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Nation: Through Blood and Fire

3 minute read

If the Khomeini regime falls, it is quite possible that the Iranian left will come to power because of the virtual disintegration of all political forces in the mod erate center. Of the three major leftist parties, the Fedayan and Tudeh believe in Marxism and the Mujahedin in Islamic socialism, a variant that provides for a belief in God. Only the Communist Tudeh Party appears to be closely associated with the Soviet Union. All three parties are hostile to the West.

The Fedayan and Mujahedin are the more dynamic groups with a degree of support among the masses and in the armed services. The most persistent and ferocious of the Shah’s opponents, they were brutally suppressed and suffered heavy losses. But they continued to provoke bloody clashes with SAVAK and played a major role in the battle for Tehran, which led to the Shah’s downfall. Says a Mujahedin leader: “We have waded through blood and fire to our present status.”

The Mujahedin is the more moderate of the two parties. It practices the same religion as Khomeini, but it differs in wanting to establish a classless society, or “pure Shi’ism.” The party boycotted the referendum on the theocratic constitution, and it refused to surrender the arsenal it had built up during its long struggle against the Shah. Persecuted by Khomeini forces, the Mujahedin nevertheless feel they are spiritually akin. Says a party leader: “The struggle is between two kinds of Islam, two kinds of Shi’ism, not them and us.”

The Fedayan, on the other hand, are a hard-line secular group with no ties of any kind to Khomeini. They were the first political group to stage marches against the government after the fall of the Shah. They sent thousands of guerrillas to fight against Khomeini’s forces in Kurdistan, thereby demonstrating a capacity to put an army into the field. But they did not take part in the recent rebellion against the constitution in Tabriz. Explains a Fedayan leader: “We do not join any movement simply because it is opposed to the government. For us, what matters is the destruction of class privilege, the exercise of national sovereignty by genuine, grass-roots popular councils.”

Though some of their leaders were trained by Palestinians, the Fedayan consider themselves to be devout Iranian nationalists. They scorn the Soviet Union for backsliding from Marxist-Leninist principles and for giving Iranians advice that primarily serves Moscow.

Unlike the Fedayan and Mujahedin, the Communist Tudeh Party operates openly in Iran despite its firm ties to the Soviet Union. It has cheerfully supported the establishment of a rigid Islamic state in Iran. Says Tudeh Leader Noureddin Kianuri: “Our party’s objectives are identical with those of Khomeini: the eradication of all forms of imperialism, particularly from America.”

Because of the party’s compliance, it is allowed to do business in a four-story building in downtown Tehran. Its emphasis on social justice and its anti-Western stance have a certain appeal for Iranians unhappy with the strongly clerical tone of the Khomeini regime. Still, Tudeh support is limited, especially outside Tehran, because of the party’s image as a Soviet puppet. A saying goes: “When it rains in Moscow, Tudeh members in Iran put up their umbrellas.”

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