Jihadi-Communist….you read that right
The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran or Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) is not only a violent terrorist organisation but a downright bizarre one. Its ideology seeks to combine a heterodox version of Shi’a Islam with the kind of jihadism practised by Takfiri groups such as al-Qaeda and then seeks to combine this with hard-left Communism. It can therefore hardly be surprising that the group which many have also described as a terrorist sex cult is generally condemned by all genuine Shi’a groups, Takfiri jihadists and the majority of the world’s leftists.
The group’s primarily declared objective is to take over Iran but this has not stopped the group from committing multiple terror attacks on non-Iranian targets, including American ones. The terrorist organisation also has a history of seeking shelter from whatever state patron is willing to accommodate the group. While the MEK’s ideology represented the antithesis of Arab Socialist Ba’athism, in 1986 Iraqi President Saddam Hussein welcomed the group to Iraq where he kept them on a short leash but encouraged the group to wage attacks on The Islamic Republic of Iran with which Iraq was at war throughout the 1980s.
After the US and UK illegally overthrew Saddam and his party in 2003, the MEK was finally unleashed and began waging multiple terrorist atrocities in Iraq. In 2013, the largely pro-Iran government of Iraq finally kicked the MEK out of the country after many years of trying to do so.
Today, the terrorist group receives shelter in Albania, the impoverished west Balkan nation that can also be described as a de-facto NATO client state. Additionally, under the Trump administration the MEK is being actively supported by the US for essentially the same reasons Saddam Hussein supported them in the 1980s, 90s and early 2000s. Put simply, ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’.
Enter Al-Sadr’s coalition of the disgruntled
After fading somewhat from the political limelight in Iraq after conducting a blood-soaked insurgency against US troops, Muqtada al-Sadr is once again at the forefront of Iraqi politics as his Saairun Alliance just won a plurality of parliamentary seats in this year’s contentious Iraqi elections. While al-Sadr comes from a long line of powerful Shi’a clerics, his coalition is anything but a theocratic one. It includes the Iraqi Communist Party as well as other radical youth and feminist groups.
This coalition demonstrates that al-Sadr is nothing if not a political gambler who sought to unify disparate and cognitively dissonant groups who share in common only their general discontent at the current state of Iraqi socio-politics. In the short term, his gamble appears to have paid off.
Of course, the other note worthy aspect of al-Sadr’s politics in the context of Iraqi politics is that in spite of being a Shi’a Muslim whose family were arch enemies of Saddam Hussein, al-Sadr has always had substantial doctrinal disagreements with the leaders of Iran’s Islamic Revolution while today, his political coalition is decidedly anti-Tehran.
Long running riots in the southern Iraqi city of Basra have become ever more aggravated in recent days. In addition to the Iraqi army (which happens to be mostly Shi’a) firing on protesters (in the overwhelmingly Shi’a city of Basra) the protesters last night burnt down the Iranian consulate in the city while also burning down a hospital which served those who fought Daesh (aka ISIS) as part of the Iran backed, virtually all Shi’a Popular Mobilisation Units.
Given the fact that of all the political offices and other buildings being attacked, pro-Iranian sites are being hit the hardest while Sadarist offices have uniquely not been touched, makes it self-evident that Muqtada al-Sadr is up to his old tricks but this time with the support of his recently secured Saudi allies and his silent but obvious American patrons.
The fact that the US is backing al-Sadr via Riyadh may come as a shock to the families of Americans killed by al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, but it is no more shocking than Rudolph Giuliani or John Bolton giving gushing speeches before leaders of the MEK, a terrorist group that has American blood on its hands.
The dots begin to connect themselves
Far from being either a neo-Soviet, neo-Maoist or modern Chinese or Vietnamese style Communist Party, the Iraqi Communist Party has a history of opposing progressive Arab Nationalism while linking itself to militant anti-Arab minority groups. In this sense, the Iraqi Communist Party is in many ways heterodox in the context of traditional Arabist progressive movements whether Ba’athism, Nasserism or Gaddafi’s Third International Theory. Likewise, the other radical groups in al-Sadr’s coalition are equally strange in the context of both 20th and 21st century Arab politics.
As al-Sadr attempts to form a new governing coalition, there is now a very real worry that he might invite the MEK terror group back to Iraqi soil. At present the MEK shares all of al-Sadr’s enemies while the group’s presence in Iraq could act as a military counterweight to the power of the PMUs which remain better armed than most of al-Sadr’s supporters.
Most importantly, it can be reasonably speculated that as part of America’s deal to “rehabilitate” al-Sadr, he would have to comply with the US by helping to turn Iraq into a base from which Washington can more easily launch provocations against Iran. As it is clear that the MEK is the preferred group in the US ‘lead from behind’ strategy against Iran, the pieces of one of the strangest ideological jigsaw puzzles in recent history start to fall exactly into place.
Inviting the MEK back to Iraq would serve al-Sadr’s personal interest of having an armed terror group (something he’s no stranger to) help to fight the powerful PMUs while the group would also be far more useful to the United States if it returned to a state which borders Iran rather than simply concocting various schemes in distant Albania.
While it is unlikely that the MEK would receive a red carpet “homecoming”, if MEK terrorists do in fact begin to reappear on Iraqi soil, one can be certain that the al-Sadr/Saudi/US partnership helped to facilitate this.