Who represents Iranians?
The message is clear: the government is corrupt and illegitimate, but the opposition is even worse. This narrative has served to justify an already willing West’s willingness to maintain the status quo and pursue engagement with Tehran at the expense of the Iranian people. It has offered regime incentive after incentive in an attempt to persuade it to change its behavior.
The People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK) is the organization, which is the main constituent of the coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). The regime’s brutality, terrorism, and propaganda have primarily targeted it.
When the NCRI organizes a conference or a political gathering to criticize the regime on human rights violations, nuclear advances, or regional adventurism, the aforementioned coalition of MEK opponents becomes vocal and warns Western media and politicians that “this group has no domestic support.” The MEK/NCRI are therefore not deserving of international support, the argument goes.
One wonders how the MEK has survived financially and logistically for four decades with “no domestic support.” There are a few undeniable facts that may help address the problem:
Since 1979, the regime has killed more than 120,000 MEK members and supporters, according to the MEK. Human rights organizations and even opponents of the MEK have repeatedly stated that the MEK has suffered the most as a result of the regime’s brutal crackdown.
The MEK has been Iran’s largest political opposition since 1965. By far the most enduring and largest coalition of Iranian groups and individuals is the NCRI. It was founded in Tehran in 1981 as a viable alternative to the clerical regime. Since 1982, the MEK has been capable of mobilizing tens of thousands of supporters in exile, and it continues to be capable of organizing the largest conferences, rallies, and meetings in exile.
Inside Iran, the MEK and NCRI have revealed a staggering amount of information about the regime’s nuclear and biochemical weapons programs, ballistic missile arsenal, Revolutionary Guards Corps, IRGC Quds Force, Ministry of Intelligence, the regime’s global terrorist network, and human rights violations, among other things. No other entity even comes close.
Gauging one’s popularity is unrealistic and unscientific in the absence of even the smallest amount of freedom and free elections under a brutal dictatorship like Ali Khamenei’s reign. Even polls in Western democracies have flaws, let alone political polls conducted within the Iranian dictatorship. How can anyone expect an objective assessment of the popularity of a banned organization like the MEK? The regime regards it as an existential threat. Thousands have been executed for refusing to reject the MEK.