Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Iranian people for national unity

First Published: Unity, Vol. 2, No. 5, March 9-22, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Iran’s new provisional government, set up by the Ayatollah Khomeini and headed by Mehdi Bazargan, has begun to adopt measures to try to restore stability and end the long history of foreign domination of the country. The steps the government is taking to dismantle the Shah’s repressive government apparatus have been welcomed by the Iranian people, who fought heroically and shed their blood to rid Iran of the hated monarchy. But many problems still confront the country, and the Iranian people are continuing their struggle for democracy and independence.

The majority of the people have responded to the government’s call for an end to the widespread strikes which helped bring the Shah’s dictatorship to its knees. The Teheran bazaar reopened in late February for the first time in six months, and oil production began to increase as most of the country’s oil workers returned to the job. Oil exports, crucial to the country’s economy, resumed on March 5. Newspapers throughout the country have been able to resume publishing and martial law and the curfews have been lifted.

The Bazargan government announced that a national referendum would be held on March 31 on whether to replace the monarchy with an Islamic republic. This vote is to be followed by elections to a constitutional assembly to approve a new constitution, and then by general elections.

Bazargan is also attempting to regroup Iran’s military forces to provide for the country’s national defense needs, and 60% of the soldiers have heeded the government’s call to return to their barracks. Most of the officer corps has been reorganized to get rid of officers who backed the Shah’s regime.

International policies

In the area of international policies, the provisional government indicated that Iran would attempt to steer a more independent and non-aligned course than under the Shah’s regime. Ties with South Africa and Israel have been cut, and a close relationship has been established with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Although the new government’s ultimate relationship with the two superpowers is not totally clear, Khomeini has told both the U.S. imperialists and the Soviet imperialists that they will not be able to freely exploit Iran’s petroleum resources. At a meeting with Soviet ambassador to Iran, V.M. Vinogradov, on February 24, Khomeini warned all foreign powers “not to interfere in our domestic affairs,” and stated that Iran would “fight” those who do. The next day Iran’s national radio accused the Soviet Union of “swindling Iran out of (natural) gas.” Moscow has been told that the former agreements under which it purchased 30 billion cubic feet of natural gas yearly from Iran must be renegotiated to bring the prices up to world market levels.

The U.S. imperialists, previously the dominant superpower in Iran and long-time backers of the Shah’s dictatorship, have been dealt a major setback by recent events. No longer can the U.S. count on the Iranian military to serve as a virtual extension of the U.S. army, and U.S. intelligence bases in Iran may be forced to close. The hundreds of American corporations in the country face an uncertain future because of the Iranian people’s widespread hatred for U.S. imperialism.

Bazargan has said that Iran will continue to sell oil to the U.S., but prices will be increased to world market levels. Also, for the first time, the National Iranian Oil Company will market all of Iran’s oil. Formerly 80% of the country’s oil was marketed by a consortium of Western oil companies.

While the provisional government has made some advances in charting a course towards a new, more democratic and independent Iran, there is still struggle going on to pull the country together. The economic situation remains chaotic, with industry and agriculture still operating far below capacity. Communications and shipping are not yet fully restored and the country’s foreign exchange reserves, vital for foreign trade, have been reduced to dangerously low levels.

National unity is still somewhat weak, and some differences have emerged over what path Iran should take into the future. Several large groups of organized guerrillas, whose loyalty to the provisional government is minimal, remain heavily armed. They have launched attacks on a number of foreign embassies and foreign corporate headquarters, and have kidnapped several foreign citizens. One of the most active guerrilla groups is the Fedayeen, whose membership numbers in the thousands. The Fedayeen claimed primary responsibility for the February 14 attack on the U.S. Embassy. The Fedayeen’s complete program and ultimate goals for Iran are unclear, although they have raised demands for workers’ councils to run the industries, the replacement of the Iranian army with a people’s militia, and open elections. The Fedayeen consider both the Soviet Union and China to be socialist countries and want to steer a neutral course between the two.

The Soviet social-imperialists are trying to exploit this view and take advantage of the current upheaval in Iran in order to further their influence in Iran. The Soviet imperialists, in their competition with the U.S. imperialists for world control, are aggressively trying to take over Iran in whatever way they can.

The Soviets are increasing their efforts to subvert the popular movement through the revisionist Tudeh Party, which is openly calling for Iran to ally with the Soviet Union. The Tudeh Party acclaimed the attack on the U.S. Embassy. It also played a prominent role in the February 24 rally of 70,000 people in Teheran which demanded the government dissolve the army, set up workers’ councils, and incorporate all opposition forces including the revisionists in the new government. And while the Soviets are trying to woo Khomeini diplomatically, they are also prepared for military intervention, with thousands of Farsi-speaking troops stationed on the U.S.S.R.-Iran border.

On their part the U.S. imperialists are still trying to figure out what happened to them in Iran, with different government officials and politicians accusing each other of “losing” Iran. Carter is now defending his inability to “save” Iran with claims that the U.S. “doesn’t interfere in the internal affairs of other countries” and “deplores the use of force.” But these high-sounding platitudes are just his efforts to save face. Carter was still quick to add that the U.S. would still not hesitate to “protect American interests” if they were threatened.

Iran is facing truly formidable problems. But the people are prepared to continue the struggle to solve the country’s problems and build an independent and democratic Iran.