Falsehoods and Lies: Debunking the Guardian’s Piece on the MEK
Aaron Merat’s long-awaited hit piece was finally published in the Guardian on Friday. Under the headline ‘Terrorists, Cultists- or Champions of Iranian Democracy’, the piece pedaled the regime’s brand of lies and misinformation. It was a clear example of Tehran’s smear campaign against the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK) that it has used to undermine the Iranian opposition and legitimize its use of violence against political dissidents.
The Death of Independent Journalism
Even before the article’s publication, the MEK expressed its misgivings over its content. MEK spokesperson, Shahin Gobadi, wrote two letters to the editor of the Guardian in recent weeks. In the letters, he aired his concerns over Aaron Merat’s ability to conduct objective journalism on the MEK.
Merat has close ties to the Iranian regime and its lobbyists. He worked for the Economist between 2011 and 2014, during which time he was an outspoken advocate for the regime. He has written previous articles with the explicit intention of demonizing the MEK and condemning the Iranian resistance.
— Heshmat Alavi (@HeshmatAlavi) November 9, 2018
Who is the MEK?
It came as little surprise then that his piece for the Guardian was no different. It was essentially a hit piece against the Iranian resistance group and was full of inaccuracies, falsehoods, and barely concealed attacks on the MEK.
In his very definition of who the MEK are, Merat is incorrect. He described the organization as a “fringe Iranian revolutionary group”.
The MEK is far from a “fringe” group. They are the oldest, largest, and most popular Iranian resistance group.
The group organized nationwide protests in January and December which spread across every major city in Iran. At its annual Grand Gathering event, it draws an attendance of more than 100,000 supporters, including high-profile political figures such as former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, and President Trump’s National Security Adviser, John Bolton.
The resistance group enjoys widespread support inside Iran and abroad.
Merat later seems to admit that the MEK does enjoy the support of international political figures but seeks to explain this by suggesting that the MEK pays “western political influencers fees to pen op-eds and give speeches”.
This is untrue. Professor Raymond Tanter debunked this myth with the help of the US Treasury Department. The Treasury Department investigated the allegations that its political figures had received cash to write opinion pieces and give speeches at MEK-organised events, but found them to be “unsupported claims”.
Ms. Somayeh Mohammadi
Merat’s piece begins by describing Mostafa and Robbie Mohammadi’s journey to Albania to “rescue their daughter”. Merat alleges that Ms. Somayeh Mohammadi, the couple’s daughter, is being held against her will by the MEK.
These allegations are false. Ms. Somayeh Mohammadi joined the MEK in 1990 and has been a member for more than two decades. She has previously been interviewed by Canadian and US officials, and each time she has maintained that she is in Albania working for the MEK out of her own free will.
She has previously written a book about the regime pedaling lies about her situation and using her case to legitimize terror attacks against the MEK. She even went as far as to write an open letter to Albania’s Minister for Internal Affairs, Fatmir Xhafaj, publicly calling for an end to his lies.
Repeating Lies to Demonize the MEK
The Guardian piece goes on to blame the MEK for the deaths of six Americans in Iran in the 1970s.
However, subsequent investigations by both the US State Department and the Washington Post newspaper found this to be false. The 2005 State Department report clearly states, “a splinter organization with ties to Marxist groups in Cuba and Oman… appropriated and modified the MEK name and symbols, clashing with original MEK members, and killed Americans in Tehran”.
The report describes that the individuals responsible for the murders were later caught, tried, and executed for the killings.
Merat also attempts to blame the MEK for killing Iraqi Kurds in the North of Iraq. He claims Saddam Hussein used MEK members to quell the Kurdish armed resistance during the 1990 Gulf War.
The Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) provided a written statement in 1999 that unequivocally stated the MEK was not involved in the killing of the Kurdish people. The statement read “the KDP can confirm that the Mujahedin were not involved in suppressing the Kurdish people neither during the uprising nor in its aftermath”.
Delisting the MEK as a Terror Group
Merat goes on to suggest that the MEK’s delisting as a terrorist group was not because the group was deemed mislabelled and was a non-violent organization, but because if the US didn’t delist them, the group would have been wiped out in Iraq.
Once again, this claim is unfounded. The Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit actually threatened to court order Hillary Clinton’s State Department unless she removed the group from the country’s terror list.
Burying the Regime’s Terrorist Plots
Merat then furthers the regime’s interests by attempting to cast doubt over the regime’s terror activities in Europe. In June, European authorities foiled a plot to detonate a car laden with explosives at the MEK’s Grand Gathering in Paris.
After a thorough investigation, Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat working at the regime’s embassy in Vienna was found to have orchestrated the plot. The French government froze the assets of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence.
Merat attempts to shift the blame away from the regime. He quotes the Iranian Foreign Minister directly in his piece, who called the allegations of the Iranian terror plot a “sinister false flag ploy”.
If the plot was nothing more than a “false flag ploy” it seems unlikely that the French government would have taken such forceful actions against the Iranian regime.
On top of seizing assets, the Emmanuel Macron’s government expelled an Iranian diplomat and is currently refusing to nominate a new French ambassador to Iran. France’s foreign ministry also confirmed that following its own investigation, it was in no doubt that the Iranian intelligence ministry was behind the June 30th terror plot.
The Regime is Fearful
Aaron Merat’s piece goes on to spout all of the regime talking points against the MEK. However, his piece does provide some insight into why the regime spends so much time, money and effort on demonizing the MEK and its supporters.
He wrote, “politicians openly called for bombing the Islamic republic, amid growing panic over Iran’s nuclear program- the existence of which had first been exposed by the MEK”. In this sentence, Merat demonstrates why the regime despises the MEK. It works tirelessly to bring the regime’s atrocities and illegal behavior to light.
Merat writes that the MEK and its supporters around the world “openly call for the overthrow of the Islamic republic and the installation of Maryam Rajavi as the leader of Iran”.
In this one aspect, Merat is correct. But in drawing this to attention, Merat is also drawing to attention why both he and the regime relentlessly pursue the MEK.
The MEK represents the single greatest existential threat to the mullahs’ regime. It has orchestrated nationwide protests that have crippled Iranian regime’s key industries. Even regime officials have admitted publicly that the MEK is a direct threat to the regime.
The MEK has resistance units working inside Iran, that mobilized in the nationwide uprisings in December and January of this year. This has the Iranian regime terrified and explains why they use mouthpieces like Aaron Merat to undermine and demonize the MEK in international media outlets.
The piece in the Guardian is little more than the mullahs lashing out at the MEK out of fear. The MEK is gathering momentum. Strikes and protests are now a daily occurrence in Iran and the mullahs future in power is growing more uncertain by the day. The fact is, regime change is on the horizon. When it comes, the world will look at Merat’s piece, and others like it and wonder how they got away with such blatant lies and deceit.