Responding to the latest hit piece by Michael Rubin, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee member Dr. Ali Safavi questioned Rubin’s behavior and unjustified vilification of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), Iran’s leading opposition group.
Shedding light on Rubin’s past as a professional propagandist who serves Tehran’s interests the most, Dr. Safavi also unearthed Rubin’s relations with Iranian state officials, and his close association with Ahmed Chalabi, who acted as an Iranian intelligence agent to pull the US into the Iraq War in 2003.
Dr. Ali Safavi’s article is republished below:
Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel
Michael Rubin’s outlandish behavior and unjustified vilification of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) continue. This time, though, Rubin is scraping the bottom of the barrel after I cornered him about his earlier fabrications. With his ridiculous allegations regarding the MEK’s lack of popularity in Iran debunked, he now argues that since there are no MEK supporters in the US federal government, the MEK cannot claim to be the largest Iranian opposition group! The hidden premise is that any Iranian movement claiming to have support is dishonest unless such backing is proven inside the US federal service and by employees who have security clearances!
Rubin’s customary and sloppy sophistry is discernible. First, he simply cannot credibly access the political perspectives of three million federal government members regarding any issue, let alone the MEK. Second, the premise that an Iranian opposition movement’s popularity should be pegged to the degree of support from those who have “security clearances” inside the US government is just wacky, raising the question of how is AEI continues to tolerate such colossal blunders?
The fact that Nelson Mandela was considered a “terrorist” by the US until 2008, almost 15 years after he became president, and his supporters may not have had security clearances in the American government, did not have the slightest logical bearing on Mandela’s popularity in his homeland. So, Rubin’s argument is not only fallacious but also literally insane and irrational.
When it comes to the MEK, Rubin’s ink is fluid prejudice and psychosis. He is simply in a frenzy to engage in a PR war on the organization. This is all the more concerning in the context of his past as a professional propagandist. In 2014, he was linked to an investigation that revealed the UAE’s multimillion-dollar deal with PR firm Camstoll. Rubin was cited as a “journalist” who wrote articles favoring the UAE government’s political agenda. Even Amnesty International officials wondered if Rubin had actually been paid to write articles spewing propaganda against dissidents. His track record with Iraq and Turkey is similar, and while not delving into the specifics of each case, these concerns have been raised about his behavior.”
Rubin has also had dubious relations with Iranian officials. Although he now downplays it, in the 1990s, he spent months in Iran and was even trusted enough to explore the archives of a notorious IRGC Foundation, a feat never achieved by even regime journalists. In his first visit in 1996, he recalls “lecturing” at the regime’s Foreign Ministry outfits. In 1999, he exchanged views in Iran with “an audience of about 500” that included “government officials.” That is quite a triumph for an “American Iran hawk” claiming to oppose the mullahs. Still, Rubin continues to dismiss legitimate questions about his troubling past as “conspiracy theories,” and resorts to ad hominem attacks against me.
But most intriguingly, he is extremely reticent about his close association with Ahmed Chalabi, who acted as an Iranian intelligence agent to pull the US into the Iraq War in 2003. When planning the disastrous Iraq War, Rubin and Co. simply crafted “propaganda,” said a former Air Force officer. “They’d take a little bit of intelligence, cherry-pick it, make it sound much more exciting.” He is now doing the very same thing with the MEK.
The truth is that the MEK enjoys “significant support” from former officials and lawmakers in the United States, and many of them had/have security clearances while serving in the federal office! Some served in various administrations even after publicly supporting the movement and appearing at its gatherings and events.
Aside from a reclusive propagandist, all astute observers can easily detect the MEK’s rising influence. In 2016, Asharq Al-Awsat, reported that the MEK’s 2016 gathering attracted “over 100,000 Iranian dissidents” in Paris. In 2022, hundreds of pro-MEK Iranian-American scientists, scholars, and engineers wrote a letter to President Joe Biden calling for a firm policy on the Iranian regime.
I have already debunked Rubin’s other baseless assertions, cheaply plagiarized from Iranian intelligence services (MOIS), in January 2006, July 2011, August 2021, August and, November 2022, January and February 2023. The factoids that Rubin snatches from Tehran’s archives have also been rebutted more times than can be counted, by reputable academics, experts, scholars, political leaders, and observers worldwide.
The revocation of MEK’s terrorist designation was not, as Rubin proclaims, “a diplomatic sleight-of-hand.” Twenty major and historic court rulings in Europe and by America’s second-highest court shattered the “terrorist” label.
What is truly sad for AEI is that Rubin’s anti-MEK slanders are covered in hundreds of articles produced by the regime’s media outlets like Alef, Raja News, SNN, Farda News, Mehr News, Bultan News, ISNA, the Quds Force’s Young Journalists Club, and Kayhan, the mouthpiece of none other than the regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. His latest hit piece is being promoted by an MOIS outfit. Rubin is perhaps the most notable mullah media darling of any “Iran hawk” in the US. It is simply baffling.
Facts still exist outside the fanatical bubble of Rubin and Khamenei’s Kayhan. Whether Rubin likes it or not, the pathetic relics of the deposed monarchy have no chance in Iran’s future, and the MEK continues to be “the largest and most active Iranian” organization. In its unclassified Summary of Administrative Record (SAR) in 2013, the US State Department acknowledged that the MEK “has developed into the largest and most active Iranian dissident group.” And at the time, the State Department was no fan of the MEK.
To preserve his declining reputation, Michael Rubin should perhaps take a temporary hiatus from being a mullah ghostwriter and concentrate on deprogramming from their cultish propaganda. Otherwise, his growing popularity in Khamenei’s anti-American propaganda machine could jeopardize his chances of obtaining a security clearance if he ever decides to pursue a career at the Pentagon again.
Safavi (@amsafavi) is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)