Posted tagged ‘Iran lobby’

Ex-Iranian Lobbyist at State Dept Moved After Conservative Pressure

April 23, 2017

Ex-Iranian Lobbyist at State Dept Moved After Conservative Pressure, Front Page Magazine (The Point), Daniel Greenfield, April 23, 2017

No one should assume that the election automatically changed everything. Much of the government is still under the control of the same folks who controlled it last year. And it will take pressure and scrutiny to change that. But pressure can and does work. Conservative activists can change things by focusing on people in government who should not be there.

This is progress.

A top State Department official who helped shape the Iran nuclear deal has reportedly been reassigned following criticism from conservative media outlets that questioned her loyalty to President Trump’s administration.

Sahar Nowrouzzadeh’s yearlong assignment to the secretary of State’s policy planning team was cut short earlier this month following critical stories from the Conservative Review and Breitbart News, Politico reported Friday.

A State Department official told Politico that Nowrouzzadeh did not want to be reassigned, and multiple officials in the State Department believe the media attacks were to blame.

“It puts people on edge,” an unnamed State Department official told Politico.

Good. The people being put on edge ought to be on edge. Especially since some of them are bringing us to the edge of nuclear war.

The State Department said in a statement that Nowrouzzadeh has returned to the Office of Iranian Affairs, but did not specify her new role or tell the publication why she was moved.

We’ll know soon enough.

The Hill story, predictably, makes no mention of why there were objections to her. That’s how you can tell it’s propaganda. It neglects to mention the Iranian lobbyist issue.

This Iran lobby, publicly represented by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), has become a staunch institutional ally of the White House selling the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the nuclear deal is known. .. Perhaps NIAC’s most accomplished alum is Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, who is now National Security Council director for Iran in the Obama administration and therefore the top U.S. official for Iran policy, bringing together the various departments of government working on U.S. strategy toward the country. She is also, after the White House principals, one of the leading advisers to President Obama on Iran.

No doubt owing to the sensitivity (and influence) of her government role, Nowrouzzadeh has maintained a low profile, but her work at NIAC is publicly available. She drafted one of the organization’s annual reports for 2002-2003 and was referred to by Dokhi Fassihian, then executive director, as a “staff member” (DOC). The Obama administration insists that Nowrouzzadeh was only ever an intern with NIAC, and Nowrouzzadeh does not seem eager to play up her affiliation with the group. According to her LinkedIn profile, she has worked at the State Department and the Department of Defense. The profile doesn’t mention NIAC at all.

Neither does the Hill story.

Nowrouzzadeh should not be in any agency of the government. Let alone sitting pretty in the Office of Iranian Affairs. But there has been some progress. And this is part of draining the swamp.

Iran’s Spymaster Claims Pro-Regime Agents Operating in D.C., London, Canada

March 23, 2017

Iran’s Spymaster Claims Pro-Regime Agents Operating in D.C., London, Canada, Washington Free Beacon, March 23, 2017

(With which and how many pro-Iran Obama administration hold-overs are they in contact? — DM)

Iranian intelligence minister Mahmoud Alavi, a candidate for the upcoming Assembly of Experts election waves during a campaign meeting in Tehran on February 23, 2016. / AFP / BEHROUZ MEHRI (Photo credit should read BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran maintains a network of spies and lobbyists who clandestinely push the Islamic regime’s agenda in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, according to the head of Iran’s ministry of intelligence, who touted the pro-Iran network’s ability to spread its ideology to the West.

Mahmoud Alavi, Iran’s intelligence minister, in recent remarks independently translated by the Washington Free Beacon, bragged about the Islamic Republic’s ability to operate an unnamed “lobby group” in D.C. that helps to push the regime’s hardline agenda.

Alavi disclosed that Iranians with dual citizenship in the United States, Canada, and England, remain devoted to the “Islamic revolution” and are working to promote this agenda in their adopted homelands.

In D.C., Alavi claimed, a “lobby group for the Islamic Republic of Iran” is working to bolster the regime’s international status and help legitimize its nuclear endeavors.

“They have a lobby group for the Islamic Republic of Iran which does not cost us money,” Alavi said, without naming the specific organization. “We should not accuse them and say things that discourage them about the ancestral homeland, this is not good, and losing this capital is not good for the regime.”

Iranian dual nationals living in the West remain devoted to the Islamic Republic, he added.

“It is wrong to say that all dual nationals are traitors, spies, or foreign agents; many of dual nationals love Iran, are a capital for Iran,” Alavi said. “Many who live in Canada, London, or the United States [are devoted] to the [Islamic] revolution and the supreme leader … In those places some attend religious ceremonies. [Those people] love the [Islamic] Revolution.”

While the Iranian official did not name the lobby group in question, the Free Beacon has reported during the past several months that dissident organizations are pushing for a formal investigation into the National Iranian American Council, or NIAC, which has long fought against charges that it lobbies on the regime’s behalf.

A group of nearly 100 prominent Iranian dissidents working to undermine the regime petitioned Congress in February to investigate NIAC’s ties to the Iranian regime and determine if it is actively helping to push a pro-mullah agenda.

“We write to request a congressional hearing on the efforts of Tehran’s theocratic regime to influence U.S. policy and public diplomacy toward Iran,” the dissidents wrote to Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) and Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), the heads of Congress’ foreign affair committees, according to copies of the letter first reported by the Free Beacon.

NIAC’s actions in favor of the Iran nuclear deal and increased diplomacy with Tehran also raised concerns in January, when the Free Beacon first reported that two high-level Iranian government backers, including a former Islamic Republic official and another accused of lobbying on Tehran’s behalf, had been hosted at the Obama White House for more than 30 meetings with top officials.

The meetings came at key points in the Obama administration’s outreach to Iran and efforts to push the nuclear deal.

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser and expert on rogue regimes, raised concerns about Alavi’s recent remarks. He noted that organizations pushing Iran’s agenda in Washington are obligated to disclose their work under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, even if no money is exchanging hands as part of the relationship.

“The question to ask is whether there is daylight between the foreign policy positions of the Islamic Republic and those of groups of which the Iranian intelligence minister refers,” Rubin said.

“At the very least, it is worth asking whether any individual who is making a couple dozen meetings to the White House and even more to the State Department is acting as what the Iranian intelligence minister might consider a lobbyist,” Rubin added, referring to the former administration’s outreach to pro-Iran interests in the United States. “It’s not a witch-hunt, it’s a matter of law.”

Given Alavi’s recent disclosures, U.S. officials would be wise to “ask the motivations of those fundraising for any group that seems more interested in defending Iran’s ballistic missile work than in human rights and cultural freedom,” Rubin said.

Saeed Ghasseminejad, an Iranian dissident and associate fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Free Beacon that several years ago Iran implemented a formal plan to “strengthen its ties with anti-war and pro-regime lobby groups.”

This included bolstering ties with Iranian dual nationals in the West and certain organizations in Europe and the United States to help “change the unfriendly governments’ policies and actions regarding the regime,” according to Ghasseminejad.

This network is tasked with discrediting Tehran’s opponents and stopping efforts to foster regime change in Iran, Ghasseminejad said.

“They are specifically concerned about any prospect of regime-change and cooperation between the U.S government and Iranian opposition groups,” he said.

Iran also wants these organizations to promote policies that benefit Iran and will help it garner international legitimacy, according to Ghasseminejad.

Iranian Dissidents Demand Investigation Into Islamic Regime’s Secret U.S. Lobbying Network

February 20, 2017

Iranian Dissidents Demand Investigation Into Islamic Regime’s Secret U.S. Lobbying Network, Washington Free Beacon, , February 20, 2017

An Iranian flag flies in front of the building where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, Wednesday, July 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

An Iranian flag flies in front of the building where closed-door nuclear talks take place in Vienna, Austria, Wednesday, July 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

A group of nearly 100 prominent Iranian dissidents is demanding that Congress launch investigations into clandestine efforts by the Islamic Republic to influence U.S. policy using a network of lobbyists and propaganda pieces placed in Voice of America’s Persian service, according to a letter sent to leading lawmakers and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The group of dissidents, composed of prominent Iranian voices that oppose the hardline regime in Tehran, says that Congress is not doing enough to expose the Iranian regime’s lobbying efforts in D.C. and propaganda network, which is said to include some at VOA Persia.

Iranian-American groups claiming to represent American interests are said to be carrying water for the Islamic regime inside the White House and on Capitol Hill, according to these dissident voices.

The letter cites VOA’s Persian service as a source of pro-Iran corruption. The Free Beacon has reported multiple times on claims that VOA has been infiltrated by Iran regime loyalists who seek to spin coverage in a favorable way for Tehran. In one instance, an Iranian dissident was barred from appearing on VOA Persia for voicing critical opinions about the regime.

The letter comes at a time when the Trump administration is seeking a tougher approach on Iran for its repeated violations of international accords governing the nuclear deal. The dissidents maintain that U.S. officials have been too soft on the regime and ignored its surreptitious efforts to make American diplomacy more generous to Tehran.

“We write to request a congressional hearing on the efforts of Tehran’s theocratic regime to influence U.S. policy and public diplomacy toward Iran,” the dissidents write to Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) and Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), the heads of Congress’ foreign affair committees, according to copies of the letter obtained by the Free Beacon.

“We ask that you launch an investigation into any and all lobbying activities of Iranian-American groups, which ostensibly promote the interests of our community but whose real goal is to undermine long-term U.S. national security interests in Iran and its neighborhood,” the dissidents write.

Organizations such as the National Iranian American Council, or NIAC, which played a key role in championing the Iran nuclear agreement and worked closely with the Obama administration, have long operated under a cloud of suspicion. Dissident voices maintain that NIAC in particular serves as a mouthpiece for Iran’s regime in the United States.

The group of dissidents—which includes foreign policy experts, university professors, interfaith leaders, prominent real estate developers, and human rights activists, among others—also requested that Congress shine a light on VOA Persia’s activities.

“We also ask that you launch an inquiry into the Voice of America’s Persian service, whose bloated budget is the largest of all language services under the VOA,” they write.

“There have been numerous instances of editorials by the VOA’s Persian service that have been lenient or favorable to Iran’s clerical despots. We consider this to be totally unacceptable and demoralizing for pro-democracy Iranians who watch these broadcasts.”

Such hearings would compliment past efforts by Congress to investigate corruption at VOA, including what many describe as its pro-Tehran bent.

Peter Kohanloo, a chief architect of the letter and president of the Iranian American Majority, told the Free Beacon that the missive represents an unprecedented effort by Iranian dissidents to expose the Iranian regime’s “influence-peddling agenda.”

“Never before have so many Iranian dissidents of different political persuasions and backgrounds come together to speak with one unified voice,” Kohanloo told the Free Beacon. “This historic letter is a clear and unmistakable message to Tehran that we will no longer tolerate their influence-peddling agenda, which divides our community and demoralizes pro-democracy activists in Iran.”

The group of dissidents informed lawmakers that they are all willing to testify publicly at congressional hearings on both of these matters.

In trouble, Iran tries to discredit the MEK – dissidents

February 7, 2017

In trouble, Iran tries to discredit the MEK – dissidents, Iran Focus, February 6, 2017

mek-rally-750

London, 7 Feb – As President Donald Trump’s new US administration steps up pressure on Iran over its belligerent activities, Iranian opponents are arguing that Tehran is now targeting its main organised opposition movement, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI or MEK), with disinformation in order to discredit its role as a potential alternative to the theocratic regime.

The MEK, established over 51 years ago, as an opposition movement to the Shah’s regime, soon fell out with the clerical government that took over with the 1979 revolution. Since 1981, the MEK has been considered as the ruling theocracy’s main nemesis. The MEK is also the leading force in the main opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

Following the publication of articles by the Iranian ‘lobby’ targeting the MEK with ‘misinformation’, Farzin Hashemi, a Member of the NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote on Monday:

“Over the past week, once again policy on Iran was widely discussed in the media. Simultaneously, in recent weeks there has been more growing call for a new approach toward Iranian opposition, the MEK. The announcement by the US National Security Advisor that ‘Iran is officially on notice’ drew much attention. This position was followed by more Tweets from President Trump and a new round of sanctions, raising the prospect of a change of policy in the US approach towards Iran”.

Hashemi pointed out that both the NCRI and the MEK support sanctions against Iranian officials over their role in ballistic missile proliferation, a violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231:

“As far as the Iranian Resistance, and its components including the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK/PMOI), is concerned imposing sanctions against a number of individuals and companies affiliated to the clerical regime for their role in missile proliferation is a positive step in confronting the illegitimate and terrorist dictatorship whose record includes 120,000 political executions”.

Last week the Trump administration sanctioned 25 Iranian officials and entities for a recent ballistic missile test launch by Tehran. Hashemi argued, however, that in order to deal with the threats emanating from Tehran – which it described as the Godfather of state-sponsored terrorism – the world community ought to impose comprehensive sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), the Ministry of Intelligence, and “other entities involved in suppression of the Iranian people and export of terrorism”.

“The IRGC and its affiliated militias and their commanders must be expelled from the countries of the region, in particular from Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Otherwise, the region would not witness peace and tranquillity”.

“The prospect of a shift of US policy, has already shaken not only the Iranian regime and its lobbies but also apologists and advocates of the old and failed policy of appeasement. In order to maintain the ‘golden era,’ a term used by the mullahs’ officials internally and sometimes publicly to describe the last few years of US policy on Iran, they have resorted to a two-pronged strategy”, Hashemi argued.

Through their “propaganda in the media”, under various covers, they are trying to create an “echo chamber” with which any suggestion of the need for a firm policy on Iran and its rogue behaviour, both at home and abroad, is described as “war mongering”, he said. “They are desperately trying to intimidate those calling for a change of policy to side with the people of Iran, through such false labels”.

“Simultaneously, they are engaged in a massive disinformation campaign to discredit the democratic opposition, the MEK and the coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), led by its President-elect Maryam Rajavi. By spreading fake news about the MEK/PMOI, originated from the Ministry of Intelligence of the mullahs’ regime and the intelligence section of the IRGC, their objective is to convey this false message that there is no viable opposition and the world must accept and deal with the religious dictatorship ruling Iran. Thus, the core of the issue is not their debunked allegations but their hidden agenda to maintain the policy of appeasement”.

“So, the choice is simply to opt between supporting the central banker of international terrorism with the record of having executed 120,000 dissidents for political reasons –ironically, the majority of them members and sympathizers of the PMOI/MEK – or to side with the Iranian people in their quest for a free and democratic Iran in which there would be no more executions, no more gender discrimination, no more supporting terrorist groups and destabilizing the entire region and no more nuclear weapons program”.

Iranian dissidents have also taken to social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, to denounce Tehran’s ‘media propaganda ploy’ against the MEK.

On 9 January this year, 23 US prominent dignitaries, many of them with years of public service, urged the Trump administration “to adopt and pursue an Iran policy that recognizes the interests and inalienable rights of the Iranian people, and not just the clerical regime ruling over them.”

Highlighting the failure of the past policy that the nuclear deal might lead to a change of behavior from Tehran, the signatories stressed that the regime’s aggressive policy is part of their efforts on “preserving the vulnerable system of dictatorship”.

They also called for the voice of the Iranian people to be listened to through the NCRI and the MEK.

The former US officials also spoke out against Iran’s misinformation campaign against the MEK.

Pointing out that some “media and policy community continue to recycle defamatory allegations from decades past,” they wrote “We now know that these designations of the resistance as a terrorist group by Western governments were not made in response to confirmed terrorism; all were diplomatic gestures taken at the request of Tehran. Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security has for many years impaired the exiled opposition by covertly spreading false and distorted claims through third parties in the West. Other governments like Germany and the Netherlands closely monitor Iran’s influence operations on their soil; a thorough counter‐intelligence investigation by the US is clearly needed and long overdue”.

They concluded by recommending to Trump: “With a more enlightened grasp of the Iranian regime’s priorities and vulnerabilities, your Administration will be equipped to exert leverage enabling the US to oppose Tehran’s repression and adventurism while standing for the fundamental values both our peoples share”.

Hashemi added: “While, Tehran’s lobby and advocates of appeasement will desperately continue to allocate all their resource to discredit the resistance, and in particular the MEK (PMOI) and to preserve the failed old policy, their time is over”.

 

More about the People’s Mojahdin Organization of Iran (PMOI/ MEK) —– Source

The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (Also known as MEK, or Mujahedin-e-Khalq / Mujahedeen-e-Khalq), was founded on September 6, 1965, by Mohammad Hanifnejad, Saeed Mohsen, and Ali-Asghar Badizadgan. All engineers, they had earlier been members of the Freedom Movement (also known as the Liberation Movement), created by Medhi Bazargan in May 1961.1

The MEK’s quest culminated in a true interpretation of Islam, which is inherently tolerant and democratic, and fully compatible with the values of modern-day civilization. It took six years for the MEK to formulate its view of Islam and develop a strategy to replace Iran’s dictatorial monarchy with a democratic government.

MEK’s interpretation of Islam

The theocratic mullah regime in Iran believe interpreting Islam is their exclusive domain. The MEK reject this view and the cleric’s reactionary vision of Islam. The MEK’s comprehensive interpretation of Islam proved to be more persuasive and appealing to the Iranian youth.
MEK’s founders and new members studied the various schools of thought, the Iranian history and those of other countries, enabling them to analyze other philosophies and ideologies with considerable knowledge and to present their own ideology, based on Islam, as the answer to Iran’s problems.

MEK’s leadership’s arrest during the 70s.

The Shah’s notorious secret police, SAVAK, arrested all MEK leaders and most of its member’s in1971. On May 1972, the founders of the MEK, Mohammad Hanifnejad , Saeed Mohsen and Ali Asghar Badizadegan, along with two members of the MEK leadership, Mahmoud Askarizadeh and Rasoul Meshkinfam, were put before death squads and were executed after long months of imprisonment and torture. They were the true vanguards, who stood against the dictatorial regime of Shah. However, they are also recognized for their opposition to what is today known as Islamic fundamentalism.

The death sentence of Massoud Rajavi, a member of MEK’s central committee, was commuted to life imprisonment as a result of an international campaign by his Geneva based brother, Dr. Kazem Rajavi (assassinated in April 1990 in Geneva by mullahs’ agents) and the personal intervention of the French President Georges Pompidou and Francois Mitterrand. He was the only survivor of the MEK original leadership.
Massoud Rajavi’s critical role in characterizing religious extremism

From 1975 to 1979, while incarcerated in different prisons, Massoud Rajavi led the MEK’s struggle while constantly under torture for his leading position.

Massoud Rajavi stressed the need to continue the struggle against the shah’s dictatorship. At the same time, he characterized religious fanaticism as the primary internal threat to the popular opposition, and warned against the emergence and growth of religious fanaticism and autocracy. He also played a crucial role when some splinter used the vacuum in the MEK leadership who were all executed or imprisoned at the time, to claim a change of ideology and policy. Massoud Rajavi as the MEK leader condemn these individual’s misuse of MEK’s name while continuing to stress the struggle against dictatorship. His efforts while still in prison forced these individuals to no longer operating under the name of MEK and adopting a different name for their group. These positions remained the MEK’s manifesto until the overthrow of the shah’s regime.

Release of Political Prisoners on the last days of the Shah

A month before the 1979 revolution in Iran, the Shah was forced to flee Iran, never to return. All democratic opposition leaders had by then either been executed by the Shah’s SAVAK or imprisoned, and could exert little influence on the trend of events. Khomeini and his network of mullahs across the country, who had by and large been spared the wrath of SAVAK, were the only force that remained unharmed and could take advantage of the political vacuum. In France, Khomeini received maximum exposure to the world media. With the aid of his clerical followers, he hijacked a revolution that began with calls for democracy and freedom and diverted it towards his fundamentalist goals. Through an exceptional combination of historical events, Shiite clerics assumed power in Iran.

Khomeini’s gradual crackdown on MEK in fear of their popular support

In internal discourses, Rajavi the remaining leader of the MEK, argued that Khomeini represented the reactionary sector of society and preached religious fascism. Later, in the early days after the 1979 revolution, the mullahs, specifically Rafsanjani, pointed to these statements in inciting the hezbollahi club-wielders to attack the MEK.

Following the revolution, the MEK became Iran’s largest organized political party. It had hundreds of thousands of members who operated from MEK offices all over the country. MEK publication, ‘Mojahed’ was circulated in 500,000 copies.

Khomeini set up an Assembly of Experts comprised of sixty of his closest mullahs and loyalists to ratify the principle of velayat-e faqih (absolute supremacy of clerical rule) as a pillar of the Constitution. The MEK launched a nationwide campaign in opposition to this move, which enjoyed enormous popular support. Subsequently, the MEK refused to approve the new constitution based on the concept of velayat-e faqih, while stressing its observance of the law of the country to deny the mullahs any excuse for further suppression of MEK supporters who were regularly targeted by the regime’s official and unofficial thugs.

Khomeini sanctioned the occupation of the United States embassy in 1979 in order to create an anti-American frenzy, which facilitated the holding of a referendum to approve his Constitution, which the MEK rejected.

MEK’s endeavors to participate in the political process avoiding an unwanted conflict with government repressive forces
The MEK actively participated in the political process, fielding candidates for the parliamentary and presidential elections. The MEK also entered avidly into the national debate on the structure of the new Islamic regime, though was unsuccessful in seeking an elected constituent assembly to draft a constitution.

The MEK similarly made an attempt at political participation when [then] Massoud Rajavi ran for the presidency in January 1980. MEK’s leader was forced to withdraw when Khomeini ruled that only candidates who had supported the constitution in the December referendum – which the MEK had boycotted- were eligible. Rajavi’s withdrawal statement emphasized the MEK’s efforts to conform to election regulations and reiterated the MEK’s intention to advance its political aims within the new legal system”. (Unclassified report on the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran(PMOI/ MEK) by the Department of State to the United States House of Representatives, December 1984.)

However, the MEK soon found itself in a direct struggle against the forces of the regime’s Supreme leader. The MEK’s differences with Khomeini dated back to the 1970s, and stem from its opposition to what is known today as Islamic extremism. Angry at the position taken by the MEK against his regime and worried about the MEK’s growing popularity, Khomeini ordered a brutal crackdown against the MEK and its supporters. Between 1979 and 1981, some 70 MEK members and sympathizers were killed and several thousand more were imprisoned by the Iranian regime.

June 20, 1981- Khomeini’s order to open fire on peaceful demonstration of half-a-million supporters of MEK

The turning point came on 20th June 1981, when the MEK called a demonstration to protest at the regime’s crackdown, and to call for political freedom which half-a-million supporters participated at. Khomeini ordered the Revolutionary Guards to open fire on the swelling crowd, fearing that without absolute repression the democratic opposition (MEK) would force him to engage in serious reforms – an anathema as far as he was concerned; he ordered the mass and summary executions of those arrested.

Since then, MEK activists have been the prime victims of human rights violations in Iran. Over 120,000 of its members and supporters have been executed by the Iranian regime, 30,000 of which, were executed in a few months in the summer of 1988, on a direct fatwa by Khomeini, which stated any prisoners who remain loyal to the MEK must be executed.

Having been denied its fundamental rights and having come under extensive attack at the time that millions of its members, supporters and sympathizers had no protection against the brutal onslaught of the Iranian regime, the MEK had no choice but to resist against the mullahs’ reign of terror.

“Towards the end of 1981, many of the members of the MEK and supporters went into exile. Their principal refuge was in France. But in 1986, after negotiations between the French and the Iranian authorities, the French government effectively treated them as undesirable aliens, and the leadership of the MEK with several thousand followers relocated to Iraq.” (Judgment of the Proscribed Organizations Appeal Commission, November 30, 2007.)

MEK Today

The MEK today is the oldest and largest anti-fundamentalist Muslim group in the Middle East. It has been active for more than a half century, battling two dictatorships and a wide range of issues. The MEK supports:

• Universal suffrage as the sole criterion for legitimacy
• Pluralistic system of governance
• Respect for individual freedoms
• Ban on the death penalty
• Separation of religion and state
• Full gender equality
• Equal participation of women in political leadership. MEK is actually led by its central committee consist of 1000 women.
• Modern judicial system that emphasizes the principle of innocence, a right to a defense, and due process
• Free markets
• Relations with all countries in the world
• Commitment to a non-nuclear Iran

The MEK remains a strong and cohesive organization, with a broad reach both worldwide and deep within Iran. MEK is the leading voice for democracy in Iran, supported by its interpretation of Islam that discredits the fundamentalist mullahs’ regime.

Threadbare Iran appeasement policy to be rescued with propaganda

December 2, 2016

Threadbare Iran appeasement policy to be rescued with propaganda, Iran Focus, December 2, 2016

(Please see also, Giuliani’s Ties to Iranian Resistance Group MEK Should be Viewed as a Valuable Contribution. — DM)

rajavi-700-if

London, 2 Dec – Now that the end is in sight for the Obama administration, the Iranian regime, Iran apologists and Iranian regime lobbies are concerned about the continuation of the appeasement policy. Amir Basiri, an Iranian human rights activist, said in the Washington Examiner that those wanting rapprochement with Tehran are setting propaganda in motion.

This propaganda is in the form of inaccurate and “lopsided reports” and “hastily scribbled op-eds with enticing titles on highly viewed media outlets”. They are attempting to dissuade Trump from selecting anyone with a vocal criticism of the brutal Iranian regime for his cabinet.

One such op-ed was in the Washington Post. In this article Josh Rogin said that Rudy Giuliani has been involved with a dubious group. He was referring to the main opposition to the Iranian regime, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). This is not the first time he has attacked the PMOI, and he is known for using quotes from the Tehran lobbies in his work. In the op-ed in the Washington Post he called the PMOI “a shady Iranian dissident group”.

Last month, Politico published an article entitled “Giuliani Took Money From a Group That Killed Americans”. This provocative article warns Trump that Giuliani is a questionable choice for his cabinet.

These articles are similar in that they ignore the truth, are based on rumours and are “obtained from sources with economic and political ties to the Iranian regime”. Basiri said that a similar, low-level of reporting can been seen in a New York Times article in which “76 so-called national security experts” call on Trump to reverse his hostility with regards to the Iran nuclear deal, as they think the threat of War in the Middle east has been reduced because of it.

Basiri points out: “The article fails to clarify that the source of the report, which it describes as a group ‘that has advocated improved relations with Iran, even while sharply criticizing Iranian leaders over human rights issues’, is in fact a well-known Tehran lobby with deep economic ties to the Iranian regime.”

The article also fails to mention that billions of dollars worth of concessions have been given to Tehran, which in turn appends it in areas that “fuel mayhem and chaos in the region”.

So this is why the lobbies are “resorting to propaganda and dishonest reporting,” said Basiri.

The New York Times’ Dishonest Reporting on the Iran Nuclear Deal

November 18, 2016

The New York Times’ Dishonest Reporting on the Iran Nuclear Deal, Center for Security Policy, Fred Fleitz, November 17, 2016

nyslimes1

You may have read that in response to criticism about its biased coverage of the Trump campaign, the New York Times has rededicated itself to honest reporting.

After you get up off the floor from laughing hysterically, consider this story that ran days after the Times’ renewed commitment to ethical journalism: On November 14, the New York Times ran an article with the headline: “76 Experts Urge Donald Trump to Keep Iran Deal.” In the second paragraph, the article claims this report was signed by “former officials from both major political parties.”

Not until the sixth paragraph does the story mention that this report was issued by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC).

This is the kind of dishonest reporting we have come to expect from the New York Times.

NIAC, well known as the head of the Iran lobby in the United States, aggressively campaigned for the Iran nuclear deal. The Times misleadingly describes it as “a Washington group that has advocated improved relations with Iran, even while sharply criticizing Iranian leaders over human rights issues.”

The NIAC report reads like it was written by the Iranian foreign ministry. Not only does it call for President Trump to stick with the Iran deal and not impose new sanctions, the report ignores a sharp increase in belligerent behavior by Iran since the nuclear agreement was announced, suggests the U.S. should ignore Iran’s ballistic-missile program, and calls for close U.S.–Iran cooperation on Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.

According to the report, U.S.–Iran relations have reached their highest point in 37 years due to the nuclear agreement. I don’t think the crews of U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea who have been harassed by Iranian ships and had missiles fired at them from Yemen would agree.

On Iran’s gross human-rights violations, the report essentially calls for the Trump administration to ignore them and instead makes the bizarre recommendation that President Trump take steps to show that America does not seek to harm innocent Iranians by speeding up the sale of civilian airliners to Iran.

The 76 “experts” who signed the NIAC report are mostly on the far left, including Noam Chomsky, Joseph Cirincione, Juan Cole, and John Esposito.

The article identified Lawrence Korb, Lawrence Wilkerson, Chas Freeman, and Gary Sick as experts who signed the report and served in Republican administrations. The Times did not mention that these men are now firmly on the left.

Korb may have been a Republican at one time but now works for the George Soros-funded Center for American Progress and was a surrogate for Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

Wilkerson, Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff, joined the far Left as a fierce critic of the Republican party after Powell stepped down. He has called for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to be charged with war crimes over the Iraq War.

Freeman, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia and assistant defense secretary for international affairs in Republican administrations, blamed the “Israel Lobby” for forcing him to withdraw from accepting a top intelligence post in the Obama administration.

And then there is Gary Sick, who the Times identifies as “a Columbia University scholar who served on the National Security Council under Reagan as well as Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.” Sick is better known for circulating a false story in 1980 that that the Reagan campaign persuaded the Iranian government to not free U.S. hostages until after the 1980 election to ensure President Carter’s defeat.

How could the Times fail to mention this report was issued by a group that is essentially Iran’s main lobbying arm in the United States? How could it ignore the strong pro-Iran bias in this report? How could the Times not mention the troubling backgrounds of the signatories like Wilkerson, Freeman, Sick, and others?

Most importantly, why did the Times article not admit the NIAC report has zero credibility and will be completely ignored by the Trump administration?

The answer to these questions is that the New York Times has no interest in changing its ways and doing honest reporting. It remains a propaganda organ of the Left. Fortunately, the Timeshas lost so much credibility that few take articles such as its NIAC-report story seriously.

For a fair and balanced discussion of how President Trump should deal with Iran, see my November 14, 2016, National Review article, “Yes, Trump’s Going to Dump the Iran Deal.”

Inside the Pro-Iran ‘Echo Chamber’

May 16, 2016

Inside the Pro-Iran ‘Echo Chamber’ Washington Free Beacon, May 16, 2016

ayatollah

A White House-allied group funded a private email listserv that pushed out pro-Iran talking points and anti-Israel conspiracy theories to hundreds of influential policy experts, government officials, and journalists during the Iran nuclear debate.

The contents of the invite-only listserv, obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, could give a glimpse inside the “echo chamber” used by White House aide Ben Rhodes and allied lobbying groups to promote the administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Members of the list included an Obama White House adviser, senior officials at the State Department, journalists for the New York Times and the Washington Post, and fellows at prominent think tanks.

The email forum, known as “Gulf/2000,” was originally created by Columbia University professor and former Jimmy Carter aide Gary Sick in 1993.

Since 2010, Gulf/2000’s operations have been funded by the Ploughshares Fund, a group that worked closely with the White House to promote the Iran nuclear deal.

In a New York Times article earlier this month, President Obama’s foreign policy advisor Ben Rhodes said the Ploughshares Fund was part of the administration’s spin operation to sell the public on the agreement.

“We had test drives to know who was going to be able to carry our message effectively, and how to use outside groups like Ploughshares, the Iran Project and whomever else,” Rhodes said. “So we knew the tactics that worked.”

Gulf/2000 is still run out of Columbia University, where it is curated by Sick. Over the last two decades, Sick built the group into the predominant email list for Gulf State policy experts across the ideological spectrum.

The vast majority of posts on the forum are news articles, but occasionally members weigh in with their own comments. Posts are pre-approved by Sick or his assistants, and insiders say the forum is “dominated” by pro-Iran talking points.

One former member, who left Gulf/2000 several years ago because “90 percent of the traffic was either useless or promoting the official lines,” said the comments that were approved for posting seemed to follow an ideological slant.

“Gary [Sick] was the moderator, and the moderator is supposed to moderate,” said the former member. “And I learned after awhile, it was quite obvious, that Gary was filtering and navigating more toward his views of the world on all these issues.”

Sick said he was unable to discuss Gulf/2000 because he was traveling for the next few weeks. He declined to answer questions by email.

Joe Cirincione, the president of the Ploughshares Fund, did not respond to a request for comment. In a column last week, Cirincione disputed allegations that the Ploughshares Fund took orders from the White House about how to sell the Iran deal.

Gulf/2000 members said the forum posts, which are supposed to focus on Gulf State policy issues, often veer into defenses of the Iranian regime or conspiracy theories about Israel. Another member, speaking on background to theWashington Free Beacon, compared the group to a pro-Iran “info-op”—military jargon for a campaign to influence policy decisions.

“The most significant forum for scholars of Iranian studies to exchange ideas and views was dominated by apologists for the Iranian regime and was dominated by people who would reflexively push back on any argument that the Iranian regime was involved in what we would call ‘malign activities’ or ‘illicit activities,’” said the member, who added that the majority of his colleagues who work on Gulf issues belong to the forum.

The Ploughshares Fund said it finances Gulf/2000 in order to “inform the debate over Iran’s nuclear program in the media and among policymakers by assessing and reporting on events, generating viable solutions and refuting false stories,” according to its annual reports. The foundation has given the email list $75,000 a year since 2010.

Gulf/2000 is linked to a larger messaging effort on the Iran deal that has been reported on by the Free Beacon and other outlets.

In October 2014, the Free Beacon published audio recordings from a since-discontinued strategy meeting between the White House and activist groups lobbying for the nuclear deal. During the session, Rhodes stressed that the agreement was “the biggest thing President Obama will do in his second term on foreign policy.”

Last summer, the Free Beacon posted tapes from a private conference call with progressive groups organized by the Ploughshares Fund that discussed how to sell the Iran deal to congressional Democrats.

Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are calling on Rhodes to testify about his comments to the Times, which seemed to suggest the administration misled the public and created an “echo chamber” in order to get the deal through.

Members of Gulf/2000 include activists and writers who worked closely with the Obama administration on Iran issues. One is Trita Parsi, head of the National Iranian American Council, a lobbying group working to repeal Iran sanctions. Another is Al-Monitor reporter Laura Rozen, who a White House aide described as her “RSS feed” on Iran in the Timesarticle. Cirincione is also on the list.

Other members have included Puneet Talwar, a senior State Department official and former advisor to Joe Biden in the Senate and White House; John Limbert, Obama’s former deputy assistant secretary of state for Iran; and Tamara Cofman Wittes, Obama’s former deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs.

Many of the email list’s regular contributors are bloggers and academics: Jim Lobe and Marsha Cohen, writers for the anti-Israel website LobeLog; Flynt and Hillary Leverett, authors of the book “Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran”; Truthout writer Gareth Porter; and Cyrus Safdari, a commentator at Iran Review. Gulf/2000 also includes a number of current and former Iranian scholars who work at state-controlled universities or think tanks.

The Free Beacon reviewed hundreds of posts sent to the listserv between 2010 and 2015. Many contain theories about the “Israel Lobby’s” destructive influence over U.S. foreign policy and politicians, defenses of the Iranian government, and comments downplaying news stories that cast the regime in a negative light.

Although some Gulf/2000 members are strong critics of the Iranian government, particularly on human rights, many of the most active posters are vocal defenders of the regime.

“Perhaps above all, one of the greatest benefits of this [Iran] deal has been to put some limits, at least for the time being, on the Israeli Lobby and their rightwing supporters in the Congress,” wrote Farhang Jahanpour, a former dean at a state-run Iranian university, in 2013.

Other posts talked about the necessity of “breaking the power of the domestic Israel lobby” and the “neo-con cabal” that were allegedly the main threats to the Iran deal.

“The Neo-Cons have convinced themselves that no costs of human life outweigh the moral benefits they see of ridding Israel of any perceived military threat by pre-active lethal military force,” wrote David Long in January 2013.

The forum is also littered with conspiracy theories about the Israeli government and foreign affairs. In one post, retired journalist Richard Sale claimed the CIA told him that pro-Israel Christian groups were “secretly funded by Mossad.” In another, Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich speculated that the Iranian-backed bombing of the 1994 AMIA Jewish community center was actually a false flag operation by the Argentine government to cover up its complicity with the Nazis.

Although Gulf/2000 is ostensibly a forum to discuss Gulf policy issues, the listserv’s fixation with “neocons” and the “Israel lobby” is not new. In 2003, a Lebanese columnist named Jihad Al Khazen published a series of lengthy posts on Gulf/2000 that purported to tell the “Biographies of the Neo-Cons.” His subjects included Bill Kristol, Douglas Feith, Michael Ledeen, and Robert Kagan.

At the time, members also debated the correlation between “neo-cons” and Jews.

“It is certainly true that not every supporter of the [Iraq] war is Jewish, but it is definitely true that every supporter of the war with Iraq is a supporter of the most extreme Israeli right-wing. The coincidence is hard to ignore,” noted William Beeman.

Occasionally a contributor would push back on the forum’s general consensus.

“I am puzzled by the consistent tone of dismissal of any allegations of wrongdoing on the part of Iran by members of this list,” wrote one poster in 2003. “These charges are lumped together as either the baseless allegations of the US government, or worse, the product of a secret Jewish-neocon plot to discredit an Iran which would never, ever participate in terrorism.”

But a former forum member said Sick would often cut off conversations as “off-topic” when commenters tried to defend Israel against charges.

“There were clearly cases where there were things that were said about Israel, or written, posted about Israel, that were false, defamatory, absurd,” said the former member.

On March 5, 2014, the day the Israeli military announced it had intercepted an Iranian shipment of advanced rockets to Gaza, the news was greeted with typical suspicion in the forum.

“Call me a cynic, but it does seem like amazingly fortuitous timing: just when the IAEA have resisted Israel’s call to publish the claims (probably) Israel leaked, and while Bibi is tub-thumping to AIPAC in Washington ,” wrote James Spencer, a blogger for LobeLog.

“[S]omething did not jibe with this story. It is just a little bit too convenient,” agreed another poster.

“I can’t take that narrative at face value,” added Thomas Lippman, former Middle East bureau chief of the Washington Post.

“As James Spencer and Walter Posch noted the timing is suspicious, occurring as the AIPAC conference convened with Netanyahu in Washington,” wrote Charles Smith, a professor at the University of Arizona.

When the Iranian government weighed in on the arms seizure the day after the story broke, its response was similar.

“An Iranian ship carrying arms for Gaza. Captured just in time for annual AIPAC anti Iran campaign. Amazing Coincidence! Or same failed lies,” wrote Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Twitter.

Another common refrain in posts is that there is no evidence Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons.

“Like other counter-factual mythologies (President Obama’s birthplace, the identity of the Kennedy assassin, Jimmy Hoffa’s killer), this one seemingly will never die–at least as long as the neo-cons are alive to fan the last of its faint sparks,” wrote William O. Beeman, an anthropology professor at the University of Minnesota.

An official at an Iranian university, whose name was withheld, claimed the notion that Iran was seeking a bomb was driven by “Iranophobia.”

“Iran repeatedly has said that it doesn’t pursue the way of reaching to Atomic bomb,” said the poster. “What makes the US doesn’t believe this is exactly rooted to what Mr. Aboutalebi described it in his interview as Iranophobia.”

Posts also defend Iran against allegations of human rights violations by suggesting the claims are intended to undermine moderates or denying the charges altogether.

“[A]s the nuclear issue has become effectively – for now – insulated due to the support of Khamenei, critics are seeking to undermine Rouhani through other issues,” wrote Parsi in March 2014. “Human rights – due to the impact it has on Rouhani’s external image and the impact that can have on negotiations – appears to be one such issue.”

Other commenters were less subtle than Parsi.

“The Leveretts said it best: Ahmadinejad won those elections; get over it already,” argued blogger Safdari in December 2013.

One former member expressed concern that the influential listserv was being used to whitewash the Iranian government.

“If the Iranian regime wanted to push back on any assertion against it … it could not do a better job itself than the American academics and pundits who do it on Gulf/2000,” he said.