranian American Communities, are astounded by is the depth of depravity that he and his ilk will sink to in defending their ill—gotten infamy for impeding the Iranian people’s struggles for genuine democracy by effectively aiding and abetting the sectarian Islamic theocratic despots in Iran.

Mr. Benjamin served on the same National Security Council that bargained away the FTO list to the mullahs for a moderate smile from the failed Khatami presidency in Iran. He prefers so-called moderate Iranian regime “intellectuals” who continue to dupe him about what the Iranian people hate and love than to open his eyes to the reality of Iranian’s opposition to this regime.  He sat on the same Counter-Terrorism Bureau that was called out by his Secretary of State for its senseless enmity to the MEK and its lack of strategic focus on the core of the terrorism problem that lies in Tehran and whose actions were lambasted by America’s second highest court as being “egregious.”

He laments the fall of the Shah and the MEK’s pivotal role in ousting one despot, and regrets that they also opposed the mullahs who hijacked that revolution. He sheds crocodile tears for brutal henchmen of the Iranian regime who faced justice in the upheavals resulting from their own bloody suppressions of Iranian dissenters. He finds the MEK to be “creepily” devoted to the freedom of their people and impervious to misguided foreign interventions and designs to aid the regime by dismantling their historic movement. His views are tainted and extreme in misjudging the crux of the problem in the Middle East and no wonder why the problem is worse today, because Mr. Benjamin cannot discern friend from foe.

Mr. Benjamin just doesn’t get it. The MEK was founded for lack of freedom and democracy in Iran, led the struggle against the Shah, fought off the power grab by Khomeini, continued the struggle resolutely through hell and fire, and stand today with heads high and ready to sacrifice for the Iranian people’s liberty and peace and security in the region. America standing for democratic values will stand with the MEK against the Iran regime and not vice versa as has been the unfortunate historical mistake of the original FTO listing and past 16 years of two US presidents.

Messrs. Giuliani, Bolton, Jones, Shelton, Dean, Richardson, Rendell, Dell Dailey (Benjamin’s predecessor) and et. al., were correct to stand with the MEK and they understand American interests in Iran and the region much better than Mr. Benjamin could ever hope to do, so long as he clings to justifications of his wrong policy positions in the past.

Consider the situation today: Obama’s Iran deal has generally been seen as a poor deal-making exercise where the Administration gave away all its leverage up front and got limited nuclear restraints that Tehran is already trying to violate. The nuclear arrangement is seen as having given a blank check to an alliance of anti-US forces including Iran-Russia-Assad-Hezbollah.  The incoming Administration is waking up to the realization that keeping Bashar al Assad in place will benefit Tehran and Moscow more than it will aid the fight against ISIS.  The Iran policy will have to change, including a long-overdue focus on internal human rights practices and the regime’s lack of democratic legitimacy.  That process is the most important change, and it is underway now. For the likes of Benjamin, this is extremely hard to swallow.

If Mr. Benjamin has an axe to grind, let him keep the MEK out of it, unless the axe he is grinding is against the Iranian people and opposition. If that is the case, then we can only pity him for being on the wrong side of history. There is no honor in parroting the mullahs in discredited talking points against the MEK. The MEK have proved in seven high court rulings that the propaganda that Mr. Benjamin now repeats as facts were completely baseless.

Originally posted in the OIAC