Safavi told TPM that “nobody in his right mind” who opposes the regime in Tehran can be opposed to the MEK. “It’s just impossible,” he said.
The recent surge in MEK support has included a number of events in both the U.S. and Europe sponsored by a group called Executive Action, whose Chairman and CEO, Neil Livingstone, is a D.C. insider who has been in contact with the MEK for decades. Two of the speakers at recent Executive Action events, Former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton (D) and former CENTCOM Commander Anthony Zinni, later told the Inter Press Service they had been paid to attend. In addition to those events, members of Congress at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing a few weeks ago urged Secretary Clinton to delist the MEK, and pro-MEK advertisements have run in D.C. publications.
Of the surge of support for the group, Safavi said:
“Do you think that General [Peter] Pace would say what he said and General [Hugh] Shelton would say what he said and Tom Ridge would say what he said and Howard Dean would say what he said and [Ambassador] Dell Dailey would say what he said, if they did not believe in it? Then, in my view, you lack faith in the integrity of your public officials.”
Later on, he told TPM that the U.S. officials who have been part of the recent surge “see a truth that is out there, that has been kept away from them.” He acknowledged that some, like former Gov. Bill Richardson and former Obama National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones, had been previously unaware of the situation in Ashraf.
“I’m not surprised, I’m not surprised,” he said. “You think Obama knows about this? I bet you he doesn’t know.”
“This campaign by the MEK, as Mrs. Rajavi has said, is not about gaining power at all costs, it is about giving the Iranian people the choice to choose who they want at all costs,” Safavi said.
According to Safavi, the MEK wants to be allowed to direct its resources at Iran. He said that fighting the terrorism designation in the U.S. and Europe over the years has “wasted 90% of the political resources, humanitarian resources, financial resources of the MEK.” The argument, according to Safavi, isn’t that the MEK “has the support of 90% of Iranians, or 60% or 50%,” but that it has been unfairly shackled by the terrorist list.
And while he said that Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi have the blood of MEK members “up to their shoulders,” he said that if they are “brave enough, are genuine enough in their belief in democracy, that they would lead the movement in Iran to a triumphant end, we will follow them.” Members of the Green Movement, though, have publicly distanced themselves from the MEK. Moussavi’s wife, Zara Rahnavard, has called it a “bankrupt political group” and said that “the MEK have a wall between them and all of us, including myself, Mr. Mousavi, Mr. Khatami, and Mr. Karroubi and all of us within the Green Movement.”
At the end of the interview, Safavi returned to the black and white stakes.
“As I said: for you, really, to reconcile this, either what you see before you is all a very slick, well-oiled, well-financed con operation, or it’s absolutely genuine,” he said. “It cannot be 95 percent genuine. It has to be 100 percent genuine. Do you know why? Because the mullahs of Iran are 100 percent evil. 100 percent evil. You know, the depths of this abyss of wickedness of the mullahs is so deep, so long, that the height of the zenith of virtue has to be as high as possible. So I think that people who have come to learn about this movement, and associate with it, have seen this. And I agree with you, I wish that some of these officials knew about this when they were in government. But as they say in Farsi, the fish is fresh whenever you catch it.”
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com