Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

UNITY interviews Ranjbaran Party member

Changing situation in Iran

First Published: Unity, Vol. 4, No. 4, March 6-19, 1981.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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UNITY recently interviewed Ali, a representative of the Central Committee of the Ranjbaran Party of Iran, about developments in Iran since the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war and the resolution of the hostage crises. The Ranjbaran Party is a communist organization in Iran.

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Q: Could you talk about the current political situation inside Iran?

A: Changes have taken place very fast in Iran over the last two years. At the time of the revolution, there was a good basis of unity among many different forces in the country. Of course, it took struggles, but this unity was created, the Shah was defeated, and the U.S. was thrown out. We had a very healthy atmosphere and situation in Iran at the time of the revolution and in the months afterwards.

But little by little the situation changed. Unfortunately, a section of the ruling class has usurped the organs of the government, and it has changed for the worse. More and more, it has monopolized power in its own hands, bent towards oppression of the people, and more and more towards relying on one superpower, the Soviet Union. We call these forces the despots in favor of the Soviet Union.

You might ask what are the specific policies they are following that we have come to this conclusion that they are increasingly pro-Soviet despots. First of all, in the case of independence, they have abandoned the slogan of “Neither East nor West.” They say only “... nor West.” They have completely abandoned the part about the Soviet Union. So they struggle only against the U.S. and tend to capitulate towards the Soviet Union.

Take foreign policy. Iran is in total isolation today. When our revolution was victorious, we had many friends around the world, especially in third world countries. But today, whoever does not agree with their politics, they call them “pro-U. S.” and totally isolate themselves from them. The latest example was their boycott of the Islamic Conference (in January – ed.). We know there are different tendencies in it, but the resolutions they produced were very progressive on the whole. Even if such a gathering is not very much to one’s taste, they should have participated in it. On their foreign policy, they are following step-by-step the political line in favor of the Soviet Union. They have also made several agreements with the Soviet Union, the latest a transit agreement which allows the Soviet Union to use all our roads and transit system.

On the part of freedom, which was another slogan for the Iranian Revolution, they have abandoned that. They are stopping every freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press. Right now, dozens of our comrades are in jails all over Iran. Dozens of members of democratic parties and other progressives and nationalists are in jail. Even President Bani-Sadr, in a speech in November, made an issue of the torture. The torture in our jails is of such a serious level that Khomeini has appointed a committee to investigate it.

From the point of view of social welfare, these pro-Soviet despots are not paying any attention. Economically the situation is worse. Our factories are running, at best, at 25-30% of their capacity. Unemployment is generally high, inflation is around 30-40%. And we have right now about one million people from the war zones (at the border with Iraq – ed.) who are refugees, and 40,000 Iranians who were living in Iraq but now have been thrown out. So the people’s situation has gotten worse.

They have closed down all the universities; they have isolated and fired all the intellectuals from offices from different government departments. In every aspect, they are ruining our revolution and driving it towards defeat and destruction.

We as Marxist-Leninists constantly have to take into consideration the concrete situation. As changes have taken place in the ruling class, we have also had to change our previous policy of unity and struggle with them. Our policy now is to repel their attacks on the progressive forces, to isolate them and confront them tit-for-tat. Of course, don’t forget that I’m talking about the faction that has usurped the government’s bureaucratic organs. We still have the policy of unity and struggle with the other faction of the ruling class in Iran, that’s Bani-Sadr, and with many other nationalistic and militant Islamic organizations.

Q: It sounds like the situation is becoming very polarized. Could you explain more about how the different sectors relate to each other?

A: Basically two different fronts have been formed in Iran. One is the front for capitulation, which is formed from the IRP – the Islamic Republican Party (the majority party in the Iranian parliament – ed.), the Organization of Mujahideen of the Islamic Revolution, the Tudeh Party, the Fedayeen, the Om-mat group and other smaller organizations that are pro-IRP. These groups have basically formed a united front. They don’t hide this; they don’t hide that they have connections with each other, discuss matters with each other. They are following many policies that originated in the Tudeh Party (the pro-Soviet revisionist party in Iran – ed.).

For example, in Rasht, capital of Gilan, the revolutionary guards, who are under the influence of the IRP, attacked our office. For more than nine hours, they tortured two of our friends who then had to be hospitalized. The revolutionary guards told us, “We have tactically united with the Tudeh Party to destroy you.” And the other front we call the front for independence, freedom and social welfare of the people. It is formed of the Bani-Sadr forces, ex-Prime Minister Bazargan forces, Ghotbzadeh forces, Iran Millat party, JAMA party, the Mojahedin-i Khalq, and also Ranjbaran forces. Neither of these two fronts has set up formal organizational unity right now; we are talking basically about their political lines. But in practice they support each other and do form two fronts.

Q: How has the internal situation been affected by the resolution of the hostage crisis?

A: This is a very long question to answer. But to make it short, we should look at who benefited from the hostage-taking and who lost from it. We believe three groups gained. First of all, the Soviet Union gained. By creating such onesided anti-U.S. sentiment in Iran, the Soviets got much closer. The Tudeh Party’s penetration into organs of the government and organs of the different parties is much greater today than before. Of course, the anti-U.S. sentiment is very good, but we need independence from both superpowers.

The second group who gained was the Reagan group in the U.S. The hostage-taking contributed to Reagan’s victory in the U.S. elections.

And the third group is the present pro-Soviet despots in Iran. They used the hostage-taking as the ladder to climb to power.

And so we come to the conclusion, who lost in this hostage-taking? First of all, the Iranian people lost more than anybody else, because our economic situation got worse. We got isolated internationally. We faced the economic boycott against Iran, especially from Europe and Japan. We also believe the U.S. had the upper hand in the final resolution, since we have received only $2.8 billion out of the $13 billion owed us.

Of course, the release of the hostages was good, was right, both for the Iranian people and also for the American people.

But clearly the Iranian people lost in this hostage-taking.

Q: What is the view of the Ranjbaran Party toward the Iran-Iraq war?

A: There are certain historical differences with the border dispute between Iran and Iraq, but we believe the reason the war started is that Iraq has expansionist policies. Historical disputes are not a good enough reason to attack another country, so our war is a war for national independence. That is why we have wholeheartedly participated in it.

We think the Iraqi forces should withdraw and then we should negotiate. We are against two third world countries fighting each other. We think the historical differences should be settled peacefully through negotiations, because the escalation of these disputes into war has been basically created by the imperialists.

Also, the chaotic and unstable situation created by the war benefits the Soviet Union, which has 250,000 troops on the northern border of Iran.

Q: What do you see the future holding for Iran?

A: Of course, it’s very hard to predict, but I think that sooner or later there will be some kind of civil war in Iran. It may not be a classical civil war, but a civil war in Iran’s specific conditions. The present contradiction between the two fronts in Iran is antagonistic and cannot be resolved peacefully or through negotiations. It will only be resolved by force.

We are not for civil war right now though, because of the Iran-Iraq war which is the main contradiction right now. Also we need to gain as much time as possible before the civil war breaks out so that we can gain more mass support. Then when the day comes, it wouldn’t be brother against brother. It would be 90% of the people against a very few despots.

The Iranian people are becoming more and more conscious of what’s happening, and Bani-Sadr and the front for independence, freedom and the social welfare of the people are gaining more and more popularity. For instance, Bani-Sadr’s newspaper Islamic Revolution started with circulation of 100,000, and now it is up to 200,000, which is one of the biggest in Iran. Or take our paper, Ranjbar, a Marxist-Leninist paper – its circulation in Teheran has tripled. So these forces are gaining, and their mass base is expanding.

I’d like to say one last thing to our American friends. The American people played a great role in defeating U.S. imperialism in Iran during the Shah’s rule, by supporting the Iranian people’s struggle.

And one thing we would like them to understand is that the Iranian revolution is very complicated. It’s complicated for us. So they should be very patient towards certain complications or shortcomings of the Iranian revolution. They shouldn’t be deceived by the U.S. ruling class.

We deeply believe that we couldn’t have won our revolution without international support, especially of the American people. And now we are again asking for the American people’s support, because definitely this revolution is going to be very prolonged, very complicated.