What about mojAhedin-e Khalgh?
For over thirty years, I have written many critics of MojAhedin-e Khalgh Organization, from the time of Hanif-Nejad to the present. Before the Revolution, I wrote critics of the works of mojAhedin's founders, works like ShenAkht (Theory of Knowledge) and eghtesAd (Economics) but I also condemned that part of MojAhedin M.L., who committed atrocities against Sharif Vaghefi and others.
And after the Revolution and particularly after the 30th of Khordad of 1360, I have written extensive critics of mojAhedin's move to Iraq, state ownership in their program, the "Islamic" tag of the ideal republic in their program, the cult-like practices of their organization, and all other aspects of the program they have been advocating for future of Iran in the last 20 years :
I am not writing this article as another critic of mojAhedin, and here I would like to look objectively at what the reality of mojAhedin is today, to express my view as to how I think the Iranian opposition should deal with mojAhedin *today*.
Please see the Postscript (P.S.) of this article to see a summary of my own views on various topics, because I know there are dishonest people who would quickly label me monarchist or MKO or Zionist or whatever they can think of, when they do not like what I write, and the noted sources attached are for anyone to read for themselves, to see my standpoint on the relevant political topics.
Now let's go back to the topic of MojAhedin-e Khalgh Organization. We all know of the grave mistakes of mojAhedin after the Revolution. We all know of their sudden action of taking arms on 30th of Khodad of 1360 in meydoone Ferdowsi in Tehran, without informing other forces of opposition, and how their action caused members of many other democratic groups to get killed. We all know mojAhedin's gravest mistake of going to Iraq and staying there during all those years of Iran-Iraq War. And we know about their cultish organizational practices and their statist program which caused the failure of NCRI.
Then the question is why mojAhedin did not collapse after these many years, and after all these grave mistakes and after all the critics levied at them and why mojAhedin is still the strongest organization of Iranian opposition. In fact, outside of Kurdestan, mojAhedin is the only real organization of opposition in Iran, and if IRI was going to collapse tomorrow, they are the only force that can take power. And yes, one may wonder why?
The reality is that all these years, only two forces relentlessly raised the flag of overthrowing the Islamic Republic. The first one was mojAhedin and the second one was the Monarchists. The latter was unable to attract the kind of people who are willing to give up all they have to achieve the goal of overthrowing the regime. So basically mojAhedin organization became the only place for those who were the most serious about sacrificing all they have for the goal of overthrowing the regime.
I think the above is a reality that is missed in all critics of mojAhedin. Those who joined mojAhedin did not join it to go and work for Saddam Hossein. They joined it because they wanted to overthrow IRI. They were the people who wanted to sacrifice their money, well-being, and life to achieve their goal of regime change in Iran.
Another related question that nobody asks is that why Khomeini decided to break up with mojAhedin and call them monAafegh to wipe them out? It was not because of them being pro working class or because of being radical, although they did not hesitate to fight to achieve even smallest gains in power from the first day after the Revolution.
Nonetheless, basically there was not much of a difference between the program of Khomeini and that of mojAhedin, and it is important to note that mojAhedin were not the ones who broke the relation. I think the answer to why is very simple. Before the Revolution, Khomeini counted on mojAhedin a lot more than the clergy because the main part of clergy still was with the Shah. But after the Revolution, Khomeini had to choose between two organizations.
One organization was the traditional organization of Shi'a clergy ,with all its emAm jome's (Friday Prayer Clergy Leads), to run every city and village, and the second organization was the non-traditional organization of mojAhedin which rapidly grew in the first two years after the Revolution. Thus it was obvious that just like the Shah, Khomeini saw the former traditional organization of clergy as a proven structure to run, and with VelAyate Faghih approved, he took the role of the Shah but sitting on top of AstAne Ghodse Razavi, Feyzieh, and all the network of mosques and other traditional Shi'a organizations to run the country, and thus Mojahdein's *organization* became a competitor of that traditional organization and Khomeini made his choice to suppress mojAhedin.
Here is how on one hand traditional organization of Shi'a became the embodiment of state in Iran, and ironically by its intention to uproot mojAhedin, IRI made Mojahdein the focus for all those who wanted the overthrow of IRI. And this IRI versus Mojahdein defined the main battle of Iran for over 20 years.
Today most of the IRI opposition has reached the conclusion that Islamic Republic is not reformable and must go. As noted, this is what monarchists and mojAhedin have been saying during all these years, and mojAhedin have been sacrificing their lives to achieve this goal. I do not think even 5 percent of the people in other groups of Iranian opposition are as much dedicated to this goal, as the members of mojAhedin, in their commitment to the elimination of Islamic Republic, and when faced with a brutal Mediaeval regime, the final answer is how many people are really willing to sacrifice their lives and wellbeing to achieve a regime change, when facing a regime which is not going to leave on its own, and is ready to kill to the last of opposition to stay in power.
Even at the time of the Shah, contrary to the fairy tales around, the regime fell by those who sacrificed themselves in front of the army guns. I personally remember the riots in Yazd and Kashan almost a year before the Revolution when the Shah's soldiers were shooting at people and the demonstrators from the Mosque were still going forward while being shot. This is at the time of the chehellehs (40-day sequential anniversaries starting with Ghom).
Now today, can we see any other force that has among its followers that many dedicated people willing to go in front of the gun. Of course, forces like Jebhe Democratic of Tabarzadi are sincere forces that have come out of the Students Movement of recent years, but they are still a very small organization in comparison to mojAhedin, and frankly others including all the monarchist, jebhe melli, and leftists are nothing organizationally, to be able to take power in Iran, or to hold power in Iran after the regime change.
I believe this is the reality of mojAhedin's strength. Now in this article I did not repeat my critics of mojAhedin, which I have written enough when I even suggested dissolving mojAhedin organization to open the way for progress of Iranian movement, because unfortunately so many of the most sincere and most dedicated Iranians of the opposition are with mojAhedin, whereas the current structure and program of mojAhedin at best can make a Baathist alternative for Iran, a Baathi regime with more Islamic elements than the Baath of Iraq or Syria.
Such a future is not what Iranian people desire for and it would be another outcome like the Islamic Revolution, where the plans of those who were the most dedicated to the regime change, was not a plan of democracy and progress, and was a retrogressive plan. Then what can be done about this situation short of dissolving mojAhedin, and definitely the current top brass of mojAhedin would resist any true liquidation.
I think the alternative is to start a reform movement in mojAhedin. I think the only way to get mojAhedin to become an effective force in the Iran' upcoming change of regime, is to start a reform program inside mojAhedin, and push for it from both inside and outside. I think other forces of opposition, should set up human rights conditions, as a requirement for any cooperation with mojAhedin.
I think those inside mojAhedin who see the same needs, should become sincere reformers inside mojAhedin, and those outside, should even push mojAhedin's leadership, to open its prisons and let international and Iranian observers to visit its camps in Iraq and elsewhere. Progressive groups should ask to review the practices and processes within mojAhedin as a condition for any cultural cooperation or for any common action in demonstrations, rallies, etc. All parts of UDHR should be reviewed in interviews with their members and direct access must be demanded.
I also think the democratic Western governments should use human rights conditions as a requirement for establishing relations with mojAhedin. MojAhedin have a very strong interest to be recognized by the Western states. I think this is an opportunity to ask them for human rights condition, and it can be of mutual benefit. There is nothing achieved by calling them a terrorist organization, or punishing them for their actions against the U.S., which belong to the Shah's time. MojAhedin are the main force of Iranian opposition and it is best to help this force to go towards reform and democracy than constantly banning them.
On one side mojAhedin is the biggest organization of Iranian opposition, and on the other hand it is a legitimate concern for the rest of the opposition to see them commit to democracy, secularism, and human rights, By allowing independent observers to check their processes and their sites, mojAhedin will help themselves and others. For example, Islamic cover for women must be checked thoroughly and independently rather than getting the verdict of their leadership which says that all those women wearing the scarf do it on their choice. A complete check list with similar items should be developed to monitor reform within mojAhedin.
I do not think just writing critics of mojAhedin will answer the needs of today's IRI alternative. The same way that just negh-zadan (nagging) about IRI is not enough anymore. The goal must be *taking power* by progressive forces committed to democracy and human rights and 90% of mojAhedin are people who want democracy, secularism and human rights and want the end to the Islamic Republic.
So I think it is now time to set conditions for reform of mojAhedin. This is also to the benefit of those in mojAhedin's leadership who care for democracy and human rights, because those of them who believe on a modern 21st Century democratic organization can show their belief by internally leading the way for reform of mojAhedin and hopefully the reformers in mojAhedin's leadership will be more sincere than the so-called reformers of IRI government, who after these many years, still think democracy means democracy for the Islamists, and even non-Islamic groups that collaborate with them from abroad, cannot have their own offices in Iran and do not have their own representatives in IRI's parliament, and their papers cannot be published inside the country, where their own so-called reformist president has been ruling for six years!
Sam Ghandchi, Publisher
February 20, 2003
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My own views on on a number of relevant political topics, to avoid any misunderstanding of the above article:
I am not a supporter of the left, and in fact I am a critic of the left and have written a lot in the last 25 years criticizing the left:
I am a futurist and the futurists are people like Daniel Bell or Alvin Toffler, and here are links to articles that I have written about my views on future, futurism and Iran:
And, I support good relations between Iran and the West:
Nonetheless, I am a critic of IRI lobbyists and I believe any relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran should be contingent on IRI’s observation of human rights:
And I am not a monarchist and my views of Iranian 1979 Revolution and of monarchy are:
Furthermore, in the above and also in the article below, I have explained why Shi’a clergy should be kept out of state offices in Iran for any democratic state to become a reality in Iran:
And in the following article, I have elaborated on my own understanding of Modern Democracy:
And I have condemned the violations of human rights in Iran of Islamists from the start, whether towards Iranians such as Bakhtiar and Foruhars, or towards non-Iranians such as Salman Rushdie or WTC:
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