- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 13, 2008

Maryam Rajavi is president-elect of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, an exile group dedicated to the overthrow of the regime in Tehran. The People’s Mojaheddin Organization of Iran, the group’s main membership arm, has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and some European governments, but the Council has also been a key source of intelligence on Iran’s nuclear programs and activities in Iraq and Lebanon. Mrs. Rajavi spoke by telephone from Paris with The Washington Times yesterday.

QUESTION: How do you see Iran’s parliamentary elections unfolding? ANSWER: [Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei very much needs to tighten his grip on power, and he very much needs a parliament subordinate to President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad. That’s why these will be an engineered election, with a plan prepared in advance by Khamenei on who can run, who will be elected, and who will be speaker. Q: How is the regime doing that? A: Through the Ministry of the Interior, the Revolutionary Guard Corps and provincial officials, it has already been determined who can run and who can win. The regime is even using the ID cards of deceased people as one way to claim a falsely high turnout. Q: Are there divisions within the conservative ruling regime? A: The regime is constantly facing internal defections and dissension at all levels. For example, [former top nuclear negotiator] Ali Larijani, who has clashed with the president, was not allowed to run for a seat in Tehran and had to campaign for a seat in Qom. The outcome of the election will be a win for Khamenei and Ahmadinejad, but it will be a more fragile, extremist regime. Q: What should the United States and the West do? A: The international community has to recognize that this election has no legitimacy whatsoever. The only real long-term hope is democratic change in Iran led by the people and by the resistance to end the mullahs’ regime.

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