Flight to Iraq, a Pass out of the Impasse

On 7 June 1986 Massoud Rajavi took an unexpected move; he left Paris for Iraq. It was the beginning of a new political phase for Mojahedin organization. Some of Mojahedin’s allies that were dismayed at Rajavi’s earlier publicized meeting with Tariq Aziz, Iraq’s deputy prime minister, in January 1983, when Iran-Iraq war was at its most intense, and took a cautious side to join the National Council of Resistance strongly denounced Rajavi’s move to fly to Iraq. It was a crucial move for Mojahedin, for it had sustained overall defeat inside Iran and moved on the verge of total dispersion. It had failed in its attempts to represent as a legitimate democratic alternative and a number of influential allies like Kurdistan Democratic Party detached from the council in objection to Rajavi’s hegemonic predomination. The detachment cost Mojahedin a lot because Kurdistan granted it a potential citadel to shift its warfare tactic of urban guerilla to a region bound tactic.

Successive failures had convinced Mojahedin that urban guerilla warfare was a failed tactic and inapt for overthrowing the Islamic Republic, but Rajavi’s tenacious insist on the tactic led the group to face more challenges besides separation of insiders. Bijan Nyabati, a left member of the National Council of Resistance, talking on Mojahedin’s failure in both internal and external fronts writes:

The year 1983 was the decisive year in all political, military, strategic, and ideological stages. Political, military, and armed resistance cul-de-sac, and the proven inability to overthrow the regime in short-term in late 1982, proved to be impossible through 1983, forced two options on Mojahedin. [1]

Talking on the political dead-ends following the raised tensions inside the resistance he writes:

It was even worse in political stage. Mojahedin’s failure to overthrow the regime in short-term and to integrate, claiming to be the sole democratic alternative, anti-monarch and anti-cleric political parties put heavy pressure from the inside and outside on Mojahedin. [2]

He further explains about the growing number of critics that precipitated Mojahedin into a dead-end:

Out of the council, an increasing process of antagonism against Mojahedin that had emerged through 1982 and had reached its peak in 1983, formed into an overwhelming confrontation with Mojahedin in 1984. [3]

Rajavi’s meeting with Tariq Aziz in 1983 was in fact a preliminary struggle to break an opening out of the impasse which was accomplished by his official flight to Iraq in 1986. Nyabati believes that in Rajavi-Tariq Aziz’ first meeting, they resolved on Rajavi’s transfer to Iraq which was postponed for some reasons. Although Mojahedin abstinently believed that the move to Iraq was the outcome of international pressure and the French government was persuaded to expel Mojahedin as a good-will gesture to improve Franco-Iranian relations, but the move to Iraq was the only solution to overcome all existing problems threatening the body of the organization.

Another crucial challenge Mojahedin had to face was a possible inter-organizational schism. As Nyabati writes:

It was a prepared condition only if one out of many members of the time’s political bureau or central committee moved on a different path and overtly questioned the failed guerilla armed struggle. Among the other lower-rankings, problem-makers like Parviz Yaqubi and Saeed Shahsavandi and so were enough to sound the alarm. [4]

Rajavi’s flight to Iraq was the product of a failed strategy that believed application of terror was the shortest way to succeed to political power. Rajavi’s unrealistic analyses based on false information had raised doubts about Rajavi’s competence and his armed strategy to overthrow the regime:

In fact, in spite of the members’ commitment and devotion and impressive record of heroism among the leading cadres, main members and sympathizers, the issue of overthrow had remained an unsolved problem at the end of the promised three-year period. [5]

Rajavi’s collusion with Iraq frustrated the hops that Mojahedin would reconsider about its failed armed tactic and completely dissolved the remainder of legitimacy among other opposition groups and instigated a new phase of violent, harsh inter-organizational confrontation. It was the beginning of a disparaging retrogression to collaborate with the nation’s enemy. Now it was restricted to take dictated steps according to fluctuating changes in Iraq the region, in general. Operation Eternal Light, acting as mercenary forces for Iraq, especially in suppression pf Iraq Kurds, and more and more were all the cost Mojahedin paid for its collusion with Saddam Hussein. The question is was the cost imposed on Mojahedin or it knowingly consented to bear the heavy price of ambitions to win power struggle?

Of course, well aware of Iraq’s hostile attitude, Mojahedin had anticipated what awaited it in Iraq. However, it never dreamed to be stuck there to face a desperate situation the same as 1983. The internal ideological revolution was devised to assist Mojahedin out of the newly encountered cul-de-sac, a resolution to put an end to challenging crisis of leadership in the organization. That is to say, it is no more the leadership who has to be blamed for the failures but the members and sympathizers have to shoulder the blame of mistakes made by the leadership. While out of the organization Mojahedin poses eager to lean towards the right, inside it moves to radicalize the ultimate left. In other words, the ideological revolution is the last imposed end-product of its move to Iraq.



[1]. Nyabati, Bijan; A different look on Mojahedin Khalq’s ideological revolution, 17.

[2]. Ibid, 16.

[3]. Ibid, 19.

[4]. Ibid, 21.

[5]. Ibid, 18.

mojahedin.ws    Omid Puoya    7 June 2006 


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