UB Publishes Monograph on Iranian Politics
The UB College of Public Affairs published the University’s first monograph, The Mujahedin-e Khalq: Shackled by a Twisted History by Ambassador Lincoln P. Bloomfield Jr., in spring 2013. Ivan Sascha Sheehan, assistant professor in the college’s School of Public and International Affairs, penned the book’s foreword and worked closely with Bloomfield—chairman of the board at the Stimson Center, a nonproﬁt, nonpartisan think tank focusing on global peace and security challenges—to coordinate publication.
“For those who are unfamiliar with Mujahedin-e Khalq, they are the primary opposition to clerical rule in Iran,” Sheehan says. “They renounced violence in 2001 and have emerged as a fierce critic of the Iranian regime on human rights and other matters.
“But the Iranian government persists in calling it a ‘terrorist organization.’ When one uses language designed to delegitimize, all discussions are foreclosed. The problem is that in the academic community, we have to deal with facts, not propaganda.”
The monograph is the most convincing and compelling correction of the case against MEK that Sheehan, who focuses on Iranian politics as an area of research specialization, says he has seen. He notes that some 4,000 copies have been distributed to congressional and White House staff, those working in the intelligence community and others. Sheehan adds that over the years, he has seen a shift in the discourse in Washington, D.C., with many who were previously reluctant to pay any attention to this group now taking a second look, especially in light of the increasing frustration concerning nuclear discussions with Iran.
“Today the members of MEK are being held at a refugee camp near Baghdad and [are] repeatedly attacked,” Sheehan says. “While the monograph’s aim was to present the facts, we are hopeful that the next step will be to protect the 3,000-plus individuals with political asylum in the United States.”
The monograph’s publication was funded entirely by private donations totaling about $40,000, and as neither of the authors accepted compensation for their work, proceeds have been donated in perpetuity to the College of Public Affairs.