One of the striking characteristics of the past week of protests in Iran is the apparent lack of a leadership organization behind them. The Green Movement that lead the protests against the tainted presidential election of 2009, mostly made up of the reformist faction, has remained absent this time around, with the reformist leaders mostly distancing themselves from the protesters. There doesn’t appear to be a government-in-waiting that those who dream of "regime-change" in Tehran can install in place of the ayatollahs. However, Al Arabiya, the Saudi-owned news network, has a suggestion: the National Council For the Resistance In Iran, the political front for the terrorist Mujahadeen e-Khalq Organization (MeK or MKO). The MeK was on the U.S. State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations from 1997 to 2012 because of its decades- long history of violence and terrorism, including against Americans in the 1970’s.
This history apparently is no obstacle to Saudi support of the MeK as an alternative political leadership for Iran, however.
"The ongoing protests in different cities against the regime reveal the explosive state of Iranian society and the people’s desire for regime change," Al Arabiya quotes NCRI president Maryam Rajavi as saying. Rajavi added that the
"Iranian people demand the overthrow of the ruling religious dictatorship. It is their right to topple this repressive regime. And I emphasize: Regime change in Iran is within reach."
Al Arabiya gushes that Rajavi’s ten-point plan for Iran
"is a clear blueprint for a free and democratic Iran void of nuclear weapons; in peace and harmony with its neighbors and the rest of the world; upholds women’s rights and the rights of ethnic and religious minorities in the country and many more progressive plans for Iran."
Al Arabiya further reports that the MeK
"has put to use its widespread network inside Iran and its satellite TV Simay-Azadi’s citizen reporters are sending their video and internet messages of Iran’s cities to the world 24/7."
In the United States, the neo-conservatives have long seen the MeK as a tool for overthrowing the government of Iran and the religious clerics who dominate it. They waged a long campaign for the delisting of the MeK as a terrorist group, which finally succeed in 2012 when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement claiming that they had renounced violence. The neo-cons’ relationship with the MeK continues to this day, as was shown in August when three senior Republican members of the U.S. Senate—Roy Blunt (Mo.), John Cornyn (Tex.), and Thom Tillis (N.C.)—met with Rajavi in Tirana, Albania, in August of 2017.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani raised the issue of the MeK in a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron, yesterday. Rouhani bluntly told Macron that the MeK, which has maintained its headquarters in Paris for decades, must be shut down.
"We expect the French government to take its legal responsibility to combat terrorism and violence," said Rouhani, criticizing the allowance of a terrorist group maintaining a base in Paris, operating against the Iranian people, and provoking and persuading people to take violent actions in Iran, according to Tasnim.