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Sam Ghandchiسام قندچيKurds & Formation of Central Government in Iran-Second Edition

(Online Book)

By: Sam Ghandchi

 

 

Kurds & Central Government in Iran  

 

 

کردها و شکل گيري دولت مرکزي در ايران-ويرايش دوم

 

 

 

Kurds & Formation of Central Government in Iran-Second Edition

Sam Ghandchi

 

 

Table of Contents

 

00. Preface

01. Mahd Dynasty to Arab Invasion

02. Arab Invasion to Moghol Invasion

03. Moghol Invasion to Downfall of Safavid Dynasty

04. Kurds in Modern Iran-Till Nader Shah

05. Kurds in Modern Iran-Nader Shah-Mashrootiat

06. Shi’a Clergy in Mashrootiat-A Brief Note

07. Kurds in Modern Iran-Mashrootiat-Reza Shah

08. Kurds in Modern Iran-Reza Shah-IRI

09. The Theory of Greater Kurdestan

10. Tribes and Tribalism

11. Final Word

Appendix 1-Kurdestan's Agriculture

Appendix 2-Komala and Kurdestan

Appendix 3-Does Federalism Allow States To Deny Human Rights

Appendix 4-Federalism is the Lesson of 21-Azar

Appendix 5-Ethnic Federalism a Reactionary Plan for Iran's Future- Second Version

Appendix 6-A Note about the Controversial Kurdistan Autonomy Plan

 

 

00. Preface 2005

 

The following is a research work of mine on the history of presence of Kurds in Iran's central governments from the time of Mahd Dynasty. This work is not intended for review of people's movements and those movements are only noted when related to the main topic of the formation of the central government in Iran.
 
Furthermore this analysis of Iran's history shows why I believe a federal government is more appropriate for Iran.  I have thoroughly explained my understanding of federalism in the Appendix 6 of this book that I wrote in Oct 2005, that federalism does not mean ethnic government and it means checks and balances at the state and local level whether it be the state government, state legislature, or state judicial courts, they are all to democratic contain and moderate the power of the central government.
 
I did this study a long time ago in 1981, but never published wrote this paper. I posted this as a series on SCI (soc.culture.iranian) Usenet newsgroup,  in 1994. I am sure scholarly works on this topic. I hope my work to be of use to the current researchers.
 
As far as the issue of creating the state of Greater Kurdestan, I believe that even if the Kurds get separated from Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, etc; I seriously doubt it if they would form *one* state together. Even if separations happen, the result would be a number of Kurdish states, the same way that we currently have many Arab states in the region, and all the theories of Pan-Arabism never succeeded to create a unified Arab state.
 
As far as separation, I think the Kurdestan of Iraq would have the hardest time, because there are many oil wells located in the Kurdestan of Iraq. In a way, Kurdestan of Iraq is like Khuzestan of Iran. Just as Iran would never allow Khuzestan to separate from Iran, Iraq has a lot to lose if letting its Kurdestan to separate. Again, I do not know enough about Kurdestan of Iraq to pass an opinion as to how it may develop or what would be to its advantage.
 
I personally do not think it is to the advantage of Kurdestan of Iran to separate from the rest of Iran. I think if such a separation happens, the Iranian Kurdestan will become a poor country even poorer than the current Afghanestan. It is to the advantage of Iran as a whole to become a federal state, and it is to the advantage of Iran's Kurdestan to be one state within that federation. This is what I am arguing for in my research below, for the Kurdestan and the rest of Iran.
 
As I have shown in this paper, the Kurdestans of Turkey, Iraq, and Syria were all part of the Ottoman Empire and they had a separate economic and political development from the Kurdestan of Iran, even before the Safavid Dynasty, and since times before the Safavids, they have lived apart from the Iranian Kurdestan. In fact the rule of Ardalans in Iranian Kurdestan goes back to the time of Moghol invasion, even before the fall of Abassid dynasty.
 
As far as the Kurdestans of Iraq or Turkey are concerned, and whether their unification into one single country is to their advantage, or what the best course of development for them is, I really have no idea. My conclusions are just about Kurdestan of Iran, which I believe has the most to gain by being part of an Iranian Federal Government, and has a lot to lose, by becoming part of any scheme to make it part of any state of Greater Kurdestan.

November 25, 2004
Sam Ghandchi, Publisher/Editor
IRANSCOPE
http://www.iranscope.com


 

 

01. Mahd Dynasty to Arab Invasion

 

 

"One of the earliest civilizations of the world developed in Kurdestan.  With the formation of the Median State in the first millennium BC, this region became especially important.  The area which is now Iranian Azerbaijan and Kurdestan formed the Western part, that is, one of the three parts of the Median territory and was called "Mahd Atro-paten" [History of Mahd, A.M. Diakonov, Keshavarz Trans., P.79].  Production in these areas was more advanced than the northern and western parts of Median territory.  [ibid P.182]. According to Diakanov, the Russian historian, in the Western Media, a non-Iranian language called "Kutie" was spoken from the ninth to the seventh century BC, ... and Iranian languages prevailed only in the Eastern parts, which included the present-day Tehran area (Rey) and Esfahan.  The "Kutie" language is regarded by other historians as one of the Iranian languages, from which the Kurdish language has stemmed [ibid, P.146].

 

The tribes inhabiting Western Media played an important role in the Median civilization and it seems that since the time of the founding of Mahd Dynasty, the Kurdish people have not had such a strong presence in the central governments of Iran.

 

In 550BC, Ekbatana (where now Hamadan is), the capital of the Mahd Dynasty, was taken by Cyrus, the Achaemenian, and thus ended the reign of the Mahd.  From the formation of the Achaemenian State, with Cyrus as its first chief, to the Muslim invasion of Iran (642AD), that is, for one thousand years, it is the tribes of central Iran, particularly the Pars's (Persian proper) who occupied the dominant position in the central governments.  According to Herodotus, the Greek historian, the Persians had chafed at the Median rule long before they came into positions of leadership and overthrew it" [History of Iran, Pigolovskay et al, Keshavarz Trans P.16].

 

Pigolovskay writes that in the new, Achaemenian government, the Medians continued to hold important positions along with with the Persians, that Ekbatana also served as the capital of the (FIRST) Persians, and it was further reinforced and made into an exceppent fortress [ibid, P16].

 

With invasion of Iran by Alexander of Macedonia (330 BC), the "First Persians" (Achaemenians) fell and 83 years of Greek rule (Selokids) started.  This rule ended in 250 BC, with creation of the Ashkonid State.  The Ashkanis (Parthians) were North-Iranians, who enjoyed popular support in fighting the Selokid.  During the reign of Parthians, the western part of Iran found more significance and after the conquering the Central Asia, this dynasty became a world power and Hamadan was their summer capital   The Ashkanic rule disintegrated 474 years after it was founded, presumably under repeated invasions from Romans, in 224AD, the Sasanid Dynasty was founded.  The Sasanids have also been called “The Second Persians”. [ibid P.56]

 

Ardashir Papakan (or Babakan, son of Babak), the first Sasanid king, was grandson to Sasan, related to the Achaemenian royal family and Guardian of the Annahita Temple.  With the accession of Ardeshir to the thrown, the Persians again became the mainstay of the central government.  In this period, too, which ends with the Muslim conquest of 642AD western Iran continues to be an important region of the Iranian empire.  During the reign of Sasanids, the dominance of Pars's in Iran's central government became more and more established.  Seven main families of Sasan, Karen, Mehran, Zanj, Ahkenids, and Sooren were at the head of Iranian state.  The capital of the Sasanids was Tisfun, or Madayen, near where Baghdad is situated. [ibid P.522]

 

Thus from the time of the fall of Mahd Dynasty till the victory of Arabs (642AD), the central government of Iran was mainly composed of Pars's, but the western part of Iran (including Kurdestan) was nonetheless one of the main regions of Iranian civilization and most of Iranian capitals were located in that region.

 

 

02. Arab Invasion to Moghol Invasion

 

Following the Arab Invasion, at the time of Khalif Omar, the state power based on the tribal Arab aristocracy was formed in Iran. The power passed into the hands of the Omayid, and Iran became dependent on them. The Omayid rule signified total Arab domination of Iran. On the other hand, it served as a stimulus to popular uprisings as well as rebellions by Iranian feudals. Iranians played an effective role in the overthrow of the Omayid rule (133H.) and the bring into power of Abbasids. The rebellion of Abu Moslem Khorasani in this period is very well-known.

 

The Abbasid founded Baghdad near the ruins of Tisfun and made it the capital of their empire. During the Abbasid period, Iranians contributed significantly to the development of Islamic culture. The Abbasid Khalifs adopted governmental traditions of the Sasanid; Iranians, such as the famous House of Barmak, gained high rank and status in the government.

 

However, by the end of this period (early third century of Hijra) popular movements broke out all-over the Iranian soil. Also, a number of old feudal families began to regain their former positions as the disintegration of the Abbasid rule proceeded. The feudal princes that came into power and formed dynasties were of diverse origins:

 

1) The old feudal families in various regions of Iran; such as the Taheris in Khorasan (206-260 of Hijra), the Samanid in Middle Asia (204-390 H.), the Ziyaris in Gorgan (316-434 H.), the House of Booyeh (324-447 H.) in the west of Iran and Iraq (Euphrates), etc.

 

2) Rulers who arose from peasant movements and subsequently formed feudal states. Such are the Saffarid in Siestan (247-288 H.), the Alavis in Mazandaran and Gorgan (250-316 H.), Ismaiilis, etc.

 

3) Former turk slaves of the Abbasid or local courts; such as the Ghaznavi (351-432 H.) turks in Khorasan and Afghanistan, the Seljuk turks (430-530 H.) from Central Asia who wrested power from the Ghaznavis and set up a geographically extensive government in Iran, and the Khwarazmshahis in Central Asia (530-627 H.)

 

What was common to all these local governments was:

 

1) Their efforts to extend their domains in opposition to Arab Rule. The Deylamis, a ruling dynasty from the Caspian province of Gilan, conquer Baghdad, and the Seljukis advanced as far as Syria.

 

2) They were all served by Iranian dignitaries of government and culture, and used the same language- Dari, or modern Persian. The Ghaznavi court is famous for its encouragement of Persian literature, and the famous Shahnameh of Ferdowsi was composed in this period. It was apparently the consummation of efforts to revive the Persian language. Such efforts were centered in Khorasan.

 

  • In reality formation of these dynasties can be considered as expressing efforts by the various peoples of Iran to overthrow the Arab rule. The conquest of power by each new ethnic group meant rather the integration of the victor and the vanquished than the disappearance of the latter. In this way, the central government progressively became the representative of the feudals and chiefs of these peoples.

  • In this period of re-Iranianization, unlike the pre-Islamic times, centers of Iranian power and civilization shifted from the west (where the Arabs were still powerful) to the east and north.

  • It is noteworthy that even the devastating invasion by the moghols did not create any big changes in the ethnic composition of governments in Iran. The spatial and temporal continuity of what is commonly considered as "Persian" culture was retained and "Persian" acquired the connotation of "elite" rather than a strict ethnic meaning.

 

This is how Iran looked on the eve of the Moghol Invasion. In the next part I will discuss Moghols, the local nature of power in Kurdestan and the formation of Safavid dynasty.

 

 

03. Moghol Invasion to Downfall of Safavid Dynasty

 

During the period from Moghol Invasion (617 H.) till the founding of the Safavid Dynasty (907 H.), Iran's production is wiped out and the society retrogresses. In the governments which were set up by descendants of the Moghol conquerors, Holakoois, Aljatioon, and Teymooris, not only Iranians gained strictly important roles, but the process of re-Iranianization was speeded up due to popular uprisings and feudal rebellions. The uprising of the Sar-be-daran, Horoofieh, and other popular uprisings, are examples of the latter and feudal rebellions of Choopanis, Jalayeris, etc., are instances of the former. The re-Iranianization found concrete expression in the Persian language as the official literary discourse, the Shi’a religion as the official religion, the system of taxation and the civil law.

 

The Safavid State, founded in 907 H. by Gezelbash Turks, who had fled the Ottoman territory, especially promoted the ascendancy of the "Persian" element in the central government. They first moved their capital from Tabriz to Ghazvin in their preference of central Iran and then in the same intention moved it from Ghazvin to Esfahan. Shah Abbas, the greatest Safavid King, is alleged to have given considerable tax concession to Esfahan and other parts of central Iran to that end [ibid P.522]. Shiism was formally upheld as the official religion of Modern Iran.

 

Shiism, rather than "Persianism," became the vehicle of supremacy; and thus we observe the discrimination of other ethnic and national groups to show a religious color.  Discrimination of the Sunnis due to the excesses of some members of Shi’a clergy in the Royal Court causes the maltreatment of the Sunni population in Kurdestan, Turkmanistan, Shirvan, Afghanistan, etc. that in turn evoked popular uprisings. And finally the overthrow of the decaying Safavid Dynasty was effected by the rebellious Sunni Afghans who, led by Mahmud-e Afghan, took the capital city of Esfahan.

 

In the next part, I will discuss how the power structure of Kurdestan was in this same period.

 

 

04. Kurds in Modern Iran-Till Nader Shah

 

Its favorable, mountainous situation allowed Kurdestan a self-sufficient economy. This, together with its geographical position amidst Arabs, Turks, and Persians, enabled Kurdestan to enjoy relative independence. Feudal families ruled Kurdestan for a long time, and the rule of the Ardalans, began before the fall of the Abbasid, continued during and after the Moghol domination of Iran.

 

About the Ardalans' rule over Kurdestan, what Amir Sharaf Khan El Badlisi writes in his Sharafnameh may be of some value. He writes, "A man named Baba Ardalan dwelt for some time among the Guran tribe, and toward the end of the reign of the Genghisi Kings brought under his sway the province of Shahra Zool, which came to be famed as Shahr-E-Zoor; and he [renamed] himself Ghobadin-E-Firuz-Sasani; and that the reason for the epithet Shahr-E-Zoor [Forceville], is, according to Hamdullah Mostowfi, that although this city always had Kurd rulers but at different times, he who had the greater force became the ruler." [Sharaf-Nameh P.118]. {In other words something like some European feudal cities which had extensive history of fiefdom. I think the strength of Ashayer in Kurdestan also explains this particular form of feudalism and fiefdom.}

 

Although Kurdish feudals ruled Kurdestan for more than six-hundred years, they would be under vassalage now for the Arabs, now for the Moghols, or of the Safavids and the Qajars. In 920 H., when Shah Ismaiil Safavi's army was defeated by the Ottomans in the Battle of Chaldoran, a treaty was made between the Shah Ismaiil and Sultan Saleem of Ottoman Empire(now Turkey), according to which Kurdestan was divided between the two countries.

 

From that date on, the Ardalans principally ruled in the Iranian Kurdestan, and Sanadaj was the seat of their government.

 

In the reign of Shah Sultan Hossein, the last Safavi King, a fanatical Shi’a governer was appointed to this all-Sunni province. Misdeeds committed by the governor evoked a popular rebellion, and the Ardalans returned to government[Tarikh-e Kurd va Kurdestan, Sheikh Mohammad Mardookh, P114]

 

However, the process of centralization of governments in Iran continued in spite of various setbacks, and it was to engulf Kurdestan despite her resistance and self-sufficiency. This process was primarily determined by the speed and quality of Iran's development of industrial society of which will be said later.

 

The fall of the Safavid dynasty was accompanied with the invasion of Iran by the Afghans, the Russians, and the Ottomans simultaneously. This was a test of cohesion for the "united" Iran that had been founded by the Safavids, and there was a concerted effort by the peoples and fighting forces of Iran to repulse the aggressors. Thus, Nader came into prominence as outstanding general and national hero, who became king after the war.

 

In the next section I will follow on Iran and Kurdestan under Nader Shah and after his reign.

 

 

05. Kurds in Modern Iran-Nader Shah-Mashrootiat

 

Nader was of the Sunni Afshar tribe which dwelt in Khorasan. P. Petroshevsky writes that in fifteenth century, the (military) arms of the Safavid rule consisted of nomadic Turkish tribes from various regions that spoke Azeri language, and had migrated to Azerbayjan and elsewhere in Iran from Central Asia because they disliked the Ottoman Sultans and their policy of absolute Centralism . At the beginning there were seven of these tribes: Shamlu, Rumlu, Ustajlu, Takelu, Afshar, Qajar, and Zolghadr.

 

Of these seven tribes only Shamlu and Rumlu, completely obeyed the Safavis." (Tarikh-e Iran, Petroshevsky, P.471).  Later the Afshar tribe and Zand tribe (from a Lor origin) and finally the Qajar tribe raised the flag of the unification of Iran and founded central governments of Iran.

 

They formed "Persianized" dynasties and converted to Shiism, be it noted, was the ideological form of "Persianization" until modernism ushered in by the constitutional movement.

 

At the turn of the 19th century, the reformation of the famed Mirza Taghi Khan Amir Kabir, aimed at the bougeoisification of the Iranian State from above. His efforts cost him his life, due to court intrigue. He was put to death by the order of Nasser Ed Din Shah. But the trend continued, so that in Reza Shah's regime one finds a marriage, so to speak, between the bougeoisification of Iranian State from above and the modernism of the Constitutional Movement.

 

The "bougeoisification from above," of course, was a belated attempt to hasten and guide a process that had been going on even since the founding of the Safavid state. In this respect, Azerbaijan as a region was, relatively, the most advanced, while Kurdestan was one of the undeveloped regions on the eve of the Constitutional Movement

 

As the appointment of governors to provinces from Tehran became regular practice with the reign of Nasser ed Din Shah, the rule of the Ardalans and the independence of the Kurds ended.

 

On 4th of Zighadeh 1284 H.G., prince Motamedodoleh Farhad Mirza, the uncle of Nasser Ed Din Shah was assigned as the governor of Kurdestan. [Tarikh-e Kurd va Kurdestan, Sheikh Mardookh, P.186].

 

Thus this is the date when the separateness of Kurdestan’s political life from the rest of Iran is ended. The resistance of the Kurdish people to the central government also dates back to this time.

 

But this resistance, at a time, when the Kurds had NOT developed into a NATION, took the form of peasant uprisings, which were mostly utilized by chiefs and feudals to revive their own rule and weaken the central government.

 

Before going into the next sections of Kurds in Modern Iran, I am writing this short note about the role of Shi’a clergy in the Constitutional Movement; because I refer to it many times.  I have written scattered notes on the role of Shi’a in contemporary Iran, in other postings as well. The following is not really a treatise on the topic of Shi’a in Mashrootiat or Iranian 1979 Revolution, it is just a short note to help with discussion of the main topic.

 

 

06. Shi’a Clergy in Mashrootiat-A Brief Note

 

The Shi’a clergy were divided into two opposite camps during the Constitutional Revolution (Mashrootiat). One mainly consisting of the lower-rank clergy, supported it along with the rest of the Constitutionalists; while the other, headed by Sheikh Fazlullah Nuri and under the banner of "Shari'at" opposed it, siding with the despotic King Mohammad Ali-Shah.

 

A compromise was apparently reached by including in the constitution an article which allowed five "first-rank" ecclesiastics to be elected to the National Council to verify that the laws enacted did not conflict with Islam. Also, Shiism was proclaimed as the official religion of the country.

 

Since the reign of Reza Shah in 1925 till the revolutionary-democratic movement of 1978, religion in general did not play any significant role as a socio-political ideology. The revivalism that Iran has since experienced is an extremely important and interesting subject by itself, which lies beyond the scope of this treatise, which I have discussed extensively in Why Shiism Became the Flag of 1979 Iranian Revolution and also in Progressiveness in the Present Epoch.

 

 

07. Kurds in Modern Iran-Mashrootiat-Reza Shah

 

In contrast to Azerbaijan, there was no mass participation by Kurds in the Constitutional Revolution. The reason for this lack of participation should be obvious. The modernist aims of the revolution and its goal of power-sharing could not touch a region that had lived in isolation from the rest of Iran for centuries, a region where feudalism and tribalism held complete sway.

 

Following the end of Ardalan rule, the elements of modern capitalism were just starting to form in connection to the rest of the Iranian market, but these elements were very weak and vulnerable by fiefdom and tribal relations. And still the general direction of Kurdestan was determined by the feudal and tribal chiefs who were still dreaming to return to the days of isolation and semi-independence. They were far from understanding the strength of the Constitutional Movement and thus did not even recognize their own self-interest to work for power-sharing in the Central Iranian State, the self-interest that some other tribal chiefs of Iran such as Bakhtiari had realized correctly .

 

It is interesting that the Bakhtiari tribe was mobilized and brought to Tehran after the defeat of the despotic Mohammad Ali-Shah. No doubt, the intention of the Bakhtiari chiefs was not to extend democracy and defend constitutionalism, but to gain a place in the new government that was forming and would be partly pro-capitalist. They knew that it is important to be part of the formation of the new central state and recognized the winning power of democratic capitalism, although they themselves were only interested to be part of the power and not harbinger of the new ways of life.

 

The feudals of most parts of Iran had learned that to further their own interest, they had to participate in the elite of the central government rather than to buy isolationism from the central government. Unfortunately, an opposite stand of Kurdish feudal, clergy, and tribal chiefs is why, the Kurdish tribesmen were used against the Constitutional fighters of Azerbaijan. Their feudal lords were hoping to regain their lost isolation and semi-independence.

 

In the first part of Mashrootiat, there was no movement in Kurdestan. Most of the landlords and their dignitaries received the Mashrootiat as though it were no more than a mere shift in the upper echelons of Iran's central government.

 

Before Mohammad Ali-Shah openly declared Estebdad (Despotism) by bombarding the Parliament, a pro-Constitutional Governor was sent to Kurdestan from Tehran. He was Mirza Ismaiil Khan Seghatol-Molk who contacted Kurdish influential religious and feudal dignitaries in Sanandaj for the purpose of promoting Constitutionalism. Accordingly, popular councils, which had originally sprung up in Tabriz, Tehran, Rasht, etc, were set up. Here is the story as narrated by Sheikh Mardookh himself.

 

Ayatolah Mardokh, the author of Tarikh-e Kurd va Kurdestan, cooperates with Constitutionalists at first and even participates in Anjoman-e Sedaghat (1425 Zighadeh). With the start of Estebdad-e Saghir (Despotism), the previous pro-Mashrooteh governor (i.e. Seghat-ol Molk) is called back and Prince Zafar-ol Saltaneh is assigned as the governor of Kurdestan.

 

This new governor (i.e. Zafar-ol-Saltaneh) was pro-Estebdad (pro-Despotism) and shut down the Sedaghat, Kargaran, Haghighat, Salahat, Okhovvat, and other associations. At this time, Ayatolah Mardookh who was seemingly pro-Mashrootiat, signs a secret agreement with Moshir Divan( pro-Despotism). This is his agreement in his own words:

 

"The night of 16th of Ramazan 1326 met secretly with Moshir Divan and agreed that if dolat (government) wins, he protects us and if mellat (Constitutionalists) win, we protect him" [Tarikh-e Kurd va Kurdestan, Sheikh Mardookh, P. 248]

 

Mardookh is a symbol of the right wing Kurdish landlord and clergy who signed pacts with Sheikh Fazlullah-Nuri and Mohammad Ali-Shah at one time, became Constitutionalist at another time, then cooperated with Salared-dolleh and the Russians, compromised with Germans and Ottomans, and finally became subservient to Reza Shah and the British. His book is a good example of how the vacillations of fiefdom is reflected in the politics of Kurdestan.

 

But there were also democratic forces. Seyyed Yunis and Sheikh Ebrahim who had a group called "Social Democrat" [Darbareh Mobarezat-e Kurdestan, Hamid Moomeni, P.24].  But these forces were very weak. The undeveloped state of Kurdestan' s market economy, its isolation from the mainstream of Iranian history and its tribalism and fiefdom were the reasons why, contrary to Azerbaijan, such democratic forces (e.g. the social-democratic group) did not gain support in Kurdestan. The weakness of Kurdestan's Bazar, as I said, was due to persistence of feudalism and fiefdom in Kurdestan and the isolationism and seclusion of that region from the rest of Iran. Thus Salared Doleh and Mohammad Ali-Shah considered Kurdestan as their stronghold.

 

A notable expression of retrogressive role of tribal chiefs in Kurdestan is the rebellion of the Shakkak Tribe, led by Ismaiil Agha Simku, with the massacre of Assyrians and Armenians in Khoi and Salmas in North-Western Azerbaijan. Of the "banner of Kurdestan Liberation" which Ismaiil Agha had presumably raised, Ahmad Kasravi, the prominent historian of the Constitutional Movement writes:

 

"Now Simku is prepared for and hoisted the banner of 'Kurdestan liberation'. And what has he been doing? Has he assembled the Kurds to prepare them for a free life and self-government? Is he writing a constitution for Kurdestan? Is he making an effort to do away the divisions among the Kurds? ... No, he does not consider such things as 'liberation of Kurdestan'...He plunders villages, tramples upon sown land, demands money of the robbed and destitute people in Lackestan... that is what the 'liberation of Kurdestan' means, and that is the result the European politicians desire."[Tarikh-e Hejdah Saleh-e Azarbayjan, Vol2 P. 831]

 

This was the nomadic state of tribal life at the time of decaying of feudalism in Iran exerting a severer pressure than elsewhere on the development of industrialism in Kurdestan. Actually Sheikh Mardookh in his aforementioned book gives a good picture of the anarchy created by the tribal chiefs and tells how hazardous they had made the business of commerce and transportation in Kurdestan. The emergence of Reza Shah's dictatorship in 1925 meant the unfolding of a new period in Iranian history which is written in the next part.

 

 

08. Kurds in Modern Iran-Reza Shah-IRI

 

The emergence of Reza Shah's dictatorship in 1925 meant the unfolding of a new period in Iranian history. The centralized, "modernizing" administration had subsumed the progressive aims of the Constitutional Movement in one of the earliest types of neo-colonial societies.

 

Feudalism in agriculture remained, but big landownership became increasingly free and could pass into the hands of rich merchants. Within the framework of disintegrated feudalism and dependence, commerce and industry experienced unprecedented (for Iran) development. Looked at superficially, it appeared that "national unity", "modernization", and "nationalism" or "Iranian Renaissance" were safely and rapidly materializing.

 

The dominant imperialist power in the region was Britain, and it, too, was quite satisfied with this arrangement, which safeguarded all its major interests. The new form of Iranian state was able to avoid the type of conflicts and clashes that occurred between Iran and British imperialism during and after First World War, because it was doing away with fiefdom and anarchy which was prevalent at the end of Qajar dynasty.

 

The birth of the Soviet Union was one more reason for the British to favor a strong centralized state in Iran. Ahmad Shah was too weak and disinterested to ever accomplish what was expected from him by the British. Seyed-Zia failed in his efforts to rise to power and so the choice for early neo-colonialist experiment of the British in Iran was none but Reza Khan who succeeded in his coup. Thus the British supported Reza Khan.

 

Rebellion chiefs and tribes were easily eliminated or subdued by Reza Shah's armed forces. Among these were Ismaiil Agha Shakkak (Simku) and his men, who were apparently put to use by the British in Musol for the purpose of acquiring the oil-rich region.

 

In the "calm and security" provided by Reza Shah's dictatorship, the Kurdish capitalists, in close connection with the capitalists of Kermanshah, Azerbaijan, and elsewhere, started to make a new growth. But due to Kurdestan's limited participation in the general primitive formation of capitalism in Iran, it has been PURELY commercial, whereas the Iranian capitalists as a whole were MAINLY commercial. Moreover, the absence of Kurdish elite in the Iran's power structure was another disadvantage at the time of capitalist growth for Kurdestan.

 

Thus, if the bourgeoisification of Kurdestan means at the same time the formation of the Kurdish nation, and vice versa, this process has, since 1925, been linked with the all-Iranian development of capitalism.

 

There should be no doubt that the capitalist and modern constituent in Kurdestan is not in favor of secession and isolationism from Iran. Because the Kurdish capitalist and modernists are well aware that in the absence of armed forces of the central government, the revival of tribalism, the anarchy of fiefdom, the supremacy of chiefs and feudals, and the loss of security is inevitable.

 

In the days following the fall of Reza Khan (after Shahrivar 1320) and the general chaos in Iran, during 1945-46, the Kurdish capitalists accepted separation from Iran to some extent, but only because on one hand Iran as a whole was very unstable and secondly the presence of the Red Army deterred tribal-feudal anarchy and economic relations with the Soviet Union had temporarily replaced those with the rest of Iran.

 

But when the Red Army left, following the Stalin-Ghavam pact, and when economic relations with the Soviets narrowed, Kurdish capitalists were frightened at the prospect of separation. More so because they saw the chiefs and feudals gaining power in the Democratic Party of Kurdestan. The conciliation/agreement in 1946 between Qazi Mohammad, the Party leader and the Central Government has to be reviewed in this light, rather than as a deceptive tactic by Premier Ghavamus Saltana.

 

Another factor contributing to the alienation of the Kurdish capitalists from the Democratic Party Leadership was the presence of the Barzani Peshmarga as the main armed force of the Mahabad Republic, for it not only suggested separation, but also the idea of "The Unity of Greater Kurdestan" which the Kurdish capitalists would never welcome because they have inseparable interests in the rest of the Iranian market.

 

At this point I am going to make a digression from history and discuss the issue of Greater Kurdestan and Autonomy of Kurdestan in the NEXT part.

 

But before ending this part, I need to mention that both during Reza Shah, and during the Mohammad Reza Shah's reign, the presence of the Kurds in the Iranian central elite has been extremely limited, because of the historical reasons that I have written in this paper, and it is important to note that any government in Iran should pay particular attention to encouraging the Kurdish participation in the central government.

 

At the same time, both during the Reza Shah and Mohammad Reza Shah's reign, the Kurdish isolationism was more and more replaced with closeness with the rest of Iran. The current aspirations of modernists and Kurdish people are more cry for religious and national freedom than a desire to be isolated from Iran. Kurds are Shafei Muslims and it bothers them to hear insults to Omar! This simple!

 

Movements such as Sharif-Zadeh and Molla Avareh at the time of the Shah did not contribute to any change in the status of Kurds in the Iranian Central Government. This is why I am not discussing them here. They were part of the general Iranian movement against the Shah's dictatorship.

 

Actually Sharif-Zadeh (1345 H.) and his group were predecessors to other Iranian opposition groups and their work was literally continued in other parts of Iran. These movements more and more showed that Kurdestan is really not a separate feudal state anymore, and it is sharing in the good and bad of whatever the rest of Iran is experiencing.

 

 

09. The Theory of Greater Kurdestan

 

Here I am making a diversion to explicate a theory that is sometimes heard from some uninformed Iranian Kurds as a solution to the problems of Kurdestan.

 

Basically the Unity of Greater Kurdestan has been a demand mostly desired by the Turkish and Iraqi Kurds and except for some uninformed individuals, the Iranian Kurds have never had such a desire.

 

The reason is because the Iranian and Ottoman Kurdestan have separated since the time of Shah Ismaiil (War of Chaldoran), as I noted before, and that is about four centuries ago. And even the result was that the Iranian Kurdestan became a semi-independent state ruled by Ardalans. So the Iranian Kurds were as free as one could be, and had no interest to join the other parts of Kurdestan. They are as separate as the Austrians and Germans.

 

But the Ottoman part of Kurdestan was divided between Turkey, Iraq, and Syria in 1920 [actually between the then Ottomans, British, and French], following the end of First World War. This is why those previously Ottoman sections of Kurdestan are yearning for reunification. They had lived together in their primitive capitalist development, which could have led to formation of a nation-state. But Iranian Kurdestan has done that development with the rest of Iran, rather than with the previous Kurdestan of Ottoman Empire, as I have shown it in this article.

 

Whether it is realistic or not for the Turkish and Iraqi Kurds to reunify is really not my interest here. It depends on many factors. But for Iran, it is definitely a bad plan. I am just emphasizing here that Iranian Kurdestan is as Iranian as all the other parts of Iran. Only being Sunni and under religious and cultural oppression, some uninformed Kurds may sigh for the Greater Iranian Kurdestan as a nice dream, but the informed Kurds know that it is more of a nightmare than a sweet dream, where tribal chiefs will destroy all the progress that has already, belatedly, been made in Kurdestan.

 

Finally the issue of establishing democratic rights of people of Kurdestan and other parts of Iran within a federal system has nothing to do with the "Theory of Unity of Greater Kurdestan". Iraqi government even at Saddam's time, had recognized some form of autonomy for Iraq’s Kurdestan and today's Iraq is a federal regime.  In fact, having similar rights for all provinces and regions of Iran, regardless of nationality, religion, or ethnic background, is what is needed.

 

It is really unfortunate that neither the Shah's government nor IRI have recognized such rights for Iran's Kurdestan and other regions of Iran, such as Azerbaijan, or Baluchestan, or other religions such as the Baha'is or Jews, etc. Why should an Armenian kid be forced to learn how to do voozo or read namaz? Why should an Azeri child not have a choice to take Turkish literature class at school?

 

These things have nothing to do with separation or Greater Kurdestan. These are rights that all Iranian minorities demand. I think the Iranians who have spent 20 years in the US, may demand English class for their kids, if they go to school in Iran. I think any political group and Iranian state should recognize these rights. These are not secessionism or forming Greater Kurdestan, Greater Azerbaijan, Greater Armenia, Greater Assyria, etc, these are simple recognition of cultural and political needs of different nationalities and ethnic groups of Iran.

 

Finally I think the Turkish Kurds and Iranian Kurds share a language and culture, just like many Spanish-speaking Latin American countries, or the Arab states . So they watch the same movies without sub-title, but sincerely I think that is where the commonalty ends. The Kurds of Iran have a lot of stake in Iran and I doubt it if they would ever give it up.

 

 

10. Tribes and Tribalism

 

{In the following part I am discussing "Tribes and Tribalism in Kurdestan". This section is based on different sources including a study published by Amir Hooshang Keshavarz and Mir Seyyed Ali Nazem Razavi entitled "ASHAYER VA MASAYEL-E TOWSE'AH” [Tribes and Problems of Development], published Tir, 1355, by Faculty of Social Sciences and Cooperation, Tehran University.}

 

In a study by two Iranians (noted above), tribes in Iran have been classified into "big" and small ones. Big tribes include Turkmans, Shahsavans, Bakhtiaris, BuyerAhmadis, Qashghaiis one-or-two tribes in Kurdestan. These tribes in turn are divided into three types according to their mode of life and production:

 

1) Tribes of which about 80% are mobile and have summer and winter abodes as well as migration routes, such as the Bakhtiaris.

 

2) Tribes of which about 50% migrate back and forth, and the rest, a greater portion lives in Summer Places, and a smaller portion in Winter Places; such as the BuyerAhmadi in Kohgiluyeh.

 

3) Tribes which dwell in one place but have to move their herds from place to place for grazing and feeding. Such are the Turkmen and Kurdish tribes.

 

Tribal mode of life and ownership was dealt a severe blow during the reign of Reza Shah, but was revived in the turbulent years of 1941-53, owing partly to the weakening of central government and partly due to the joint efforts of imperialism and domestic reaction, to frustrate the all-Iranian democratic-revolutionary movement.

 

Tribal chiefs carried out plunder with backing of the British in that period. For example, Mohammad Rashid Khan Baneh-i became an important figure in the area by defeating Mahmud Khan-e Kani Sanan in Mariwan.

 

Mohammad Rashid Khan and the like appeared as supporters of the Mahabad Republic (1945-46), but withdrew as soon as the central government forces attacked Mahabad and in the later years, they worked hand in hand with the British to suppress the people's movements in these areas.

 

The mobilization by the British, American, and domestic reaction of the Quashghaii and other tribes in the South (1944-46), the use of Arab tribesmen in Khuzestan in an armed clash with the striking oil workers in the Summer of 1946, the instigation of the Bakhtiari tribes in Central Iran and the Javanrudis in Kermanshah in 1952-53 are further examples of the reactionary role played by tribalism in the recent history of of Iran.

 

Having contributed its share to the reestablishment of a police state with the coup d'etat of August 1953, tribalism suffered another setback; for now the central government was severely in the hands of reaction and imperialism, and the services of the chiefs were no longer needed.

 

However, in the border regions of Kurdestan, and in Dezli, Javanrood, Sardasht, etc., the Shah's regime could not dispense with such services. In those regions armed tribesmen served as "government militia".

 

The Shakkak tribe, the most important in Northern Kurdestan, the Malekshahis, the Ghalkhanis, etc., now comprise the nomadic tribes of Kurdestan. These have not been satisfactorily studied as yet. What is certain is that in the Southmost and Northmost areas of Kurdestan and also in the border areas, the tribal social and economic life is still alive.

 

Moreover, many of the villages, where small landownership prevails, are still largely under the sway of tribal customs and traditions: blood revenge is observed in some small villages of Kamyaran, "clan heads" in Sardasht, where small landownership predominates, and they still wield great influence and even keep bands of armed attendants, and the kidnapping of girls for marriage is still practiced (this practice was very common in many old cultures of the world).

 

Since the downfall of the Pahlavi regime in February 1979, tribal chiefs of Kurdestan have shown various political stands. Some have shown loyalty to the central government, Islamic Republic of Iran; but this "loyalty" to a Shi’a state is neither strong nor likely to become so. Some others, notably those of Javanrud, Pawa, and Uraman in the south, and of Khoi, Salmas, and Eshnuya in the north, have tended toward "independence".  Still others have become supporters of the Kurdestan Democratic Party. Some other clan heads have become agents of the Iraq’s Baa'th government, in the violent suppression of the Kurdish people's movements. Finally some have joined it.

 

In different periods of Kurdestan's movement the tribal groups have existed, for example Barzani tribe was the armed forces of the Mahabad Republic in 1945-6 and also they were active in the 1961-1975 Kurdish movements.  After 1975 treaty of Shah and Saddam, they were disarmed.  But the remnants of the Barzani army, which had fled to Iran in 1975, were reorganized by Barzani's sons and called "Qiada-ye Mowaghat".  Soon they dropped the "Mowaghat" (provisional) from their name, and called themselves Hizb-e Democrat-e Kurdestan-e Iraq.   Massoud Barzani was chosen as the first provincial head of Kurdistan of Iraq in the new provisional government of Iraq in 2005.

 

In summary, the tribal relations have been economically declining, although they continue to exist in social and political areas by stressing some ethnic and religious inclinations of the people.  The autonomy desired by the tribal chiefs is different from federalism desired by the modern society in Kurdestan.  The former want anarchy, fiefdom, isolationism and destruction of Kurdestan whereas the latter want checks and balances to ensure democratic rights at the provincial and local levels.

 

 

11. Final Word

 

Finally I would like to note that I have not reviewed the intellectual and peasant uprisings during the end of the Shah and the rise of Islamic Republic of Iran periods.   I think the former is not really much different from the rest of Iran and should be studied as part of the review of Iranian intellectual thought and the latter is beyond the scope of this treatise.  Here my intention was simply to investigate the presence of Kurds in the Iran's central government.

 

As far as Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) is concerned, I do not have any detailed knowledge of the Iranian elite at this time and so I really cannot judge what the ethnic make-up of IRI is. I know some clergy like Mofti-Zadeh in Kurdestan at the beginning supported IRI and some like Sheikh Ezzedin Hosseini did not. But whether any of them is part of Iran's elite, I would seriously doubt that.

 

I do not know what the IRI and the various social, cultural, and political groups of Iran are doing in Iran's Kurdestan at this time.  I just know that the lack of tolerance at the beginning of IRI caused a lot of killings of innocent people from both IRI supporters and its opponents.

 

I hope that this paper and other educational efforts can help the growth of the dialogue between different peoples of Iran and thus help the improvement of tolerance and diversity of the present and future central governments of Iran.  Kurds, Azeris, Baluches, Arabs, Lors, Bakhtiaris, Ghashghais, Assyrians, Armenians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Sunnis, Baha'is, Women, and all other ethnic, national, cultural, or religious groups make what is called Iran today.

 

If any central government in Iran, at present or in the future, does not recognize the rightful aspirations of these diverse groups, I really doubt it if that government can claim to be representing what we call Iran.

 

Sam Ghandchi

1981

 

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* This series on Kurdestan and the following appendix were written in 1981.  It was first posted on Usenet newsgroup on May 1, 1994.

 

 

Appendix 1-Kurdestan's Agriculture

 

 

KURDESTAN'S AGRICULTURE 10 YEARS AFTER ENGHELAB-E SEFID

 

Let's focus on one area of Iran, namely the Kurdestan's country side, more than ten years after Shah's Enghelab-e Sefid and see how the agriculture was moving at that time in comparison to the rest of Iran:

 

The data is from the "Natayej-e Amargiri Keshavarzi Marhal-e Dovom Sar-Shomari 1353" published by Sazmaneh Barnameh Iran in 1355.

 

I) THE GROWTH OF WAGE-LABOR:

 

# of agricultural families 112,129. 85% of these families lived off the land.of the above

 

 

57% did all the work by themselves

40% most work was done by themselves.

3% most work done by wage-laborers

 

For the whole of Iran, the same figures were 66%, 29%, and 5%. In other words the whole Iran was not much different from Kurdestan and the wage-labor had hardly existed even more than ten years after Enghelab-e Sefid.  This shows how stagnant has been the development of agriculture in Iran.

 

II) THE SALE OF WHEAT AND BARLEY

 

In KURDESTAN:

 

66.1% of products were not sold.

22.3% less than half was sold.

11.6% half or more is sold.

 

For the WHOLE country:

 

The same figures are 51.o%, 26.7%, and 22.3%.

 

Again the regions such as Gonbad are compensating pulling up the national average a bit higher than a region like Kurdestan but the figures are not much different. It shows that the agriculture was still not producing for sale which shows again the amazing stagnancy in the development of Iran's agriculture at the time.

 

III) THE SALE OF BEEF AND LAMB:

 

In KURDESTAN (Beef):

 

90.3% not sold.

8.8% less than half sold.

0.9% half or more sold.

 

For the WHOLE country:

 

The same figures are 80.3%, 16.0%, and 3.7%

 

In KURDESTAN (Lamb):

 

56.8% not sold

39.0% less than half sold.

4.2% half or more sold.

 

For the WHOLE country:

 

The same figures were 53.9%, 36.9%, and 10.2%.

 

Again the figures are not that different between Kurdestan and the rest of the country and the figures show that animal husbandry is essentially not for sale.

 

IV) WATERING:

 

In KURDESTAN:

 

17.5% use watering system.(Abi)

82.5% rain (Deim-i)

 

For the WHOLE country:

 

The figures are :37% and 63%.

 

Again this shows how backward the agriculture was that about 70% was deim-i.

 

V) FERTILIZERS:

 

Only 4% in Kurdestan and 39% in the whole country used fertilizers. This shows that Kurdestan in this area was at a real disadvantage but still the figures for the whole country are way below any industrial agriculture.

 

VI) TECHNOLOGY:

 

Only 5% of Iran's tractors and 12% of Iran's combines were in Kurdestan, which is even less than the number used in the city of Esfahan (the number was 1859 tractors and 295 combines). There could also be another reason. Kurdestan is more rocky in many areas and the dasht-e obato is deim-i and also around Sanadaj, the well-to-do farmers mostly bought tractors rather than rent. So this discrepancy is not by itself indicative of anything. But the numbers are so low that it shows the stagnancy of agriculture again.

 

VII) THE RETURN OF THE LAND:

 

The return of land in Kurdestan for wheat was 223 Kilo/Hectare which was lower than everywhere else in Iran except for Zanjan. The Iran's average was 483. The number for Yazd was 1913 and for Mazandaran was 1538. These discrepancies show how undeveloped the agriculture is that because of deim, there is such a drastic difference between different areas.

 

It is interesting that the numbers for bigger lands were much smaller. For example, for a 10 Hectare land the number was 1103K/Hectare whereas for a 100 Hectare land, it was 147K/Hectare . If the agriculture had developed, the reverse should have been the case. This shows that the bigger lands were not big in the sense of modern agricultural lands, but were the remainders of arbab-va-raiiti relations in the forms of bagh-e arbabi, etc.

 

Only in Mazandaran, because of the modern areas around Gonbad-e Ghaboos, the numbers show a reverse order. The 10 Hectar land has 1402 K/Hectare, whereas the 100 Hectare land shows 1999K/Hectare. In Kurdestan the return of a big land was even 750% lower than the small land, and this means a very strong remainder of arbab-va-raiiti relations (and molukultavaiif and Ashirati relations).

 

VIII) SUMMARY OF STATE OF AGRICULTURE IN 1977:

 

Even ten years after the Enghelab-e Sefid, Iran's agriculture had very low percentage of wage-labor, very small production for market (less than 40%), daimi watering, little growth of technology in the countryside, absence of modern techniques and finally the extremely low return of the land. So the residents had no place to go back to if the city could not provide them with a living. This is why the hashi-e neshins stayed in halabi-abads of Tehran and other major cities, but did not go back to the countryside. There was no place for them in the countryside.

 

 

Appendix 2-Komala and Kurdistan

 

Introduction

 

If Eastern Europe is any indication of how national question develops in this day and age, we saw the same nationalities that went for complete independence in one country, did not choose separation in another, the main factor being the attention to democracy in the country in question, among different nationalities who live together. People under free conditions,  live together out of choice and not by force, and intimidations and calling them separatist, will not stop nationalities from going their own way, and it may even impel them to do so.

 

Iraq

 

If a democracy develops in Iraq, Kurds will be the main force in the central government of the whole Iraq, and will not give up such a position to become a small national state in the North. Of course if the Shiite Islamists in the South, succeed in creating an Islamic Republic, then they can push Iraq into partitioning.

Nonetheless, I doubt it if the Shiite Islamists can push Iraq away from a secular state too far. They are using all their force with the help of Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), to establish a strong foothold in post-US Iraq, after June 30, 2004 deadline, but they are dreaming, if they think post-June Iraq can ever become a Khomeini state. They can try all their best intimidations, to force the world public opinion, that Shiite Islamists are the embodiment of Iraqi Shi'a aspirations, but it is hard to be convincing.

 

The Iraqi Shiites know well about the experience of Islamism in the region, and particularly the Shi'a version of it in the Islamic Republic in Iran, the same way the neighbors of Soviet Union knew well what Communism is, and so the Shiite Islamist leaders cannot deceive people, to gain more base in the future Iraqi state, and Kurds have the best chance to fill the vacuum.  Also the U.S. is hiring back Saddam's Sunni generals, and is in a way reviving Saddam's regime, without Saddam, to neutralize the Shiite Islamists.  Therefore for IRI to play a role in Iraq, similar to Syria's role in Lebanon, is not without serious challenges.
 

Turkey

 

As far as Turkey, the Kurds in Turkey are the most possible candidates for a separate state, and all the aspiration for such a solution of Great Kurdistan, has always been coming, more from the Kurds of Turkey, since racism from *people* of a land against the Kurds, is a real thing only in Turkey.  Moreover, in both Iraq and Iran, the issue of Kurds has been basically with the *government*, and not with the people. True that prejudices among the people exist too but very minimal.

 

For example, Iranians make as much jokes about Rashti or EsfahAnis as they make of Kurds, and in fact less for Kurds and more for Rashtis. And none of it is comparable to real fascist attitudes towards Kurds, which one sees in Turkey, attitudes similar to the way racial attacks ended in Armenian Genocide of 1914 in Turkey of the time of Ottomans.  So I hope the Kurds from Turkey not to generalize their own experience, to those of the Kurds of Iran, to agitate anti-Persian sentiments.

 

Some Kurds call non-Kurd Iranians mollah supporter. The non-Kurd Iranians have been fighting IRI for decades now, and this is not right for people who have the strong issue of racism in Turkey, to presume their case to be the same as the Iranian situation, and to create flames between non-Kurd and Kurdish parts of the Iranian pro-democracy movement. Non-Kurd Iranians, contrary to Turkey, have challenged the IRI mollah regime, side-by-side with the Kurdish opposition to IRI, all these years.

 

Kurdistan of Iran vs Iraq and Turkey

 

Iranian Kurdistan has developed as part of Iran in contrast to different parts of Kurdistan of former Ottoman Empire.

 

Even more important is the fact that Iran's Kurdistan has not developed with Kurdistan of Ottoman Empire, even before the Safavids and Chaldran (Chaldoran) treat of 920AH (1541).

 

Actually at the time of Moghols, Iran's Kurdistan was under the rule of Ardalans, and later on, during the Safavids, Ardalan rule continued with Sanandaj as its capital, and Kurdistan had semi-autonomy within Iran, and its situation has been completely different from Ottoman Kurdistan.

After World War I, the Ottoman Kurdistan, was divided and those parts may have some aspirations to unite again, for example the Kurdistan of Iraq and Turkey, but as noted, even Iraqi Kurds see a lot of opportunity for themselves in a united Iraq, if a secular democracy prevails, and may not pursue united Kurdistan with Turkey. People like Jalal Talabani of PUK, have played an important role in the struggle for secular democratic republic and federalism for the whole of Iraq.

 

Furthermore, Iran's Kurdistan had nothing to do with the partitioning of Kurdistan of Ottoman empire after WW I.  Also Kurds are Iranian like the Tajiks, and the Kurdish language is an Iranian language. So the situation of Kurdish issues in Iran is very different and is

basically oppression by the state than by the people. I wish some Kurdish nationalists of Turkey would not generalize their situation to that of Iranian Kurds.

 

Iranian Kurds and IRI

 

Iranian Kurds are essentially dealing with the same situation as other Iranians.  In fact, some Iranian Kurdish groups have been in the forefront and leadership of the opposition to IRI, long before many other Iranian parts of current Iranian opposition, and I am sure, just as we see in Iraq, the Kurds will have a lot of say in the post-IRI state, since all these years, they have been one of the most important parts of anti-IRI opposition for a secular republic.

 

About differences of Iran and Ottoman Empire, and the role of Kurds with regards to the history of development of central government in Iran, I have written in details in my book on Kurdistan, where my focus had been Iran's Kurdistan.

 

The reality is that globalization has made separation of small nations to be easy, and small nations nowadays stay together if they want to, not because they have to, as I explained in Globalization and Federalism.

 

Basically as I have written in my article Why Federalism for Kurdistan and Rest of Iran, federalism is the best solution to avoid  risking the breakup of future post-IRI democracy in Iran.  A breakup as witnessed in former Yugoslavia.

 

Insulting various nationalities like Kurds, is the worst anyone in the Iranian opposition can do, which can infuriate these nationalities and make them lose hope in a united Iran to look for separation.  Actually I have seldom seen among the Iranian opposition, and the Iranian pro-democracy movement has a high opinion of the Kurdish opposition, and many non-Kurdish Iranians lost their lives in defense of the movement of Iranian Kurdish people against the Islamic Republic. 

 

 The attacks on Kurds have not come from Iranian people but were come from IRI, when Islamic Republic Revolutionary Guards (pAsdArs and basijis), who insulted and raped Kurdish mothers and daughters. 

 

Popular Movements In Kurdistan

 

Among Iranian Kurdish groups, I have seen a few individuals in some groups, who may call the Fars or Persians by racist remarks, equating all non-Kurd Iranians with mollahs, but these people are a very tiny minority among the Kurdish groups.

 

The Kurdish groups like Komala are actually a very important part of the Iranian opposition as a whole, and they do *not* address other parts of Iranian movement by racist remarks.  Komala cares for the success of democracy and human rights in the whole of Iran, and they see themselves as part of the pro-democracy movement of Iran, and have contributed a lot to its development and leadership in the last 25 years.
 

The separatist  tendencies in Iranian Kudistan, comprise a very small part of the political spectrum, and most people in Iran's Kurdistan see their future closely tied with the rest of Iran.  As noted, I have explained this with a thorough historical research in my book about the formation of central state in Iran, when focusing on the situation of Kurdistan in Iranian history.

 

After the fall of Shah's regime, Kurdistan was among the first areas of Iran that rose against the Islamic Republic.  The reason is not hard to see.  During the reign of Safavids when Iranian government was an Islamic State, albeit a monarchy but with a strong role of mollahs, we saw the main opposition first to form in Sunni areas of Iran like ghochAn and Bojnurd and Kurdistan.

 

Even Afghans who invaded Iran and attack Isfahan, started their commotion when a Shi'a fatwa of Iran's mollahs, who had pronounced anybody raping Sunni women in Afghanistan would go to heaven.  And the fatwa had outraged the Afghans to a point that they invaded Iran during Shah Soltan Hossein's reign and ended the Safavid Dynasty.

 

So the Kurds of Iran being a strong Sunni minority were the first to oppose a Shi'a Islamist state in Iran.  Actually Sheikh Ezzeddin Hosseini who has been labeled as a leftist and the like, represents a Shafei Sunni religious opposition to IRI.  Ezzedin Hosseini and Moftizadeh were active in Kurdistan even during the Shah, and contrary to what IRI tries to depict, they were not with Shah's agents. 

 

Actually Ezzeddin Hosseini and Moftizadeh used to struggle against Sufism that was promoted at the time of the Shah in Kurdistan. Even Moftizadeh who in the beginning of IRI cooperated with IRI, was later murdered by IRI, because he did not approve of IRI Shi'a rule.  So the issue of a Shi'a religious state was always a big fear for Sunni Kurds.

 

The Kurds were attacked by IRI Revolutionary Guards (pasdArs) with the same wordings of Shiite anti-Sunni verbal curses.  The IRI Revolutionary Guards had a religious hatred for Sunni Kurds, whom they would call Omari, etc and they raped and killed the innocent people of Kurdistan, when the first peaceful demonstration against Shi'a rule started in Kurdistan in 1979

 

The people of Kurdistan took arms only in *self-defense* and not because of being guerrillas, which they were not.  It is important to note that the armed struggle in Kurdistan has*never* been a guerrilla warfare like the cheriki movements in other parts of Iran, not even at the time of the Shah.

 

The jonbeshe mollA AvAreh and Sharifzadeh in 1966,  at the time of the Shah, were an armed  *mass* movement, and not a guerrilla movement, and it was the peasants who rose up against the Shah's regime, and some intellectual groups and individuals from abroad  joined them later, and some of them like Parviz Nikkhah betrayed the movement in Shah's prison, but those groups were hardly any important part of that mass movement.

 

Komala

 

The history of Komala actually starts at the time of the Shah from the 1966 movement led by Mollah Avareh and Sharifzadeh.  Foad Mostafa Soltani who was killed during IRI, as well as current Komala leadership like Abdollah Mohtadi, date back to that time, when Mollah Avareh and Sharifzadeh were killed.  The leadership actually were like many other Iranian political groups that originated from Aryamehr University in Tehran. 

 

Before the 60's, many leaders of Iranian political movement originated from Technology Faculty of Tehran University, people like my own cousin Ahmad Ghandchi of 16-Azar, who was one of the three students killed on Dec 7, 1953, were the 50's generation. The brightest students like those of Daneshkadeh Fani and Aryamehr University were the ones who were originators of the main opposition groups during Shah's time.

 

Komala dates back to those years and to Aryamehr University, and actually these activists did not view the issue of democracy in Kurdistan as separate from the rest of Iran.  They were *not* even related to the hezbe demokrAte kordestAn, which dated from the 1941-53 period with views similar to hezbe toodeh. They were closer to like-minded non-Kurdish Iranian groups, in other parts of Iran, than to hezbe demokrate kordestan, which was in Kurdistan.

 

Komala just like all other Iranian intellectual groups of 60's and 70's, was more of a new leftist organization, with the difference that  its base was in country-side of Kurdistan.  Also because of opposing guerilla movement, Komala in those years, sided more with Mao, and engaged in successful political  mobilization of the masses, in contrast to all other intellectual groups of other parts of Iran that remained intellectual groups with negligible success to create a mass base. 

 

As time passed, and Komala saw the issue of dictatorship of socialist countries, they rejected China and Albania, etc and started searching beyond the existing socialism, although they still refered/refer to themselves as socialist. I should note that even when they were Communists, they opposed Soviet Union and even their support of China, when they did, was not like some other groups that were lackeys of the Chinese Communists.  Komala leadership were always independent thinkers.

 

In the years after 1981, they united with a very small group from other parts of Iran by the name of Sahand, and formed a Communist Party of Iran.  But soon they saw this is not what they see as their ideal. They had one split where basically the old group they had united with, became the  Worker-communist Party of Iran, seeking a Leninist policy.  In a short while,  Komala even separated from the Communist Party of Iran, and called itself Komala again.

 

A few from Komala stayed with Workers Communist Party.  Also there were a number of people from original Komala, who stayed with the Communist Party of Iran, call themselves Komalah (with an "h" at the end), rather than going with  the revived Komala, and they are still part of Communist Party of Iran

 

Most of the original team is with Komala, who after discarding support for China and Albania, started looking beyond Communism .  Even what they call socialism, in their interviews today, they clearly state their ideals are not anything like what they see in current socialist countries.  In their ideals, they emphasize democracy, human rights, and social justice within the new world development and progress of our times and they support a secular democratic federal republic in Iran.

 

After studying the relevant literature, the above is my understanding of Komala and its development.  To read heir own views on these issues, please consult their web site.

 

Federalism and IRI

 

The issue of Kurds and federalism is one of those issues that touches on the region, and IRI wants to broadcast a view that non-Kurd Iranian political groups do not want federalism, and tries to depict the proponents of federalism as separatists, whereas the majority of Iranian opposition today is beginning to side with federalism, and the Fars ultranationalists is a very small minority. 

 

As I have explained on numerous times, those acting as nationalists calling the federalist programs as separatist, are more Islamic Republic proponents rather than being Iranian nationalists, and their fear is that accepting federalism, would open the way for asking for more democratic rights for the whole of Iran by all Iranians.

 

It is IRI misusing ultranationalist facade, just as they did during the Iraq War, to justify the IRI despotism. Ultranationalist slogans are a preposterous flag for Islamists, when they have had no respect for national demands of all Iranians all these years, and when they have been pushing Islamism on Iran trying to eliminate even Norouz from Iran, a New Year celebration that Kurds celebrate, as much as any other part Iranians, if not more.

Recently in Iran, the Islamic Republic agents issued a fake communiqué, against the rights of Iranian nationalities in education, forging the signature of Jebhe Melli leaders . The forged document has been condemned by Jebhe Melli leadership inside Iran. Thus it is important to know how IRI is trying to attack the Kurdish movement with such despicable ultra-nationalist fabrications.

The reality is that the slaughter of leftists by IRI in 1981 and 1988, and the murder of leftists by the Shah's regime, were because the left had been the most ardent part of the opposition to monarchy in the 50's, 60's, and 70's, and to IRI in 80's and 90's.  This is why they killed even the activists who only had one year jail terms, and were inside the IRI prisons in 1988, by Khomeini's decree.

 

IRI miserably accepted the peace with Saddam, on Saddam's terms.  Khomeini committed a mass murder of the leftists and others in September 1988 to ensure to keep the society silent after signing the accord.  And IRI did not stop at killing the leftists, and even slaughtered Forouhars later, people who were never leftists.


Let me note that my own disagreement with the left is not because of their struggle against IRI and Shah's despotism. In fact, in that regard, I support them fully, and I think they have given the most number of sacrifices in Iran's movement for democracy, both during the Shah and during IRI, and this is why the intelligence agents of Shah and IRI have the most hatred for the leftists. 

 

My disagreement with the left is because I think their program is obsolete at the time of post-industrial development and globalization. I have written my views about the left in the past, in details and do not need to repeat.
 

 

Other Groups in Kurdistan


Many groups that talk of presence in Kurdistan, may have a few sympathizers there. However, Komala, in my opinion, is the only new political group, not just in Kurdistan, but in the whole of Iran of post-1953 years, that ever had and has a mass base, first in the country-side and then in the cities.

It is true, that in the years of 1941-1953, before the CIA coup, hezbe toodeh (Tudeh Party ),  and Jebhe Melli (Iran National Front), both had a mass base. And in Kurdistan, in the same period, hezbe demokrAte kordestan had a mass base. But after 1953, basically I would say all groups, including mojahedin and cherikha, which were bigger, hardly had any mass base, and were basically intellectual groups.

 

Even hezbe toodeh and JebheMelli of the 1953-1979 period, hardly had any mass base. I believe Komala is the only exception, being a real mass party, which I think is a good subject to study, as to why they were so successful in organizing the ordinary people, while others elsewhere in Iran failed.

 

When Komala was fighting IRI, almost 90% of the left in other parts of Iran,  not only supported Khomeini in 1979, but the left supported hostage-taking and the overthrow of Bazargan's  government. And unfortunately 90% of Iranian progressive movement was leftist in those days. 

 

It is true that some small groups viewed khordad 1360 (may 1980) as an reactionary coup like Mohammad Ali Shah's bombardment of majles, and tried to reverse it by an uprising in 1981, which did not work, and they were slaughtered with no result, because the progressive movement, including those forces themselves, had made error after error in appeasing Islamists, and that is how the 1981 IRI massacre of the left in all areas of Iran, except Kurdistan,  was successful.

 

Needless to say that, in 1981, in Iran, I was even threatened to death by a leftist groups for questioning Marxism. Nonetheless, I condemn the anti-Communist bigotry of Islamic Republic of Iran, and I condemn the violations against the human rights of leftists by IRI forces, just as I condemn the suppression of human rights of all other pro-democracy activists of Iran.

 

There are so many errors in Iranian progressive movement.  I have discussed those issues in details, and have noted the major trends in the historical turns of the last 25 years in my book Futurist Iran.

 

Conclusion

 

I do not care much for the IRI reformists including IRI president Khatami, although I support a real peaceful change to a federal secular republic in Iran.

Iran and Iranians are different from IRI (Islamic Republic of Iran) and IRI officials. Iran and Iranians are very modern, and we had a constitutional revolution calling for civil law and modern society, with a system based on Constitutional Law, over one hundred years ago.

 

In fact Islamic Theocracy has now helped the *grass root* in Iran to resent mollahs, and to call for secularity and futurist modernity, and a referendum for new constitution, and regime change, at the deepest levels of society, unprecedented in any other Middle Eastern society:

 

Iranian political groups should recognize a federalist solution for Iran, before the Islamic Republic falls apart, or else Iran may turn into another Yugoslavia.  The Komala Party can be play an important role to help the success of a democratic solution in Iran.

 

 

Appendix 3-Does Federalism Allow States To Deny Human Rights

 

One of the reasons of the opposition of an important part of Iran's progressive movement to federalism in Iran, is the wrong understanding of the authority of state governments, in limiting the human rights of the citizens of their respective states.  Many think that if federalism is formed in Iran, for example the state government of Azerbaijan can decide for the citizens of that state to be banned from accessing the Internet.

 

To explain the issue better, I would like to use the example of the Southern states of the U.S., before the Civil War, when those states believed that federalism gives them the right to keep a system of slavery in their states, and thought that the federal government cannot force them to abolish slavery.  So what was the problem?

 

After the independence of the U.S., two political trends were formed with respect to the issue of federalism, and incidentally they were both in the Northern founding states.  The former were those related to the Federalist Party and the latter were the supporters of the Democratic Party which was called Democratic-Republican Party at that time, and its founder was Thomas Jefferson.  By the second term of George Washington's office, the Federalist Party was formed and Washington in his second term, was the candidate of the Federalist Party, and John Adams, the second U.S. president was also from that party.

 

Contrary to the common usage of the term federalist in the Iranian political movement, when referring to those who have the rights of states in mind, in the U.S., the term federalist, was about those who emphasized the rights of the central government, because the central government was called the federal  government.  On the other hand, the supporters of the Democratic Party, contrary to the supporters of the Federalist Party, had their emphasis on the rights of the states.

 

One of the principle figures of the Federalist Party was Alexander Hamilton, who together with James Madison, were authors of the Federalist Papers, which I have previously discussed in Kurdistan, Federalism and Iranian National Sentiments. In reality those writings were attempts to explain the legal structures of checks and balances within a federal system, because the U.S. from its inception, was created out of joining of a number of relatively separate states, and it had not been the result of a previous centralized state, and the task before the founders was not that much if creating the state structures, which mostly existed, as it was the creation of federal structures, which were formed after the Revolution.

 

Thus the many of the emphasis of Federalists on the authorities of the central government, even caused a suspicion for people like Thomas Jefferson, who for a long time thought that Hamilton was working to set up a monarchy in the U.S.  Of course, later Hamilton, at the time of Thomas Jefferson's candidacy for president, supported Jefferson, even though he was from a competing party.  Also later on Madison got close to Jefferson, and became the president as a candidate of the Democratic Party. 

 

It is noteworthy that during Madison's presidency, in 1814, the British took over Washington D.C. and bunt the White House and Capitol and Madison went to Virginia.  In other words, the British colonial force was neither happy with the Federalists who emphasized the central state,  nor with the Democrats who emphasized the rights of the states, and one should not consider the program of either one of them as the plan of the colonialists.  In Iran's case. it is the same way that at times the colonialists wanted the disintegration of Iran and at other times wanted its solid centralization.  Thus calling the plan for either a centralized state, or a federal state, to be a colonialist plan is wrong.

 

About hundred years after the founding of the U.S., the issue of slavery was raised with relation to federalism in the U.S. The slave-owning states claimed that it is their state right within a federal system, to keep the slavery in their states.  In fact, the reason Democratic Party was not able to be effective in the abolition of slavery, was because that party made the error of thinking that the states have the right, to take away the human right of their citizens to freedom from slavery, whereas the human rights are higher rights than the state rights.

 

Abraham Lincoln the president from the Republican Party, which was a young party at the time, clearly raised the demand for abolition of slavery beyond the state rights, and fought for it, whereas the Democratic Party at that juncture of time did not understand the priority of human rights to the state rights.

 

In today's world, with respect to Iran, we are facing a similar situation.  Those whose understanding of federalism, is the ethnic fiefdom, to subordinate the human rights to state rights, have a wrong understanding of federalism, and on the other hand, those who equate this wrong perception of federalism with the demand for federalism in Iran, and by rejecting this wrong position, want to discredit the program for a federal state in Iran, are trying to bring back despotism in opposition to the political rights of different nationalities of Iran.

 

The error of the likes of Pishevari and ferghe demokrate Azerbaijan was not their defense of the rights of the nationalities of Iran, but their joining a foreign force was their error, the same error that is repeated today by the opponents of federalism, when they call for the invasion of Iran by a power, meaning the invasion by the U.S., so that they can get to power in Iran. 

 

In reality, the mistake of Pishevari at that time, and these people today,  is the same.  Pishevari was naively thinking about foreign invaders then, and these people naively think about foreign invaders now, and they both forgot and forget that the best solution for Iranian people is made by Iranian people themselves in a free state, and the attack of no foreign aggressor to Iran would be the solution for the freedom, justice, and progress in Iran.

 

As I noted in Kurds & Formation of Central Government in Iran, what the opponents of federalism fear the most, namely disintegration of Iran to another Yugoslavia, can happen as the result of their lack of attention to the political demands of various states of Iran.

 

In fact, in the world of today, not only the federal state can and should stand up to the states, that step over the human rights of their citizens, such as the experience of Civil War in the U.S., but the global institutions can and should stand up to state, federal, and centralized states, for any privation of the human rights of their citizens by such states.

 

.

Appendix 4-Federalism is the Lesson of 21-Azar

 

For over half a century, on the anniversary of 21-Azar (Dec 12), two opposing political factions of Iranians, remember the events of 1945-6 in Azerbaijan and Kurdistan of Iran, centralists calling the autonomists as separatist, and the autonomists calling the centralists as murderer and dictator. 

 

Centralists think of themselves as the real patriots of Iran, when talking of 21-Azar's onslaught of the autonomists by the Shah's army, whereas the autonomists see the centralists as lacking any humanity when speaking of the lives lost in those events. 

 

The autonomists think of centralists as callous about the needs and rights of non-Fars ethnic and national groups and regions of Iran, whereas the centralists see the autonomists as separatists who want to surrender different regions of Iran to foreign power.

 

Half a century has passed and we still witness this infamous ritual every year.  This meaningless division of Iranians at the dawn of 21st Century is simply regretful, when its continuation is solely based on ignorance. 

 

On one side, some try to think the dividing line is based on nationalists versus communists, and they make sure to repeat the name of Pishevari, to make their point, whereas the issue of state rights in Modern Iran dates back to the time of anjomanhaayeh iaalati va velaayati in mashrootiat's 1906 Constitution. 

 

On the other hand, others try to think the dividing line to be based on Persian despotism and oppressed nations, whereas the centralist model is what has been chosen in mashrootiat era based on the French centralist model of Modern state rather than using other models of modern state such as the American federal model.

 

It is a fact that the ones who have supported the centralist government in Iran are not limited to monarchists, and actually the leftists and jebhe nationalists of Iran have overwhelmingly been on the side of centralist system as well, which is a heritage of mashrootiat's choosing of this French model of modern state, and they have all negated federalism for over a century, with blind form of nationalism ( http://www.ghandchi.com/342-KurdFedEng.htm ), although non-monarchist forces wanted their own centralist state, and not that of the Shah.

 

Also those who have supported autonomy are not limited to leftists or ethnic nationalists.  In fact, many pro-monarchy forces in Kurdistan in the last 26 years were autonomists and in places like Kamyaran in Kurdistan, in 1980 when fighting Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), the people's slogan in opposition to IRI of that area was "yA Shah yA Sadigh Kamangar."  Sadigh Kamangar was a leader of Komala at that time who was later killed in a battle with IRI.

 

With all this background, let's ask what is at issue here?

 

The reality of Iran is that even under the Persian Empire, the Satraps resembled more of a federalist system than a centralist monarchy and Persian Empire was not a centralist system like the pre-revolutionary France.  Then why can't Iranian monarchists and republicans, nationalists and leftists, and even religious thinkers, accept this reality of Iran, and give up on their centralist state programs for Iran?  I believe the reason is ignorance and fear. 

 

Neither centralism nor separation is the answer to the national question in Iran and even at the time of mashrootiat, we should have adopted a model like the American federal system, rather than taking the French model and modifying it with anjomanhAyeh iaalati va velaayati that never really worked.  And as far as the influences of foreign powers is concerned, both models could and can be misused.

 

Our politicians have been afraid that if we have a federal government, the different states may go their way and may separate from the rest of Iran.  The truth is that in this day and age, if a central government does not recognize the needs for any individual state, in a country like Iran, the end result can be actually what the proponents of centralist government fear the most, namely the national minorities will choose to separate, as they did in former Yugoslavia, and the intimidation to call them separatists, is not going to slow them down, and in fact, it will encourage them to seek separation faster.

 

Imagine if the Kurdestan of Iraq creates a government of its own, with its vast oil resources, and imagine Iran to still have a dictatorial government like the current theocracy, would it be hard to understand the desire of an Iranian Kurd to join that state in such a situation?  Of course, as I have written before, Iranian Kurdistan has had a separate history from the other four parts of Kurdistan, that were part of the Ottoman Empire, and Iranian Kurdistan developed with the rest of Iran, and not with the Kurdistan of Ottoman Empire.  But nowadays, people immigrate as far as the Americas, where they do not even share culture and language, just to escape from dictatorship and to live in freedom to pursue happiness, so one should not be surprised to see a desire for a neighboring country, if it offers more freedom and progress than home.

 

I remember one ordinary person who seeing the status of Russian planes and the use of cow dump for heating in the last years of Soviet Union, asked me how the toodeii (Iranian Communists) were so stupid not to see what they were trying to bring about for Iran.  In other words, ordinary people move much faster than intellectuals, who follow a specific ideology based on a series of thought system development.  Now whether that ideology to be monarchy, nationalism, or communism.  Ordinary people will look at the real life conditions of the neighbors of Iran.  Well, let's return to our topic of discussion.

 

Why I mentioned the example of Iraq, is to show that lack of federalism, does not mean that nationalities of Iran will not think of separation.  On the contrary , lack of a federalist system will make the choice to be either to stay and suffer, or separate and be "free".  It is to the disadvantage of both sides. I have argued from historical and theoretical angle on this issue in a few papers of mine before.  In this historical study of development of Central Government in Iran, with a focus on Kurdistan, I have shown why Federalism makes the most sense, not just to address the issue of Kurdistan, but that of freedom and democracy for the whole of Iran.

 

Also I have discussed the issue of priorities of rights in a federal system as discussed by Madison (http://www.ghandchi.com/117-Madison.htm) .  For example I showed that a particular state, cannot decide to put its region, in a state of being under a foreign domination, or strengthening the retrogressive forces in its territory, because the human rights of the people takes precedence over state rights, the same way that confederate states in the U.S.,  could not argue to keep slavery in their state, on the basis of state rights, because it was a retrogression and was contrary to the priority of human rights to state rights ( http://www.ghandchi.com/362-FederalismRightsEng.htm ).

 

I think one reason that Iranian intellectuals have had such an opposition to federalism was because, regardless of being monarchist or nationalist or communist, they were all very monist in their respective ideologies, and in contrast, fortunately one characteristic of Iranian opposition today, is that they all think more as pluralists than as monists, and pluralism ( http://www.ghandchi.com/301-PluralismEng.htm ) can also be a positive factor to help us to come to terms with a federalist program for Iran.

 

Moreover, as I have explained in Globalization and Federalism ( http://www.ghandchi.com/310-GlobalFed.htm ), the current world developments are a lot more conducive to a federalist model than to a centralist model, and those like the Serbs and Russians, who tried to push centralism, caused a backfire and total breakup of their former states, and they are still suffering from the consequences of their dictatorial approach.

 

It is about time that we Iranians to learn the real lesson of 21-Azar, and see that neither centralist state nor separatism is the answer for Iran, and that Iran needs to have a real federal government, to respond to the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people.  Some people ask whether there is a risk of separation of some parts of Iran, if we have a federal government?  My response is that not having federalism is a bigger risk and this is again like all other aspects of democracy, that rulers are in fact accepting the risk of losing power when going for democracy, but at the same time, freedom means that people stay with them out of choice and not out of fear, and that has proven to be a more lasting relationship. 

 

In this day and age, nobody can be kept with any government by force for too long.  If that could be done, the regimes like the Soviets, Eastern Block States, Latin American dictatorships, Taliban and Saddam, and today IRI and Syria would not be collapsing one after the other. Our times calls for a federal future in Iran, and it is a great regret that the majority of our intellectuals; monarchists, leftists, and Jebhe nationalists, are still shying away from supporting a federalist program for Iran, and waste their time on the usual divisive rituals of the 21-Azar, rather than seeking a federalist unity for our future.

Appendix 5-Ethnic Federalism a Reactionary Plan for Iran's Future- Second Version

 

Again although I have repeatedly discussed these issues from a theoretical perspective (1) but I have to clearly state my political position although the political groups I am addressing here try character assassination and attack using pseudonames on the Internet without their leaders inside the remainders of  Democratic Party of Iranian Kudistan (PDKI.org) and the remnants of Komala (komala.org) and the Congress of Nationalities for Federal Iran (iranfederal.org) who are at the helm of these destruction programs for Iran to take responsibility for such personal attacks.  On one hand in their radio and TV front programs they pretend to be Iran lovers but on the other hand open criticism of their Iran-breaking platforms is met with character assassination under pseudonames so that they would not have to take direct responsibility for their destructive political positions towards Iran. Let me emphasize that my opposition to these groups and their programs to break up Iran in ethnic hatred has nothing to do with nationalism which I oppose as well (2).

The reality is that for decades the Islamist fundamentalist and Stalinist groups have lost any following in the more advanced parts of Iran among the political and human rights activists and nobody in the Iran's civil rights movement or in Iran's new political opposition has any relationship with such groups and noone in a democratic mindset would consider her/himself a sympathizer of such backward sects which still try to find following, just like the Islamic Republic, by boasting the number of martyrs they have had in the last 30 years ago and previous to that. But in some parts of Iran like Kurdistan there are still some civil rights activists who are afraid of these groups. When these groups try to use the civil rights movement of areas like Kurdistan as a front for themselves, and for their ethnic federalist platforms, these activists are intimidated to go along. One of the most recent examples of such efforts by these ethnic sects is the formation of a group called Iran Federal with a clear *ethnic* federalist mind set in facebook which I think should be boycotted because it tries to mislead people by using the word federalism when their platform is nothing more than ethnic division of Iran and their goal is *not* a non-ethnic administrative decentralization like American federalism.

Even Komala and PDKI today are divided into several pieces although they still go by their old names and are just like the Communist Party of Gus Hall in the United States when time and again in any presidential election, again Mr. Gus Hall is a candidate from the that Communist Party USA, for American presidency, a candidacy which is nothing more than a ridiculous game in the eyes of  living political forces in the U.S., whether they are conservative or are at the opposite end of the political spectrum. Of course if Iran was a democracy and if these same groups showed up as humorous political realities in the open and were not using the atmosphere of secrecy in Iranian political life, to create the impression of an important force, there would be no need even to write about them as nobody in the US politics even talks about Gus Hall and his Communist Party. But in Iran too, in the 21st Century these sects that only resemble a ridiculous caricature of a historical Stalinist parties with backward programs have long lost any attractions in the regions they claim to have following, as the civil rights movement and modern political thinking is growing in those areas too but these groups try to use the hush hush of secrecy to draw a different picture of political reality of those regions.

 

Also those in other parts of Iran who do not know about these realities when they visit regions like Kurdistan are like someone who has left the urban areas for the countryside and in the first sight, the facade of strong non-religious organizations when seeing the office and facilities of these groups in the neighboring countries of Iran (in Iraq) impresses them as if these groups are more advanced than the political groups in other parts of Iran and imagine as if they are visiting a modern political party whereas for these sects, these days, only ethnicism has replaced their past Stalinist flag making them the twin of Khomeini's religionist politics, where they are both remnants of Iran's Medieval times, and surely they have nothing to do with Modernism.

Many activists who fled the Islamic Republic from Tehran and see the offices of some of these groups in neighboring country Iraq think that these sects are a powerful force in those regions. These sects by creating lobby groups in the U.S. and Europe and by receiving money from several countries in recent years and by forming relationships with neighboring countries are working just like the Ferghe Democrat of Azerbaijan and of Kurdistan lead by Pishevari and Ghazai Mohammad in the 1940's, when they created similar relations with the northern Azerbaijan Soviet Republic at the time of Stalin and were both destroyed in the aftermath of Stalin's pact with Iran's government in mid 1940's. Although the current remnants of those groups carrying the same name are nothing more thank a caricature of those groups of the 40's withno grassroots following in those regions but they work hard are to fool the honest political and civil rights activists of Iran and also endeavor to misrepresent themselves to some of the advisers of foreign governments who are not familiar with the realities of Iran's Kurdistan and this way they try to fool them to get money and weapons for themselves. Their political platform of these sects are like a Stalinist nightmare which weighs heavily on the body of Iranian political movement as they try to mislead Iran's prodemocracy movement towards ethnic hatred and civil war by advocating the breakup of Iran in an ethnic destruction. They are pushing platforms that, along with dark nightmares of Soviet influence, even among older activists of Iran, have long been discarded, and are looked at as part of a history which brought us nothing more than destruction, and finally an Islamic Republic which today is not much different from Stalin's Soviet Union. Today when our people say we want a secular republic it means we want a government which not only is not Islamic-oriented, but it is not ideology-oriented, and is not ethnicity-oriented.  In other word we do not wabt to discard negation of secularism by a religious state, to accept negation of secularism by an ethnic state, which is another version of a nonsecular state, because it approves of ethnic apartheid, just as Soviet Union was another version of a nonsecular state by being ideology-oriented.

But if Khomeini's Islamists brought us the souvenir of a backward religious state in the 21st Century, these ethnicists want to bring back an ethnic state for our people, at the time of demise of Stalinism and Communism, and are dreaming of Iraq's Kurdistan (a wholly different situation in remnants of Ottoman Empire which I have extensively discussed in my book about Kurdistan that is used to mislead Iranian Kurds as a pretext for the so-called Theory of Greater Kurdistan). They are waiting for Iran's situation to change a little bit towards freedom, and instead of helping the prodemocracy movement of Iran, by misusing the efforts of Iran's prodemocracy activists to disintegrate Iran. They are so shameless that they talk as representative of Kurdish people about the post-June 12th demonstrations of Tehran and other parts of Iran and send message as if Kurdistan is a separate country and as if they are the representative of that country instead of participating in the current movement along with other prodemocracy activists as the people of Kemanshah did in the memorial ceremony of Kianoush Asa, in a movement which emphasizes secularism that negates both Islamism and Ethnicism.

Iran is a country which is neither coming out of a war nor is it just a collection of regions wishing to form a modern state to decide whether they want to choose a canton-style confederation model like Switzerland or follow the model of federalism of the former colonies of the America forming the United States. The reason that I have personally even suggested provincial federalism for Iran which resembles US federal system was not based on any ethnic division and was not because of any illusion as to think of country-making (so-called nation-building) but it was solely because the existing Iran has had a modern state, although not a democratic one, for over 100 years, and our provinces that are the result of the 100-year development may be able to use provincial federalism to help the **checks and balances** to further grow democracy in Iran,  not to grow ethnic hatred. Basically provincial federalism means that all three branches of government are elected offices in every province and are not appointed offices from the center (3).

Otherwise to resolve issues of the ethnic rights, whether one adopts the provincial federal model or a central state, is related to citizen rights in Iran and has nothing to do with federalism, and thus ethnic state is not a solution to those issues. If we end up sliding in the slope of tribal government, I also like many other Iranian political activists, will drop federalism altogether from my suggested platform, because I do not want federalism to be used as an excuse to break up Iran and turn Iran into another Yugoslavia, which is only the wish of colonialists and reactionaries, and is not the desire of Iran's freedom loving people, and we in the Iran's political movement feel no proximity with such colonial backward schemes and condemn any such endeavors to break up Iran's territorial integrity.

Fundamentally our argument against ethnic federalism is not because of impracticality. The point is that an ethnic state in one province or two or a region or in the whole country is reactionary. Paying attention to the ethnic demands in the areas of language and culture has nothing to do with having an ethnic state (4). The same way that paying attention to the religious demands has nothing to do with accepting a religious government, and in fact, it is the reverse, and ethnic or religious states are themselves the cause of ethnic and religious discrimination.

Any personal insults, threats, etc. is not a response to my discussions. Modern government was formed in Iran for more than a century ago after the Constitutional Revolution and we are not at the beginning of state-making to define our borders, and such issues to become our preoccupation, as some of these sect leaders want to push us that way, is against the interests of Iranian people and no foreign government should help such efforts which are condemned by Iran's pro-democracy movement and is viewed not much different from the wron support of Khomeini by some Western countries in 1979 at the expense of Iran's secular opposition groups. Even if we predict a situation like Yugoslavia in Iran, what we have learned from the experience of Iran's 1979 Revolution is that we made a mistake when we assumed the supporters of a religious government to be progressive, and this time we will not view those who are dreaming of ethnic state for Iran, as progressive, and will clearly draw our line separating ourselves from them, from now.

What is from the distant past of Iran in the Iranian plateau namely countries such as former Soviet Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan if decide to join Iran, in a bigger region, such a union will neither be an ethnic federation nor a provincial federation but it will be a new thing like European Union and has nothing to do with these discussions, or with the ridiculous games of separatists, to justify the disintegration of Iran, when the result will not be the strengthening of democracy, and if not constant civil war, in the best case will be an ethnic state like the state of Ardalans in Kurdistan in Medieval Iran which more resembles the state of Farmanfarmaeian rule in Fars province at the end of Qajar Dynasty, where they both, just like the power of clergy, belong to the old world, and reviving them in any part of Iran, is regressive, and a return to the past, and not progress, the same way Khomeini brought back the rule of clergy 30 years ago, which was a return in history, and was not modernism and progress.

A particular mistake that some Kurdish political friends in Iran makeو is that the Iraqi Kurdistan regional government has become a source of going astray for them, and now they say Shi'ite and Sunni Kurds of Iran should unite or they call for linguistic unity among the Kurds to unite Kurdistan, East Azerbaijan, Ilam and Kermanshah provinces of Iran into one region, planning for a Kurdistan regional government in Iran, similar to Iraq. If Iraqi Kurdistan has now Kurdish new television programs, Soviet Azerbaijan had all these decades ago. The issue of Kurds and Azeri of Iran is not these things, why are these sect leaders trying to mislead people of Kurdistan with these words to separate them from the large pro-democracy movement of people of Iran. If the sect leaders again cause the blood of Iranian people to spill because of these nonsense of ethnic state, there is no difference between them and Khomeini who brought destruction for our people for 30 years, with a retrogressive platform of a non-secular state.

Ethnic makeup of different parts of Iran has been formed the way it is because of the wars with the Ottomans and Russia and in Iran's previous and later history (5). Iran not only now but in the past 100 years has not been in a country-making (nation-making) situation and even during the 1979 Revolution, the movement did not have such a goal in its outlook, which some remnants of Komala and  PDKI and together in Congress of Nationalities for Federal Iran (iranfederal.org) are trying to push by the help of foreign powers, by combining some provinces they want to separate from Iran. Stop these breakup schemes for Iran. Those activists among them, who had some respect in the Iranian movement, were political activists in Aryamehr University in Tehran at the time of the Shah and were not some people trying to create ethnic state in Iran, and were considered as Iranian political activists, because they were prodemocracy activists for Iran, and not because of being after breaking up Iran for ethnicism. Not even anybody knew these friends were Kurdish in those days, let alone to be pro-ethnic separation, when working with them. Moreovere, today Iran's new political movement is not after a revolution and is for peaceful change and the armed operations of the likes of Jundullah and armed groups in Kurdistan only hurt the growth of this movement unless they want to achive their goals by starting a war with Iran which I will discuss below.

Those who are after military attack on Iran, and hope Iran to be attacked to make small countries out of Iran, will only get the wrath of Iranian people, and will be marked for betrayal, even by Kurds and Azeris of Iran, just like those who because of cooperation with Saddam Hussein, got the mark of treason by Iranian people, and have been isolated from the Iranian movement. The Congress of Nationalities for Federal Iran (iranfederal.org) and remnants of Komala and PDKI better take their shop somewhere else and instead of getting money from foreign countries,  join the civil rights movement of Iran. Times of Comintern and the foreign states making decisions for Iran has long passed and this is why Iranian movement after so many years remembers Dr. Mossadegh with such reverence. Don't do something to get the label of treason and betrayal of Iran forever. If the mistake of Pishevari and Ghazi Mohammad in the era of dominance of Stalinism in the international progressive movement, was understandable, the actions of remnants of Komala, PDKI, and Congress of Nationalities for Federal Iran (iranfederal.org) are not only unjustifiable but will be the mark of shame on the forehead of their leaders.

Forces and individuals belonging to the prodemocracy movement of Iran that are not agents of foreign powers should separate their way from these groups and should clearly state that they are after democratization of Iran. Using the models of provincial federalism in existing country of Iran is not for breaking up Iran, but is to grow democracy in Iran, and that is all. Even if this model of provincial federalism becomes something for separatists to misuse, I personally am ready to remove federalism from my suggested political platform altogether, instead of allowing it to give rise to a civil war in Iran. The leaders of these ethnicists have heard all these several times but again they translate federalism to ethnic federalism. I do not want to have any part in such federalism and if that is what they are looking for, one should vote negative to any proposal for federalism in any founding parliament in any future state for Iran. I personally and specifically until these groups have not been dissolved, or until the majority of supporters of federalism have not distanced themselves from  ethnic federalism, will not support the position of federal republic for Iran. Repeating again, the issue for Iran, is not country-making (nation-making), to allow the merging of the four provinces of Kurdistan to create a new Kurdistan, so that it can become part of the Greater Kurdistan schemes of PKK later (6).  No we will resist any such schemes that are the start of Iran's breakup.

Such ethnicist views were followed by some people for Azerbaijan, and a generation was destroyed. This is a wrong road, let's not try it again. The problem is not whether it is practical or not, the problem is that it is a wrong way for any force in Iran's democratic movement, which wastes the movement's energy on ethnic hatred, rather than on the growth of democracy. PJAK party is a living example of this error in Turkey, and Iran does not even have the problems of Turkey, when the Iran's branch of PKK, the PJAK, or Komala or PDKI, or Congress of Nationalities for Federal Iran (iranfederal.org) are prescribing such paths of going astray for our people. Theseactions have nothing to do with the freedom movement of Iran and will only destroy the new secular and democratic movement of Iran.
 

1. http://www.ghandchi.com/543-MadinehFazeleh.htm
2. http://www.ghandchi.com/480-28mordadEng.htm
3. http://www.ghandchi.com/535-FederalismeOstani.htm
4. http://www.ghandchi.com/495-HaleMasalehMeli.htm
5. http://www.ghandchi.com/700-KurdsIranEng.htm
6. http://www.ghandchi.com/478-GreaterKurdistanPanacea.htm
 

 

Appendix 6-A Note about the Controversial Kurdistan Autonomy Plan

 

 

"Their demolished doors and walls are breaking on my head ..." Nima Yushij

 

My dear friend, Abdullah Mohtadi, following criticisms from Iran's countrywide political movement concerning the new agreement of Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran and Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, has said in a recent interview that his plan for Iran's Kurdistan is to create a Kurdish region from several provinces where the Kurds currently live in Iran and has described this region as part of the future federal system of Iran.  It is not important whether such a region is defined within ethnic federalism (1)  or provincial federalism  (2) or as an autonomous region in Iran with a centralized government. The result will be an autonomous region for the Kurds whether we call the Kurds an ethnic group or a nation.  The discussion is neither about federalism nor the definition of ethnic groups or nations.

 

Iran's countrywide movement in reaction to this accord of Kurdish parties has pushed aside any review of plans for federalism for Iran's future (3). The basis of the proposed joint communiqué of the two Kurdish parties is to have the Kurdish people live in the autonomous region rather than in provinces that would be home to people of various ethnic backgrounds willing to work for democracy and progress regardless of ethnicity, race or nationality. In other words, this is a retrogressive plan to return to the autonomous rule of the Ardalans of feudal Iran before the time of Nasereddin Shah of Qajar (4).

 

It is true that the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq today has such a status and may even become an independent republic. But this has been the result of the particular situation of US attack of Iraq and US support of the Kurdish parties that believed in autonomous Kurdistan during that war. Separation of Northern Azerbaijan from Iran also occurred following the war between Iran and Russia during the reign of Fat′h-Ali Shah Qajar, and after the fall of Soviet Union, it became an independent republic.

 

One cannot view such historical events as a reason to justify plans for autonomous regions in Iran or in any other country. The result of such plans is to prevent people with diverse racial, ethnic and national backgrounds from growing together (5). Examples in many African, Asian and European countries can be seen where the outcome has been nothing but local retrogressive dictatorships, and this is the reason why Iran's pro-democracy movement condemns separatism (6).

 

About 65 years ago, the Mahabad Republic proposed this same program of autonomy for Kurdistan and a group of the most educated elite of Kurdistan participated in it; Abdollah Mohtadi's father was one of the cabinet ministers of Ghazi Mohammad's government. The Mahabad government, which came to power with the support of Stalin's USSR , was smashed by Iran's army following an agreement between Truman and Stalin, and the government was not supported by nationalist forces and even leftist groups of other parts of Iran. A similar event with a similar mistake happened at the same time in Azerbaijan, and the result was the confrontation of two parts of Iran's political and civil movement at that time.

 

During 1979 Revolution the same mistake was repeated and some of the opinion leaders of Kurdistan, such as the respected Abdolrahman Ghassemlou, again came forward with the slogan of "Democracy for Iran, Autonomy for Kurdistan." Although in the first anniversary of the revolution, Kurdistan Democratic Party and Komala Party were able to take over the power in Mahabad and Sanandaj but their negotiations with Iran's provisional government of Mehdi Bazargan, to continue as an autonomous government based on the 26 point proposal of the Kurdish delegation, did not succeed. With the fall of the semi-liberal government in Tehran the plans of attacking Kurdistan became more serious and at the end with the start of Iran-Iraq War, the civil and political movement of Kurdistan was practically wiped off even though it was supported by the movement from other parts of Iran.

 

Neither at the time of Ghazi Mohammad nor at the time of the 1979 Revolution nor at the present time has the choosing of the path of retrogressive autonomy by some of the political elite of Kurdistan been because of foreign powers, although depending on their interests at each historical turn, they may have supported such plans. This does not go back to the Mahabad Republic but goes back further to the time of Ismaiil Agha Simku, who at the time of Iran's Constitutional Movement fought against the Iranian constitutionalists and also worked for the British to secure their oil wells in Kirkuk of Iraq.

 

Kurdish leaders from the time of Ghazi Mohammad until the present time basically were neither dependent on foreign powers like Ismaiil Agha Simku nor were they anti-constitutionalist like him, but their mistake was to choose an erroneous and retrogressive program of autonomy for Kurdistan. Isn't it time to work together with the rest of the pro-democracy movement encompassing all of Iran for the prosperity and happiness of Iran in a society formed by a rainbow of ethnic and national backgrounds?



Footnote:
 

1. http://www.ghandchi.com/555-FederalismeGhomiEng.htm

2. http://www.ghandchi.com/535-FederalismeOstani.htm

3. http://www.ghandchi.com/543-MadinehFazeleh.htm

4. http://www.ghandchi.com/700-KurdsIranEng.htm

5. http://www.ghandchi.com/362-FederalismRightsEng.htm

6. http://www.ghandchi.com/696-Separatists.htm

 

 

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Related Works

http://www.ghandchi.com/index-Page16.html

 

http://www.ghandchi.com/600-SecularismPluralismEng.htm

 

http://www.ghandchi.com/500-FuturistIranEng.htm

 

 

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