11 November 2019 21:02
"We wanted to cover the ages where kids are moving around a lot, where they're growing quickly, they're going to holidays and parties and fun events, [but] it becomes both time-consuming and expensive for moms," she said. Spain's far-right party Vox launched its 2019 election campaign this month in the tiny town of Covadonga. Vox's racist, homophobic, and sexist policies had already provided plenty of ammunition for its critics and rival parties; the claims that Vox had been established with the help of Iranian money in 2013 was less expected. Documents leaked to the Spanish newspaper El País show that almost 1 million euros donated to Vox between its founding in December 2013 and the European Parliament elections in May 2014 came via supporters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an exiled Iranian group. But the MEK also happens to be a former Islamist-Marxist organization that was only taken off the U.S. list of terrorist organizations in 2012—raising the question of why supporters of such a group would want to back an Islamophobic, hard-right Spanish party like Vox. Dispatch | Ricardo Ginés Spanish Nationalists Hate Separatists, Not Immigrants Spain has long resisted the rise of the far-right, because Basque and Catalan separatism animated nationalist passions—but the rise of Vox in Andalusia shows that the country is not immune from xenophobic politics.
With Vox poised to win more than 10 percent of the vote in this weekend's Spanish elections, the party could end up propping up a new right-wing government, as happened in regional elections in Spain's southern region of Andalusia in December. It would be the first time a Spanish government has depended on a far-right party since Francisco Franco, and this would send shockwaves through Spain's entire political system. The country was now ruled by parties and people the MEK had helped suppress, friends of Iran's Islamic Republic, and a United States at the height of its global war on terrorism and which had designated the MEK as a terrorist group. Hassan Heyrani, a former member of the MEK's political department who defected in 2018, told Foreign Policy about group rituals and routines designed to completely subjugate the individual self, including members' sexual lives and the slightest hint of free thinking, while forcing near-religious worship of MEK leader Massoud Rajavi. And supporters of the NCRI provided the funding needed to launch the right-wing party and contest the 2014 European elections, according to El País.
And when he left," Espinosa added, "when the campaign was over, they never came back." Like the NCRI and MEK, Vidal-Quadras did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this article. The conservative PP, which would likely need Vox's support to have any chance of forming a right-wing coalition government after the election, has expressed concerns about Vox's funding but has stopped short of a Senate investigation, instead urging Spain's Court of Auditors to investigate Vox. Espinosa told Foreign Policy that the party has presented all the related documents to the Court of Auditors. But as one former member of the MEK executive committee told Foreign Policy, the financial resources the group gained under Saddam Hussein have likely run out—which suggests that it may have another source of funding today. They facilitate," said Massoud Khodabandeh, who once served in the MEK's security department; Khodabandeh defected in 1996, a year before the MEK was designated by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization. Once the MEK was given a safe haven in Albania after U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, with no U.S. Army to defend the group's camp and the Iraqi government wanting them gone, one of the ranking members of the political department told Heyrani that Saudi Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud had finally laid a "golden egg." "Group supporters claimed the money came from the contributions of ordinary Iranians in exile, but the sums seemed far too great," wrote Benjamin, the former State Department counterterrorism official, who added that some believed Arab governments of the Persian Gulf to be behind the MEK "lucre," as he put it.
Even so, a fringe party in Spain just getting off the ground does not seem to be a natural destination for supporters of an organization dedicated to overthrowing the Iranian government, much less a party whose ideology was not known to the NCRI and MEK at the time of those donations, according to an NCRI spokesperson quoted in the El País report. As Benjamin wrote in 2016, the removal of the MEK from the list of foreign terrorist organizations ended "any hope of gathering more information from MEK proponents on their financial relations with the group, or where all that money came from." Eli Hazan, foreign affairs director of Likud removed his tweet in support of the right wing Vox party, standing to gain seats in the upcoming Spanish elections. By far the novelty of these elections is the emergence of far-right party Vox, which burst onto the scene in December regional polls in southern Andalusia and looks set to make its first-ever entrance into the national parliament.