When the history of the Iranian revolution is compiled, the third year of the Islamic Republic may stand out as particularly decisive. The alliance of left-leaning lay political elements with the Islamic Republican Party ruptured completely. Iranian forces scored important gains on the battlefield with Iraq. The regime secured its grip on the state apparatus and dominated the political arena through massive repression and widespread executions.
If the regime appears stronger today than a year ago, the future of the revolution still seems far from certain. In this issue, we focus on some of the social and political forces in opposition. Our exclusive interviews with Bani-Sadr, Rajavi, Bakhtiar and Nobari are singular testimonies of the political struggles that comprised the revolution in its formative stages. They do not provide a comprehensive or detached assessment of the situation today. Rather, these accounts shed a particular and personal light on the concrete political dilemmas these people faced in the crucible of the revolution. For the future, we think, they raise more questions than answers about the capacity and orientation of the exile opposition now grouped together as the Council for National Resistance.
The interviews and articles here do not represent the full spectrum of opposition to the regime. Nor do they adequately address the government’s continued popular strength.
On December 4, 1981, President Reagan issued an executive order which gives the Central Intelligence Agency authority to conduct spying and covert action against US citizens and organizations here and abroad. (The 17-page order was accompanied by a 30-page top secret “implementing order.”) Persons or groups working with non-US citizens, especially those in opposition to regimes backed by the US, are particularly susceptible to the legally unrestrained attention of CIA operatives. Attorney General William French Smith, who is responsible under the new order for supervising such CIA conduct, told the Los Angeles World Affairs Council on December 18 that “even more insidious” than traditional spy networks or technology espionage are those “‘active measures’ in this country which are aimed at influencing public opinion and the political process through ‘disinformation.’” “Disinformation” is this administration’s buzzword for dismissing any inconvenient criticism of its policies as inspired by the Soviet KGB. This order assumed yet more ominous implications when CIA Director William Casey recently proposed to the attorney general that his agents be guaranteed immunity from criminal prosecution for any “authorized” activities.
A coalition of political organizations is preparing a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of the Reagan executive order. Persons or groups interested in joining as plaintiffs must be able to demonstrate “standing” in this case, i.e., that they have good reason to believe they are or might be subject to official spying, harassment and “dirty tricks.”