While the regime ruling Iran is engulfed in domestic crises and international isolation, 2021 witnessed a new peak of demonstrations and escalating protests. Eight large protests and uprisings in different provinces across Iran is a clear indicator of the vast majority’s demand for the overthrow of the religious fascism ruling Iran.
In such circumstances, a network of “Resistance Units,” associated with the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), has increased its measures both in quantity and quality. These Resistance Units are playing a significant role in shaping, guiding, and prolonging protests across the country, and numerous regime officials are constantly acknowledging this reality.
We have sat down with Mr. Mohammad Mohaddessin, Chairman of the National Council of Resistance of Iran’s Foreign Affairs Committee, to further discuss this developing topic.
Q: What are the “Resistance Units”?
Mr. Mohaddessin: What has kept this illegitimate regime in power after 43 years is its practice of unbridled domestic crackdown. The religious dictatorship, with dozens of intelligence, military, and security institutions, has gone the distance to keep this notion of fear alive throughout the Iranian society that the regime is strong, and no internal or external force can stand against it.
Through its proxy groups and missile program, the mullahs are expanding this sense of fear across the Middle East, and striking fear among the international community through its extraterritorial terrorism and nuclear program. This regime’s lifespan is checkered with terrorist attacks as messages to its counterparts, as it seeks to quell any and all firm policies with fear of its consequences.
And the “Resistance Units” are the sledgehammers that break this atmospheric crackdown. Each day in various parts of Iran, under a widespread network of surveillance cameras, right under the noses of thousands of overt and covert agents, they are groups of brave youths that take down the icons of this dictatorship. These Resistance Units are literally on the verge of bringing an end to the regime’s suffocating crackdown.
Even the coronavirus pandemic, through which the regime sought to ground the entire Iranian nation, is not hindering their efforts. They’re also the driving force behind Iran’s nationwide uprisings, taking the initiative in various scenes.
Through their measures, they’re sending a message to the Iranian society and the international community that this regime is loathed by the Iranian people. It is not a strong regime. This state, with all its technology and advanced weaponry, may imprison, torture, and execute us. However, it can no longer maintain fear in our hearts. The Resistance Units are saying: “This regime has to go and will go!”
Q: How many resistance units exist inside Iran? Is this a nationwide movement or limited to a certain region?
Mr. Mohaddessin: This network is now five years in the making. Thousands of young Iranians are active in many cities, towns, and villages across the country. They’re even carrying out their measures in broad daylight, encouraging people into rising up against the mullahs’ regime, and/or nuisance measures targeting the regime’s security institutions. Each measure by a Resistance Unit plants the seeds of courage into the hearts of hundreds of people. Each measure is a severe blow to this regime’s lifespan.
Q: Why do you think these cells can stand up against the ruling regime’s concentrated and armed forces?
Mr. Mohaddessin: You know very well that the world’s largest conventional armies have been helpless against insurgencies. There are numerous examples throughout history. These members of Resistance Units are among the people and communicating with their locals, planting the ideas and mentality of being active and resistant in the face of the regime’s forces. In markets, schools, and at their workplaces… wherever there is potential for dissent, these activists are there to encourage the people to rise against the regime. They use social media platforms to inform the broader public.
Despite the fact that this regime has to this day arrested hundreds of Resistance Unit members, their numbers are increasing by the day. It matters not how large the regime’s oppressive forces are. What is important is the fact that weapons and technology lack the will to overcome an organized force that relies on its people and has a legitimate objective. Such an entity is able to expand, and nothing can stand in its path.
Q: Do these individuals face any threats, especially considering their various activities?
Mr. Mohaddessin: Of course. So far, a large number of Resistance Units have been arrested and placed under torture. This ruling regime has issued death sentences for a number of Resistance Units members, and some of them were killed during the November 2019 uprising or murdered in other circumstances last year when the regime’s security forces opened fire. However, the number of youths who join the Resistance Units is far greater than the setbacks inflicted upon them by the regime.
Due to the cruelty of the past few decades, this regime has left the Iranian people no choice. Resistance Units members have nothing to lose. The only horizon before Iran’s younger generation is either living in poverty, segregation, and despair; or fighting for a prosperous future built with their own hands.
Q: World powers are currently in talks with Tehran over its nuclear program. Considering other developments regarding the regime’s nuclear dossier, coupled with the talk of the snapback mechanism and a UN Security Council resolution against the regime, what impact will all this have inside Iran’s society?
Mr. Mohaddessin: A look at the history of this regime’s international relations tells us that no party will take serious measures for such a change. Change is a duty that rests on the shoulders of the Iranian people and their organized resistance.
What we have seen so far has been the appeasement policy and various countries providing concessions to this regime, playing a very important role in the survival of the mullahs’ rule. This regime has enjoyed the most practical support from the West than any other state in the past 250 years. All the while, the mullahs have been the most active in chanting anti-West slogans.
The U.S. approach in the 1980s consisted of the Irangate scandal and pinning hopes and placing bets on the non-existing moderates inside this medieval regime. In the 1990s, the MEK was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization as a “goodwill gesture” to the regime’s so-called moderate president Mohammad Khatami. In the 2000s, we saw the airstrikes targeting MEK bases in Iraq (March and April 2003), the shameful French police raid targeting Iranian Resistance centers near Paris (June 2003), transferring the protection of MEK members in their former home of Camp Ashraf northeast of Baghdad, to the Iran-backed government of Iraq (July 2009) that led to the killing of more than 160 MEK members, are a few examples of the West’s policies with the most impact in prolonging this regime’s lifespan.
Q: Considering the issue you raised, what policy do you recommend?
Mr. Mohaddessin: In such circumstances, we are hoping that the global community stands firm against the regime and not allow the fascist mullahs to take advantage of the international community’s soft approach, especially that of the West. If you take a look now in response to all the regime’s human rights atrocities, executions, forced disappearances of political prisoners, placing prisoners under extreme torture (such as the recent example of poet/filmmaker Baktash Abtin), what has been the international community’s response? Even their verbal condemnations have become so soft and weak that they’re actually emboldening the regime. If the European Union, at least in general, abided by its own human rights principles, it should have suspended any and all relations with Tehran’s regime, banned the regime’s officials from traveling to Europe, etc.
This is also true regarding the regime’s terrorism. A regime diplomat transferred a bomb in his luggage on a passenger plane to Austria, handed it over to the regime’s agents himself, a court sentenced him to 20 years behind bars, yet in the sphere of politics, the regime has not faced any consequences!
We have learned that to bring about change in our country we will not ask for permission from any world power, nor shall we wait for anyone’s actions. We rely only on our people alone. This movement has seen more than 100,000 of its members and supporters executed while being financially independent for 56 years and counting, not receiving a single dime from a foreign power.
Q: It has been more than five years now that the National Council of Resistance of Iran talks about unrest and protests inside Iran. Are these developments heading in the direction of fundamental change in Iran?
Mr. Mohaddessin: In the struggle between the Iranian people and the mullahs’ regime, we have always been alone. However, that Iranian Resistance, which has delivered the most significant setbacks to the religious dictatorship ruling Iran, will most definitely trek down the final segments of this journey.
If you take a look at the reports of international media, you come to realize the rising number of protests across Iran in parallel to the exponential evolution of these unrests.
The Shah’s dictatorship, despite enjoying full support from the West and regional countries, without any sanctions and having a strong army and secret police, could not prevent the Iranian people’s revolution in 1979. SAVAK was able to install this mentality across Iran’s society that they have one secret agent for every three Iranians. However, one day this fear evaporated.
Today, inside Iran, Resistance Units members torched a Qassem Soleimani statue, an icon of strength and a saint-like figure for the regime, in less than 24 hours after its unveiling.
Therefore, we have every right to be hopeful and not have any fear. The Resistance Units’ message to the world is: Don’t fear this regime and stand firm against it. Borrowing this line from the brave protesters inside Iran, we say to all outside of Iran: Have no fear! The Iranian people are united against this regime!