Paths of the Iranian uprising

Strategic Analysis: Ibrahim M. Kaban

The Iranian reality from the inside

Iran is considered the country in which the most heinous forms of tyranny are practiced against its people, because of its sectarian system and structure that branches out according to a security system that is unparalleled in the civilized world. During the past four decades, the regime's tools practiced methods of ethnic liquidation against all components, although the largest share went to the Kurdish people, who suffered greatly from "national and sectarian persecution." By virtue of the fact that the Kurds are the most active, struggling and sacrificing Iranian people in the face of the organized killing machine. These are sufficient reasons for the Iranian regime to direct its intelligence and repressive tools to commit massacres against the Kurdish people, liquidate their leaders, and pursue their liberation movement. Where its liquidation mechanisms included the general public through malicious arrests and the application of arbitrary measures of mock courts and daily executions, not to mention the implementation of impoverishment projects that kept Iranian Kurdistan "the eastern part of Kurdistan" 95% below the line of hunger and poverty.
The Iranian regime continued to employ its sectarian laws to play on the social contradictions between the peoples inside Iran, directing the country's economic energies to expansion and sectarian expansion in the Middle East with the support of sectarian and extremist groups and organizations, in addition to the heavy weapons industry that contributed to perpetuating chaos and sectarian conflict, and the peaceful humanitarian threat in The Middle East, and thus employed all the country's energies in military and political projects and adventures at a time when the Iranian peoples were suffering from poverty and systematic persecution practiced by the various security services at the behest of the velayat-e faqih and his ruling group. This is what prompted the Iranian street to boil over and develop its rejection of the regime’s practice, as the first public popular movements began in 2009 to serve as the basis for subsequent movements whose strength emerged in recent years, although the previous movements appeared within the contexts of political dispute within the corridors of the regime, but the new versions were characterized by It is always in the Kurdish color, as the spark starts from the Kurdish regions, and extends to the rest of the Iranian provinces, reaching the heart of the capital, Tehran. And if the spark was a result of the violation committed by the Iranian security forces against the Kurdish girl Mahasa Amini (Gina), the seeds of these movements are mainly caused by the sufferings faced by the Iranian peoples, as the deterioration of the economic conditions and the repressive practices of the regular security and military tools have revealed many facts that were hidden, at a time when the regime relied on the security fist. The fragility of the regime and its effects have been shown, and the huge demonstrations have shifted from demanding reforms to overthrowing the velayat-e faqih regime.
The use of this authority for excessive repression and the security grip in dealing with the legitimate rights of the peoples of Iran, subjecting them under the weight of threats and ethnic liquidation, and turning the country into a large prison of detainees, martial law and sham courts, exhausted society with all its ethnic and religious components, and caused an increase in the state of internal boiling that erupted Now the face of this system.

Anticipate future events

The objective conditions were completely ready for the launch of a new popular uprising against the mullahs’ regime, so that the Iranian environment suggests support for any popular movement due to the raging conflicts between Iran and the Sunni Arab countries, and the violent Iranian interference in Syria and Lebanon in light of the continued Iranian support for Shiite sectarian expansion at the expense of the Sunni countries. . Perhaps the Yemeni, Iraqi, Lebanese and Syrian scenes show us the motives behind the Iranian regime's continued depletion of the strategic capabilities of the Iranian people and the destruction of their economic system after being involved in sectarian conflicts that caused the people alone to pay a great price so that Iran becomes one of the poor countries as a result of these negative policies.

- internally

Whether this uprising succeeded in overthrowing the regime or resulted from amending some important laws related to women's rights or easing the burden of the religious police, the most likely possibility indicates an increase in the level of oppression and abuse, and the elimination of citizens, especially the Kurdish people, by the criminal means that the regime is famous for, unless The developments within this security environment, in such a large way, in confronting the tools of repression and breaking their power, have strategic dimensions affecting the nature of the regime’s process, and drawing new features based on popular pressure that will result from the dilution of the regime’s authority and tyranny. Between the uprising of 2009 and 2017-2018-2020 there are great indications that this movement is developing very quickly, and it creates for itself a suitable ground and environment to push all circumstances to overthrow this regime, especially after breaking the taboos in raising the ceiling of demands. And if it fails this time and does not succeed, then the next will be more violent, more powerful, and broader confrontations.
The Kurdish movements during this uprising were the most severe compared to the previous stages, and if this indicates a high level of the uprising, then the production will be Kurdish, because the Iranian regime is fully aware that the main card in the uprisings is the Kurdish movements, and not alleviating the suffering of the Kurds necessarily means an increase in tension and the intensity of the current and upcoming confrontations .

- externally

According to the strategic perspective, what is happening is motivated by internal circumstances and externally has nothing to do with the popular movements against the regime. However, the process of curtailing the Iranian role on the agenda of the Western powers, with Arab and Israeli support, in the Middle East until it returns to square one and remains in constant conflict with the Sunni states far from the expansion that Over the past ten years, this has led to great concern for the allies of the United States and the West in the Middle East. The process of stopping Iranian expansion saves the Iranian peoples the burdens of sectarian wars outside the country. Instead of using their wealth and strategic capabilities in futile wars under sectarian guise, these capabilities will be employed in developing the country, opening up to the world, securing adequate living conditions, unleashing public freedoms, and building a democracy that provides the peoples of Iran with a healthy societal and international relationship away from oppression, killing, abuse, detention centers, sham courts, and ethnic liquidation. Which is done against the Kurds and the rest of the nationalities.
According to the scene, the Iranian regime will not be completely eliminated, and the reason is due to maintaining a balance between Shiites and Sunnis in the region, and this balance naturally provides the needs of these countries for the Americans, Europeans and Russians, and thus provides them with the barbarism of the Iranian regime selling weapons in exchange for oil and gas energy and acquisition On it, just as Iran constitutes a state of balance between Sunnis and Shiites in the process of pushing the Sunni Arab countries continuously to prepare and head to confront an upcoming and supposed war with the Iranian regime, and thus contributes to an Israeli-Arab rapprochement similar to the Iranian enemy that threatens the region, and therefore what Western countries seek is a process Limiting Iranian expansion and keeping it within a specific framework so that it does not get out of control.
The size of the repression practiced by the security and military services and the regime’s auxiliary formations and their continued suppression of peaceful demonstrations, imprisoning youth and activists during the past decades, and practicing the harshest forms of abuse, ethnic liquidation, and deliberate impoverishment projects will push the people to organize in the end and resort to arming and resistance to confront the mechanism of killing in the form of Guerrilla warfare in the rugged mountainous areas within each region, especially since the Kurdish political and military movement has been using these mechanisms for decades in the fight against the Iranian regime.

The prominent Kurdish organizations in Iran / eastern Kurdistan

- Kurdistan Free Life Party "PJAK"/ armed movement fighting for autonomy for Iranian Kurdistan. The ideology of "free life" and his political program underwent significant transformations, as he abandoned "Marxism-Leninism", which was the doctrine of the radical left during the Cold War, and became convinced of what he calls "scientific socialism". It is an armed political party with approximately 1,500-2,000 fighters.
The Kurdistan Democratic Party / with its two parts: Mustafa Hijri and Khaled Azizi / a Kurdish political party that struggles for the realization of Kurdish national rights within a federal republic. It has hundreds of peshmerga inside eastern and southern Kurdistan, and it is considered the mother of all subsequent organizations, except for the Free Life Party.
The Kurdistan Komala Party / led by Abdullah Muhtadi / has a left-wing communist orientation, is active in eastern Kurdistan, was founded in 1967, and struggled for 7+ with the aim of separating from the Shah’s regime for 12 years, until the establishment of the Islamic Republic under the leadership of Khomeini in 1979, after which it completed the armed struggle against the Iranian presence in eastern Kurdistan.
The Kurdistan Freedom Party / led by Ali Qazi Muhammad / sheds light on this party after receiving support and training for its members from the United States of America, and this party has approximately 300 armed Peshmerga.
Iranian Komnest Party, led by Ebrahimzadeh.
- The Kurdistan Struggle Organization/ led by Baba Sheikh Hosseini.
All of these parties have armed elements inside eastern Kurdistan, and Kurdish segments that follow them politically, and most of them are stationed in the rugged mountain areas, and they are leading a guerrilla war against the presence of the Iranian occupation.

The prominent Kurdish organizations in Iran / eastern Kurdistan

- Kurdistan Free Life Party "PJAK"/ armed movement fighting for autonomy for Iranian Kurdistan. The ideology of "free life" and his political program underwent significant transformations, as he abandoned "Marxism-Leninism", which was the doctrine of the radical left during the Cold War, and became convinced of what he calls "scientific socialism". It is an armed political party with approximately 1,500-2,000 fighters.
The Kurdistan Democratic Party / with its two parts: Mustafa Hijri and Khaled Azizi / a Kurdish political party that struggles for the realization of Kurdish national rights within a federal republic. It has hundreds of peshmerga inside eastern and southern Kurdistan, and it is considered the mother of all subsequent organizations, except for the Free Life Party.
The Kurdistan Komala Party / led by Abdullah Muhtadi / has a left-wing communist orientation, is active in eastern Kurdistan, was founded in 1967, and struggled for 7+ with the aim of separating from the Shah’s regime for 12 years, until the establishment of the Islamic Republic under the leadership of Khomeini in 1979, after which it completed the armed struggle against the Iranian presence in eastern Kurdistan.
The Kurdistan Freedom Party / led by Ali Qazi Muhammad / sheds light on this party after receiving support and training for its members from the United States of America, and this party has approximately 300 armed Peshmerga.
Iranian Komnest Party, led by Ebrahimzadeh.
- The Kurdistan Struggle Organization/ led by Baba Sheikh Hosseini.
All of these parties have armed elements inside eastern Kurdistan, and Kurdish segments that follow them politically, and most of them are stationed in the rugged mountain areas, and they are leading a guerrilla war against the presence of the Iranian occupation.

An identification card of some of the main organizations of the Iranian opposition

Iranian opposition groups reflect diverse political grievances, ethnic tensions, and ideological tendencies. The most prominent opponents of the regime are based partly or wholly outside Iran. Their goals are either regime change or self-determination for an ethnic group within Iran. The government has banned, persecuted, or prosecuted members of each of the six groups listed here.

Kurdistan Free Life Party

PJAK (Kurdish: Partiya Jiyana Azad a Kurdistanê) is a left-wing nationalist group opposed to the Iranian government. He began an intermittent armed struggle since 2004 against the Iranian government in order to decide the fate of the Kurds in Iranian Kurdistan.
PJAK is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
In 2009, the US Treasury designated it a terrorist group and front for the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Both groups are members of the Union of Kurdistan Communities, a grouping of Kurdish political and rebel organizations in Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq.
Its military arm, the Eastern Kurdistan Units, includes some 3,000 fighters from Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and the Kurdish diaspora.

Policy and regulation

Members of the PKK founded the PJAK as the Iranian equivalent of their left-wing nationalist insurgency against the Turkish government. The current leader of the organization is Abd al-Rahman Haji Ahmadi. According to the Washington Times, half of PJAK members are women, many of whom are still in their teens. The group actively recruits female fighters and says its "most ruthless and brutal fighters" are women drawn to the movement's "extreme feminism".
The Kurdistan Free Life Party is a member of the Union of Kurdistan Communities (Kurdish: Koma Civakên Kurdistan), an alliance of outlawed Kurdish groups and divisions with an elected executive leadership. The Union of Kurdistan Communities is responsible for a number of decisions, and often issues press releases on behalf of its members.
Dates: Activity 2004-present.
Motives: Establishing Kurdish national entities or federal states in Iran, Turkey and Syria - and establishing a democratic confederal system as seen by the thinker and philosopher Abdullah Ocalan.
Areas of activity: Iraq, Turkey, and Iran
Secular ideology, Kurdish nationalism, feminism, democratic confederalism
PJAK has been in an armed conflict with the Iranian authorities since 2004.
The PJAK killed 24 members of the Iranian security forces on April 3, 2006, in revenge for the killing of 10 Kurds who were demonstrating in Maku by the Iranian security forces. On April 10, 2006, seven members of the PJAK were arrested in Iran, on suspicion of killing three members of the Iranian security forces. The party planted a bomb on May 8, 2006 in Kermanshah, injuring five people in a government building.
In mid-2006, several confrontations took place between Iranian security forces and members of the PJAK along the border into Iran. Since then, the US news agency MSNBC claims that the Iranian army has begun bombing Kurdish villages in Iraq along the Iranian border while the Iranians claim that their main target is PJAK militants. A number of civilians were killed as a result of the bombing. PJAK claims its members are fighting inside Iran, and in August 2007, they destroyed an Iranian military helicopter that was conducting bombing operations.
On April 24, 2019, PJAK rebels attacked a police station in Kermanshah province. According to Iranian government sources, 18 policemen and 8 rebels were killed in a fierce gun battle. Iran responded a week later by attacking Kurdish villages in the border region of Panjwin inside Iraq using helicopters. According to Iraqi border guards, the area attacked by Iran is not considered a stronghold of the PJAK, which was the target of the raid. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, more than 800 Iraqi Kurds have been forced from their homes by recent border violence.
On July 16, 2011, the Iranian army launched a major offensive against the PJAK compounds in the mountainous regions of northern Iraq. According to the Guardians of the Revolution, dozens of rebels have been killed. According to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency, on July 26, militants affiliated with PJAK were killed in clashes in several towns in West Azerbaijan Province. Kurdish media reported that at least five members of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps were killed.
The official spokesman for the PJAK, Sherzad Kamankar, announced in an interview with the Iraqi Kurdish Hawalati and Awni newspapers that the Iranian forces attacked the PJAK strongholds on July 16, but the party succeeded in defeating the Iranian army to its original positions, and 53 Iranian soldiers were killed in the battle. While the party lost two of its fighters. Sherzad Kamnakar also indicated that the Iranian forces were launching a joint operation with Ansar al-Islam using heavy artillery. Iranian media later reported that General Abbas Assemi, the top commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps in the holy city of Qom, was killed along with five other soldiers in clashes with Kurdish rebels near the Iraqi border.
The Iranian government blames the PJAK for sabotaging attacks on gas pipelines and ambushing its forces, according to Reuters, and aid agencies say the Revolutionary Guards' bombing has caused "some civilian deaths and forced hundreds to flee their homes" in the area. The Revolutionary Guards deny this accusation.
On August 8, 2011, during the period of calm between the two parties during Ramadan, the leader of PJAK, Haji Ahmadi, said in an interview that his group was ready to negotiate with Iran and emphasized that Kurdish issues needed to be resolved through "peaceful means". Haji Ahmadi acknowledged that compromise in some cases is inevitable and indicated that PJAK is ready to lay down arms. He said the fighting may not help the Kurds secure political and cultural rights in Iran. However, the Iranian army resumed its offensive on September 2 and rejected any truce called for by the party, saying that the Kurdish rebels had no choice but to lay down their arms or leave the border areas. On September 19, General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, commander of the Iranian ground forces, told Vatan-e-Imroz newspaper that his forces would end the armed rebellion on Iraqi Kurdish territory within the following days.
The refusal to cease fire led to new clashes between the two sides. On September 2, after a month of lull in fighting, the Iranian army began a new round of ground operations against PJAK. On September 9, 2011, Iranian media reported that General Abbas Jansari of the Iranian army had been killed during a battle with PJAK rebels.
On September 30, 2011, the deputy commander of Iranian ground forces, General Abdullah Araqi, announced that after the Iranian army captured the Jasosan Heights, PJAK was defeated and agreed to retreat one kilometer from the Iranian border and refrain from military activities on Iranian territory and recruit Iranian citizens. According to Iranian media, 180 PJAK militants were killed and 300 others wounded in the recent operations to seize the party's headquarters in the Jasusan Heights in the northwestern border regions of Iran.
On April 25, 2012, Iranian media reported that four Iranian army elite were killed and four others wounded during an attack by PJAK rebels near Paveh, Kermanshah Province, in western Iran.

Alleged Turkish-Iranian cooperation

Although PJAK operates against Iranian and not Turkish forces, party officials have made unconfirmed allegations that Turkey, in light of alleged political shifts by the ruling Justice and Development Party, has begun targeting PJAK operations as well as its cooperation with Iranian forces that violate Turkish obligations under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In 2011, PJAK leader Haji Ahmadi claimed in a meeting with American conservative activist Kenneth R. Timmerman, that elements in the Turkish army units or the Turkish government have deliberately siding with the Iranian forces in suppressing the secular Kurdistan Free Life Party in Iran. Ahmadi claimed that Turkish alopecia operations, in cooperation with the Iranian army, had used Israeli drones to monitor the locations and movements of the party's rebels. Separately, Firat News Agency also claimed that the Turkish Armed Forces had sent more than 20 tanks and 300 special forces personnel, to assist the Iranian Army which had begun a separate move using Ansar al-Islam fighters to recapture Iranian areas captured by PJAK. Zimmerman also claimed that the Turkish and Iranian military had established joint headquarters in Iranian Urmia, through which the Turkish military provided advice and training to the Iranian army in anti-Kurdish activities. The Turkish government has rejected allegations of its involvement with Iran against PJAK.

party and us

The United States and PJAK deny any joint relations. Since February 2009, the US government has blacklisted PJAK as a terrorist organization, freezing any assets of the party under US jurisdiction and banning US citizens from doing business with the organization. Officials cited the PJAK's ties to the PKK as the basis for this designation—the US has banned the PKK as a "foreign terrorist organization" since 1997 in support of Turkey, a staunch regional ally of the United States and NATO member. Iranian media and government officials have often claimed that the PJAK is supported by the United States and that they are allied to undermine Iranian "state power". Iran's news agency Press TV claimed that US military officials met in Iraq with PJAK members in early August 2011 and promised them weapons and financial aid. Iranian officials also claimed that the PJAK attacks are being carried out "with the support of America and the Zionist regime" (Israel).
In November 2006, journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in The New Yorker that the US military and Israel are providing the group with equipment, training, and targeted information to create international pressure in Iran.
Hersh's allegations sparked a lot of anger in the Turkish media due to the ties between the PJAK and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been waging a decades-old armed campaign against Turkish government forces for Kurdish rights and self-determination in Turkey. Ross Wilson, the US ambassador to Turkey, soon issued a formal denunciation of any kind of US aid to PJAK in an attempt to calm the uproar; Wilson also sent a secret cable to Washington in December 2007 (later published by WikiLeaks) in which he strongly pleaded with the US government to blacklist PJAK. In the aftermath of this incident, Cemil Bayik, a senior PKK leader, confirmed in an interview with Agence France-Presse that while US officials had reached out to the PJAK, America had provided no support whatsoever to the rebel group. Bayak emphasized that the PKK is the founder and the only true supporter of the PJAK, adding that "if the US is interested in the PJAK, then it should be interested in the PKK as well," which contradicts the unwavering hostility of the United States towards the PKK. Kurdistan.
In 2007, Washington News claimed that Haji Ahmadi, leader of the PJAK, had visited Washington, D.C., in August 2007 to seek political and military support from the United States, but had only limited contact with officials and failed to obtain any support. However, a statement was issued on October 18, 2008, in which PJAK accused the United States of passing intelligence to Turkish and Iranian forces while they were carrying out intense bombing campaigns and cross-border attacks against PJAK and PKK bases in the Qandil region.

Iranian Kurdistan Democratic Party

The Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (PDKI) is an outlawed Kurdish militant group operating in northern Iraq and in Kurdish towns along Iran's western border. The PDKI seeks Kurdish self-determination and national rights within a federal and democratic Iran. Founded in 1945, the PDKI was essentially a clandestine organization between the execution of its founder Qazi Mohammad in 1947 and the Iranian Revolution in 1979. It spent the mid-20th century navigating strategic partnerships with other Kurdish groups amid severe crackdowns by the Shah, with the exception of a brief return. During the Mosaddegh government between 1951 and 1953.
The KDP participated in the 1979 revolution but failed to secure self-determination for the Kurdish regions of Iran. The group launched an abortive Kurdish rebellion of 1979 in March, one month before the official establishment of the Islamic Republic. Ayatollah Khomeini issued a religious fatwa against the KDP leadership in August 1979 and forced most of the group into exile in Iraqi Kurdistan by 1984.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the group carried out sporadic cross-border insurgent attacks. Two PDKI leaders were assassinated, one in Vienna in 1989 and the other in Berlin in 1992; The movement blamed Tehran. In 1996, the PDKI declared a unilateral ceasefire. For two decades, it was pretty much dormant. In 2006, they split, more due to personal differences than ideology. In 2016, the PDKI launched a new offensive with small attacks on government forces along the border with Iraq that continued sporadically into 2020.


In 1945 Qazi Muhammad founded the PDKI as a Kurdish separatist organization and declared independence from Iran. For several months, he served as president of the short-lived independent Kurdish Republic of Mahabad, based in the northwestern city in West Azerbaijan province. It received financial and political support from the Soviet Union. The government suppressed the secession movement in 1946 and Mehmed was hanged in March 1947.
Abd al-Rahman Qassemlou was elected general secretary of the PDKI in 1973. Between April and August 1979, Qassemlou supported Kurdish autonomy in a federal Iran and rejected separatism. He ran for elected office in the new Islamic Republic, but also supported the ongoing Kurdish insurgency of the PDKI party. Khomeini declared Qassemlou an enemy of the Islamic Republic in August 1979. Between 1981 and 1985, Qassemlou supported PDKI's membership in the National Council of Resistance, the revolutionary parliament of the MEK in exile. In July 1989, Ghasemlou was assassinated in Vienna after a round of peace talks between the PDKI and the Islamic Republic.
The current leader is Mustafa Hijri, who was elected Secretary General by the KDP Congress in 2006. Hijri had demonstrated against the monarchy in the Iranian revolution. He assumed its leadership in various capacities between 1979 and 2006, including three years as interim leader of the party after the 1992 assassination of Secretary-General Sadeq Sharafkandi - Ghasemlou's successor - in Berlin. In 2007, he supported PDKI's accession to the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO).
The PDKI's highest decision-making body is its congress, which is designed to be held every four years. The conference elects a Central Committee of 25 members, in addition to the seven members of the Politburo. The Politburo includes the General Secretary and acts as an executive ministry. Its affiliated organizations include the Democratic Women's Union of Iranian Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Democratic Youth Union, and the Kurdistan Democratic Students Union. It supports many youth organizations in Kurdish cities to develop emerging leaders.


The PDKI's ideology is based on democratic socialism and Kurdish nationalism. It prioritizes "an explicit commitment to democracy, freedom, social justice, and gender equality." The group is a member of the Socialist International.
In 2004, the PDKI shifted its mission from complete independence from Iran to supporting a federal democratic system that would grant autonomy to Kurds within Iran. Hijri, however, did not disavow military operations. In 2016, he announced Rasan's campaign against the "religious despotism" of the Islamic Republic. Hijri stated that the goal of the campaign was to "achieve [national] rights within the framework of a unified Iran," by "sending teams and cells of the Peshmerga forces to Iranian Kurdistan, to carry out operations against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard." Rasan also participated in online propaganda and educational programs in Kurdish towns on Iran's western border.


During the Kurdish rebellion - the largest uprising after the revolution - the PDKI claimed over 7,000 fighters. The conflict has killed an estimated 10,000 people and displaced 200,000. The rebellion ended in 1981 with the dissolution of the unified Kurdish military opposition in Iran. The PDKI continued its insurgent activities with material support from Iraq, but its campaign faltered by 1983 and the group gradually moved into northern Iraq.
The PDKI revived the insurgency after the assassination of Qassemlou in 1989. Kurdish rebels clashed with government soldiers near northwest Mahabad. Nearly 500 Iranian soldiers were killed during Kurdish offensives in 1989 and 1990, according to historical accounts. In January 1991, the government executed seven PDKI party members on charges of espionage and murder. The guerrilla insurgency continued for the next five years.
In 1992, the PDKI's resistance in Iran began to disintegrate due to increased Turkish support for Iranian counterinsurgency operations and the assassination of Sadeq Sharafkandi, which destroyed the group's command structure. In 1993, Tehran bombed PDKI targets in the no-fly zone established by US coalition forces in Iraqi Kurdistan. PDKI abandoned its bases in the Qandil Mountains in northern Iraqi Kurdistan and moved south. Since the mid-1990s, it has been primarily stationed in the Koy Sanjak district of Erbil Governorate - approximately 40 miles from the Iranian border. The PDKI entered into a de facto ceasefire with the Islamic Republic between 1996 and 2016.
In 2016, Hijri relaunched the PDKI's armed resistance by announcing the Rasan - or "uprising" campaign. In June 2016, PDKI militants clashed with security forces in an Iranian Kurd near the Iraqi border. The PDKI claimed to have killed 20 Iranian soldiers, and the government reported killing 11 PDKI fighters. Since the inception of Rasan, the government has sporadically attacked suspected PDKI strongholds in Iraq. An Iranian air strike in September 2018 killed fifteen Kurdish Peshmerga members in the Iraqi town of Koya.
The PDKI denied any association with the hardline Kurdish Zagros faction, despite published reports of possible ties. Nusour Zagros carried out offensive operations against Iranian forces between 2016 and 2018 that killed at least eight soldiers. The PDKI reported these attacks but said they were separate from Rasan's campaign of defensive resistance.
Since the 1990s, the PDKI has been headquartered in the Koy Sanjak district of Erbil Governorate in Iraq. Koy Sanjak is about 40 miles from the Iranian border. It is estimated to have between 1,000 and 2,000 fighters spread across the remote Iraqi-Iranian border.

foreign support

Since the early 1980s, the PDKI's survival has depended on positive relations with fellow Kurds in the KRG. But the PDKI has also tried to avoid military activity that would provoke Iranian involvement in Iraq — as it did during the Rasan campaign in 2018 when Iran launched an airstrike in Koya, Iraq, against PDKI targets.
Casey Donahue is a research assistant at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, which curates the Iran Primer with the United States Institute of Peace.

Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Al-Ahwaz

The Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Al-Ahwaz (ASMLA) is an armed separatist group seeking to establish an independent state in Khuzestan Province, southwestern Iran. Founded in 1999, ASMLA began military operations in Khuzestan after violent unrest in April 2005. Since 2007, the movement's political wings have been operating in exile. ASMLA split in 2015. It split into two rival factions based in exile in Denmark and the Netherlands; Each faction claims control of the Muhyiddin Nasser Martyrs Brigade, an underground militia operating inside Iran. The Martyrs Brigade has attacked oil and gas facilities, security forces, and banks in Khuzestan since 2005. In 2019, a local Ahwazi analyst told the Jamestown Foundation that the Martyrs Brigade operates with an estimated 300 personnel inside Iran.
The Syrian Arab Dental Federation (ASMLA) has exploited opposition among Iran's Arab population, which accounts for between 2 percent and 4 percent of the country's 84 million people. Most of Iran's oil fields are located in Khuzestan, but locals have long complained that it does not reap benefits from oil revenues. Approximately 70 percent of Iran's Arabs are Shiite Muslims. Since 2014, however, increasing numbers of Khuzestan Arabs (also known as Ahwazi Arabs) have converted to Sunni Islam. ASMLA has relationships with Sunni organizations in Iran and abroad. It supports hardline Sunni groups that oppose Iranian interference in the Middle East. She dedicated the 2013 offensive to the Sunni-dominated Syrian opposition.


Ahwazi activists founded the ASMLA in Khuzestan Province. Habib Jaber Al-Kaabi and Ahmed Mola Nissi were among the most prominent founders of the group. ASMLA kept a low profile between 1999 and 2005. Al Kaabi later told Orient News that the group spent its first six years preparing "economically, politically and militarily". In April 2005, the ASMLA played a major role in a four-day uprising that left dozens dead at the hands of security forces, according to human rights groups. Al-Kaabi and Al-Nisi fled Iran after the protests and found political asylum in Copenhagen and The Hague, respectively.

Saddam Hatem

In 2007, the ASMLA launched political and media operations from exile. Al-Kaabi was the head of the movement in Denmark. Nessi brought her politburo from the Netherlands. In 2010, ASMLA joined the National Organization for the Liberation of Ahwaz (also known as Hazm), an umbrella movement of about half a dozen Ahwazi separatist groups based in Iran and abroad. In 2012, ASMLA representatives met with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood to discuss an alliance against Iranian forces. Since 2012, ASMLA media has supported the Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz as well as Kurdish, Baloch, and Azeri opposition groups in Iran.
In May 2014, ASMLA suspended its membership in the National Organization for the Liberation of Ahwaz. In October 2015, the faction in The Hague led by Nissi accused Kaabi of abusing his powers and dismissed him from the presidency; Nessi was appointed to replace Al-Kaabi. The National Organization and three other Ahwazi groups that were allied with al-Kaabi defected to the Nissi faction.
Since the 2015 split, both factions have used the ASMLA name and flag. Media from the rival factions have alleged attacks carried out by the Martyrs Brigade in Khuzestan since 2015. In 2018, Al-Kaabi's faction in Denmark said it was a political arm of the Ahwazi National Resistance, an umbrella organization that oversees Ahwazis. Separatist groups in Khuzestan and in exile. However, the structure, location, and membership of the ANR are unclear.
In November 2017, Nissi was assassinated outside his home in The Hague. After a fourteen-month investigation, Dutch officials accused the Islamic Republic of hiring criminal intermediaries to carry out the attack. Tehran denied involvement in the killing. But the accusations sparked ASMLA protests that turned violent outside the Iranian embassy in The Hague.
Nissi's faction elected Saddam Hatim as his successor in June 2018. Hatim vowed to continue Nissi's mission of hosting democratic leadership elections and uniting groups opposed to the Persian occupation of Khuzestan. The Ahwazi, Baluchi, and Syrian Arab groups attended the first ASMLA conference hosted by Hatem in 2019.


The ASMLA's founding mission was to end the Iranian occupation of Khuzestan, which began when the Pahlavi dynasty dissolved the semi-autonomous Arab emirate of the region in 1925. The movement seeks to establish the independent state of Ahwaz. The Ahwazi community defines it as the historically Arab region of Khuzestan Province. ASMLA considers the borders of Ahwaz to be the Zagros Mountains to the north and east, the Persian Gulf to the south, and Iraq to the west. ASMLA identifies Arabism and religion as the two most prominent components of Ahwazi society. It calls for a democratic state that respects the Arab identity of its citizens and supports freedom of religion for Ahwazi Sunnis, Shiites, and Christians.
ASMLA pursued separatism through "revolutionary and collective struggle" in order to "restore usurped land, sovereignty and rights in Ahwaz from the clutches of the brutal Iranian occupation". The group accused the Islamic Republic of genocidal policies against the Ahwazi Arabs. He condemned the deportation of Arab citizens, the banning of the Arabic language in schools, and the government-supported resettlement campaigns for non-Arabs in Khuzestan.
ASMLA called for cooperation among all non-Persian peoples in Iran. In 2015, al-Kaabi reported close ties to two anti-government militias - the Baluch Army of Justice and the Kurdish Free Life Party. It also called on ASMLA to support Arab movements abroad. The organization compared the issue of Ahwaz to the Arab struggles against Iranian-backed forces in Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.


ASMLA began its armed struggle after the April 2005 uprising. Nisi later claimed that the Martyrs Brigade carried out its first attack in June 2005, the same month that Ahwazi militants bombed four government buildings in Khuzestan. The bombings killed eight people and injured more than 70. The Sudanese Armed Islamic Group also claimed responsibility for a January 2006 bombing that killed at least eight civilians in a bank.
From 2006 to 2011, the ASMLA had fewer military appearances. In 2012, the group began publishing photos and reports of attacks on natural gas pipelines. In March, it issued a statement supporting the Arab Spring movement and promising a "painful response" to the regime if it continued to mistreat and execute detainees. Since 2013, the ASMLA has claimed at least eight attacks on oil and gas facilities and warned international oil companies against investing in Iran.
In April 2015, ASMLA escalated military operations to commemorate the 2005 uprising. In April and May, ASMLA militants killed three police officers and set fire to a government building in Khuzestan. Between 2015 and 2018, the Martyrs Brigade carried out sporadic attacks on security forces.
In September 2018, gunmen killed 25 people and wounded nearly 60 in a military parade in the city of Ahvas. More than half of the victims were civilians. The government blamed the attack on ASMLA militants linked to US and Israeli intelligence. Al-Kaabi's spokesman confirmed that the attackers were Ahwazi separatists but denied prior knowledge of the attack. Al-Kaabi defended the targeting of the Revolutionary Guards as an act of self-defense against a "terrorist militia". Hatim's rival faction in The Hague also denied any role in the attack and condemned al-Kaabi's faction for speaking on behalf of ASMLA.

foreign support

Since 2005, several senior ASMLA members have been granted asylum in Denmark and the Netherlands. Iran has accused both countries of harboring terrorists. In October 2018, Danish intelligence accused Iran of planning the assassination of three ASMLA members in Copenhagen. An ASMLA spokesperson said that Al-Kaabi was one of the intended targets. The alleged plot was to take place one year after Nissi's assassination in The Hague and a month after the shootings at the military parade in Ahvaz.
Iran has long blamed foreign governments for civil unrest in Khuzestan province. Britain was accused of training the bombers who attacked oil facilities and government facilities in 2005 and 2006. Saudi Arabia and the UAE were accused of financing the militants who attacked the military parade in Ahwaz in September 2018. And in February 2020, the Danish security forces arrested. Three ASMLA members - including Al-Kaabi - accused them of spying for the Saudi government. In June 2020, the Danish Foreign Ministry summoned the Saudi ambassador to discuss the issue. Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said: "I have made it clear that the Danish government does not accept any activities related to terrorism on Danish soil." The ASMLA identifies Saudi Arabia as one of several potential allies in the Persian Gulf in its struggle against Iran. But the movement denies that it is a proxy force for any foreign government.
Farashgard is a political action network advocating for regime change through nonviolent civil disobedience. It calls for a secular democratic government and rejects Marxism and religious theocracy. She considers Reza Pahlavi - heir to the exiled Pahlavi monarchy - a "key figure" in her movement. It claims to have pockets of supporters in Iran, the United States, Canada, and more than a dozen European countries.
Farashaqer was established to unite disparate exile groups after anti-government protests in December 2017 and January 2018. It encourages Iranians inside the country to demonstrate peacefully against the regime. The group also urges the United States to increase economic pressure on the Islamic Republic.


Farshguard was founded in September 2018 when 40 dissidents published an open letter calling for the non-violent overthrow of the Islamic Republic. Farashgard has a loose organizational structure. Its members include founding royalists, secular democrats, former political prisoners, human rights activists, artists, academics and journalists. They share the goals of secularism, representative governance, and support for US sanctions on Tehran.

Reza Pahlavi

Pahlavi is the most prominent spokesperson for Farashgard. The group's inaugural public statement described it as crucial to "unifying the secular democratic opposition to the Islamic Republic". Pahlavi has been living in exile since the 1979 revolution and is a staunch critic of the regime. Since 2001, he has openly called for the unification of opposition pro-democracy groups.
Some members of Farashgard supported a constitutional monarchy with the Pahlavi as a symbolic figure overseeing an elected government. During the 2017 and 2018 protests, demonstrators in at least three cities chanted slogans in support of the former royal family. But the organization is not officially calling for a return to ownership. In interviews conducted in 2001 and 2020, Pahlavi promised to give up the title of Shah if Iranians rejected the monarchy after the current regime was overthrown.


Farashgard's motto is "Restore and rebuild Iran". It rejects political dealings with the Islamic Republic and asserts that the government is incapable of reform. He promotes secularism and democracy but has no specific vision of a post-clerical government. It promises to support whatever political system the Iranian people vote for after the overthrow of the theocracy.
Farshgard calls for peaceful demonstration and civil disobedience. It calls on foreign governments to increase pressure on Tehran without resorting to military force. It points to the protests of 2017 and 2018 as evidence of Iranians' willingness to overthrow the government. Pahlavi encouraged the army to defect and unite with the popular opposition against the regime.

foreign support

Frachgaard identifies the United States as the government most capable of accelerating regime change. Pahlavi, who is based outside Washington, praised President Trump's campaign to exert "maximum economic pressure" on Tehran and criticized previous US efforts to negotiate with the Islamic Republic. Since the founding of Farashgard, Pahlavi has promoted his views in American think tanks and in media interviews.

Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice)

The Justice Army (JUA) is a militant Baloch nationalist organization that promotes Salafi Islam and seeks greater autonomy for the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan in Iran. The JUA broke away from Jundallah in 2012. It emerged after the government's 2010 execution of Jundallah founder Abd al-Malik Riji and the subsequent decline of Jundallah. Since 2013, the JUA has been the most active Baloch armed group and has maintained ties with smaller insurgent cells, such as Ansar al-Furqan and Harakat Ansar Iran, which grew out of the original Jundallah network.
The JUA operates in southeastern Iran and in the province of Balochistan, which borders Pakistan. It attacks Iranian security forces in Baloch-dominated areas. The JUA carried out sporadic assassinations and kidnappings between 2013 and 2017. It intensified its operations in late 2018 with a series of suicide bombings and hostage executions. Like many opposition groups, the number of members in the JUA—and whether they are full-time combatants or part-time volunteers—is uncertain, although VOA and the Israel Defense Forces have stated that the group has an estimated 500 members.


Salahuddin Farooqui (also known as Abdul Rahim Mullahzadeh) founded the Joint Action Army in 2012. Farooqi and his second deputy, Mullah Omar (no relation to the former leader of the Afghan Taliban), were among the most prominent leaders of the Arab Unity Army since the group. beginning. Farooqi is from the Baluchistan province of Pakistan and has ties to the Baloch communities on both sides of the border. Prior to 2012, Farooqi was a commander of Jundallah. He recruits many of the JUA's founding members from the former Rigi ranks. In 2012, Omar described the Abu Dhabi Army as a continuation of Jund Allah.

Salahuddin Farooqi

The JUA consists of decentralized military branches led by leaders of smaller rebel groups that have pledged allegiance to Farooqi. Many of the JUA's are former members of Jund Allah and have family or tribal ties to each other. Among the prominent commanders of the Abu Dhabi Army Group were two of Reggie's brothers and Mulla Bux Dharakshan. Darkeshan is the brother of Mullah Omar and founder of Jundullah's predecessor, Sipah e Rasool Allah (SRA).


In 2015, Farooqi described the JUA as "a defense military organization designed to protect the national and religious rights of the Baluch people and Sunnis in Iran." The group regards the government as its main enemy. The JUA is an ethno-religious group that prioritizes Sunni Baloch liberties within Iran but also calls for an end to oppression against Sunni Muslims abroad. She has criticized the Iranian presence in the Syrian war and called for the release of Sunni prisoners held by Iranian forces in Syria during the 2014 hostage standoff.
The JUA's ambitions appear to be in line with its predecessors in Jund Allah and the SRA. The JUA calls for greater autonomy in Sistan and Baluchistan and calls for an end to the religious and national oppression of Baloch Sunnis in Iran. In 2019, the JUA stated that it seeks to "liberate the oppressed people of Balochistan and other citizens" by "targeting the [Revolutionary] Guards cadre". JUA leaders describe the group's mission as a defensive struggle for justice and rights, although the government describes the group as a terrorist movement founded to overthrow the Islamic Republic.
The JUA follows a conservative brand of Sunni Islam, inspired by militant Salafism and the Deobandi revival. Sunni Islam is considered an integral part of the Baluch ethnic identity, although a small minority of the two million Balochs in Iran are Shia Muslims.


The Abu Dhabi Army Group's early attack strategy differed from Jundallah's in that it did not adopt suicide bombings or target the civilian population. Between 2013 and 2017, the JUA targeted security forces with small arms or carried out kidnappings. It carried out its first major operations in late 2013, killing 14 Iranian border guards and a prosecutor between October and November. The JUA alleged that the attacks were in retaliation for the regime's detention of 16 suspected Baloch militants on death row.
In February 2014, five Iranian border guards were kidnapped by JUA militants and held for ransom in Pakistan for two months. The group demanded the release of 300 Sunnis imprisoned by government forces in Syria and Iran. The JUA released four guards at the behest of prominent Sunni clerics but executed one of them in captivity.
The JUA carried out a series of deadly attacks between 2017 and 2019. In January 2017, the group claimed to have killed several military personnel — including senior commanders of the Revolutionary Guards — in the city of Sarbaz, Sistan, and Balochistan province. A JUA spokesperson said the attack was carried out in coordination with the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz, which recently attacked a natural gas pipeline in Sarbaz. In April 2017, the JUA claimed responsibility for the killing of 10 border guards near the Pakistan border in Sistan and Baluchestan. Between April and June 2018, the JUA claimed responsibility for attacks that killed at least seven members of the Iranian security forces near the Pakistan border.
In October 2018, the group kidnapped at least 12 security personnel in the town of Mirjavah and held them captive in Pakistan. The JUA published pictures of the hostages and demanded the release of Baloch prisoners in Iran. Iran and Pakistan had secured the release of nine hostages by March 2019, although a general in the Revolutionary Guards reported that the JUA was still holding six more.
In February 2019, the JUA launched a suicide attack that killed 27 Revolutionary Guardsmen on a bus between the cities of Zahedan and Khash. Many of the JUA fighters are seasoned guerrilla fighters with sufficient training to engage Iranian forces at close range and attack high-ranking officials. It assassinated a prosecutor in 2013. However, the JUA has claimed that it will not attack Iranian civilians.

foreign support

The JUA's long presence in Pakistan has complicated relations between Tehran and Islamabad. After the JWJ suicide attack in February 2019, a spokesman for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard threatened to deploy forces inside Pakistani territory. In March 2019, Pakistan declared the JUA a terrorist group. But Islamabad has historically struggled to control militant activity in the remote, mountainous regions of Pakistan's Baluchistan province.
The Islamic Republic has long accused the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia of secretly supporting Baluch Sunni terrorism. The government refers to the JUA as an organization supported by foreign enemies. US officials reportedly encouraged insurgent activity in southeastern Iran as early as 2005, ABC News reported in 2007. The CIA denied all allegations of covert support and designated the JUA as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in July 2019.
Tehran also classifies Abu Dhabi's army as an al-Qaeda affiliate. These allegations are unfounded, and Farooqi has never pledged support to the al-Qaeda network.

Mojahedin Khalq (The People's Holy Warriors)

The People's Mujahedin (PMOI) is an exiled armed opposition group that seeks regime change. It calls for a pluralistic, secular and democratic Iran, but its philosophy is imbued with Marxist and Islamic values. The MEK was founded by left-wing students in 1965 as an urban guerrilla unit in opposition to the monarchy. The movement participated in the 1979 revolution, but later separated from the government of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini due to political and ideological differences. The People's Mojahedin Organization went into exile in 1981.
In the early 1980s, the MEK united opposition groups under the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an umbrella movement with a parliament based in Paris. Beginning in 1985, the MEK—led by Massoud and Maryam Rajavi—gradually took control of the NCRI and transformed a movement originally composed of various opposition groups into a partnership affiliated with the MEK. Parliament of the National Council of Resistance of Iran also came under their control. Some defected - including the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan. The MEK's most active insurgency took place when it was based in Iraq between 1986 and 2003. Since then it has been limited to delicate and private operations, and extensive and extensive activity abroad.


The MEK was founded by three students—Mohammed Hanif Nejad, Saeed Mohsen, and Asghar Badizghan—at the University of Tehran in 1965. It promoted a modern interpretation of Shia Islam that rejected both monarchy and capitalism. In 1970, the MEK began targeting foreign and domestic supporters of the monarchy. The operations included the assassination of six Americans - three military officers and three civilians - and the attempted kidnapping of US Ambassador Douglas MacArthur. In late 1971, the Shah's secret police thwarted a MEK attack on the state's electrical grids. The three founders were executed on May 25, 1972.

Maryam Rajavi

After the revolution, Massoud Rajavi built the MEK into one of the most powerful factions in the country, but fell out with Khomeini over a new constitution. When the People's Mojahedin Organization declined to participate in the constitutional referendum, the Ayatollah prevented the movement from taking office. The deepening split led to members moving underground or fleeing the country.
In 1981, the PMOI launched a series of attacks against senior Iranian officials. A bombing at the Islamic Republican Party headquarters in June killed 74 government officials, including the chief justice and twenty-seven members of parliament. A second bombing in August killed the president, prime minister and six other officials. The regime responded with prosecutions and mass executions of suspected MEK members.
From exile in Paris, Rajavi co-founded the National Council of Resistance with Abdol Hassan Banisadr, the first president of the Islamic Republic who was impeached in June 1981. Rajavi and Banisadr fled together in secret in July. Massoud married Maryam Qajar Azoudanlu in 1985. She was a social organizer for the People's Mojahedin Organization in the 1970s and a founding member of the NCR. She became the head of the National Council of Resistance in 1993. The MEK adopted a sect-like structure under their joint leadership. The Rajavis family was expelled from France in 1986 and set up a new headquarters in Iraq. They served as co-leaders until 2003.
In the late 1980s, loyalty to the PMOI became synonymous with loyalty to the Rajavi family. The Rajavis imposed harsh initiation conditions on the recruits, including mandatory divorce, celibacy, and forfeiture of assets. Dissidents of the MEK and human rights observers have accused the Rajawis of committing crimes against humanity, including ethnic violence and systematic sexual abuse of its members. Massoud has not been seen since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. The MEK has claimed that he is in hiding, though his whereabouts are uncertain. Maryam Rajavi assumed the sole leadership of the PMOI. Since 2003, Rajavi, the head of the NCR, has been based in Paris.
Between 2003 and 2012, the organization renounced violence and successfully sued for removal from the United States and the European Union. Lists of foreign terrorist organizations. For several years, the NCRI has held annual conferences calling for regime change in Iran. Other long-term NCRI members, including women, have risen to leadership positions. Zahra al-Muraikhi became the Secretary-General of the People's Mojahedin Organization in 2017. Many women have also previously served as high-ranking officers in its militias.


The MEK's early philosophy blended Marxist egalitarianism, Shiite Islamism, and Iranian nationalism. Its founders advocated for a society that retained its Shiite Islamic identity but opposed imperialism, Islamic fundamentalism, and foreign corporations in Iran. The Rajavi continued to promote democratic pluralism during the MEK's exile in France and Iraq, but minimized the influence of the Marxist group to avoid tensions with potential Western allies. The Rajavi also made gender equality a central pillar of the MEK's philosophy.
In 2013, Maryam Rajavi published a 10-point statement. The document called for a pluralistic democratic system, separation of religion and state, abolition of the death penalty, gender equality, and adherence to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It also adopted a market economy and the right to private property and private investment. It pledged that a non-nuclear Iran would be free of weapons of mass destruction.


The MEK claimed hundreds of thousands of supporters prior to its 1981 exile. However, membership figures prior to the exile are uncertain. After the MEK was expelled from France in 1986, approximately 7,000 members—an estimated 80 percent of the group's members in exile—relocated their operations to Iraq.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein armed the PMOI's National Liberation Army and used its fighters as an unofficial wing of the Iraqi army in the last two years of the war with Iran. After Iran agreed to a UN cease-fire in July 1988, the MEK launched Operation Eternal Light, an offensive with some 7,000 fighters in Kermanshah Province to incite a popular uprising. Failed. Iranian forces killed between 1,200 and 2,000 MEK fighters, and then arrested and executed thousands of MEK members at home.
In the 1990s and 2000s, the MEK carried out sporadic acts of violence, including a raid by supporters armed with knives and petrol bombs on Iran's UN Mission in New York in 1992. The NCRI also disclosed details of covert nuclear operations to Tehran. In 2002, she revealed information about the government's uranium enrichment program at Natanz that led to a UN investigation. MEK agents - with training, funding and logistical support from the Israeli Mossad - have been linked to the assassination of five Iranian nuclear scientists between 2007 and 2012. The MEK denied the allegations.
After Saddam was overthrown in 2003, the MEK agreed to a cease-fire with US forces disarming the group. About 3,800 MEK members in Iraq were allowed to remain in their own camp under US military protection. MEK fighters were transferred to other countries between 2012 and 2016. The largest group was transferred to Albania.

foreign support

Since 1981, the MEK has relied on support - logistical, financial, political or military - from foreign countries. From 1981 until 1986, the command was based in France. Between 1986 and 2003, the MEK's leadership operated outside of Iraq, with troops remaining in Iraqi camps until 2016. Since the group's expulsion from the European Union. List of foreign terrorists in 2009, MEK leaders have publicly organized again in France.
US views of the MEK have changed over time. In 1997, the Clinton administration added the MEK to its list of foreign terrorist organizations; The European Union followed suit in 2002. In June 2003, the French government arrested more than 150 MEK members, including Maryam Rajavi, on suspicion of financing terrorism. The arrests sparked protests by the MEK in Europe and Canada, which included several self-immolations.
In 2003, the United States - as the occupying power in Iraq - granted MEK members "protected persons" status under the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Between 2004 and 2012, the MEK was designated a terrorist organization and protected by the US military. When US forces withdrew from Iraq in 2011, Iran-backed militias in Iraq killed dozens of MEK members at Camp Ashraf. The United States removed the MEK from its terrorist list in 2012 and facilitated the transfer of its last forces to Albania in 2016.
Since 2012, many American public figures - including former National Security Adviser John Bolton and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani - have endorsed the MEK as an alternative to the current regime. Previous speakers at MEK events include a bipartisan cross section of former US officials.
Information and quotes included in the tariff section of the Iranian opposition parties:
- Translation of quotations by the "Geostrategic Studies Team"
- Research by Casey Donahue / iranprimer.usip
- Encyclopedia of Knowledge
- Wikipedia world encyclopedia

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