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Understanding the Iranian Regime’s Urgency to Speculate on MEK’s Fate

Iran, IRGC, Iran Protests, state media, maryam rajavi, mek

In recent weeks, Iranian state officials have been making bold statements regarding the future of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MEK/PMOI), prematurely predicting what they called “their inevitable demise”. However, these rash and ill-considered declarations not only went against diplomatic norms but also resulted in unintended consequences for their own agenda.

Following the June 20 raid on the MEK members’ residence in Albania, the state-run website Ensaf News quoted a ‘security source’ on June 22, stating that “the attack on Ashraf 3 was the result of Iran’s diplomacy and actions of various agencies.”

On June 23, at his Friday prayer sermon, Allahnoor Karimi Tabar, the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader in Ilam boasted: “The hypocrites have launched an all-out cyber war against us, supported by European countries. On the anniversary of their armed aggression against the Islamic Republic, they were holding a global meeting in France, but now, with the power and active diplomacy of the Islamic Republic, they are attacked in their headquarters in Ashraf 3 by the host country, and conflicts and clashes have erupted among them. For the first time in these dark days, we see that France has surrendered to the will of the Islamic Republic and did not allow them to gather.”

(The regime refers to the MEK as “hypocrites” with the intention of discrediting them within Iranian society.)

“Some consider the isolation of the hypocrites and the change in the West’s approach as being the result of Iran’s dynamic and active diplomacy, which recently led to the release of ‘Assadollah Assadi,’ an Iranian diplomat who was imprisoned in Belgium,” the state-run Mehr news agency reported on June 26. “He had been arrested on baseless charges of being involved in a bombing operation against the hypocrites’ gathering in Paris.”

Yet again, amidst the hasty feasting and jubilation in Tehran and other venues where Iranian state officials sought to entertain their audience, the Iranian Resistance achieved a significant victory. The French judiciary ruled in favor of the Iranian Resistance, overturning a ban on the annual Free Iran rally, previously imposed by the Paris police. On July 1, a momentous rally took place in Paris, drawing thousands of Iranians and supporters of the Resistance. Concurrently, at the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) headquarters in Auvers-sur-Oise, hundreds of international leaders and legislators gathered to show their solidarity with the cause.

On July 3, while the Free Iran World Summit entered its 4th day, Sepehr Khalaji head of the Iranian administration’s information council tweeted: “Part of the hard drives and cases have been received; efforts are being made to recover information, identify intermediaries, and destructive elements and blind spots. So far, the results have been promising.”

Moreover on July 13, during a gathering in Qom, while referring to the months-long uprising in Iran, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, the regime’ Parliament speaker, said: “Look at the reaction of the Islamic Republic towards the actions of the hypocrite group, which played the main role in organizing recent incidents inside the country, and the actions of the Zionist regime and the Americans. See what the Islamic Republic did to celebrities and hypocrites present in Europe in the month of June. Look how they were forced to react. We saw what happened to them in Albania and also what happened in France and now they have no place to stay. These matters should not be taken lightly, and they show the power of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The Iranian regime operates under a highly centralized structure, with critical decisions, especially those pertaining to security threats, coming from the top leadership of the ruling clergy. This raises the question: why does the regime hastily take stances that risk undermining its credibility with Western counterparts and public opinion?

Over the past four decades, the regime’s actions and policies have indicated a perception of the main threat arising not from external sources but from within Iran.

Since 2017, a series of nationwide and provincial uprisings, fueled by political and socio-economic grievances, have posed a formidable challenge to the authority of the Khamenei-led establishment. The once unthinkable chant of “Death to Khamenei” has become a resounding demand from the people of Iran.

Khamenei lacks both domestic and international legitimacy and now relies solely on a shrinking circle of loyalists. As the regime grapples with the reality of uprisings aimed to overthrow his regime, the motivation and morale of these supporters have been on a steady decline. The regime’s future hangs in the balance as it navigates these internal challenges and strives to maintain its grip on power.

Javad Muguee, a state-affiliated documentary filmmaker who takes pride in being an expert on MEK-related topics, revealed in an interview on July 18 that state-controlled media solely target the regime’s close circle instead of providing information to the people of Iran. The privileged circle enjoys perks and minimal censorship, remaining well-informed about external news, including international condemnation of the regime as well as the activities of the Iranian Resistance. Consequently, the loyal follower base has become increasingly vulnerable and demoralized.

Year after year, the Free Iran World Summit displays an independent, robust, and iron-willed Iranian movement that effectively merges domestic resistance cells with international support for its platform. This poses an existential challenge for the regime in Tehran. To prevent the event, the regime has continually exerted pressure on the host country, France, to cancel it. In 2018, the regime went to extreme lengths, such as ordering a bombing by his top diplomat Assadollah Assadi or launching cyber-attacks in Albania in 2022, to disrupt the MEK’s gatherings.

More recently, it even resorted to nuclear blackmail and used Western hostages as bargaining chips to disrupt this year’s event in Paris.

Embraced by Western appeasers, the regime hastily sought to declare victory at the slightest sign of actions against its archenemy. It is well aware that by doing so and embarrassing its Western peers in the eyes of the public, it is violating diplomatic norms and undermining foreign relations. However, the regime’s desperate focus remains on lifting the spirits of its own low-morale domestic audience.

Since September 16, 2022, Khamenei has repeatedly called on regime officials to take a stance against the uprising, but these appeals have fallen on deaf ears, exposing the regime’s weakened state to its loyal followers, the Iranian people, and the global community.

Thanks to the steadfastness of the Iranian Resistance, all conspiracies were defeated, and their annual gathering sent a message of steadfastness and independence. This has seemingly hindered the regime’s desperately sought-after victory. As the first anniversary of the uprising approaches, it remains uncertain how many forces the regime can rely on to suppress the growing dissent.