The Vanished Public Support and the Ideological Revolution (11)

Ideological revolution of Mojahedin has its roots in the lack of public support inside Iran. It seems that Mojahedin have been well aware of the fact even before their internal revolution when they surfaced their opposition in the first mass movement on 20 June in 1981. Of the major causes of the degradation is the group ‘s hysterical adopting of a violent armed warfare. Mojahedin’s blind assassinations and bloody terrorist operations repelled Iranian people and made Mojahedin disappointed of availing itself of the determinative public element inside the country. It has to be noted that Mojahedin’s diplomatic shift towards European parties and organizations to procure support and their associating with the Western ultra-right wings caused its further isolation. The ideological revolution, however, was the chief surge that tossed Mojahedin down the precipice of unpopularity. Here on, from a political point of view, Mojahedin replaced the internal support with a variety of political leverages such as attempts made to escalate the existing tension between Iran and other Western states to advance the strategy of destabilizing and overthrowing the Iranian regime. From the ideological point of view, it tabooed criticism of any kind against organizational hierarchy and thwarted any possible schism and disobedience.

The dissidence of a large number of members who reproved Mojahedin’s failed strategy of relaying on alien support convinced the leaders to consider it a necessity to banish them. The initial phase of ideological revolution, the marriage of Massoud Rajavi and Maryam Azodanloo which was an obvious departure from religiously adopted conventions of Iranian culture, had to be accomplished concealed from the eyes of the public to stop further social aversion. This phase of the ideological revolution, regardless of the adverse aftermath, was in itself a commit of suicide. That is clear that the atmosphere permitted no entrance to the next phase unless Mojahedin relayed not the least on the social support. Moreover, Mojahedin’s move to Iraq is a good verification of the fact that the absolute public rejection had disillusioned the leaders and instigated the group’s bellicose nature.

Many of NCRI’s members had earlier warned the organization of the probability of losing internal support. Although they were accused of falling for the enemies’ disinformation and were stamped by many labels, it was later tacitly accentuated by the leaders that absence of public support left the organization with no other option but resorting to the ideological revolution. Ehsan Shari’ati, a detached member of NCRI, elaborating on roots of discordant political, ideological and strategic views writes:

We criticized Mojahedin of promising short-run overthrow of the Iranian regime, justifying armed warfare, terror and coup d’atat for regime change in Iran and excluding the role of masses. (1)

Hadi Shams-Haeri, once an active member of MKO, finds the roots of the absence of social support in the early years of the Iranian revolution when the organization frenetically fell back on the use of arms:

In the course of the 1979 revolution [Mojahedin] failed to be organizationally associated with people and to bring the ˜social element’ into the stage because of their resorting to application of arms and being filled with a fleeing of superiority while they were totally unfamiliar with political work. (2)

He also elaborates on MKO’s totalitarianism in seeking political power as the main reason of the lack of social support:

The majority of Mojahedin at the time lacked the needed political experience and believed that struggle meant assuming the power. As a result, from the very beginning they abandoned people and intended to seize the power by coup d’tat through infiltrating the regime and disturbing the political atmosphere. (3)

Also, he refers to Mojahedin leadership being under the illusion of rejoicing in widespread support. Rajavi’s unrealistic vision worked as a ploy for his power-seeking ambitions:

Illusionary and nai’ve imaginations of Rajavi to have the support of people and the army personnel made the group dream that in the near future they might achieve political power in Iran and anticipated the overthrow in a term of no longer than one or two months after June 20. In his “summary of one year’ Rajavi has said: ˜Mojahedin enjoy the support of nearly 40 percent of the army personnel’ and even estimated the public support to 50 percent. (4)

Such comments confirm the accuracy of Niyabati’s analyzing strategic and organizational failure of Mojahedin from 20 June 1981 up to 1984. The only difference is that Niyabati tries to relate such failures to international political transitions and an imaginary dominant repression inside Iran. However, he acknowledges the fact that the main cause for such a failure has been the lack of support, calling it in his own terms a ‘strategic bolt’:

The fact was that Mojahedin were still facing the problem of mobilizing masses for armed struggle that was known to be a locked strategic bolt and the three-year-long plan to overthrow the regime proved to a an absolute failure. (5)

Niyabati considers the occurrence of the ideological revolution as the sole solution for the survival of Mojahedin. He maintains that strategic failure of MKO as a result of the lack of internal support had to be replaced by radicalization in the form of an ideological revolution:

We had to either submit to the existing political conditions or engage in politics and changed to the position of the radicals of the left and resorted to armed warfare for the violent overthrow of the regime with all its internal and external aftermaths. (6)

The point worth noting is that Niyabati is well aware of the public reactions against MKO’s ideological revolution; however, he points to a fact that in such a condition people were of no significance for Mojahedin. It was an absolutely proven fact that ideological revolution was initiated as the sole solution to prevent the total dissolution of MKO. He maintains that the external public reactions to the ideological revolution had no legitimacy for Mojahedin and that, “the outsiders have for long lost their legitimacy in the eyes of Mojahedin” (7).

And finally he asserts that the main objects of the ideological revolution were not people or the social element; it was rather an immediate response by the leaders to an ever-increasing crisis flustering MKO from the inside. Although he makes an effort to theoretically justify such a strategy, but what is implied is that at the present time Mojahedin have to find a solution for their survival rather than elaborating on the absence of mass support. According to Niyabati, ideological revolution is the inevitable aftermath of such a strategic challenge caused by the lack of public support:

Therefore, internal ideological revolution of Mojahedin may be considered as the leadership’s advocated solution to the confronted challenges as well as a step to the next complicated phase; its short-term targets were not Iranians but Mojahedin themselves. (8)


1. Shari’ati, Ehsan; The ups and downs of National Council of Resistance. Abroad publication, p.20.

2. Shams-Haeri, Hadi; The Swamp, Abroad publication, p.17.

3. Ibid, p.6.

4. Ibid, p.12.

5. Niyabati, Bijan; A different look at the Internal Revolution of Mojahedin, 2005.

6. Ibid, p.17.

7. Ibid, p.43.

8. Ibid, p.33.

Bahar Irani – – August 17, 2007



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