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Amb. Lincoln Bloomfield Refutes Allegations of MEK Collaborating with Iraq’s Saddam Hussein

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Ambassador Lincoln Bloomfield, a seasoned diplomat and scholar, has conducted extensive research on the allegations against the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). His insights, encapsulated in numerous books and articles, were elaborated upon during a discussion on the podcast “The Untold Story.” In this article, we delve into one specific allegation: the claim that the MEK fought alongside Saddam Hussein’s forces during the Iran-Iraq War.

Amb. Bloomfield’s 2019 publication, “The Ayatollahs and the MEK: Iran’s Crumbling Influence Operation,” meticulously unravels and debunks many of the Iranian regime’s disinformation campaigns against the MEK. In his discussion, Bloomfield addresses the allegation of the MEK’s supposed collaboration with Saddam Hussein’s forces.

“As many people will remember, Iraq invaded Iran in September of 1980, not too long after the revolution took place. And when that happened, MEK members raced to the front lines along with others and fought against the Iraqis and some were captured by Saddam’s forces. They were held as prisoners of war,” Bloomfield notes. This account is critical in questioning the narrative of MEK’s collaboration with Saddam. He adds, “If there were any truth that the MEK and the NCRI were in some ways allies of Saddam Hussein, why did he keep their POWs imprisoned until 1989?”

Bloomfield highlights the timeline discrepancies that further discredit this allegation. “The MEK didn’t even come to Iraq until July of 1986, years later. They didn’t start acquiring weapons until after that. And the National Liberation Army that they put together was in 1987. And they only really performed one major operation, which was to try to march on Tehran, which was their purpose.”

The ambassador also mentions the MEK’s financial independence in their military endeavors. “By the way, I can’t prove this, but the members of the NCRI say, we have all the receipts. We paid in cash for all of our weapons. In other words, they were not provided free by Saddam. Now that’s something they say, so I can’t stand behind it, but that’s what they say.”

Bloomfield provides context on the geopolitical climate during the Iran-Iraq War, particularly the ambitions of Khomeini. “By 1982, the middle of 1982, Iraq had pushed all of the forces back out of Iran. There were no longer any Iraqi forces. And Massoud Rajavi in Paris tried to end the war by persuading Saddam Hussein’s government to accept an end of belligerence, a withdrawal of all forces, an exchange of prisoners. And this was, I think, presented a couple of times to Ayatollah Khomeini. And he had no interest in ending the war.”

The ambassador elaborates on Khomeini’s broader ambitions and how they influenced his domestic policies and treatment of the MEK. “Khomeini was failing to control the Iran population. And so, he extended the state of emergency, kept the war going, still not willing to give up on his dream of creating a religious authority over the Shia of Iraq and extending it further through the Levant toward Jerusalem. And he used it as an excuse for jailing, imprisoning, torturing, and executing people who didn’t follow his orders, including all the sympathizers of the MEK.”

Crucially, Bloomfield refutes the allegation of the MEK’s military collaboration with Saddam. “Never, not once did the MEK and the National Liberation Army ever participate in any military operation with Iraq’s forces. Not once ever. And don’t forget, the American military captured all of the hard drives of the Saddam Hussein government, and the Pentagon certainly knew that there had never been any MEK involvement against the Kurds or against the Shia, which we’ve heard for years.”

The ambassador underscores the importance of understanding the true nature of these disinformation campaigns. “These things have gone away now. And frankly, one day historians will look at what Khomeini did before Iraq invaded, and they might conclude that Khomeini provoked that attack because he was attacking inside Iraq and calling for regime change against Saddam Hussein. So, it’s a whole different story, but it was important for Khomeini and for the Shah before him to demonize these smart student idealists who did not accept dictatorship, whether it was monarch or religious. They wanted Iranians to control their own destiny, like other countries, through the ballot box.”

In conclusion, the level of demonization and disinformation against the MEK and the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) underscores the Iranian regime’s fear of the only organized opposition. As Ambassador Bloomfield aptly puts it, “They’ve been deliberately promoting inside and outside Iran one set of narratives, which are completely wrong. Why did they do this? What were they afraid of? And that will lead us to where is the Achilles’ Heel? Where’s the Achilles’ Heel of this regime? Why are they so scared? Why are they doing all of these things? They’re doing it out of vulnerability, fear, and weakness. And we need to understand that.”