Trita Parsi is the author of Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy (2017) and president of the National Iranian American Council. (May 2018)

Follow Trita Parsi on Twitter: @tparsi.


Why Trump’s Hawks Back the MEK Terrorist Cult

MEK leader Maryam Rajavi presiding over a rally in memory of the group’s members killed in Iraq in 2013, Tirana, Albania, September 1, 2017

How an organization that was only delisted by the US Department of State as a terrorist group in 2012 could so soon after win influential friends at the heart of America’s current administration is the strange and sinister story of the Mujahedin-e Khalq, better known by its initials, MEK. Commonly called a cult by most observers, the MEK has a historic record of terrorism, human rights abuses, and murder of US citizens. One would think, then, that senior American officials like Rudy Giuliani, Mike Pompeo, and John Bolton wouldn’t go near the MEK, let alone fraternize with its members or take its fees. But when it comes to Iran, the usual rules don’t apply.

Who Ordered Black Cube’s Dirty Tricks?

President Trump announcing the US’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement in front of a portrait of George Washington in the White House, May 8, 2018

It seems clear that whoever hired Black Cube—in an effort to discredit me and former Obama administration officials—favored the US’s withdrawal from the Iran deal. If a foreign private intelligence agency was hired to help change a vital aspect of US foreign policy, with global consequences, it is a matter of urgent public interest to discover who ordered the operation and who paid for it. Congress has a responsibility to investigate. If the Trump administration was involved in a Nixonian campaign to justify its disastrous policy-making, we deserve to know.

Iran: Trump’s Gift to the Hard-liners

A mural on the wall of the former US embassy, Tehran, 2015

The more aggressive Trump’s posture in the Middle East becomes, the stronger the hard-liners’ argument against Iranian President Rouhani’s administration will be. This is not just about what the Iranian conservatives will win if Trump kills the nuclear deal, but what America will lose. The blow to Iran’s moderate forces will be far more consequential than Bush’s “axis of evil” declaration and the rejection of Iran’s 2003 bargain proposal. It will take years, perhaps decades, before anyone in the Iranian political elite will dare to suggest any accommodation with Washington.