What is a political alternative?
When we talk about the alternative, it is not merely a hollow claim or a vague title that has no impact on the daily vicissitudes of the struggle against the regime.
Rather, we are referring to the guiding force and mechanism of advancement that determines the direction of the collection of all the activities in the struggle. It clarifies the steps to be taken, the direction, the slogan, the commonalities and contradictions, and it sets the priorities.
The alternative represents the solution to every problem faced by the movement in its daily struggle on a difficult and rough terrain. It shows the targets, distinguishes good from bad, differentiates right from wrong, and protects the assets of the Iranian people and Resistance from being stolen by the regime and its accomplices. In a word, the alternative is the yardstick in the struggle for the clerical regime’s overthrow.
I would like to conclude by saying that the roots of this alternative (the NCRI) have been strengthened in a long and bitter struggle against religious tyranny.
The force that opposes religious fascism has organized itself, developed plans and a program, and has paid the price for its day-to-day resistance.
And in recent years, as conditions have become more difficult, it has increased its capacity to shoulder heavier responsibilities and to fight on.
It has also maintained its political demarcations, democratic principles and values in defense of freedom, and protected them from the enemy.
If it were not for the will to oppose religious fascism at all costs in all cultural, social and political aspects, what would have happened to Iran and the Iranian people with the rule of this bloodthirsty and fearsome tyranny?
If we look at the turning points, from June 20, 1981, to July 25, 1988, the anniversary of the Iranian National Liberation Army’s Operation Eternal Light, to July 28 and 29, 2009, when the PMOI in Ashraf, Iraq, repelled the attack of [then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] Maliki’s mercenaries with their bare hands to Massoud Rajavi’s flight to France from Tehran’s First Fighter Airbase on July 29, 1981, they indicate one thing: the Iranian Resistance’s history, filled with vital turning points and risky and costly decisions, has led the regime to this precarious state of desperation and put the resistance and the alternative in a position of maximum offense.
(Speech by Maryam Rajavi at the NCRI Session on the 41st NCRI founding anniversary)
A genuine alternative for Iran
These days, an industry of concocting phony alternatives has become prevalent in the political arena, of course copying and pasting aspects from others. And this in itself is another sign of the phase of the regime’s overthrow. But the crux of the matter is how they are going to actually bring down this regime in practice. This question is especially relevant as the blood of the martyrs has permanently and historically blocked the path to reform within the clerical regime and the return of the monarchy.
If one can restore the people’s sovereignty without a history of fighting against two regimes, without drawing boundaries against dictatorship, subordination and dependency, without waging a nationwide resistance and offering a galaxy of martyrs, without challenging the principle of the velayat-e faqih and phony regime “moderates,” we say: Please, go ahead, don’t delay.
If one can topple the mullahs without challenging Khomeini over the unpatriotic Iran-Iraq war, forcing an end to the inferno of that war, and discrediting the regime’s slogan of “liberating Qods via Karbala”; without compelling Khomeini to accept the ceasefire by launching 100 military operations by the National Liberation Army of Iran, which captured the city of Mehran and marched to the gates of Kermanshah; and without exposing the regime’s nuclear weapons, missile, chemical and microbiological programs and facilities, yes, go ahead and don’t delay.
If one can leap frog a fifty-year history overnight and create real change in Iran while dreaming about foreign support, and without having to expose the regime’s human rights abuses and crimes in 64 UN resolutions, without the campaign for justice for the massacre of political prisoners in 1988, without campaigns by supporters of the resistance worldwide and insisting on the rights of the Iranian nation for four decades, without having a specific platform and programs of the NCRI and the Provisional Government for the transition of sovereignty to the Iranian people, and finally without a tested leader, who has guided this ferocious struggle for five decades, if all this could instead be done overnight, we say: go ahead, the ball is in your court.
But let me say this: Such a fantasy is only possible through an Iraq-like occupation, or in other words through a foreign intervention.
Over the past 40 years, all those aspiring opponents who were nonetheless unwilling to pay the price have had opportunities to test their luck. But the hard realities and real experiences have shown that this dark and evil regime will neither be reformed nor turn “green” or “velvet.”
The overthrow of this regime inevitably requires a willingness to pay the necessary price, it requires the practice of honesty and sacrifice, it requires an organization and a sturdy political alternative, and it requires the organization of resistance units and an army of liberation.
Nevertheless, as Massoud Rajavi said in the context of evaluating the January 2018 uprising: “We are not in competition with anyone seeking to assume power. On the other hand and most certainly, no one can compete with the PMOI when it comes to practicing honesty, sacrifice and paying the price.”
16 years ago, the Iranian Resistance adopted a plan called the National Solidarity Front for the Overthrow of the Ruling Religious Dictatorship and declared that it was prepared to cooperate will all forces who want a republic, who are committed to the complete rejection of the velayat-e faqih regime and who struggle for a democratic, independent Iran, based on separation of religion and state.
We believe it is possible to eradicate poverty, unemployment, shanty towns, water shortages and environmental calamities. But, before anything else, the trampled political rights, specifically the right to sovereignty of the Iranian people, must be restored and revived. This is the aim of our Resistance and the raison d’etre for the NCRI.
Excerpts from Maryam Rajavi’s speech to the grand gathering of the Iranian Resistance in Paris, June 30, 2018)
No to the Shah, no to the mullahs
The NCRI was founded on the basis of the declaration “no to the Shah and no to the mullahs.” This demarcation is the rejection of regimes which rely on torture, murder, plunder, treachery, and depravation of the people.
In the face of the dictatorships of the Shah and the mullahs, the National Council of Resistance of Iran relies on the principles of freedom and popular sovereignty, which means:
Freedom of choice and vote for all citizens, freedom and democracy, gender equality, autonomy of ethnic groups, human rights, people’s participation in deciding their own destiny, social and economic justice, and national solidarity.
Over the past century, two major currents have been evolving in parallel:
The first current has been an appallingly despotic regime founded through the complicity of the monarchic and the clerical regimes despite their drastic natural differences. The second current has been an alternative developing from the heart of the people’s front, for the sovereignty of freedom and a people’s republic. This is the essence of the history of the past 100 years in Iran.
A review of this history yields another conclusion as well:
That the model of monarchy which is also a model of dependence and despotism has failed. The model of religious dictatorship which is a model of religious tyranny has also failed. The dark despotic rule of Reza Khan abandoned Iran into the clutches of the Allies who occupied the country. His son’s dictatorship led to a reactionary religious rule. Khomeini ravaged Iran through an eight-year war and through senseless massacres and genocides. And Khamenei plunged Iran into regional wars, suppression, hunger and disease.
So, both models have failed. And the answer, the solution, is the NCRI, which has emerged on the basis of rejection of foreign dependence and defiance of religious fascism. We all know that the NCRI was founded on the basis of the declaration “no to the Shah and no to the mullahs.” This demarcation is the rejection of regimes which rely on torture, murder, plunder, treachery, and depravation of the people.
Since the outset, all these issues have been areas of conflict between us and the ruling reactionary regime immediately after Khomeini seized power.
Excerpts from Maryam Rajavi’s speech to the three-day session of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, July 26, 2020)
Iran’s history has seen the complicity of kings and the clergy to instate tyranny and oppression
Those who attempt to equate the anti-monarchic revolution to Khomeini’s ominous rule are distorting history. They fail to notice the truth as if Iran’s history is summed up only in dictatorships and in authoritarian and despotic regimes.
Now one must ask them, didn’t the people of Iran and their genuine representatives have any role in this history? Didn’t their revolutionary children have any concrete existence? Didn’t this nation have a revolutionary movement or force of her own? And was her history just limited to the kings and the clergy?
Indeed, what is the truth?
The truth is that Khomeini and Khamenei were the true inheritors of the Shah. Their rule was the product of western governments’ drastic mistake in their coup against the nationalist government of Dr. Mohammad Mossadeq, blocking the progress of nationalist and democratic forces and opening the way for a reactionary alternative. The clerical regime is the outcome of the Shah’s treacherous clampdown on freedom-loving movements creating a vacuum in their absence for Khomeini to fill.
Iran’s history has always seen the complicity of kings and the clergy to instate tyranny and oppression. The accomplices have always acted in harmony to plunder our impoverished people.
Similarly, today, we see that the torturers and icons of corruption in the previous dictatorship are among the hirelings serving the interests of the mullahs’ regime.
At the same time, the mullahs’ mercenaries advocate for the rule of the dead and buried monarchs. In this way, they try to project that Iran can be governed only by kings and clergies and there is no place for democracy and a republic based on popular sovereignty.
(Excerpts from Maryam Rajavi’s speech on the anniversary of the 1979 Revolution, February 6, 2019)