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The Rise and Fall of the Mojahedin Khalq, 1987-1997
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The Mojahedin Khalq Organization is an Iranian political party that helped Khomeini's religious sect in Iran bring about the Islamic revolution of 1979 after being at the forefront of opposition to the rule of the Shah. However, as the revolution got underway, the Mojahedin, which used some elements of Mao Tse Tung's political and warfare philosophy, were sidelined by the religious clerics and were expelled from the political arena. They responded by attacking the dominant polity through democratic means (such as political demonstrations, increasing the role of women, etc.). Later, through armed resistance via Iraq, the Mojahedin became the most significant opposition powerbase to the current regime of Iran. The author details the Organization's relations with Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, European host nations, Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi military, and the end of war (1980-1988) negotiations between Iran and Iraq. Towards the end of its major activities, the Organizati
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About the Author

Dr Ronen A Cohen is a lecturer at the Ariel University center of Samaria, Israel. His specialties include modern Iranian history and culture, Islamic terrorism, and clandestine international affairs. He is a book reviewer and commentator for Israeli newspapers, and a member of The Menachem Begin Institute for the Study of Underground and Resistance Movements at Bar-Ilan University.

Reviews

"Since the publication of Ervand Abrahamian's "Radical Islam: The Iranian Mojahedin" two decades ago, there has been little in the way of academic research into this controversial Iranian exile organization despite its highly visible public presence in the West and the ongoing political debates about its activities. This significant gap in the literature makes Ronen A. Cohen's study a welcome contribution, focusing on a decade in which the Mojahedin's campaign against the Islamic Republic made it the main source of external opposition to the regime. ... Those interested in the history of the Islamic Republic, Iran-Iraq relations, and the activities of opposition groups in the Middle East will no doubt benefit from Professor Cohen's multifaceted account. Clearly written and logically organized, it helps us understand some of the complexities and challenges involved in mounting a campaign in exile as well as the changes that have taken place within the Mojahedin in the process ... In terms of sources, Cohen utilizes a range of primary and secondary material. His account draws on scores of official Mojahedin publications and testimonies from former group members, official documents from the United States, Europe, and the United Nations, and reports from the Western press as well as various Persian- and Arabic-language media outlets. Nearly thirty pages of footnotes provide those interested in further research with a useful starting point." --Naysan Rafati, University of Oxford and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies For those who have wondered about internal opposition to the Islamic Republic of Iran, Cohen examines the Mojahedin Khalq Organization, the main opposition movement lead by Maryam Rajavi. He discusses the MKO s organizational structure, Rajavi s emphasis on the role of women in opposing the regime, reasons behind its shift from supporting to opposing Khomeini s regime, exile activities in Iraq, and the West s labelling of it as a terrorist group. Although the MKO has largely faded away, another area expert warns against counting it out given the cyclical nature of politics. Rajavi and her women fighters are pictured. "Reference & Research Book News"" Since the publication of Ervand Abrahamian s "Radical Islam: The Iranian Mojahedin" two decades ago, there has been little in the way of academic research into this controversial Iranian exile organization despite its highly visible public presence in the West and the ongoing political debates about its activities. This significant gap in the literature makes Ronen A. Cohen s study a welcome contribution, focusing on a decade in which the Mojahedin s campaign against the Islamic Republic made it the main source of external opposition to the regime. Those interested in the history of the Islamic Republic, Iran Iraq relations, and the activities of opposition groups in the Middle East will no doubt benefit from Professor Cohen s multifaceted account. Clearly written and logically organized, it helps us understand some of the complexities and challenges involved in mounting a campaign in exile as well as the changes that have taken place within the Mojahedin in the process In terms of sources, Cohen utilizes a range of primary and secondary material. His account draws on scores of official Mojahedin publications and testimonies from former group members, official documents from the United States, Europe, and the United Nations, and reports from the Western press as well as various Persian- and Arabic-language media outlets. Nearly thirty pages of footnotes provide those interested in further research with a useful starting point. Naysan Rafati, University of Oxford and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies" The Mojahedin Khalq is a perplexing and historically important organization for anyone researching the Islamic Revolution of Iran and its aftermath. It has proved, over the years, to be one of the only durable mass movements that have continually opposed the Ayatollahs in Tehran. Given the recent interest in Iran as evidenced by numerous books, such as Ray Tayekh s "Guardians of the Revolution" and "Dore Gold s Rise of a Nuclear Iran," and the demonstrations following Iran s 2009 Presidential election, the Mojahedin Khalq deserves renewed scholarly interest. "Digest of Middle East Studies"" "The Mojahedin Khalq is a perplexing and historically important organization for anyone researching the Islamic Revolution of Iran and its aftermath. It has proved, over the years, to be one of the only durable mass movements that have continually opposed the Ayatollahs in Tehran. Given the recent interest in Iran as evidenced by numerous books, such as Ray Tayekh's Guardians of the Revolution and Dore Gold's Rise of a Nuclear Iran, and the demonstrations following Iran's 2009 Presidential election, the Mojahedin Khalq deserves renewed scholarly interest." --Digest of Middle East Studies "Since the publication of Ervand Abrahamian's Radical Islam: The Iranian Mojahedin two decades ago, there has been little in the way of academic research into this controversial Iranian exile organization despite its highly visible public presence in the West and the ongoing political debates about its activities. This significant gap in the literature makes Ronen A. Cohen's study a welcome contribution, focusing on a decade in which the Mojahedin's campaign against the Islamic Republic made it the main source of external opposition to the regime. ... Those interested in the history of the Islamic Republic, Iran-Iraq relations, and the activities of opposition groups in the Middle East will no doubt benefit from Professor Cohen's multifaceted account. Clearly written and logically organized, it helps us understand some of the complexities and challenges involved in mounting a campaign in exile as well as the changes that have taken place within the Mojahedin in the process ... In terms of sources, Cohen utilizes a range of primary and secondary material. His account draws on scores of official Mojahedin publications and testimonies from former group members, official documents from the United States, Europe, and the United Nations, and reports from the Western press as well as various Persian- and Arabic-language media outlets. Nearly thirty pages of footnotes provide those interested in further research with a useful starting point." --Naysan Rafati, University of Oxford and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies "For those who have wondered about internal opposition to the Islamic Republic of Iran, Cohen examines the Mojahedin Khalq Organization, the main opposition movement lead by Maryam Rajavi. He discusses the MKO's organizational structure, Rajavi's emphasis on the role of women in opposing the regime, reasons behind its shift from supporting to opposing Khomeini's regime, exile activities in Iraq, and the West's labelling of it as a terrorist group. Although the MKO has largely faded away, another area expert warns against counting it out given the cyclical nature of politics. Rajavi and her women fighters are pictured." --Reference & Research Book News

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