ANALYSIS / OPINION:
Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the world’s largest Iranian dissident organization seeking to replace Iran’s theocratic regime with a democracy, gave the following exclusive answers to questions from the Washington Times on July 7, 2021.
The Washington Times: Hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi was elected Iran’s next president. Human Rights Watch and others accuse him of a prominent role in ordering the execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988. How do you react to his rise to the presidency?
Maryam Rajavi: Ebrahim Raisi, who is abused by the Iranian people for his role in the massacre of political prisoners as the “1988 henchman”, is Khamenei’s last desperate attempt to maintain clerical rule. No other result could more accurately portray the sheer political desperation and impending overthrow of the regime. The religious dictatorship has emerged from its presidential election weaker and more fragile. Raisi’s appearance shows that at the beginning of the regime’s agony, Khamenei cannot trust even some of its closest apparatchik and instead has to deploy someone who is completely and unconditionally immersed in the brutal massacre of dissidents. Ultimately, Khamenei was left with no choice but to accept both the contempt associated with appointing such a murderer as president and the shame resulting from the nationwide boycott of the sham elections. For his part, Raisi faces crimes against humanity, particularly the 1988 massacre, before an international tribunal.
How will Mr Raisi’s arrival in the presidency affect the Biden government’s diplomatic pursuit with Iran and negotiations on a new nuclear deal?
Ms. Rajavi: We have repeatedly emphasized that preventing a nuclear armed theocracy cannot be achieved by making concessions to the mullahs. The experience of the past 40 years has made it clear that duplicity, denial and deception are part of the DNA of this regime and simply take advantage of the negotiation process. The appeasement policy has encouraged the mullahs. After the 2015 nuclear deal, the regime did not cease its secret activities to develop a nuclear weapon. On the contrary, it intensified its destructive activities in the region and its terrorism in Europe. The international community has no reason to negotiate or appease a regime whose next president is one of the most notorious criminals against humanity in modern times. The world must stand firmly against the ruling religious fascism and on the side of the Iranian people and their struggle to overthrow and establish a democratic republic. It has now been proven and the world has seen clearly with its own eyes that the voice of the Iranian people is to overthrow the regime. Any negotiations or cooperation with this regime would only serve the suppression and murder of the Iranian people and facilitate the regime’s attempts to develop nuclear weapons and set the region on fire.
The Iranian Interior Ministry said the turnout was the lowest since the 1979 revolution. Do you think your organization’s boycott played a role in the low turnout? Why did you advocate a boycott?
Ms. Rajavi: This time the boycott of the elections was much larger. The activities of the resistance units in Iran merged around the boycott call, which had a strong impact. According to reports by the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) in Iran from thousands of polling stations, more than 90 percent of the population refused to vote in the regime’s elections. Despite the astronomical manipulations, the scope of the nationwide boycott was so extensive that the regime itself was forced to announce a turnout of only 48%, of which 13% consisted of invalid ballot papers. In the capital Tehran, these numbers are even more catastrophic at 26%.
It was rumored that Raisi was a potential successor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. How do you see Khamenei’s future influence? Do you think the current regime will survive if he dies?
Ms. Rajavi: The indisputable fact is that since the nationwide uprisings in 2017, the Iranian regime has entered a phase that will end with its inevitable overthrow. The regime is unable to offer political or economic solutions to contain popular unrest, as recent protests by oil and gas workers have shown. Khamenei is now in a desperate situation. Whatever step he takes would produce a more antagonistic society. But these changes will make the entire regime more vulnerable to social unrest. The Iranian people and the Iranian resistance will have the last word. The November 2019 uprising provided a comprehensive and impressive model of how popular violence of rebellion and insurrection can ultimately bring about the overthrow of the regime.
Your organization advocates âregime changeâ in Iran. If the government in Tehran were overthrown or overthrown, would your movement support free and fair elections? What kind of successor government would you support?
Ms. Rajavi: We have repeatedly stated that we seek free elections on the basis of popular sovereignty and not on the basis of absolute clerical rule. We say ânoâ to the clerical regime and âyesâ to a democratic, pluralistic and representative republic based on free elections, separation of religion and state, gender equality, abolition of the death penalty, elimination of all forms of discrimination against adherents of different religions and Autonomy for ethnic minorities. After the overthrow of the clerical regime, according to the first article of the NCRI platform, the provisional government has “essentially the task of transferring power to the Iranian people”. This mandate is to be fulfilled up to a maximum of six months after the overthrow of the clerical regime and through the establishment of the “National Constituent and Legislative Assembly” through free elections with direct, equal and secret voting by the people of Iran. State power and sovereignty belong to the Iranian People’s Republic.
In its propaganda, the Iranian regime accuses your movement of being a “sect” whose followers are being brainwashed. What is your response to this allegation?
Ms. Rajavi: For a crisis-ridden regime like the ruling theocracy in Iran, the elimination of the only viable democratic alternative to ensure one’s own survival is of the utmost importance. After failing to achieve this goal through murder, massacre and terrorism, she resorted to an extensive and well-financed demonization campaign to convince international interlocutors that there was no alternative to the current medieval theocracy. Security services in various European countries have repeatedly exposed the regime’s tactics over the years. For example, the Dutch General Secret Service and Security Service (AIVD) reported: âThe AIVD has found out that the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence operates a European network. Their job is to negatively influence public opinion about the MEK. âIndependent European courts have rejected the regime’s propaganda as unfounded and absurd. Since the 1990s, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BFV) has established that the MEK and NCRI âcontinue to be at the top of the list of espionage targets of Iranian secret servicesâ and that âIranian secret services hostile content against the MEK, some of which was distributed by former MEK members will. The aim of these publications is to prevent readers from sympathizing with this organization. “
How is this year’s gathering for your organization different from previous gatherings? What are your hopes for this year’s rally and what message does it have for the international community and the US?
Ms. Rajavi: Iranian society is a powder keg on the verge of an explosion. Even more violent and extensive riots are waiting to break out from one moment to the next. A desperate Khamenei sees his only option for the regime’s survival to be to close ranks and abandon the stale theatrics of fraudulent reforms or moderation. At the same time, the organized resistance movement is gaining ground and dynamism is gaining momentum through rapid expansion and increase in the activities of resistance units in Iran. At the international level, the resistance is making headway after gaining growing solidarity and support from elected officials in Europe and the United States. Iran is on the verge of seismic change. When it comes to the historic confrontation between the Iranian people and the greatest threat to world peace and security, the July Summit will invite all governments and international institutions to join the Iranian people.
â¢ This excerpt is from a news article written by Washington Times staff that was first published online on July 7, 2021.