How Spain’s Growing Far Right Got Support From A Radical Iranian Dissident Group

Santiago Abascal, leader of far right party Vox, waves to supporters gathered outside the party headquarters following the general election in Madrid, Sunday, April 28, 2019. A divided Spain voted Sunday in its third general election in four years, with all eyes on whether a far-right party will enter Parliament for the first time in decades and potentially help unseat the Socialist government.
Santiago Abascal, leader of far right party Vox, waves to supporters gathered outside the party headquarters following the general election in Madrid, Sunday, April 28, 2019. A divided Spain voted Sunday in its third general election in four years, with all eyes on whether a far-right party will enter Parliament for the first time in decades and potentially help unseat the Socialist government. Manu Fernandez / AP Photo
Santiago Abascal, leader of far right party Vox, waves to supporters gathered outside the party headquarters following the general election in Madrid, Sunday, April 28, 2019. A divided Spain voted Sunday in its third general election in four years, with all eyes on whether a far-right party will enter Parliament for the first time in decades and potentially help unseat the Socialist government.
Santiago Abascal, leader of far right party Vox, waves to supporters gathered outside the party headquarters following the general election in Madrid, Sunday, April 28, 2019. A divided Spain voted Sunday in its third general election in four years, with all eyes on whether a far-right party will enter Parliament for the first time in decades and potentially help unseat the Socialist government. Manu Fernandez / AP Photo

How Spain’s Growing Far Right Got Support From A Radical Iranian Dissident Group

As in much of the world in recent years, a far-right political party is gaining traction in Spain. Named Vox, the party launched its 2019 election campaign this month. Vox has faced repeated criticism for racist, sexist and homophobic policy positions. Members’ statements about Islam have been particularly inflammatory, as when Javier Ortega Smith, the party’s number two official, said publicly, “Our common enemy, the enemy of Europe, the enemy of progress, the enemy of democracy, the enemy of family, the enemy of life, the enemy of the future is called the Islamist invasion.” The reality is more complicated than right-wing Islamophobia, however. Supporters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an exiled Iranian group, are significant donors to Vox. According to the U.S. government, the NCRI is an alias of the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), an organization considered an exiled opposition to the current government of Iran. Joining Worldview to help us understand the many layers of Vox is Sohail Jannessari, whose article in Foreign Policy was titled “Spain’s Vox Party Hates Muslims—Except the Ones Who Fund It.” Jannessari is a doctoral candidate in political science at Barcelona’s Pompeu Fabra University and a contributor to BBC Persian TV and other Persian-language media.