Former Vice President Mike Pence participated in a rally outside Paris led by the exiled Iranian terrorist cult, the Marxist-Islamist Mujahideen-e-Khalq headed by Maryam Rajavi, and their political front the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), over the weekend.
Pence, a current GOP presidential hopeful, along with a host of other prominent hawks, including British ex-Prime Minister Liz Truss as well as former CIA director and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, made calls for regime change in Tehran and railed against engagement with the Islamic Republic during the rally. Pence said “One of the biggest lies the ruling regime has sold to the world is that there is no alternative,” adding that “no oppressive regime can last forever.”
Truss declared “[authoritarian] regimes have been emboldened as the free world has not done enough. I will never give up hope for a free and democratic Iran… Democracy is under threat around the world. Now is the time to turn our backs on accommodation and appeasement.”
Pompeo chimed in via video link, proclaiming that any deal tolerating Iran’s nuclear energy program would be a “calamity for the Iranian people and the world.” Per the NCRI, also in attendance at the event were former NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark and erstwhile US Senator Joseph Lieberman.
These condemnations of diplomacy come as the White House is reportedly making efforts to de-escalate tensions with Iran in an attempt to secure an interim nuclear deal. The new “understanding” could see Iran cap its enrichment of uranium at 60% purity in exchange for some limited sanctions relief.
Tehran has previously pledged not to enrich beyond this upper limit, which is still well below the 90% required for weapons-grade uranium. Iran took this step, for leverage at the negotiating table, after Israel attacked its Natanz uranium enrichment facility in April 2021 causing an explosion, damaging centrifuges, and power outages.
A Western official recently told Reuters that Washington is seeking this alternative agreement because Israel may launch a military assault against Iran, a potential escalation which the Joe Biden administration until now had repeatedly green-lighted.
In May, The Intercept reported that – according to the Discord Leaks – even the CIA is unsure whether Israel is truly preparing to unilaterally launch a war against Iran. Such a conflict would spread violently across the region and quickly draw in the United States.
During previous years, Israel and the MEK cult, who are trained, funded, and armed by the Mossad, have collaborated on the extrajudicial executions of several Iranian nuclear scientists. By likely working with the terrorist group, Tel Aviv assassinated the Iranian scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, outside of Tehran in November 2020.
Both Israel and the MEK were suspected in the May 2022 murder of a senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander, Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei. Later, a US official confirmed to CNN that Israel was behind the hit. The latter killing touched off an unprecedented wave of assassinations in the country which targeted members of the IRGC and Iran’s aerospace industry.
Moreover, investigative journalist Gareth Porter has reported extensively on how the MEK and Mossad forged documents used to cultivate the propaganda narrative behind the phantom Iranian nuclear weapons program which Israel alleges was once headed by Fakhrizadeh.
The MEK lacks any support inside Iran, particularly after having murdered dozens of Iranian officials and allied with Saddam Hussein’s forces during the Iran-Iraq war. Nevertheless, Pence once dubbed the group a “perfectly qualified and popularly supported alternative” to the Islamic Republic.
Similarly, in 2017, ultra-hawk John Bolton told an MEK rally “There is a viable opposition to the rule of the ayatollahs, and that opposition is centered in this room today… The behavior and objectives of the regime are not going to change, and therefore the only solution is to change the regime itself.”
Bolton among other US political figures like Rudy Giuliani are paid handsomely for speaking at the terrorist cult’s events. “Estimates are in the range of $30,000 to $50,000 per speech. Bolton is estimated to have received upwards of $180,000 to speak at multiple events for [MEK]. His recent financial disclosure shows that he was paid $40,000 for one speech at an [MEK] event last year,” the Guardian reported in 2018.
As foreign policy analyst and Antiwar.com contributing editor Daniel Larison has written, “This is a group that has American blood on its hands, and it routinely abuses its own members. It is an oppressive and fanatical organization, and it would be a nightmare if it ever managed to gain power over a larger population. There is a reason it has sometimes been likened to the Khmer Rouge.”
The group’s base headquarters in Albania was recently raided by security police for unsanctioned activity being carried out at the camp in contravention of a US-mediated deal. The agreement had allowed the MEK to relocate to the Balkan country as they were no longer welcome in Iraq once Hussein was removed from power after the US invasion.
However, according to Responsible Statecraft, the cult was reportedly using “their presence in Albania as a base for political activities, including, at the very least, cyber-attacks directed against third countries (presumably Iran) and mass online trolling and harassment of the group’s many opponents.” The outlet also notes that, post Saudi-Iran rapprochement, Rajavi’s funding may be drying up as well. As Riyadh was long suspected of being one of the MEK’s major benefactors.