Brief on Iran (BOI – 275)


Washington Times, Special Section:

Iran: the Power of the Alternative

MEK will fight Iran regime from new Ashraf-3 base in Albania
Washington Times, July 13, 2019

ASHRAF-3, Albania — Iran’s largest opposition group opened the doors of its new home base to the world on Saturday with a wave of praise from political leaders — from both the left and the right — hailing from nearly 50 different countries and all enthusiastic about the group and its goals.
The not-quite-finished Ashraf-3 community rests on a sprawling plot of land that until 30 months ago was farmland, located around halfway between the Albanian capital of Tirana and the country’s Adriatic coastline.

Home to more than 3,000 Iranian dissidents from the Mujahedin-e Khalq, best known as MEK, Ashraf-3 is too new to appear on map programs. Cement was still drying around the base of some flag posts and workers were still painting the handrails on a bridge as more than 350 dignitaries from 47 countries arrived Saturday.

The gathering was the 15th edition of MEK’s “Free Iran” event, but the first to take place at its new Albanian home. Paris hosted the event between 2004 and 2018. “We look at the fact that so many leaders came to our home so far from where they live as a testament to the international support that exists for MEK and the faith they have in what we want to accomplish,” said Mohammad Mohaddessin, chairman of the foreign affairs committee for the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an umbrella group that includes the MEK.

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March for a Free Iran in London
Maryma Rajavi: “Your demonstration in London today is the culmination of a series of Free Iran protest rallies that ran from Brussels to Washington, Berlin to Stockholm in a month and a half. And it is the continuation of the annual gathering of the Iranian Resistance held two weeks ago, for 5 days, in Ashraf3, the newly constructed base of the Moujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), in Albania.”

Iran Focus, July 27, 2019

Some 3000 Iranians living in the UK demonstrated this afternoon Saturday July 27on the streets of central London demanding comprehensive sanctions against the mullahs’ regime.
Demonstrators urged listing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) and the Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei’s office as terrorist entities by the UK, while supporting the Iranian resistance and its president-elect, Maryam Rajavi, and her 10 point plan for the future of Iran.

Apart Iranian opposition figures, British as well as European dignitaries addressed the crowd before the march started.

In a video message to the gathering, NCRI’s president-elect Maryam Rajavi told the demonstrators: “Your demonstration in London today is the culmination of a series of Free Iran protest rallies that ran from Brussels to Washington, Berlin to Stockholm in a month and a half. And it is the continuation of the annual gathering of the Iranian Resistance held two weeks ago, for 5 days, in Ashraf3, the newly constructed base of the Moujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), in Albania.”

Emphasizing that the Iranian regime does not understand a language other than the language of power and determination, Mrs. Rajavi called on Britain and Europe to stop “paying ransom to the mullahs”, not to help reduce sanctions, and to designate the Revolutionary Guards, the Ministry of Intelligence and Khamenei and (Iranian president Hassan) Rouhani’s offices in the terrorist list. She specifically called on the new UK government to support human rights in Iran and to act to dispatch an international investigative delegation to visit regime prisons and to meet with political prisoners, especially women.

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World powers, Iran to meet in attempt to save nuclear deal
The Hill, July 28, 2019

Representatives of five world powers met with Iranian diplomats Sunday in an effort to save the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal the U.S. withdrew from in 2018, according to the Associated Press.

Iranian representatives were joined by officials from Germany, France, Britain, China, Russia and the European Union in Vienna to discuss the matter, according to the news service.

“I cannot say that we resolved everything,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi told reporters following the meeting. But he added that all parties involved remain “determined to save this deal,” and that “the atmosphere was constructive, and the discussions were good.”

The meeting concluded with a general agreement to set up another meeting involving higher-level foreign ministers, but no date has been set, according to Araghchi and Fu Cong, the head of Chinese delegation.

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China’s Iran oil imports plunge as U.S. sanctions bite
Reuters, July 27, 2019

BEIJING/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – China’s crude oil imports from Iran sank almost 60% in June from a year earlier, Chinese customs data showed on Saturday, following the end of a waiver on U.S. sanctions at the start of May.

Crude shipment from Iran were 855,638 tonnes last month, or 208,205 barrels per day (bpd), data from the General Administration of Customs showed. That compared with 254,016 bpd in May.

According to Refinitiv Oil Research assessments, a total of 670,000 tonnes, or about 163,000 bpd, of Iranian crude oil was discharged in June at Tianjin in north China and Jinzhou in the northeast.
Refinitiv Oil Research also showed another 430,000 tonnes of Iranian crude oil was discharged in July at Jinzhou and Huizhou in south China.

All the discharged vessels are operated by National Iranian Tanker Company.

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Five days that can shake Iran
NCRI Editorial; July 16, 2019

Ashraf 3, home to members of Iran’s main opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin (Mujahedin-e Khalq, PMOI or MEK) in Albania, has just witnessed five days of intense political activity with a number of conferences and exhibitions involving resistance members and local and international political figures, at a time when Iran is in the news against a backdrop of regional and international tensions.

Events of the last five days in Ashraf 3 have strategic significance for Iran’s current situation:
The unveiling of Ashraf 3 constitutes a victory for the Iranian opposition. Previously, when MEK members were situated in Iraq, the mullahs tried repeatedly to annihilate the group physically, politically and socially. The establishment of Ashraf 3 in Albania, nowadays part of the free world and out of the reach of the mullahs and their mercenaries, is the last thing Khamenei and his regime needed in their times of trouble. Ashraf 3 is the victorious culmination of a decade of resistance again terrorist, regional and political efforts to bring an end to the MEK. Instead the MEK has emerged stronger, more acceptable, and invincible at this critical juncture.

The international impasse and the regional crisis in which the mullahs’ regime is entrenched reflects, and at times hides, the deep social crisis that, for more than a year, has engulfed the regime in the shape of organized, well-aimed social activities especially by Iranian youth and women. Despite brutal repression, the mullahs have been unable to curb the growing qualitative and quantitative reach of this social crisis.
In parallel with events inside the country, the long and winding road from Ashraf 1 (Camp Ashraf in Iraq) to Ashraf 3, now behind the Resistance thanks to a long international mobilization of support for more than ten years, has given birth to a strong political trend in the international arena against the mullahs. Like the Resistance itself, this political trend has blocked the path of Western appeasement towards the mullahs, and in its evolution, it has found its way to the highest decision-making centers of the world.

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Renowned Iranian Teachers’ Rights Activist: Association With the MEK Is Iran Regime’s ‘Red Line’
NCRI , July 26, 2019

Renowned Iranian teachers’ rights and political activist Hashem Khastar, who was recently released from prison, has issued a message to the Iranian people stating that from his personal experience, the Iranian regime’s impermissible red line is for anyone to associate themselves with the main opposition group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), also known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).

Khastar pointed out that Iranian security forces recently asked him to put out a statement denouncing the MEK, which he refused. Iranian intelligence ministry agents also informed Khastar that they are in contact with the son of the former Shah of Iran, and even offered to put Khastar in touch with Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi, which he also refused.

Khastar said that the regime is trying to encourage dissidents to join the camp of the monarchists and simultaneously attack the MEK. He said that in some cases the regime temporarily jails individuals to increase their credibility as opponents of the regime so as to better advance their mission against genuine regime opponents once they are released.

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Monograph: ‘The Ayatollahs and the MEK – Iran’s Crumbling Influence Operation’
Lincoln J. Bloomfield Jr
June 2019

Ambassador Lincoln J. Bloomfield Jr. has published a new monograph, The Ayatollahs and the MEK–Iran’s Crumbling Influence Operation , through the University of Baltimore College of Public Affairs.

Bloomfield, a former defense and foreign policy official who has served three presidents over five administrations in the Pentagon, the White House and the U.S. State Department, is the author of a 2013 study of the MEK, The Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK)–Shackled by a Twisted History , also published by the University. The story of this group, which was formed by student intellectuals during the 1960s to oppose the Shah of Iran but became an enemy of the clerical regime of Ayatollah Khomeini after the revolution, was twisted by U.S. officials in a misguided attempt to engage and appease the Iranian government. Bloomfield has also prepared testimonies about the MEK for hearings before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.

Like the 2013 monograph, this work includes a foreword by Ivan Sascha Sheehan, associate professor and executive director of the School of Public and International Affairs in the University of Baltimore’s College of Public Affairs; Sheehan specializes in global terrorism, counterterrorism, U.S. foreign policy, and international conflict management.

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