Mojahedin’s Failed Operation and the Ideological Revolution

Although not yet translated into English, Bijan Niyabati’s “A Different Look on Mojahedin’s Ideological Revolution” contains countless evidences that challenge MKO’s adopted circumstantial decision-takings. Being an ardent advocate of MKO and the Rajavis, Niyabati has never intended to criticize the group’s strategies and the leadership flaws; rather his book maintains an absolute appreciation of the organization. The book, however, infers a source of unquestionable facts that challenge MKO in a variety of crucial phases.

Based on Niyabati’s book, the intention is to go through the organization’s ideological revolution that consequently resulted in the group’s transformation into a cult. Of the great importance is that the analyses by Niyabati and other ex-members are in some way identical; the difference lies in the fact that the former is still a ranking member of MKO while the latter are labeled as the agents of the Islamic Republic.

The failure of the operation Eternal Light (Forough Javidan) initiated challenges against Rajavi’s egocentric decision-making that led many forces of the organization to their death. Most of his critics believe that the operation was in no way correspondent with the organization’s line of strategy and that, Rajavi’s uncertain analysis of the post cease-fire situation compelled him to make a hasty decision.

In spite of claims made by Rajavi and his commanders that the operation was a great success with unbelievable military achievements, the casualties were much greater for Mojahedin to sustain. Niyabati explicitly calls the operation a great loss and defeat:

The operation Eternal Light was definitely a military failure. Through the operation, Mojahedin and Iranian modern revolutionaries lose hundreds of the best commanders of the coming revolution. (P. 82)

However, both Mojahedin and Niyabati insist on the strategic and political achievements of the operation. But it is believed that the achievements in general were nothing more than surfacing and theorizing the narrowest internal relations molded as the ideological revolution that is considered to be the “lost ring” and justification of the strategic crisis within Mojahedin. The post-operation phase was much critical and Mojahedin came to face a remarkable drop out of the members and a predominant sense of passivity among the remnants. But before these disharmonies could surface, rajavi took the control in hand and shifted to another phase of the ideological revolution to confront the non-surfaced crisis. Here are a number of analyses made by the ex-members on the operation.

The operation Eternal Light was the result of the search for an outlet out of an inevitable cul-de-sac rather than to be a strategic necessity. An analysis of the operation from the political and tactical point of view and Rajavi’s rationalization of the operation indicates that the move was the outcome of a desperate situation that had completely immobilized Mojahedin both in political and military fronts. A group that had once concentrated all its campaign marrow in a form of militia warfare and had already suffered great loss, suddenly and unbelievably had shifted to adopt a classic military tack to start a big cross-border operation. In fact, Mojahedin hurried to take advantage of a no-war no-peace situation created after the ceasefire. Niyabati explains the situation as this:

In the created interval following the acceptance of the ceasefire and after the deployment of the UN forces and the closure of the borders, the Iraqi army, in order to gain the upper hand in the upcoming peace negotiations, started slight and scattered over-the-borders military operations and inflicted heavy losses over the body of the regime’s military machine. It was a real chaos in the fronts and many Iranian forces were putting down the arms to flee. The acceptance of the ceasefire had damaged the regime’s dignity. (P. 78)

In spite of Mojahedin’s earlier insistence on peace and ceasefire, the group never anticipated that Iran would consent to ceasefire and was dreaming a long-lasting war that preciously troubled the water for Mojahedin to fish. Based on rajavi’s own analysis of the situation that discarded the possibility of any peace agreement, niyabati says:

The Mojahedin’s leadership utterly shocked by the fait accompli (acceptance of ceasefire by Iran) decided to counteract. It was a truth that in the strategy of the modern liberation war, no room was left at all neither for peace nor for ceasefire. (p. 79)

Regardless of the fact that at the end Rajavi made the claim that the operation was merely a political move propelled by a feeling of self-sacrifice, the move was mainly planned, under the illusion that Iran was vulnerable, to topple the regime. It was not long after sacrificing a great number of the forces that Rajavi, to avoid shouldering the responsibility of the failure, started analyzing the operation as being political and justifying the defeat. He condemned his forces of being a slave of inner and outward inclinations which worked as the alibi for putting the next phase of the ideological revolution into practice. In fact, the failure granted him the best opportunity to sharply reprimand the forces and to announce that he has found the recourse to topple the regime with the same remainder of the forces.

The second phase of the ideological revolution started from the point where Mojahedin came to recognize an urgency to have further control over the forces. It was much because the group could no more rely on the strategic “social element”, namely the masses, to assume power under the pretext of the revolution of the masses. As Niyabati sums up:

From this point on (the operation) Mojahedin develop a quantitative perception concerning revolution, the vanguard role and its association with the masses. From now on, the revolution is no more an issue for the masses. (p. 86)

Explicitly evident in the analyses of the ex-members, Mojahedin are bankrupt in social support. Maryam Rajavi, well aware of such a crucial lack, sees no other choice but to rely on the remainder of the forces when she says “with this same Liberation Army we can and must overthrow the regime of Khomeini”.

Expounding on Maryam Rajavi’s new position concerning the regime change, Niyabati thus depicts the potentialities of the Liberation Army:

With this noted sentence uttered by Maryam Rajavi following her promotion to the second rank in the leadership, the responsibility of overthrowing the regime was officially rendered to the vanguard. That is the point where the function of the army that had the mission to break the spell of repression and to pave the way for the mass uprising comes to an end and the army itself bears the vocation of overthrow. (p. 86)

Niyabati believes that the second reason behind the ideological revolution was to deprive the forces of any sense of psychological and mental confidence and to establish a new system of revolutionary values. The remainders of the operation Eternal Light could neither be reorganized nor could possibly be employed in the new strategic path. Furthermore, they could not be replaced as they were old revolutionary veterans. The solution, as Niyabati points out, was either a shift in the strategy or making the forces pass through an ideolog:

Now the circumstances compelled Mojahedin to adopt a new course. In respect to the existing condition neither the pivotal role of the Liberation Army could be of any significance nor could it continue to be national but ideological. (p. 86)

It was a necessity that could only emerge out of a forcibly tensed relation, in contrast to the previously loose context, within Mojahedin. As Niyabati points out:

Thus, the ambiance of the post-operation of compels Mojahedin to abandon the policy of extension to get tense. Once more Mojahedin establishment enters a new phase of its internal ideological revolution. (p. 87)

The ideological revolution that initiated in 1984 to end the leadership council and to promote Rajavi to an uncontested leader, evolves into an expanded system of heretical values that affects the innermost layers of Mojahedin’s internal as well as political relations.

Obviously, because of this novel system of ideological values in general, the extent of changes includes all the acts and reacts and the ideological regulation of the individuals with the organization in all aspects of political and social contexts. (p. 23)

Majority of detached members represent nearly the same aforementioned causes that advanced the second phase of the ideological revolution following the failure in the operation Eternal Light. In fact, most agree that it was the very start point for transforming Mojahedin into a cult.

All references are from Bijan Niyabati’s “A Different Look on Mojahedin’s Ideological Revolution”

Bahar Irani – – June 2007


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