Newest MEK terror festival in Albania: a few incumbents among the mass of former officeholders
By: FILIP VUKOVIĆA
Saudi lobbyist Salman al-Ansari at the “Free Iran” terror festival
On the last Saturday, 13 July 2019, the annual “Free Iran” conference was held for the first time at Ashraf 3 in Albania, the headquarters of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK or MKO), a notorious terrorist cult known by several other different names and acronyms, including People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI), National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA), and National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
Founded in the 1960s by a group of Iranian leftists opposed to the country’s pro-Western Shah, later it developed into the largest and most militant group opposed to the Islamic Republic of Iran. After the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, the group was driven from its bases on the Iran-Iraq border and resettled in Paris, where it began supporting Saddam’s Iraq in its eight-year war against Iran.
Due to the terrorist attacks committed by the Mujahedin-e Khalq, more than 16,000 people have been killed in Iran alone, not counting their atrocities against Iranian and Iraqi civilians during the Iran-Iraq war and the 1991 uprisings in Iraq. Their tactics included bomb attacks, targeted assassinations, aircraft hijackings, and so on. For comparison, around 14,000 Iraqi and Syrian civilians have been killed by the ISIL terrorist attacks. The MEK has also conducted attacks against numerous Western targets, both in Europe, North America and elsewhere.
In 1986, the MEK accepted Saddam’s offer of alliance and moved its headquarters to Iraq where it received its primary support to attack the targets in Iran. This decision was viewed as treason by virtually all of Iranians and it irretrievably destroyed the MEK’s appeal in its homeland. Furthermore, the MEK assisted Ba’athist government in systematic attacks against the Kurdish fighters (Iran’s allies) in northern Iraq, and the result of their action was a genocide that killed between around 100,000 Kurdish civilians. Former MEK members remember Maryam Rajavi’s infamous command at the time: “Take the Kurds under your tanks, and save your bullets for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.”
Balkans as terrorist safe haven
The MEK is designated as a terrorist organization by Iran and Iraq, but their former headquarters at Iraqi Camp Ashraf still enjoyed the US protection after the fall of the dictatorship. Until the 2008–2012 period when long-term lobbying efforts by their Neocon, Zionist and Saudi sponsors gave results, the MEK was officially designated a terrorist organization by the UK, the EU, the US and Canada. Nevertheless of official designation, the MEK leadership freely lived and operated in the EU.
In 2012, the MEK headquarters have been relocated from Camp Ashraf to former US military base Camp Liberty, also in Iraq, and finally in 2016 the headquarters have been relocated again, this time to Ashraf 3 in Albania. A poor Balkan country, encircled by the EU member states and ruled by the US puppet regime, proved to be a safe haven. The transfer of hundreds of MEK members was carried out by US military aircraft.
Today, the gates to the MEK compound, situated on a gently inclined hillside in rural Albania, are usually firmly closed, guarded by two sculpted lions atop stone pedestals and a large team of Albanian security guards. Unannounced visitors are not welcome at the fenced-off, secretive site, where more than 2,000 MEK members live. With no passports or other documents, they remain in limbo, unable either to work or to leave the country. Besides clapping in the audience at fanciful terror festivals, their only activity is spreading anti-Iranian propaganda on social networks.
According to the recent interviews, given to journalists by a dozen men in Tirana who had fled the MEK compound, life inside the compound was of a cult-like atmosphere in which mobile phones and contact with relatives were banned, all interactions between men and women were prohibited, and days were spent sitting at computers firing out tweets and other online messages in support of the MEK. An investigation by the Intercept recently found that an anti-Iranian activist, who had written extensive media columns about Iran, in fact appeared to be an invented persona created by MEK trolls.
The last Saturday’s conference “Free Iran” has no political significance, nor does it differ in any way from similar terror festivals that were previously held in Paris. We could see the same personalities from the neoconservative & Zionist circle, like Joe Lieberman and Rudy Giuliani, representatives of the Saudi dictatorship, and numerous former or obscure politicians.
From all of them, we could hear the same slogans about “freedom, democracy, justice and gender equality,” but the only true message is “we hate Iran,” more precisely “we hate it so much that we’ll publicly lie and celebrate the terrorist-genocidal organization.” Taking into account the well-known moral values of the US neoconservatives, the Zionists and the Saudi regime, as well as their cheap mercenaries, such messages are not surprising.
Participants and organizers of the conference are perfectly aware that their words are empty and the MEK can never gain ground in Iran, so the gathering is far from being political in practical sense. Its only purpose is a desperate attempt of spreading Iranophobic hate around the world. Evidence for this is the fact that most of participants do not have real political role, only influential names, thus the media publicity is guaranteed. The names of these terror supporters deserve to be mentioned here.
Formers and incumbents
Looking at the list of participants, there’s an astonishing amount of former officeholders. These’re former US Vice Presidential candidate (Joe Lieberman), former Mayor of New York (Rudy Giuliani), former US Congressmen (Ted Poe and Dana Rohrabacher), former US Senator (Robert Torricelli), former US Assistant Secretary of State (Lincoln Bloomfield), former US Homeland Security Secretary and Governor (Tom Ridge), former US Special Envoy for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security (Robert Joseph), former US Ambassador to Morocco (Marc Ginsberg), former FBI Director (Louis Freeh), former commander of the Multi-National Forces in Iraq (George W. Casey Jr.), former Commandant of the US Marine Corps (James T. Conway), former Canadian Prime Minister (Stephen Harper), and former Canadian Foreign Minister (John Baird).
The list of former officeholders does not end in North America, in the EU these’re former Foreign Minister of France (Bernard Kouchner), former Foreign, Defense, Interior and Justice Minister of France (Michèle Alliot-Marie), former French Minister of Human Rights (Rama Yade), former German Deputy Interior Minister (Eduard Lintner), former Vice President of the European Parliament (Alejo Vidal-Quadras), former UN special representative to Iraq (Ad Melkert), former Norwegian MP (Lars Rise), and former Minister of Transport and Communications of Finland (Kimmo Sasi). The list also includes former Albanian Prime Minister and President (Sali Berisha), former Albanian Prime Minister (Pandeli Majko), former UN Special Rapporteur (Yakin Ertürk), former Minister of Culture and Publicity of Jordan (Saleh al‐Qalab), former Algerian Prime Minister (Sid Ahmed Ghozali), former Colombian presidential candidate (Ingrid Betancourt), and former head of the International Association of Women Judges (Susana Medina).
Ironically, the introductory speech at the conference was held by the former MEK Secretary-General Fahimeh Arvani, the 30th former officeholder on this list. If we exclude above-mentioned individuals with ended careers, the list is reduced to a third and literally all political celebrities are gone. Among the incumbent ones, all are relatively unknown and belong to the opposition parties, including Congressman Lance Gooden (United States), MP Matthew Offord, MP Bob Blackman, Lord Temporal Sandip Verma (United Kingdom), Senator Roberto Rampi, MP Giuseppina Occhionero, MP Anotonio Tasso (Italy), MP Michèle de Vaucouleurs, Mayor of Paris’s 1st District Jean-François Legaret (France), MP Martin Patzelt (Germany), Senator Gerry Horkan (Ireland), Deputy Attorney General Maria Candida Almeida (Portugal), MP Ben-Oni Ardelean (Romania), and Chairman of the Republican Party Fatmir Mediu (Albania). A handful of others also include South Asian activists Ranjana Kumari and Bandanda Rana, as well as Syrian terrorist activist Nazir Hakim.
Summing up, if we put aside all figures without any real political influence, only two or three will remain. Namely, influential pro-Israeli lobbyist Joe Lieberman, Donald Trump’s cybersecurity adviser Rudy Giuliani, and Saudi lobbyist Salman al-Ansari. The latter one is founder and president of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), a Washington DC-based lobby organization which advocates strengthening relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States, whitewashing of Saudi regime’s crimes, collaborative alliance with Israel, and aggressive foreign policy against Iran, Syria, Yemen and Qatar. Therefore, the answer to the question of who financed this lavish terror festival, seems more than obvious.