A thoughtful analysis of the MKO's role in the opposition and criticism of their policies makes for interesting discussion. But dismissing the largest and most active Iranian opposition group as “religious nuts” doesn't bring anyone closer to an understanding of the group.
Most of the information Ms. Faiz has provided is not sourced. She has only listed one source, Abrahamian's work, The Iranian Mojahedin. It's interesting that nearly all the criticism of the group that I've seen from writers such as Ms. Faiz, is centred on this book alone and no other source of information. Ms. Faiz has unfortunately chosen to draw her conclusions about the group based on one book, which has made the factual content of her article very deficient.
Also, Ms. Faiz is assuming that the US will use the MKO as some kind of a front to attack Iran. She hasn't taken into consideration the fact that the MKO has rejected this option and has repeatedly voiced its opposition to any outside intervention against Iran, not to also mention the fact that the group's bases were bombed and many of its members killed by the US military. Furthermore, she has not provided any source for her claim that the MKO is to be used as a front to attack Iran.
Ms. Faiz states initially that she will try to dissuade her left wing friends in the US from supporting the MKO since the latter are not “friends” of the Iranian people. I consider myself a communist, am not Iranian, but defend the MKO based on its actions. The fact that they set up an army with women and men fighting side by side testifies to the fact that they're not only friends of the Iranian people but also all oppressed people everywhere.
The Iranian left opposition in exile is very fragmented. Most of these groups spend most of their energy criticizing and attacking other groups, instead of attacking the Iranian regime. I've had personal run-ins with these groups and have been very disheartened at the level of disunity and infighting among them, much of which unfortunately is levelled against the MKO.
As well, Ms. Faiz has used a lot of ridicule in her criticism of this group. Some of the information she has provided is incorrect and she has left out a lot of other information that a progressive might find interesting about the group.
The following are a few of the points in Ms. Faiz's article which in my opinion need correction:
“Mojahedin leadership joined President Bani-sadr on his airplane and flew to Paris to conduct together the upcoming soon (just around the corner, see it?) revolution, for which everybody is still waiting.”
Interesting play on words. The airplane was not Bani-sadr's. It was an Iranian airforce C-130 transport aircraft, piloted by an MKO member, Moezi, in an operation to remove Masood Rajavi from Iran. The operation was planned and executed by the MKO. Bani-sadr owes his life to them for having had the chance to flee.
By the time Rajavi had flown into france, mko was waging guerrilla warfare in parts of Kurdistan, and this continued until the summer of 1982, when the iranian regime was able to flood the area with its forces and unleash its wreath on the area's populous. Once driven from Kurdistan, MKO then set up camps inside Iraq to continue its guerrilla war.”That if/when the time comes that intelligence can be used to bomb Iranian cities, much like the “intelligence” Chalabi provided led to the bombings of Iraqi cities and civilians; with no lives left un-bombed.”
It's correct that a US bombing of Iran, however unlikely, would be catastrophic for the Iranian people. Unlike Chalabi, the MKO has never supported outside intervention against Iran, if Ms. Faiz has found a statement by the group to the contrary, she has not provided it in her article and I'd be very glad to see it. Unlike Chalabi's information, which has been shown to have been fabrications, MKO's information has so far been correct, and the nuclear sites so far cited have been shown to exist and most have been inspected as well by the IAEA. MKO's speculations regarding the nature of the activities that take place at the latter sites may or may not be correct, but the sites themselves have been shown to exist.
“They (MKO) have very little public support inside Iran, and are in fact reviled by most ordinary people because of the patronage bestowed on them by Saddam, the invader of Iran.”
I'm not sure how Ms. Faiz came up with this information as she probably hasn't spoken with “most ordinary people”. It's likely that some people support the MKO and some people don't. It's interesting that she tries to persuade progressives to distance themselves from the MKO by claiming offhand that they have no support in Iran. As well, the fact that Iran's largest opposition group is some how hated by most Iranians doesn't make much intuitive sense, as the group must have done something right to have retained its above status for the past 25 years, and as hated opposition groups don't tend to increase in size and influence.
“These armed capabilities, including tank squadrons, are mostly rusted; much like their fighters who are by now mostly graying men and women.”
I'm not sure how Ms. Faiz found out that the MKO's equipment is rusty, I'll take her word for it though. But information to show that combatants refuse to give up, even when old and in posession of outdated weapons is hardly a criticism, it only proves their determination. In fact, most guerrilla forces fight with inferior weapons; that's the esseance of irregular war.
“What kind of organization would so consistently try to secure a leg in the doors of the houses of power in the foremost Imperial powerhouses, and still call itself progressive and revolutionary, and insist that it is looking out for the good of the Iranian people?”
The fact that the US bombed MKO's bases in Iraq, killed up to 100 of their members and has disarmed and imprisoned them in one of their bases, and has placed them on its terrorist list, should be enough information to show the MKO's true intentions and leanings with regards to the US and vice versa.
“What-on-earth kind of logic dictates that a woman has to divorce her husband and marry a leader in order to have a leadership role?! And Iranian women are supposed to be impressed by that!”
I don't know if all MKO women who are currently in leadership roles had to divorce their husbands and marry a leader. Probably not. I'm not a woman, but I'm still impressed as hell that a group, Iranian at that, is being run by a woman… it's the only such group to my knowledge. She is headquartered in France, is visited almost daily by politicians and individuals of all persuasions, and a few months ago she was invited to address the European Parliament by its vice president.
“They (MKO) are in fact a variation on a theme demonstrated by the regime that currently suffocates Iran.”
Ms. Faiz has provided very little information to back this claim. In fact very little information exists to show how the MKO can even come close to resemble the Iranian regime. Ms. Faiz's only defence of this arguement is that the MKO is religious. What explains the fact that most MKO military commanders are women? surely something more than a “variation” of the current regime. Ms. Faiz has also failed to point out to the National Council of Resistance, an organization to which the MKO belongs, and whose constitution would soundly ground any kind of comparison between the MKO and the Iranian regime.
” … our women comrades raped before execution … and such cannot be allowed a woman daring to speak against a bunch of sociopathic and dictatorial men. Are we to fall for the same line again, especially when recited by an organization displaying overt religious overtones?”
Many of the women who were imprisoned and tortured in the regime's prisons are currently combatants in the MKO and have the physical scars to show the extent of their struggle, the same “graying women” Ms. Faiz mentioned with ridicule. Also, as there is no other Iranian organization with the same level and quality of women's participation, the MKO so far is the most progressive.
“Lacking the US patronage, at best they have to compete on very stiff terms with most other oppositional groupings, no matter how small and no matter how disorganized, when it comes to vying for legitimacy among the Iranian public”
The MKO has never sought US patronage; only its removal from the terrorist list. It also doesn't need to compete with any other group as it is hands down the largest group, the best proof of which is the fact that the Iranian regime makes no mention of any other opposition group in its propaganda than the MKO.
Ms. Faiz's account of the MKO would have been more plausible had she used facts to back her claims, the most important of which is her claim that the MKO will be used as a front to attack Iran. Her unfortunate use of ridicule bares her personal hatred of the group rather than a desire to present a factual and constructive criticism of Iran's largest and most active opposition group.