MARIAM RAJAVIAbout the Current Crisis Between The WEST And IRAN :What to do and How to do it

Posted in Iran | 19-Feb-06 | Author: Hichem Karoui

Mariam Rajavi: "The third option: democratic change."

“Eighteen years of secrecy, three-plus years of negotiations and manoeuvring by the United States, Europe and Russia have seriously imperilled the security of the world”, says Mariam Rajavi in a press briefing held on January 31, 2006 in the Parisian suburb, Auvers-sur-Oise. “I warn that either the Security Council acts quickly or the Mullahs will have the bomb”.

On the eve of a press briefing we managed to have a conversation with her, and we asked for more details about the ongoing crisis. She kindly accepted to give us some insightful thoughts.

Little is known outside Middle East observers and experts’ spheres about the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCR)I and its elect-president. Many people do not even know that there is indeed a well-organized opposition to the regime of Mullahs. Mariam Rajavi is issued from a middle class family in Tehran. She began her activities during the anti-Shah movement in early 1970s, as one of the leaders of the student movement while studying at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran. After the 1979 Revolution, she became a leading figure in the social section of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI). At the time, the PMOI emerged as the principal opposition movement to the clerical regime. The PMOI is a pivotal force in the NCRI. In Mrs Rajavi’s eyes, it is actually “ the antithesis to Islamic fundamentalism and an important political and cultural bulwark against its infiltration into Iraq”. For her, it is just unbelievable that some respected institutions in the West disregard the PMOI or mistake it for a Marxist or a terrorist organisation.

In 1997, the U.S. State Department placed the PMOI on the list of foreign terrorist organizations. Some observers said then that it was a goodwill gesture to Mohamed Khatami, who was Iran’s new president, since he was considered as a moderate or a reformist. Yet, following the new developments, President Bush has acknowledged the key role of the resistance movement in exposing the secret nuclear programme. On February 17, 2005, M. Bush said: “ Remember, this all started when …we found them enriching uranium in an undeclared fashion. And it happened because somebody told on them. It was an Iranian group that brought forth the information. And it was clear that they were enriching, and yet they hadn’t told anybody, which leaves you to wonder why they hadn’t told anybody. And so you can understand our suspicions”.

In France, Mrs Rajavi found both aspects of western dealings with the Iranian resistance: about two years ago, the French police rounded up the NCRI headquarters charging the militants of offences that have never been proved. Yet, inside the French establishment, the NCRI has ostensibly many supporters.

It is in 1982 that Mrs Rajavi left Iran for France, where she is still living. In 1993, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) - the Iranian Resistance’s parliament as it is dubbed - elected Mariam as Iran’s future president for the transitional period following the Mullah’s overthrow. The NCRI is a coalition of democratic forces seeking a republic based on the separation of religion and state. Many of its members (half, according to some sources) are women. With the membership of religious and ethnic minorities, as well as different political tendencies, the NCRI is believed to be representing the Iranian national spectrum.

Mrs Mariam Rajavi thinks today that there is a way out of the present deadlock between Iran and the international community. It is not a fate to have only to choose between accepting a nuclear Iran or a war. The third option as she believes is : democratic change. She thinks that such a change is quite possible, without any foreign intervention, and just relying on the Iranian people’s own forces. “Actually, she says, the foreign powers – particularly the western – have so far hampered the regime change”. Thus, she reminds us that the EU-3 official proposal to the Mullahs in October 2004 stipulated that if Teheran restrains the nuclear program, Europe would continue to keep the Mojahedin in the terrorist list. “This was the biggest concession that granted the Mullahs immunity from change”.

The point is that the NCRI, thanks to its network of supporters and militants inside the country, was able to expose the Mullahs’ nuclear project as soon as the summer 2002, and to reveal the main nuclear sites, the plans for uranium enrichment and plutonium production, thus warning the world against the ambitions of Tehran’s rulers that remained 18 years long in secrecy. Mrs Rajavi regrets that even with this knowledge, the international community stayed three years and half rocked between shock, hesitation, resignation and unbelievable illusions about the possibility of bringing the Mullahs to reason if they could get a deal with the West : i.e. the promise that their principal opponents gathered under the NCRI banner would be outlawed and considered as terrorists. Meanwhile, the Mullah were winning time and getting every day closer to the bomb. According to Mrs Rajavi, it was whereas the West was entangled into an internal debate about “how to deal with the Iranians”, that Tehran completed Isfahan nuclear site and Arak’s heavy water plant, both of which were in preliminary stages when first revealed. Any observer may state how far this debate has gone and how controversial it has grown. Some signs are quite amazing : for whereas the Iranian opposition organisation called Mojahedin of the people and the NCRI have been supported by several western parliaments and MP, American, French and British included, other official institutions – like the State Department – ignored the meetings between Congressmen and Iranian opposition in exile and preferred to keep the Mojahedin on the black list of F.T.O, thus sending a blow to one of the main factions of the Iranian dissidence, which could only be “well considered” in Tehran.

The fact is that by the end of next year, according to Mariam Rajavi, the Mullahs would be able to produce plutonium that could be used in making the bomb. “The regime has currently prepared Natanz to house 5000 centrifuges, which have already been manufactured. They have also built and stockpiled missiles with a 1500-2000 km range that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads”.

When asked about whether a military intervention seems to her a solution for the current crisis, Mariam Rajavi replies that war is not an alternative to accommodating Tehran : “Eight years of Western concessions to the regime in order to strengthen Khatami gave Khameini (the Supreme leader and the real ruler of Iran behind the president façade) the opportunity to put in power the most extremist factions and remove all obstacles toward acquiring nuclear weapons and dominating Iraq”.

And thoughtfully she adds: “to bring about change, we ask the West neither for money, nor weapons. If the West stops giving concessions to the Mullahs, petro-dollars will not fill their coffers, apathy against human rights abuses will be ended, and change will be within reach if unjust western restrictions on the Resistance are removed”.

To summarize Mrs Rajavi’s message to the international community, four steps are required:

  1. Removing the terror tag from the People’s Mojahedin of Iran and extending support to the National Council of Resistance of Iran.

  2. Immediate decision against the regime over the nuclear issue by the UN Security Council.

  3. Imposition of oil, arms, technological and diplomatic sanctions.

  4. Investigating the atrocities of the clerical regime and its crimes inside and outside Iran in an International Tribunal.

Hichem Karoui is WSN Editor France.