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The Rise and Fall of the Mojahedin Khalq, 1987–1997

Their Survival after the Islamic Revolution and Resistance to the Islamic Republic of Iran

Dr. Ronen A. Cohen is a lecturer at the Ariel University Center of Samaria, Israel. His specialties include modern Iranian history and culture, Islamic terrorism, and clandestine international affairs. He is a book reviewer and commentator for Israeli newspapers, and a member of The Menachem Begin Institute for the Study of Underground and Resistance Movements at Bar-Ilan University.

The Mojahedin Khalq Organization is an Iranian political party that helped Khomeini’s religious sect in Iran bring about the Islamic revolution of 1979, after being at the forefront of opposition to the rule of the Shah. However, as the revolution got underway the Mojahedin, which used some elements of Mao Tse Tung’s political and warfare philosophy, were sidelined by the religious clerics and were expelled from the political arena. They responded by attacking the dominant polity through democratic means (such as political demonstrations, increasing the role of women), and later through armed resistance via Iraq, to become the most significant opposition powerbase to the current regime of Iran.

The author details the Organization’s relations with Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, European host nations, and most particularly with Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi military, and the end of war (1980–1988) negotiations between Iran and Iraq. Towards the end of its major activities, the Organization acted as little more than a cult, demanding total reverence to its leader Massoud Rajavi. Since 1997 the Organization has dissolved and depleted, and now functions at little more than a rhetoric level.

This book provides a detailed history of the Organization and its members, and addresses its complex relationship with western and international powers, most specifically the United States, in its endeavours to harness agreement to topple the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-270-9
Hardback Price: £55.00 / $85.00
Release Date: November 2008
Page Extent / Format: 240 pp. / 246 x 171 mm
Illustrated: Yes



Part I: The Organization – An Inward Look
Chapter 1: The Organization's Renewal
1. Development Outside Iran
2. The Mojahedin Outside Iran
3. The Organization's Structure and its Extensions
4. The Inner Structure
The Mojahedin's Hierarchical Structure 1965-1985
The Mojahedin's Hierarchical Structure 1985-1989
The Mojahedin's Hierarchical Structure from 1989 Onward
5. The Leadership
Massoud Rajavi
Maryam Rajavi

Chapter 2: Ideology
1. The Mojahedin's Ideological Development
2. An Innovative Ideology
3. Applying Mao Tse-Tung's Values within the Mojahedin's Ideology
4. The Mojahedin's Revolutionary Character
5. The Mojahedin's Ideological Content
The Anti-Imperialistic Propaganda
Between State and Religion
Losing Support
Denying Marxist Motives
Preventing the People's Vengefulness Against the Republic

Chapter 3: The Ideological Revolution
1. Structural Changes, Teaching Methods, Indoctrinations and Psychological
Ideological Teaching Methods Within the Organization
Indoctrination and Psychological Manipulation
2. The Internal Revolution: From Revolutionary Organization to Worshipping
Information Sources Regarding the Mojahedin
The Attitude towards Family and Marriage
Training and Goals
Martyrdom in the Eyes of the Organization
Hierarchical Advancement within the Mojahedin
Labeling within the Organization
The Organization's Future and Members who Wanted to Quit
The Organization's Future
3. Changing from a Revolutionary Organization into a Sect that Worships its Leader

Chapter 4: The Role of Women
1. Integration of Women into the Mojahedin's Ideology
2. From Theory to Pragmatism
3. The Velayat-e Faqih and Women
4. The Mojahedin and Family
5. Secrecy with the Organization

Part II: The National Liberation Army of Iran and Iraq
Chapter 5: The Mojahedin—Iraqi Relationship
1. Exit from Iran and Relocation in France
2. Iran—France Relationships and the Mojahedin's Deportation from France
3. The Gabon Crisis
4. The Mojahedin's Exit from France to Iraq
5. Iraq's Adoption of the Mojahedin
6. The Mojahedin's Arrival in Iraq

Chapter 6: The Iraqi Ba'ath Government and the Mojahedin Organization

Chapter 7: The National Liberation Army of Iran
1. The Army Establishment Stages
2. The National Liberation Army of Iran: Establishment Goals
3. The Structure of the National Liberation Army of Iran
4. The Mojahedin Intelligence Gathering
5. The Major Headquarters – The Ashraf Camp
6. The Integration of Women into the Iranian National Liberation Army
7. Financing and Equipping the National Liberation Army of Iran

Chapter 8: The Islamic Republic's Reactions to the Mojahedin's Presence in Iraq
1. Normalization Attempts
2. Iran's Activities Against the Mojahedin Throughout the Normalization Process
3. The Mojahedin's Attempts to Maintain the Diplomatic Flame between Iraq and Iran
4. Iran's Success in Defeating the Liberation Army in the International Arena

Part III: The National Council of Resistance of Iran
Chapter 9: The National Council and its Development
1. Establishment
2. Structure
The 25 National Council of Resistance of Iran Committees, and their
3. Working Rules
4. Values and Principles that Consolidated its Character
5. Women and Their rights
6. Goals and Plans
7. The Constitution and the Temporary GovernmentThe Constitution's Ten Sections
8. The Temporary Government - Plans and Missions
The First Six Months of the Temporary Government Transition Period
Action Plans and Principles against the Islamic Republic
Action Plans and Principles after the Establishment of the Temporary
Government in Iran
9. Maryam Rajavi's Presidency Proposed Changes
10. Maryam Rajavi's Manifesto, July 16, 1995
11. The National Council – its Emblem and Anthem

Chapter 10: Towards Achieving International Recognition
1. The Council's Activities in Europe and in the United States
2. Gathering Legitimization and Support in the European Diplomatic and Political Arena
3. Back to the American Arena
4. The Mojahedin's Diplomatic and Political Focus on the American Congress
5. Congress' Request to Clarify US's Policy Regarding the National Council of Resistance of Iran and the Mojahedin
6. The American State Department's Report regarding the National Council of resistance of Iran and the Mojahedin
7. Reaction to the State Department's Report
8. The Continuing Struggle Towards International Recognition
9. The Critical Dialogue
10. The Mojahedin's Struggle for the Defense of Their Image
11. The Continuous Struggle for International Support


For those who have wondered about internal opposition to the Islamic Republic of Iran, Cohen examines the Mojahedin Khalq Organization, the main opposition movement lead by Maryam Rajavi. He discusses the MKO’s organizational structure, Rajavi’s emphasis on the role of women in opposing the regime, reasons behind its shift from supporting to opposing Khomeini’s regime, exile activities in Iraq, and the West’s labelling of it as a terrorist group. Although the MKO has largely faded away, another area expert warns against counting it out given the cyclical nature of politics. Rajavi and her women fighters are pictured.
Reference & Research Book News

Since the publication of Ervand Abrahamian’s Radical Islam: The Iranian Mojahedin two decades ago, there has been little in the way of academic research into this controversial Iranian exile organization despite its highly visible public presence in the West and the ongoing political debates about its activities. This significant gap in the literature makes Ronen A. Cohen’s study a welcome contribution, focusing on a decade in which the Mojahedin’s campaign against the Islamic Republic made it the main source of external opposition to the regime.
... Those interested in the history of the Islamic Republic, Iran–Iraq relations, and the activities of opposition groups in the Middle East will no doubt benefit from Professor Cohen’s multifaceted account. Clearly written and logically organized, it helps us understand some of the complexities and challenges involved in mounting a campaign in exile as well as the changes that have taken place within the Mojahedin in the process
... In terms of sources, Cohen utilizes a range of primary and secondary material. His account draws on scores of official Mojahedin publications and testimonies from former group members, official documents from the United States, Europe, and the United Nations, and reports from the Western press as well as various Persian- and Arabic-language media outlets. Nearly thirty pages of footnotes provide those interested in further research with a useful starting point.
Naysan Rafati, University of Oxford and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Iranian Studies

The Mojahedin Khalq is a perplexing and historically important organization for anyone researching the Islamic Revolution of Iran and its aftermath. It has proved, over the years, to be one of the only durable mass movements that have continually opposed the Ayatollahs in Tehran. Given the recent interest in Iran as evidenced by numerous books, such as Ray Tayekh’s Guardians of the Revolution and Dore Gold’s Rise of a Nuclear Iran, and the demonstrations following Iran’s 2009 Presidential election, the Mojahedin Khalq deserves renewed scholarly interest.
Digest of Middle East Studies

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