Iran Table of Contents
In the early 1970s, supporters of Khomeini decided to create the Mojahedin movement to organize operations against the shah's government. Initial demands made by Mojahedin leaders, who included clerical officials like Hashemi-Rafsanjani, covered such points as the cancellation of all security agreements with the United States; expropriation of multinational corporations; nationalization of agricultural and urban land, banks, and large industries; administration of the army and other institutions by people's councils; creation of a "people's army"; regional autonomy for Iran's ethnic minorities; and various measures to benefit workers and peasants. Unlike other anti-shah organizations, the Mojahedin channeled its efforts into gaining supporters and developing an effective party network. The members were not ideologically inspired by outside sources but focused on strong nationalistic arguments and attacked the shah and his perceived abuses. By 1979 the membership of the Mojahedin had reached a record high of 25,000, and it had hundreds of thousands of supporters. The movement frequently mobilized these masses against the shah.
The organization fell out of favor immediately after the Revolution, however, when its new leader, Masud Rajavi, boycotted the referendum on the new Constitution and advocated the total separation of the religious establishment and the state. Khomeini considered this a calculated and direct challenge to the IRP and the revolutionary regime. Rumors spread that the Mojahedin organization was a pawn of foreign powers, especially the United States. In response, the Mojahedin launched its own anti-Khomeini campaign by calling on the government to purify the Revolution.
President Bani Sadr supported the Mojahedin. When he lost the support of Khomeini, Bani Sadr sought refuge with Mojahedin leaders and was smuggled out of Iran, along with Rajavi and other senior representatives. In July 1981, the two leaders announced the formation of the National Council of Resistance (NCR) and launched a campaign to overthrow the Khomeini regime. From its headquarters in France, the NCR recruited additional support both within and outside Iran and welcomed ethnic minority leaders to its ranks. Its published charter was almost identical to the program of the Mojahedin. Partly to satisfy its diverse constituency and partly to distinguish itself from the Khomeini regime, the NCR offered a new agenda that reflected special concern for the interests of the lower middle class. In its attempt to gain the support of minor civil servants, shopkeepers, artisans, and small merchants, it adopted a slightly more moderate position than the one the Khomeini government had espoused concerning private property. The charter also promised to respect individual liberties, "except for persons identified with the shah's or Khomeini's regime," and guaranteed special rights for ethnic minorities, particularly the Kurds.
A score of other promises were made, including the return of land to farmers who would, however, be encouraged to consolidate their holdings in collective farms; the increase of available housing, education, and health services; the guarantee of equality for women; and the establishment of a "democratic army" in which the rank and file would be consulted on decisions and selections of officers. Yet, these promises could not be implemented because the NCR was not in power. The organization had to operate inside Iran, and the process strained the leadership's unity; disagreements over goals eventually led to the dissolution of the NCR. By March 1984, Bani Sadr and Kurdish leaders withdrew from the coalition. The French government asked Rajavi to leave France in July 1986. The Mojahedin set up their headquarters in Baghdad, whence they continued to launch military and propaganda offensives against the Khomeini regime.
In June 1987, Rajavi announced the formation of the Iranian National Army of Liberation, open to non-Mojahedin members, that would escalate attacks. Subsequently, Mojahedin sources claimed to have set up military training camps near the war front and to have launched numerous attacks against Pasdaran outposts. The Mojahedin has also been active in Western Europe and the United States; it has organized numerous rallies, distributed anti-Khomeini literature, and recruited Iranians living abroad (see Opposition Political Parties in Exile , ch. 4).
A unit of the Iranian National Army of Liberation celebrates a victory over Iranian forces
in Khuzestan Provinc
Courtesy Iran Liberation
Data as of December 1987
Iran Table of Contents