How does the MEK win U.S. political support? Money.
Benny Avni hails the bi-partisan support for the Iranian cult group MEK and their cries for regime change in Iran:
Want to see US bipartisanship on Iran? Go to Paris and attend a rally led by Maryam Rajavi, the charismatic head of the best-organized anti-regime group of Iranian exiles.
Where else can you hear former lefty congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee calling Rajavi â??my sisterâ? and soon after listen to righty Rudy Giuliani saying sheâ??s the best alternative to â??that killer,â? Iranâ??s President-elect Hassan Rouhani? Where else can a one-time Democratic presidential candidate, Bill Richardson, be on the same foreign-policy page as a Republican wannabe, Newt Gingrich? Or a former Obama adviser, dovish retired Gen. George Jones, support the same cause as Bushie hawks like former UN Ambassador John Bolton and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey?
Gee, what would unite Washington's political class around a cause? Maybe, I don't know, money? Let's see:
Scores of former senior officials have been paid up to $40,000 to make speeches in support of the MEK's delisting. Those who have received money include the former chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, General Hugh Shelton; ex-FBI director Louis Freeh; and Michael Mukasey, who as attorney general oversaw the prosecution of terrorism cases.
The former Pennsylvania governor, Ed Rendell, has accepted more than $150,000 in speaking fees at events in support of the MEK's unbanning. Clarence Page, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, was paid $20,000 to speak at the rally. Part of the money has been paid through speakers bureaus on the US east coast.
Others accepted only travel costs, although in some cases that involved expensive trips to Europe.
In June, Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the US House of Representatives and Republican presidential candidate, flew to Paris to address a pro-MEK rally and meet its co-leader, Maryam Rajavi. He was criticised for bowing to her.
That was last June, but Gingrich evidently re-upped for 2013. And good for him, the economy's tough and everyone needs to make a living. But reading Avni's piece, you'd never know of these lavish funding efforts. (You can read more about them here.)
Avni ends his piece with this eye-opener:
Even if detractors are right that the groupâ??s support in Iran is much less significant than in DC, Rajavi may have a key role to play. Mostly, she can help convince Americans that the best future for relations with Iranians â?? and for the Mideast â?? is regime-change in Tehran. If she succeeds, her habit of collecting fans among former US pols would end up being a worthy cause indeed.
Right. One of the reasons relations between the U.S. and Iran have been contentious is because the U.S. took it upon itself to change the Iranian regime once before. There are certainly many people in Iran who would like to see the current system fall or be systemically reformed -- but the people rejoicing in the streets after the election of Rouhani are unlikely to cheer efforts to install an MEK cultist as a temporary president of Iran.
For a more serious appraisal of the MEK you can read this RAND study on the group.