Like many other Middle East analysts, I for many years kept my distance from the Mujahedeen-e Khalq, an Iranian opposition group. But I changed my mind in 1993, on receipt of Islamic Fundamentalism: The New Global Threat (Washington, D.C.: Seven Locks Press, 1993) by Mohammad Mohaddessin, a foreign affairs specialist for the organization. His book showed me that the MeK could be a useful and important ally in the common effort against the Islamic Republic of Iran; the fact that the mullahs so fear the MeK makes it only the more attractive to me. And so, for sixteen years, I have vocally advocated that the U.S. government work with the MeK – to little avail, I might add.
Patrick Clawson and I quizzed Mohaddessin on a number of delicate issues in 1995; the results can be read in the Middle East Quarterly at "There Is No Such Thing as a Moderate Fundamentalist." I spoke for the MeK a couple of times in the mid-1990s, in London and Oslo. I met often with Alireza Jafarzadeh of the organization's Washington office and once with its leader, Maryam Rajavi.
Relations rather changed when the Clinton administration decided to put the MeK on the U.S. government's terrorist list in 1997 as a little present to the regime in Tehran, making it impossible for me to continue to work with the MeK. Despite this, twelve years later, I remain a consistent advocate of taking the MeK off the terrorism list and of working with it to induce fear and destabilize the regime in Tehran. At the same time, I distinctly do not endorse the MeK as future rulers of Iran.
My writings on the MeK, from oldest to newest, with updates as necessary:
"[Mujahedeen-e Khalq:] A Terrorist U.S. Ally?" New York Post, May 20, 2003 (co-authored with Patrick Clawson). Argues for delisting the MeK and working with it versus the mullahs in Tehran.
"Are the Mujahedeen-e Khalq Terrorists?" DanielPipes.org, June 23, 2003. Notes what followed after French police raided the MeK headquarters.
"Washington Puzzles over the Mujahedeen-e Khalq." DanielPipes.org, August 17, 2003. Reviews the back-and-forth of U.S. policy toward the MeK, unsure whether the group is friend or foe, terrorist or not.
"Unleash the Iranian Opposition[, the Mujahedeen-e Khalq]." The New York Sun, July 10, 2007. I report on an MeK meeting and offer policy recommendations.
"Will Washington Betray Anti-Regime Iranians?" The New York Sun, July 17, 2008. Reviews the fate of the roughly 3,500 MeK members in Camp Ashraf in Iraq.
"A Call for American Boldness in Iran." The Jerusalem Post, June 24, 2009. I report on a second MeK meeting and again offer policy recommendations, this time in the midst of a crisis in Iran.
(June 24, 2009)
- "Empower Iranians vs. Tehran." National Review Online, July 19, 2011. Argues the case to take the MeK off the terrorism list.
- "Israel and the MeK vs. Iran?" The Source with Ezra Levant, February 14, 2012. Discusses Tehran's charge that Israel teamed up with the MeK to kill Iranian nuclear scientists.
- "Resettling the Mujahedeen-e Khalq of Iraq." National Review Online, February 28, 2012. Offers suggestions to solve the conundrum of the MeK presence in Iraq.