Letter from Gilan

by Fred Halliday
published in MER86

The western road from Tehran to the northern province of Gilan runs for about 270 miles up over the Elborz mountains till it reaches the Caspian port of Enzeli. Leaving Tehran on a clear Saturday morning, the first day of the week, the way is flanked by vendors -- melon sellers and men offering an array of car seat covers which lie along the roadside like distended carpets. Before clearing Tehran the road runs past an enormous abandoned housing site, a mass of grey skeletons that run for over half a mile down to Mehrabad airport and which were under construction by the Bank Omran, a subsidiary of the Shah’s Pahlavi Foundation. Like almost all other building sites in Tehran, this one is now empty and silent.

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The Tudeh Party in Iranian Politics

Background Notes

by Fred Halliday
published in MER86

Excerpted from Iran: Dictatorship and Democracy (1979), pp. 227-234:

The Tudeh Party was, in contrast to the National Front, an organized political party, indeed, the most organized political force ever seen in Iranian politics. The earlier Communist Party (founded 1921) had been crushed by Reza Khan, and under a 1931 law it became illegal for any organization to profess communist, or ‘collectivist,’ views. Hence when it became possible to form a party again after the Allied invasion in 1941, it was decided to call the party the Masses (Tudeh) Party; the Tudeh was, however, in practice the orthodox pro-Russian Iranian communist party and remains so to this day.

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Interviews with Fedayi, Mojahedin and Tudeh Activists

by Fred Halliday
published in MER86

Since the overthrow of the Shah, over 150 distinct political groups have declared their existence in Iran. Of these, the majority are probably groups adhering to some version of revolutionary socialism, and few have as yet a substantial following in the country. Perhaps the largest left-wing group judged in terms of membership and ability to influence events is the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran, whose influence is predominant in the Kurdish mountains and towns.

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The Guerrilla Movement in Iran, 1963-1977

by Ervand Abrahamian
published in MER86

One crisp morning in the winter of 1971, thirteen young Iranians armed with rifles, machine guns and hand grenades, attacked the gendarmerie post in the village of Siakal on the edge of the Caspian forests. Killing three gendarmes, they tried to release two colleagues who had been detained a few days earlier, and, failing to find the prisoners in the gendarmerie post, escaped into the rugged mountains of Gilan. Unknown both to the participants and to the outside world, this famous “Siakal incident” sparked eight years of intense guerrilla activity and inspired many other radicals, Islamic as well as Marxist, to take up arms against the Pahlavi regime.

Letter

by
published in MER88

To the Editors: Your issue on the left forces in Iran (MERIP Reports 86) was interesting and informative, albeit somewhat dated. I found Ervand Abrahamian’s essay to be an altogether good description of the origins and development of the guerrilla movement in Iran. While I disagree with the important role he has relegated to the Guruhe Munsheb, and am somewhat surprised that he should use the class-less term “Islamic Revolution,” this letter focuses of his discussion of the Fedayi’s theory and practice of armed struggle. His article left out the important fact that there were two positions on armed struggle within the organization: those of Masoud Ahmadzadeh and Bijan Jazani, respectively.

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Halliday, Iran: Dictatorship and Development

by Robert Dillon
published in MER88

Fred Halliday, Iran: Dictatorship and Development (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1979).

The Iranian revolution of 1978-1979 was a momentous historical event. It probably involved a greater proportion of any country’s population in direct insurrectionary action than has any previous revolution. In the late fall of 1978 anti-regime demonstrations were absorbing virtually the whole active populations of Iran’s major and not-so-major towns -- tens of millions out of a population of some 35 million. This disciplined but unarmed populace virtually dissolved the supposedly loyal, well-disciplined and certainly well-armed forces of a brutal, repressive dictatorship with the firing of hardly a shot.

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Ahvaz Steel Workers' Strike

by
published in MER88

The workers of the Foster Wheeler-Tehran Jonub Company, part of the Ahvaz Steel Industry Contractors Company, today ended their 56-day strike following a meeting with Hojjat-ol-Islam Jannati and Engineer Gharavi, governor of Khuzestan. Dr. Sheybani, member of the board of directors for the National Iranian Steel Company, promised that the workers’ salaries for the strike period, as well as their new year bonuses, will be paid.

Commenting on the strike, Hojjat-ol-lslam Jannati explained that the decision to pay the workers for the strike period was based on the fact that these workers were the victims of a plot.

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Khomeini: "We Shall Confront the World with Our Ideology"

published in MER88

The following speech, written by Ayatollah Khomeini on the eve of the Iranian New Year, is his most comprehensive summary of his political philosophy and world outlook. Here Khomeini lays out not only his concept of revolutionary Islam -- an aspect of his thought well-known in the West -- but also two other equally important aspects of his thought not so well known, especially among the left.

Iran's Oil Workers

Ominous Silence

by Joe Stork
published in MER88

A shroud of silence seems to have enveloped Iran’s oil industry since last fall when the top oil official Hassan Nazih was dismissed under charges of treason, allegedly for failing to purge non-Islamic elements from the ranks of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). Even production and export figures have become state secrets. Reports of difficulties in maintaining the officially sanctioned production level of 3.5 million barrels a day are almost impossible to confirm.

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"Everything Positive Has Come from the Masses Below"

by
published in MER88

This interview is with an Iranian woman active on the left who had lived in the US for seven years before returning to Iran in January 7979. She visited MERIP in Boston in early February 1980.

Could you tell us what your impressions were when you returned to Iran a year ago?

I had been away about seven years. When I arrived, the Shah had just left. The feeling of solidarity was tremendous, with everyone cooperating and organizing massive demonstrations.

Do you feel that sense of unity and solidarity is still there?

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