Rajavi's Third Option: A Window to Nowhere

Ebrahim Khodabandeh
May 8, 2006

For some years the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MKO) has been promoting Rajavi's so-called 'Third Option' in its propaganda as a strategic solution for regime change in Iran. After undergoing significant changes in my personal situation three years ago, I have been able to carefully study this matter.

The Mojahedin-e Khalq has maintained it has a new solution for overthrowing the Iranian regime and assuming control in Iran. In this regard, the MKO rejects [foreign] invasion of Iran as well as compromising with the Iranian regime in return for political deals, and instead insists on lifting the group's name from terror lists in the West and rearming the NLA in Iraq; if rearmed and backed logistically, the NLA in Iraq can move from Iraq toward Iran, defeat Iranian forces and take control of the country.

Firstly, it is crystal clear that this option addresses the West, and particularly the US. In fact, this strategy requires the US to do what the MKO orders. It doesn't say what would happen if the US rejects the group's requests. As usual, the Iranian people have been omitted from this equation. As far as I know, the strategy of an independent revolutionary group should be based on what it can itself do, not what others can do for it (in this case the US).

Mr. Bizhan Niabati says, "the MKO's ideal is to be recognized by the Americans as a military force in the form of the National Liberation Army (NLA) and as a unified political alternative under the form of the NCRI". Of course, this has been considered wholly wrong since the only alternatives accepted and recognized by the US are Monarchists and Republicans; Americans will never back a violent revolution in Iran unless they can handle its military force all on their own.

Secondly, let us pretend that the West and the US have accepted all the MKO's requests (in other words, the MKO has been lifted from the terror lists and their confiscated weapons given back). This situation is still similar to the 'golden times' after the Forough operation [1988]. The organization enjoyed a similar situation in Iraq for years but there was no move from the NLA! How could it be helpful in the present time? The MKO may be looking for greater support than that of Saddam; for instance, a joint military operation! In that case, the US is unlikely to initiate a war against Iran and support the MKO (to get to power) at the same time. The fact is that the US and the West will lift the MKO's name from the terror lists only if the organization firmly renounces armed struggle, renounces its past, and dismantles the NLA. Also, the US will only support the MKO's alternative if it is a 'dependent alternative'. In short, the organization should completely change its strategy before being accepted by the US; in this significant change, many MKO members will be dropped. Is the MKO, now hanging on the US, ready for such a change?

Thirdly, the MKO always claims that group's designation as terrorist, the bombardment of its camps, and the disarmament of its army were all done in response to the requests of the Islamic Republic. If the US and the West do have such a good relationship with Iran (so as to meet its requests despite all their differences), will there be any hope for sudden changes in their policies to turn their support toward the MKO? Even if we accept the assumption that the West is meeting the Iranian regime's requests, there are undoubtedly advantages for it; can the MKO guarantee to secure the West's advantages (more than Iranian regime) when it expects them to accept the Mojahedin's strategy?

However, what has occupied my mind mostly is whether this so-called solution can really be the plan and the agenda of a revolutionary, Islamic, popular, anti-colonialism, anti-exploitation organization with more than 40 years of nonstop struggle and a long line of martyrs? It seems, rather, as though the experts in the Pentagon have presented a solution for the US to more easily achieve its goals. I wonder if the MKO's founders (if they were alive today) would be able to recognize their own organization after a search in the Internet and finding the different websites of the Mojahedin-e Khalq! Would they have actually joined the MKO then, over 20 years ago, if they could see group's current situation? I recommend MKO members to look back at the early books and magazines of the Mojahedin; although those books and magazines are unlikely to be available now inside the organisation.

In fact, the 'Third Option' is not a strategy; it is the same as the American military option in which the MKO wants a share. The US believes it has two ways to confront the Islamic Republic: one is the military option (like what it did in Iraq) and the other is a political solution (in other words, forcing the regime to withdraw and giving more freedom of movement to pro-US forces). There is no place for the MKO in either solution, and that is why the MKO tries to convince the US to overthrow the regime under the name of the NLA so that the role of the MKO in Iran's future is guaranteed. This dream, which has been presented as a strategy, will never come true.

I should note that the organization, now, and in the past, adopted two wholly wrong policies. In the past, it tried to achieve its goals by taking advantage of the Iran-Iraq war, winning the support of Saddam Hussein, standing alongside Iran's enemies and forming the NLA in Iraq. Presently, the MKO is seeking American support to fill the gap left by Saddam Hussein. In both cases, the MKO is standing directly against the interests of the Iranian people, therefore there will be nothing for the group except defeat and failure. The Mojahedin moved to Iraq and invested everything in the war [between Iran and Iraq] but reached total deadlock when Iran accepted the UN [ceasefire] resolution. Recent investment by the MKO in the gap between Iran and the US, in particular over the nuclear issue, will bring a similar experience for the group.

Of course, I believe that even the Mojahedin leaders know that they will not benefit from this strategy. Therefore, they don't elaborate on its details. From my point of view, the story of the Mojahedin's 'Third Option' is only for preserving remnants of its forces and keeping them busy. I believe that as the members in Iraq, Europe and the US were for years kept busy with the story of the NLA and toppling the regime from Iraq, this recent story has been written only to postpone the pre-determined dismantling of the organization. The MKO leaders, who have created this story, and their audience in the US, are well aware of this fact. The only people who count on this issue are the captive members inside the organization. This solution tries to open up a way forward for the desperate members of the MKO, but just like the previous strategies and solutions of the organization, it is a window that opens to NOWHERE.