Iran slams France over MEK meeting

Iranian Diplomacy- On Saturday, the Mojahedin-e Khalq terrorist group held a meeting in Paris, attended by some of the former US, European and Saudi officials, including former Saudi spy chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal, PressTV reported. The Saudi-owned al-Arabiya news channel broadcast the gathering live. An informal adviser on cybersecurity to the White House, Rudy Giuliani, perceived by many to be an emissary for Mr. Trump in the words of The Washington Times, said President Trump is “laser focused on the danger of Iran to the freedom of the world”, while calling for the freedom of Iran.

The call for regime change in Iran from the terrorist group, recently removed from terror lists in the US and EU despite being responsible for killing nearly 17,000 Iranians since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, does not strike Iran as a surprise. Iranian officials have not shied away from acknowledging the role of regional and international hostile states in collusion with and financial support for the MKO. However, many Iranians have noted the paradoxical stance in the French government which has tried to become one of Iran’s major partner since the nuclear deal.

In a speech made before an open parliamentary session, Vice Speaker Ali Motahari slammed ‘Saudi and US agents’ who participated in the Paris conference aimed to seize the government of Iran one day, saying they have invested in a very bad place. “The investment has nothing but loss for you, because the hatred against this group in the heart of Iranians will never go away,” he added.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Bahram Qassemi also condemned the gathering. “Since 1981, the terrorist group has been trying to artificially boost the morale of its members through brouhaha, holding campaigns as well as gatherings like this in Paris,” he told ISNA. “By spending money, the terrorist group always brings some spear-carriers together in its annual meetings,” he noted, stressing that the MKO leaders usually spend hefty amounts to invite figures notorious for extremist stances against Iran.

Speaking on the coincidence of the MEK gathering with FM Javad Zarif’s visit to France, Qassemi dismissed any intentions on the part of the French government. However, he said Iran’s complaint is that why Paris permits the terrorist group to hold such events. Calling the permission by the French government a serious mistake, he added that Iran has lodged an official complaint to France over allowing MKO to hold meeting in Paris. “Terrorists are terrorists anywhere and France should drop its double standards when it comes to terrorists,” he stressed.

Iranian Foreign Minister has also denounced the Paris event. Speaking to the IRIB news agency in Paris-CDG airport, Zarif said Tehran has brought up the issue in talks with French officials, as a “moot point in mutual relations”. He added that the French side has denied links to the group. “To permit the activities of a group, hated among Iranians, with terrorist records and cooperation with Saddam in its treasonous background against Iranians, as well as terrorist efforts and plans in recent weeks and months, is only a black stain on the records of countries that cooperate with such groups,” Zarif added.

Many Iranians also took to Twitter on Saturday evening to express their abhorrence for the terrorist group, with the hashtags #No2MEK and #IranhatesMEK, initially launched by the sympathizers of Principlist front. Some users declined to join the Tweetstorm, arguing that initiatives of the kind would revive an organization already dead.

In Persian editorial, the editor-in-chief of Iranian Diplomacy Sergei Barseghian called for Iran’s ultimatum to the French government over the activities of the terrorist group. After a brief review of the list of invitees in the recent gathering, Barseghian called the meeting a failure as the organization has attract to absorb new supporters. Unconvinced with Zarif’s “moot point” reaction and assurances by French officials, he criticizes the scheduling of Zarif’s visit to France as the Foreign Ministry was informed about the MEK meeting.

Barseghian then highlighted the recent episode as a measure violating international regulations, emphasizing the legitimate right of Iran to act against armed opposition groups based in a third party country. The editorial recalled the arrest of 300 MEK members in Auvers-sur-Oise, accused of planning terrorist operations. The arrests came in June 2003, a few days after Iran’s Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi criticized his French opposite number Dominique de Villepin for the “unacceptable and incomprehensible activities” of the terrorist organization in France. Asking what has shifted Paris’ policy on the terrorist group over the past fourteen years, Barseghian highlighted the role Iran’s diplomacy has to play. “Perhaps, the diplomatic rhetoric should change from ‘moot point’ to a ‘charge mooted’,” Barseghian said.