UPI: The charismatic leader of the Iranian opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Maryam Rajavi, whose at times enigmatic Mojahedeen-e-Khalq have been accused of everything from terrorism to Marxism to being a secretive sect, discusses the MeK, the situation in Iran and the future of her country in an exclusive interview with Claude Salhani, International Editor with United Press International. United Press International
By CLAUDE SALHANI
UPI International Editor
AUVERS-SUR-OISE, France, June 26 (UPI) — The charismatic leader of the Iranian opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Maryam Rajavi, whose at times enigmatic Mojahedeen-e-Khalq have been accused of everything from terrorism to Marxism to being a secretive sect, discusses the MeK, the situation in Iran and the future of her country in an exclusive interview with Claude Salhani, International Editor with United Press International. The interview was conducted at her home in the French town of Auvers-sur-Oise. The following are excerpts of a long conversation with Rajavi, officially, president-elect of the NCRI.
United Press International: You have long strived to get the MeK off the U.S. and European terrorist lists. What more could you accomplish if the MeK were taken off these lists?
RAJAVI: Being on the terror list is the result of a policy of appeasement of the mullahs’ regime by Western governments. As far as the mullahs were concerned, listing the MeK as a terrorist organization sent a message to the Iranian people. It told them that they should not even have the right to even think of freedom and democracy in their country because they are supporting a dictatorship, because even Europe is behind the mullahs. That policy has totally failed.
UPI: How do you feel about the West giving the mullahs almost all they want in negotiating over the nuclear issue?
RAJAVI: These concessions have emboldened the mullahs’ regime. It made them further their rogue behavior. This is the result of the policies of Western governments. There is no will in the West to stand up against their behavior and so they continue to blackmail and make threats and impose their demands on the international community. That’s how they perceive it. And that is a major political miscalculation by the West. The mullahs are incapable of reform. They are taking advantage of mistakes the West is making. So imagine the day when the mullahs have nuclear weapons.
UPI: Assuming you were in power, what would you do with the mullahs?
RAJAVI: The National Council for Resistance in Iran has already declared its position and its platform. The NCRI intends to have free elections within six months. One of the immediate tasks after the overthrow (of the government) will be to dissolve all the suppressive organs, including the so-called sharia courts. Women’s freedom will be implemented. Currently Iranian society is denied most basic rights. We will set up a new constitution and there will be separation between church and state. The leaders of the mullahs’ regime must be put on trial in an international court for the crimes they have committed against humanity.
UPI: How do you see yourself coming to power?
RAJAVI: We believe that the Iranian resistance has all the ingredients (to lead). We have all the support among the people. More than 120,000 of our supporters have been executed. They came from all sectors of society, which shows the popular base of the resistance. On the other hand the Iranian resistance has a well-organized network inside the country, which even right now is organizing anti-government demonstrations. In addition, we have a concentrated, well-organized force along the Iran-Iraq border, waiting for the right circumstances to break the spell of repression in Iran. In addition we have a network of intelligence inside the country, which has shown its capability. (It was the MeK who first blew the whistle on the Islamic republic’s nuclear ambitions.)
UPI: Do you expect pressure from inside the country or from the outside to play a role in overthrowing the regime?
RAJAVI: The Iranian resistance and the people will use their resources, but the reality is that now the pressure that the European countries and the United States has been exerting on the resistance has given the mullahs justification in executing members of the resistance by saying they are “terrorists.” If the foreign governments stop aiding this regime, the people of Iran and the resistance are capable of overthrowing this regime. In addition, I should say that this resistance is the antithesis to Islamic fundamentalism.
UPI: Assuming that Iran did acquire WMD and you become leader of Iran. Would you be willing to give them up?
RAJAVI: We do not want a nuclear Iran because this is not in the interest of the Iranian people. As you know Iran is a very rich country. It has gas, oil, and all other resources. So even from an economic point of view it is not worthwhile to spend on nuclear energy. Despite all these resources, 80 percent of the Iranian people live below the poverty line. And this is really the tragedy.
UPI: If you were in power, what would be your politics vis-à-vis Iraq?
RAJAVI: The NCRI has declared that its foreign policy is based on friendship and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. Regarding Iraq I should state that while the Iranian regime is interfering extensively in the affairs of Iraq, the people of Iraq are also under pressure from the Iranian regime.
UPI: What would be the very fist changes you would enact?
RAJAVI: We have said that the first thing would be to organize free elections.
UPI: There have been many accusations against you and members of your organization that you are a Marxist group, a sect, a secretive society.
RAJAVI: This label was being used by the shah to tarnish the popularity of the Mujahedeen among the Iranian people. And Khomeni used it for the exact same purpose. Otherwise how could they justify saying that their Islam is the true Islam.
UPI: How would you describe yourself, your movement?
RAJAVI: In my view the movement is a deeply democratic force, Muslim and freedom loving. We believe in social freedom and are deeply opposed to Islamic fundamentalism.
UPI: Where does that leave non-Muslims in Iran?
RAJAVI: Religion is personal and it is part one’s individual freedom. Belonging to one religion has no preference over belonging to another religion. Islam is the religion of emancipation, mercy, equality, hope and fraternity.
UPI: You have fought the shah. Your movement has fought the shah. Could you see yourself aligned with his son? Do you see any future role for the shah’s son?
RAJAVI: Monarchy is something that belongs to the past. The people of Iran have clearly stated their views. The people of Iran want freedom and are against any kind of dictatorship.
UPI: Despite the deep dislike millions of Iranians have of the mullahs, how do you explain the stability of the regime and the fact that they remain in power 27 years after the revolution?
RAJAVI: Through absolute repression and the export of terrorism. They continue to execute entire families. They need to create this atmosphere of fear and repression. Unfortunately, the support from the West has strengthened the regime.
UPI: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made it very clear in Petra, in Jordan, a few days ago that Iran would not be allowed to have nuclear weapons. Assuming Israel is to strike Iran, what do you think would be the consequences?
RAJAVI: The solution for the nuclear crisis is neither a foreign military intervention nor the policy of appeasement, but what we call the third option(empowering the resistance).
UPI: Do you not think that a strike by Israel and/or the United States would further empower the regime in Tehran?
RAJAVI: No. I think the people of Iran have no support for this regime, except a small group like the Revolutionary Guard, but not the people.
UPI: Do you see the United States playing a major role in the region?
RAJAVI: I think that the United States has a major role to play in adopting a firm policy. If they do not adopt a firm policy with the mullahs’ regime, then they have to really hand over Iraq to the mullahs. And that will be followed by other countries in the region.
UPI: Do you see the U.S. as a catalyst in the region?
RAJAVI: The policy of appeasement has helped the mullahs to survive. The United States has really given a big service to the regime.
UPI: If you had a message to send to President Bush, what would it be?
RAJAVI: It is necessary to be firm against the mullahs’ regime. To implement this firmness, not just to talk about it, but to put it in practice. And to listen to the voice of the Iranian people.
UPI: If President Bush were to say to you, ‘in concrete terms, what can I do to help’?
RAJAVI: Impose diplomatic, economic, oil sanctions. Isolate the mullahs. Do something that shows the mullahs the decisiveness if the United States and the Western countries. And immediately after that recognize the Iranian resistance and the people of Iran. The rest of it the resistance can do it themselves.
UPI: Is the United States making the same mistake with Ahmadinejad that they made with Khomeini?