A WORLD TO WIN    #5   (1986)


Kurdistan and Prospects for Red Political Power

by Nejimeh Siavush

The best songs are sung to the tune of rifles, says one popular revolutionary song. The staccato of machine guns ricocheting through the mountain ranges has long been a familiar feature of the Kurdish landscape, which spreads through the countries of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Not only has this been the native territory of the Kurdish national movement for decades, but it has also provided favourable political and military terrain for the revolutionary forces fighting to overthrow the reactionary vassal states whose borders divide Kurdistan.

Since the First World War, the Kurdish question has figured prominently in the calculations of the imperialists and their commissioned puppets to establish and hold on to their seats of power throughout the Middle East. Although such calculations have invariably called for vicious national oppression of the Kurds, executed by the lackeys of imperialism and later on of social-imperialism, they ironically only helped to create and train a formidable enemy with a long history of waging armed struggle against oppression and enslavement, in all parts of Kurdistan. No small credit will go to the reactionaries when the armies of red peshmergas (the Kurdish word for fighter) charge down the mountains and across the plains from four directions singing their best songs to the tune of rifles, orchestrated this time around by the class-conscious proletariat.

Developments over the past several years in Kurdistan and in the region as a whole strikingly confirm the truth of this assessment; beyond that, they have catapulted the international and regional significance of Kurdistan, and thus the complexity of the struggle there, onto a decidedly higher plane. This is what compels veteran executioners of the Kurdish people like the French imperialists to scurry around with a garish pretence of concern for the rights of the Kurds while the bloc leader, the US, and its trusted hangmen prefer genocidal suppression campaigns. And of course, the Soviet social-imperialists never pass up an opportunity to support the Kurds...like a rope supports a hanging man, as Lenin once said in another context. Clearly the more that objective developments hurl the Kurdish people towards the centre stage of conflicts in the region, the more variegated becomes the motley array of the concerned. This is, at once, both a reflection and a cause of the greatly heightened prospects and difficulties the current situation holds for the revolutionary forces in Kurdistan.

For many decades now a relentless struggle has held sway across the Kurdish landscape. It flares up amidst thunder and gunfire and retreats only to suddenly erupt again where the enemy expects it least.

The revolutionary struggle of the Kurdish people has been on a long march. It has outlasted many of its sworn enemies and significantly contributed to their demise  from the Ottoman Empire to the dynasties of the Hashemee and Pahlavi monarchs. And it continues to be a major current that can play an indispensable role in initiating and carrying out the final ushering in of (a) truly revolutionary state(s) in the region. Its historical development has been conditioned by and intertwined with the momentous international events that have punctuated this century. The First and Second World Wars and both the inspiring victories and the bitter setbacks the international proletariat has experienced, particularly in the Soviet Union and in China, have exerted a profound influence over the development of the movement in Kurdistan.

Furthermore, Lenins statement that, One of the main features of imperialism is that it accelerates capitalist development in the most backward countries and thereby extends and intensifies the struggle against national oppression (The Military Programme of the Proletarian Revolution, Collected Works, 23) has proved to be a valid assessment of the historical impetus propelling the revolutionary and national movement in Kurdistan, which has not lost but gained momentum in the face of the suppression and annihilation campaigns led against it.

A bold revolutionary initiative based on a critical evaluation of the movement, of its specific historical character, is urgently demanded of the revolutionary internationalist proletariat. This is essential if the opening that is greatly magnified by the increasing instability of the crisis-ridden reactionary states, within the overall crisis of the world imperialist system, by the Iraq-Iran war and by the rapidly intensifying rivalry between the war-bound imperialist and social-imperialist blocs, is going to be seized for the revolutionary cause of the oppressed.

With respect to this task and obligation of the revolutionary communist forces in the region, it is instructive to recall one of Lenins remarks: The dialectics of history are such that small nations, powerless as an independent factor in the struggle against imperialism, play a part as one of the ferments, one of the bacilli, which help the real anti-imperialist force, the socialist [revolutionary communist  AWTW] proletariat, to make its appearance on the scene. (The Discussion on Self-Determination Summed Up, Collected Works, 22.)

Although it is undeniably true that the struggle of the Kurdish people against national oppression has already tremendously facilitated the proletariats ability to make its appearance on the scene (particularly the Communist Party of Turkey / Marxist-Leninist (TKP/ML) and the Union of Iranian Communists (UIC) Sarbedaran), still much more, qualitatively more, is required from the proletariat to prepare and organise the Kurdish masses for the general onslaught against the seats of reactionary power. The predatory and anarchic drive of imperialist economics and politics, despite untold suffering and misery brought down on Kurdistan, have ultimately strengthened the material basis of the revolutionary struggle in Kurdistan. As Lenin pointed out, Capitalism is not so harmoniously built that various sources of rebellion can immediately merge of their own accord, without reverses and defeats. On the other hand, the very fact that revolts do break out at different times, in different places, and are of different kinds, guarantees wide scope and depth to the general movement; but it is only in premature, individual, sporadic and therefore unsuccessful, revolutionary movements that the masses gain experience, acquire knowledge, gather strength, and get to know their real leaders, the socialist [revolutionary communist  AWTW] proletarians, and in this way prepare for the general onslaught. (Self Determination Summed Up, Collected Works, 22.) Without overlooking or legitimising the past shortcomings and weaknesses of the international communist movement and the national movement in Kurdistan, it can be said that the revolutionary struggle has accumulated immeasurable valuable experience and acquired the raw material necessary for a deeper knowledge of its open and disguised enemies and of its true leader, the international proletariat, in a long and tortuous ascent to maturity. Now, from the terrain of Kurdistan, history presents great opportunities for the proletariat to co-ordinate a crippling onslaught against imperialism and reaction.

The Sheikh Said Rebellion of 1925, the Agri Rebellion of 1928, the Zilan Rebellion of 1930 and the Dersim Rebellion of 1938 in Turkey; the armed rebellions raging through the decades of the 1910s, 1920s and 1930s in Iraq; the struggle for the Kurdish Autonomous Republic of Mahabad during the early 1940s in Iran: in spite of their weaknesses, all these have contributed tremendously to the political awakening and preparation of the terrain in Kurdistan and the revolutionary movements in general in the countries containing Kurdish regions. Though the terrain in Kurdistan can by no means be considered asleep, the assessment of the Declaration of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement that, The heightening of contradictions is now drawing and will do so even more dramatically in the future, all countries and regions of the world and sections of the masses previously lulled to sleep or oblivious to political life into the vortex of world history highlights the regional and world-wide significance of both the potential and the impact of the struggle in Kurdistan. With their militant history of armed struggle, the Kurdish people stand as one of the principal actors capable of exerting powerful influence in determining the resolution of the world-wide contradictions in the region.

Considering the highly charged terrain in Kurdistan, where all contending political forces with their corresponding ideologies are being compelled to deploy and manoeuvre troops amid increasing tension and where issues have a long history of being settled by force of arms, even though not often commanded by revolutionary proletarian politics, it has become absolutely imperative for the genuine proletarian forces to establish and fortify a decisively stronger presence. The objective conditions are more than favourable for this since the proletariat alone is capable of taking and fighting for the consistently revolutionary stand that is required to unite and lead the vast majority of the Kurdish masses, especially today. The history of the national and revolutionary struggle in Kurdistan is itself forceful testimony to the necessity of proletarian leadership for the victory of the liberation struggle. Powerful upsurges as well as bitter setbacks experienced by the Kurdish people in the past, along with the currently despicable and patently counter-revolutionary practices of some of the forces there, have awakened among the masses a keen sense of yearning, even if in a spontaneous form, for truly revolutionary politics and ideology. Only the class conscious proletariat and the revolutionary communists with the science of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought can respond to and satisfy this yearning and thereby unleash the masses to generate a tremendous fighting capacity, both politically and militarily, that can transform the Kurdish landscape into an unsuppressable red base area for the world proletarian revolution. That can and will be a thunderous blow to the imperialist and social-imperialist war preparations and to the ongoing strife for strategic entrenchment that has taken on particularly feverish dimensions in the region.

All the reactionary intrigue and sanguinary measures employed against the revolutionary forces in Kurdistan by imperialism and its regional puppets reveal their deep seated and well-founded fear that the emergence of red political power in any part of Kurdistan would inexorably spread its influence not just throughout the Kurdish territory in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey but through the whole of these countries and even beyond. That is the fear that sends chills down the spines of these reactionaries at the sight of a peshmergas (the Kurdish word for fighter), particularly one armed with the science of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. The material basis for this agonising fear is yet to be fully appreciated and acted upon by the revolutionary forces. A vigorous presence of the proletarian internationalist line is both possible and desirable. Moreover it would induce a new alignment of forces, particularly among the revolutionary and progressive elements active there. The current intensification of the international contradictions has already impelled a high degree of polarisation among the various forces, and the middle ground between revolution and counter-revolution is rapidly disappearing.

Furthermore, on such terrain, a qualitatively more powerful injection of revolutionary communist politics could only be given and sustained through revolutionary warfare that is capable of fully realising and developing the revolutionary potential of the masses politically and militarily. Mao Tsetung did in fact sharply state that, Without a peoples army the people have nothing, and Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. The Kurdish masses experience has borne out these basic truths. Now, more than ever, the question is to take up and wield revolutionary communist politics, which, to paraphrase Mao, can direct the performance of many a drama, full of sound and colour, power and grandeur. The formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, which already embraces 21 genuine communist parties and organisations, including the TKP/ML and the UIC (Sarbedaran), has qualitatively enhanced the ability of revolutionary forces to provide leadership for such a performance in all parts of Kurdistan.

I. Kurdish Cauldron

Such a spectre is indeed haunting the regimes and their imperialist mentors from both blocs. The Declaration of the RIM points out that The current intensification of the world contradictions while bringing forth further possibilities for these movements also places new obstacles and new tasks before them. Despite efforts and even some successes of the imperialist powers in subverting or perverting the revolutionary struggles of the oppressed masses, especially in the hopes of turning them into weapons of inter-imperialist rivalry, these struggles continue to deal powerful blows to the imperialist system, and to accelerate the development of revolutionary possibilities in the world as a whole.

Despite a certain unevenness, the Kurdistan region remains the Achilles heel of these states. This fact, bearing crucial significance for the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat, has by no means escaped the attention of the contending imperialist powers, even as they frantically try to undermine each others strategic positions in the Middle East and project and entrench themselves according to the requirements of their global calculations. This makes Kurdistan a most coveted piece of territory, one where the contradiction between the Western imperialists and the social-imperialists, and the contradiction between imperialism as a whole and the oppressed peoples and nations, sharply interpenetrate and aggravate each other.

The fundamental difference between the thorough-going revolutionary internationalist outlook of the class-conscious proletariat and that of the Kurdish bourgeoisie, which can still play a progressive and even a revolutionary role at times, comes into sharp relief as the contradictions in the region sharpen further. Under the powerful traction of inter-imperialist rivalry, various Kurdish bourgeois, petit bourgeois and feudal forces inevitably tend to find it difficult to maintain even a consistently revolutionary nationalist stand, either falling prey to the manipulations of rival reactionaries or outright succumbing to counter-revolutionary schemes and abandoning the revolutionary road.


The current configuration of forces and the specific intertwining of the major international contradictions have brought about a rather favourable setting for the revolutionary movement in Iraqi Kurdistan. The outbreak of the February 1979 revolution in Iran and the emergence of liberated areas or controlled by the masses  large sections of whom were led by revolutionary nationalist and genuine communist forces  in the Kurdish region in western Iran, provided a tremendous opening for the development of the revolutionary struggle in Iraqi Kurdistan as well. Having suffered crippling losses to the Iraqi regime in a number of major engagements with the army prior to this period, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), founded in 1975 and currently based in the central parts of Iraqi Kurdistan, was able to use this opening to reorganise its forces and to expand its activity through participating in the revolutionary struggle unfolding in the Kurdish region and the rest of Iran. The Komala Ranjedaran [Organisation of Toilers], a major component of the PUK, was founded in the early 1970s by revolutionary Marxists, such as Dr Aram, who were profoundly influenced by the accomplishments of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China. They upheld Mao Tsetung Thought and firmly opposed the social-imperialists of the Soviet Union. Until the infamous treachery of the thoroughly reactionary feudal Barzani clique and the Kurdistan Democrat Party (KDP) of Iraq in 1975, the Komala Ranjedaran was forced to work clandestinely in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Barzani clique, with the aid of the US imperialists and their puppet the Shah of Iran, applied a policy of terror and intimidation in order to drive the communist and revolutionary forces out of Kurdistan, while simultaneously applying pressure on the Iraqi regime in order to pry it out of the social-imperialist orbit.

The Barzani clique harassed, terrorised and jailed these revolutionaries under the guise that they harm the national cause of the Kurds and they either should accept the leadership of Barzani or stay inactive and not expose the betrayals of the KDP-Iraq. Otherwise they would face arrest and imprisonment. But these revolutionaries were not terrified by these reactionary threats and secretly organised the advanced masses to prepare for an opening.

Following the exposure of the reactionary feudal-bourgeois Barzani & Co. when they concluded a deal with the US imperialists and the states of Iran and Iraq, openly selling out the struggle in Kurdistan, the Komala Ranjedaran enjoyed wide support among the Kurdish masses, many of whom they trained to be militant fighters.

With such historical roots, the Komala Ranjedaran, a component part of the PUK led by Jelal Talebani, actively participated in the revolutionary war against the holy crusade of the Khomeini regime to suppress the movement in the Kurdish region of Iran. In most of the major military actions, the Komala Ranjedaran effectively co-operated with the Komala of Iran (the Organisation of the Toilers of Kurdistan-Iran).

Co-operation between revolutionary groups has shown the highly conducive nature of the Kurdish terrain for transmitting revolutionary potential across the official state frontiers. After the temporary setback of the struggle in Iran and the loss of open liberated zones in the Kurdish region in Iran, Iraqi Kurdistan has assumed the role of providing access and base areas for the activity of the revolutionary forces. However, not all the areas currently inaccessible to or unsecured by the armed forces of the Iraqi regime are controlled by revolutionary nationalist or progressive Kurdish forces. In the northern parts of Iraqi Kurdistan, the so-called Provisional Leadership of the Kurdistan Democrat Party of Iraq (Guyadeh Movaghghad), and a number of groups consisting of reactionary nationalist forces and revisionist hirelings, such as the organisations Hassak and Passok, have established a presence.

KDP-Iraq was reorganised by Barzanis sons, Masood and Idris Barzani, under the guidance of the US imperialists with local assistance from the Turkish National Intelligence Organisation (MIT), SAVAK of Iran, and the Mossad of Israel. In 1976 Idris Barzani opened offices in Washington, Tehran and Ankara to register volunteers for the family trade: serving as a willing tool of the imperialists and reactionaries. In his memoirs, William Colby, head of the CIA between 1973-76, openly admits that their fear of the Kurdish movement in Iraq led them to the decision to support [!] the separatist movement. As a first step we assisted them in getting organised. (30 Years of the CIA). What Colby refers to is none other than the Barzani set-up, which was intended to contain the revolutionary movement in the Kurdistan of Iran, Iraq, and Turkey. After 1976, the KDP-Iraq (GM) was particularly built up by the imperialist and local reactionary media as a legitimate (!) force representing the Kurds in Iraq and was aided in establishing an affiliate in Turkey. Plenty of references could be found in the June-July 1976 issues of the Washington Post and the New York Times about the criminal activities of the KDP-Iraq (GM), which were aimed at destroying the influence and the forces of the PUK in Iraq. The 18 June 1978 issue of the reactionary Turkish newspaper Hürriyet even went so far as publishing pictures of Turkish special counter-insurgency commandos arm-in-arm with members of the KDP Iraq (GM), who had been conducting joint operations against PUK militants in the Hakkari region of Turkey under the leadership of Zeki Bey and Mejid Haci Ahmed of the Turkish secret service.

The list of the mercenary services of the notorious Barzani warlords does not end there. During the revolutionary upsurge in the Kurdistan of Iran, the KDP-Iraq(GM) made every effort to aid the Khomeini regime by training its Pasdaran forces, who were not very effective in suppressing the Kurdish insurgents, by actively conducting armed suppression of revolutionary peasant committees, by hunting and killing revolutionary militants, terrorising the masses, launching attacks on revolutionary workers in the cities, and so forth. As befits these despicable mercenaries, the KDP-Iraq (GM) were at the forefront of the columns of the Pasdaran whenever they entered revolutionary strongholds of the masses that had fallen to the enemy.

Certainly this long and brazen devotion to counter-revolution and to the conscious sabotage of Kurdish national and social emancipation has aroused the hatred of the broad masses. They are mercenaries. They can enlist in the service of any imperialist or reactionary states army. No matter what cover they may use they are sold out, as the Kurdish masses say of them, and must be exposed, isolated and defeated.

In the recent period, especially since the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war, the various states in the region along with the imperialist powers have sought to build up and utilise Kurdish forces along the principle of the enemy of my enemy is my friend. For example, the Khomeini regime has armed and backed different forces in Iraqi Kurdistan while carrying out savage repression in Iranian Kurdistan. Similarly, the Soviet social-imperialists are trying to use different Kurdish groups as bargaining chips and/or pressure groups to increase the Soviets own leverage in the region. One recent important tactic of the Soviets in Iran, Iraq and Turkey seems to be efforts to pull together a front of different Kurdish groups of various political persuasions, including those like the Barzani forces who had been linked up with the US. Even some forces who previously condemned social-imperialism are finding the Soviet carrot and stick difficult to resist.


The Western imperialist bloc, with the US as its gang leader, is striving to savagely clamp down on the revolutionary movement in Kurdistan in order to shield its puppet states from any potential mortal blows. This is an important component of its policy of fortifying these reactionary states as strongholds against the rival social-imperialist bloc.

This suppression campaign has involved bloody counter-insurgency operations, the forced migration of Kurdish villagers, the fanning of religious differences, and has brought about the calculated resettlement of refugees from Afghanistan in rebellious Kurdish areas in Turkey following the coup détat of September 1980. With the wholesale arrest of the male population in Kurdish villages and towns, the establishment of strategic hamlets, restriction of freedom of movement by new martial law injunctions as well as efforts to establish a network of informers enticed by bounty offers, the fascist regime in Turkey hopes to reduce the danger it faces there. In accordance with the overall plans of their US masters, the Turkish ruling classes have relocated an important section of their ground troops into the Kurdish region of eastern Turkey in addition to upgrading existing air strips and building new ones for the quick deployment of ground troops. All of the European imperialists, especially Britain, West Germany, France and Italy, have been actively involved in modernising and strengthening the Turkish armed forces to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in order to increase their capacity to maintain internal security and to effectively confront a possible Soviet drive through the eastern borders of Turkey. This underscores the international significance of the Kurdish regions of Turkey, of the resurgence of the revolutionary movement there, and particularly the establishment of red political power bases.

Prior to the 1980 coup, the Kurdish region in eastern Turkey, due to the sharpening of the national and land questions, vigorously participated in the country-wide upsurge of revolutionary struggle. The revolutionary upsurge that broke loose in neighbouring Iran with the February 1979 revolution and the emergence of liberated areas and large guerrilla forces under the leadership of revolutionary nationalist and communist organisations in Iranian Kurdistan emboldened the revolutionary movement in the Kurdish region of eastern Turkey as well. Especially from the mid-1970s on, increasing numbers of poor peasants, semi-proletarians and students demanded that they be armed and organised for revolutionary war against the regime.

Within the Kurdish national movement certain changes had taken place with the consolidation of the central state in Turkey and years of genocidal suppression campaigns through the 1920s and 1930s. A section of the big Kurdish landlords had chosen to collude with the Turkish ruling classes, and even a number of big Kurdish bourgeois had defected to them. Through this period the Kurdish bourgeoisie was able to strengthen itself, reducing the influence of the feudals on the Kurdish national movement. By the early 1970s the leadership of the movement was mainly in the hands of the Kurdish bourgeoisie, bourgeois Kurdish intellectuals and small Kurdish landlords. Some more passive and conservative sections among these strata fell under the direct or indirect influence of the pro-Moscow revisionists, sometimes through their connections with similar Kurdish forces in neighbouring Iraq and Iran.

On the other hand, among the Kurdish proletarians, semi-proletarians, peasants, university students and high school teachers, Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought was also rapidly spreading. In fact, from the founding of the TKP/ML (1972) onwards, this section of the Kurdish masses has played an important role in fighting for revolutionary communist politics.

Some revolutionary nationalist petit-bourgeois Kurdish forces were also influenced by Mao Tsetung but, infected with a narrow nationalist outlook, they could not avoid disintegrating later on in the face of Enver Hoxhas attack on Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought.

By 1980, different cliques within the Turkish ruling classes were panicking and hysterically accusing each other of incompetence, which, they said, was dragging the whole country into civil war. Naturally the Kurdish region was a main tributary feeding the potential for the revolutionary warfare that could cause the ground under their feet to give way. The white terror unleashed by the Turkish junta throughout the country, combined with intensified national oppression, assumed atrocious forms in Kurdistan. However, even after the coup, despite all the sanguinary suppression, a social base for armed struggle has continued to exist among the Kurdish masses. Oppression breeds resistance. During this period, TIKKO (Worker Peasant Liberation Army of Turkey) guerrillas under the leadership of the TKP/ML were able to carry on armed activity in this region.


The Kurdistan region of Iran played a major role in toppling the Shahs regime in February 1979, and this in turn unleashed further revolutionary outbursts. Tremendous enthusiasm for the revolutionary transformation of society was surging forward in search of ways and means to uproot and sweep away all that is responsible for the wretched conditions and the national oppression to which the masses have been condemned for decades. Revolutionary mass organisations, organs of peoples power, and small and large units of armed peshmergas emerged almost instantaneously. This unrestrained revolutionary fervour, particularly on the part of the poor peasants, semi-proletarians, proletarians, and revolutionary intellectuals, readily gravitated towards the leadership of Kurdish communist revolutionaries, such as Kak Salah Sham Borhan (a UIC leader) and Kak Fuad Soltani (the founder of Komala-Iran) who later fell as a martyr in battle against the Islamic Republic. This occurred even though bourgeois-feudal nationalist forces and the reactionary Tudeh Party did much to hold them in check.

May Day 1979 celebrations were held all over Kurdistan, including a ten thousand strong march in Kermashan under the red banner of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. Communists vigorously led activities, such as organising revolutionary mass organisations, peasant unions, the peasants fight against feudal elements, the confiscation and redistribution of feudal landholdings, military training of the masses, and so forth.

The revolutionary stand of the UIC, together with its policy of unleashing the agrarian revolution and setting up peasant committees, led to the strengthening of the UIC in a relatively short period of time.

Revolutionary masses also enthusiastically supported the militant positions taken by Komala of Iran, then under the leadership of Fuad Soltani. Despite certain nationalist tendencies, Fuad was a Marxist-Leninist and a strong defender of Mao Tsetung. He made tremendous efforts and contributions to organising and arming the peasant unions. When the Islamic Republic of Iran first moved to establish its law and order in Kurdistan by erecting army posts in Marivan, a major Kurdish city, Fuad initiated and led the famous mass March of Marivan. Thousands joined in, from peasant unions, from revolutionary mass organisations in different cities, along with armed peshmergas; they beat back the reactionary armed forces of the Islamic Republic and gave a small taste of their revolutionary power. This march was a bold initiative in unleashing the revolutionary energy of the masses and drawing them into political life. It taught them to guard the revolution and carry it forward by force of arms. This march also played an important role in spreading the influence of Komala.

During this same period, the Kurdistan Democrat Party (Iran) was enamoured with the possibility of coming to terms with the clerics and securing regional autonomy in Kurdistan without disturbing the pre-capitalist social relations and the feudal landlords. KDP (Iran) leaflets had a distinctly Tudeh revisionist flavour, introduced through the agency of the arch revisionist Bullurian, who was the Tudeh Party connection in the KDP (Iran) leadership at that time; they did not fail to heap praise on the Khomeini regime. It is important to keep in mind that all this was to no avail: the mullahs had no intention of attenuating the national oppression of the Kurds, let alone sharing any of their newly acquired power.

Furthermore, the policy of KDP (Iran) did not win it credit with the masses. Even in Mahabad, which is considered one of their base areas, mainly due to the historical prestige they inherited from the short-lived Kurdish Autonomous Republic of Mahabad in 1946 and its revolutionary nationalist leader Gazi Mohammed, thousands of people supported Komalas activities. And when the Kurdish counter-revolutionary forces chose to resort to such reactionary actions as murdering UIC leader Kak Salah in order to hold on to their base and avoid being exposed, outraged masses showed where their sympathies lay when tens of thousands attended his funeral in Mahabad in the spring of 1979.

As for the UIC in this period, its revolutionary work, despite shortcomings, demonstrated that new, small forces armed with the revolutionary communist outlook can establish and expand a mass base and a revolutionary army in a relatively short period on the political terrain of Kurdistan, which had grown even more favourable with the fall of the Shah.

The emergence of a communist led peasant movement and the peshmergas army under the leadership of the UIC, which won the confidence of the masses during the first (summer of 1979) and second (spring 1980) wars launched by the Khomeini regime against the revolutionary struggle in Kurdistan, demonstrated the correctness of this point.

The Khomeini regimes counter-revolutionary war against Kurdistan, directed by then Prime Minister Bani Sadr, was a major and quite risky effort by the new ruling class, and was prompted by their need to consolidate power and to clamp down on the overall revolutionary upsurge that had broken loose throughout the country. The clerics were quick to detect the dangerous potential of the revolution to gather momentum in Kurdistan and to become a base area for the deepening and even the consummation of the anti-imperialist anti-feudal revolution in Iran. The struggle in Kurdistan had a long history and, being deeply rooted among the Kurdish masses, could easily generate a mighty mass revolutionary movement against national oppression, imperialism and the feudal relations of production, particularly if it were led by the proletariat and genuine communists. As it was, the movement in Kurdistan had already been a very significant ingredient of the popular revolutionary upsurge that swept away the blood-soaked throne of the Shah; a new and qualitatively higher upsurge in Kurdistan would send tremors through the country once again, awakening the vast army of peasants in the Iranian countryside, invigorating the struggle of other national minorities and overall strengthening the revolutionary forces.

Across the country the masses were still in motion, expecting that all the socio-economic props and buttresses of imperialist domination and exploitation would be completely dismantled and that full democracy for the people would be achieved. Doing away with national oppression and uprooting the wretched semi-feudal economic relations in the countryside were crucial parts of the revolutionary transformations that were required to extricate the whole country from the international imperialist network of bondage and to fulfil the peoples aspirations for new-democratic revolution. And Kurdistan was a territory  not a small one at that  where the proletariat could lead the masses in realising these aspirations and forcing their way out of the straitjacket of the Khomeini regime, which was gearing up to resurrect the bourgeois comprador-feudal dictatorship. Due to national oppression, the urgent land question and other historical reasons, the revolutionary communists could have mobilised the masses to carry out armed agrarian revolution and other revolutionary democratic transformations both in the economic base and the superstructure. All this would have greatly enhanced their ability to build a revolutionary peoples army to both take part in and defend these revolutionary transformations against all obstacles. The clerics fear aside, this would have been nothing short of raising the red flag in its full grandeur as an inspiration, not merely in Iran and the region, but for the oppressed around the world.

Undoubtedly in a more immediate sense the emergence of such a red base in Kurdistan that could defend its new-democratic peoples power by a genuinely revolutionary army of peshmergas would have dramatically transformed the political climate in Iran. The Khomeini regime did not fail to sense that the red storm from Kurdistan could blow away the mask of Islamic obscurantism blended with phoney anti-imperialist rhetoric, exposing and isolating it even more among the Iranian masses. The class struggle would have taken a dangerous turn for the aspiring clerical compradors and feudals, with the advanced sections of the masses rallying to the banner of the advancing revolution led by the proletariat in Kurdistan. The support for the revolutionary war and the revolutionary transformations in Kurdistan, closely integrated with the revolutionary struggle in the cities and other regions, would have spurred and strengthened the social base of the communist movement and popularised its programme for new-democratic Revolution country-wide. This type of situation would have enabled the revolutionary communists to politically train the masses and increase their military capacity for the decisive engagements shaping up in the future. Furthermore, even in the event of setbacks suffered by the revolutionary forces in the rest of the country, Kurdistan could still have provided a base area for the revolution until the conditions matured again for a new all-around offensive against the regime.

However the political and ideological crisis that came to a head following the reactionary coup détat in China shortly after the death of Mao Tsetung seriously impaired the ability of the revolutionary communists in Iran to fully grasp and act upon the revolutionary opportunities. Within this context, the outbreak of the Iran Iraq war particularly exacerbated the shortcomings and errors of the revolutionary communists, giving rise to a tendency to liquidate the national question and the strategic significance of the armed struggle in Kurdistan as part of the overall struggle for political power. The UIC (Sarbedaran), in a lengthy article published in its central organ, Haghighat  which was later reprinted in the fourth issue of AWTW  discusses the causes of these errors and states that: ...ideological deviations in our policies and political line were the breeding ground for economist and bourgeois democratic tendencies in our ranks. A more general practical result of this was losing our strategic perspective and tailing behind the spontaneous events. Even more important, we neglected the possibility of our preparing the proletariat for seizing political power in that period.

The fact that the regime chose to commit itself to a bitter military campaign against the struggle in Kurdistan, despite the great risks involved, underscores what a formidable potential this terrain held and continues to hold for advancing the revolution. Within a month after the Shahs demise, the struggle in Kurdistan was already challenging the new regime with arms, distinguishing Kurdistan as an advanced territory, which, under proletarian leadership, could indeed set the standards for the other regions. The regimes first military campaign of suppression proved that the Kurdish landscape could be quite treacherous for the reactionaries. With no quick victory in sight and wary of the political cost of the war, which was pushing the more revolutionary section of the nationalists, as well as the communists, to the head of the struggle, the clerics tried to manoeuvre to exploit the contradictions on the Kurdish front through negotiations for a ceasefire, hoping to sow confusion and reformist illusions and thereby gain time.

As later events proved, there was nothing to be gained from negotiations; the regime had no intention of recognising the right of the Kurdish nation to self-determination or even autonomy. It was trying to gain time to reorganise its own forces by enticing the nationalist forces to slacken their struggle. Indeed, in the spring of 1980, the regimes army was pounding at the gates of Sanandaj, with the commander in chief, Bani Sadr, hollering, We must not take off our shoes till we take power in Kurdistan. During this period the Mujahadin maintained a conspicuous  and treacherous  silence on the regimes attack on Kurdistan, reflecting the Fars [largest and dominant national group in Iran] (great nation) chauvinism typical of this group.

II. Kurdistan: Some Historical Background

Britain and the Kurds

The Lausanne Treaty of July 1923, in a flagrant but typical imperialist violation of the rights of nations to self-determination, carved up the Kurdish territory into four parts and annexed them to the reactionary states of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. There is evidence, however, that for a brief period after the war the British were entertaining the idea of forming not one but two vassal states in the regions of Basra, Baghdad and Mosul. Naturally these would have remained under a strict mandate and protection of His Majestys Government for no less than 25 years, in order to allow these uncivilised peoples a necessary period of maturation acceptable to the taste and interests of the British crown. According to this imperialist concoction, King Faisal of the Hashemee monarchy was to be the superintendent over the Basra and Baghdad regions while Sheikh Mahmond Barzanji from the feudal clans of the Barzan area in the north was to be responsible for the Kurdish region. At the time, the British political supervisor Sir Arnold Wilson was of the opinion that with Sheikh Mahmoud in charge of Iraqi Kurdistan not only would the prominent feudal Kurdish leaders of Hamawend and Sulaymaniyah be appeased, and thus willing to be used against the Turkish military campaigns that were then being conducted to seize back the oil-rich Kirkuk area, but also all this could lend itself handsomely to establishing a puppet Arab regime in the south. The Kirkuk area had been under British Army occupation since early May 1918, but it was not fully secured for British interests due to the raids by Turkey. Under these circumstances, with the injunction from the British, Sheikh Mahmoud Barzanji was declared sovereign in what was to become Iraqi Kurdistan. In a letter of November 1918 bearing the signatures of forty feudal clan chiefs, Sheikh Mahmoud offered his services to the British political commissioner of Mesopotamia: Since His Majestys government had declared its intention to free the peoples of the East from Turkish oppression and to help them gain their independence, the chiefs who are the representatives of the Kurdish people request that they be taken under the British governments protection and be incorporated into Iraq in order not to be deprived of the benefits of the union. They request from the Mesopotamia civilian commissioner that a representative with the necessary authorisation be sent in order to provide the Kurdish people with the aid of the British and the opportunity of peacefully advancing on the path of civilisation. If the government assists the Kurds and protects them, then in turn they will guarantee to accept its orders and views.

As a side point, the outlook and aspirations expressed in this letter reflect the rather strong feudal trend that existed in most of these nascent Kurdish national movements at the time, rendering them vulnerable to manipulation and armed suppression by the imperialists and their regional puppets. Speaking of the early Kurdish movement in Turkey, Ibrahim Kaypakkaya points out that, Alongside the national character of these movements; there also existed a feudal character. (See article in this issue.)

However, the expectations of Sheikh Mahmoud and other feudal leaders were not always in harmony with what the British demanded in Iraq. Sheikh Mahmoud was seeking an autonomous Kurdish state under British protection, and in May 1919 he had already taken a new initiative by declaring himself the King of Kurdistan after a successful seizure of Sulaymaniyah from British forces. The British were not willing to tolerate such unruly behaviour. In fact, by May 1924, their better imperial judgement no longer favoured an autonomous Kurdish state in the north; King Faisal from Shirnaq, who had established friendly relations with certain feudal leaders and had already been crowned in August 1921, was to be backed as the King of Iraq.

The British imperialists, who were anxious to consolidate their gains in the Arab world and to secure their monopoly over its rich petroleum reserves and the rest of the wealth in the region, chose to prop up the Hashemee monarchy and to rely on the infamous Royal Air Force (RAF) to force the Kurds into accepting the Arab government. Besides, the Lausanne Treaty with the puppet Kemalist regime in Turkey had provided sufficient security for their interests, greatly reducing the need to use the Kurdish rebellion as a battering ram against the new Turkish comprador-feudal state, which itself was adamant about refusing any concession to or encouragement of the Kurds.

The concern of the British as well as their European partners generally about overdoing the charade of liberating the peoples of the East was hardly mitigated by the establishment of a truly revolutionary state run by the proletariat in what had been Tsarist Russia, which was both assisting and inspiring the oppressed around the world to throw off the yoke imposed on them. The new Soviet state replaced the Tsars prison house of nations with genuine national equality which sent shock waves through Central Asia and the Middle East. As soon as they seized power the Bolsheviks had exposed and denounced all the secret negotiations of Tsarist Russia  the Sazonov memorandum of February 1916 and the April 1916 Agreement bargaining over the terms of the Treaty of Sykes-Picot proposed by the allied imperialists  about annexing the Kurdish region all the way to the south of Van and Bitlis in Turkey. Had the Kurds gained any real autonomy or a separate state in any one region then this could have fanned the flames of genuine national liberation and possibly become a rallying point for the emerging national movement in the neighbouring states. In such an eventuality, the imperialists dreaded the possibility of the Kurdish national movement gravitating towards the victorious Bolshevik revolution in Russia and further extending its popularity and influence in the area.

The feudal nature of the leadership of the movement and the ongoing problems among the different feudal clans were exploited by the British and the Hashemee monarchy in order to contain and suppress the Kurdish movement. Britains strategic interests in the Middle East also required the establishment of a pro-British Arab government in Iraq; in order to achieve that, the British imperialists were more than willing to back the Hashemee monarchy in appropriating the wealth of the Kurdish region. In December 1927 the League of Nations passed a resolution on the annexation of Mosul by Iraq. Elbowing the Kurds out, the Hashemee monarchy was going to be able to monopolise the high revenues from the Mosul petroleum reserves and the export-oriented tobacco crop of Sulaymaniyah. According to one estimate, during this period 30 per cent of the total income of the Arab regime was coming from Iraqi Kurdistan. Naturally much of this was funnelled to the raising and training of an army in order to reduce the burden on the British forces being used against the Kurdish rebels.

Indeed, without the massive aerial bombardment by His Majestys RAF, the British and Iraqi troops were no match for the Kurdish insurgents in the mountains. Successive punitive expeditions never really succeeded in putting out the flame of armed rebellion among the Kurdish masses, despite the obvious limitations of their leaders. As Britain was preparing the basis to bestow independence on Iraq (1931) with a British-Iraqi agreement (June 1930), leaving the responsibility of maintaining internal security to the Baghdad regime, a new round of struggle broke out in Kurdistan. The Iraqi army and the RAF conducted a large-scale terror campaign against the Kurds under the leadership of Sheikh Mahmoud and later Sheikh Ahmed Barzani, which lasted until 1934. In the first eight months alone of this internal security operation more than half of the Kurdish villages were razed. The gravity of the situation prompted the British imperialists to intervene under the cloak of non-partisan mediators and arrange a cease-fire; they were so generous as to propose an increase in the number of civil servants of Kurdish nationality in Kurdistan and of the Kurdish youth in the Iraqi Army.

Mistakes of the Communist Movement

The coup détat of Khrushchev and the revisionists in the Soviet Union was also, it is clear now, the coup de grâce to the communist movement as it had previously existed. The widespread cancer of revisionism had already consumed many (including some of the most influential) parties that made up the Comintern. (Declaration of the RIM.)

The damage inflicted on the revolutionary movement in Kurdistan by the revisionist parties, particularly after the rise of the modern revisionists to power in the Soviet Union, is no secret. However the cancer of revisionism that had already consumed many of the communist parties prior to the reactionary coup of the revisionists in the Soviet Union reared its ugly head with respect to the Kurdish national liberation movement much earlier than even the degeneration of these parties. Starting in the middle 1920s, the Communist Party of Turkey abandoned the Marxist-Leninist orientation, negating the positions adopted at its founding congress in Baku (1920) under the leadership of Mustafa Suphi. With its 1926 Programme under the leadership of Shefik Hüsnu, the TKPs line became openly revisionist, capitulationist and class-collaborationist. It not only hailed the regime of the new Turkish comprador bourgeoisie and landlords but openly supported its counter-revolutionary policies under the pretext of encouraging and strengthening the so-called anti-imperialist and anti-feudal capacity of the Kemalist regime.

These unmitigated revisionists felt no shame in giving open and full support to the genocidal campaigns the Kemalist regime launched to suppress the Kurdish rebellions in eastern Turkey; in fact, they were even inclined to spur the ruling classes on to be more consistent, resolute and thorough-going in these campaigns. Just before the famous Sheikh Said Rebellion of 1925, the TKP delegation to the Fifth World Congress of the Comintern made the following remarkable assessment of the national question in his speech to the Twentieth Session of the Congress: The most significant national minority are the Kurds; during the last fifty years, the Kurdish question has come on the agenda three or four times as a partial question and in a feudal context. The Kurdish national question has never appeared on the scene in its full dimensions. The current laws grant the same constitutional rights to the whole Muslim population. Therefore, the intellectual and bourgeois elements among the Kurds have put forward no national and separatist demands whatsoever. Nine months after this speech the Turkish Army was receiving help from the French imperialists to use the railroad through Syria in order to encircle the insurgents of the Sheik Said Rebellion. What the TKP delegation described as no national or separatist demands whatsoever turned out to be a full-scale armed rebellion  and that was not to be the last of it.

However, it appears that the revisionist TKP was successful in persuading some in the Executive Committee of the Comintern (ECCI). An ECCI report from the period 1925-26 says that: &The Kemalist bourgeois republican party, which came to power through revolution and continues to hold power, succeeded in putting down the rebellion led by Sheik Said in the east. The suppression of the Kurdish rebellion has increased the respectability of the Turkish government at home and abroad. The expectations of the British imperialists about the weakening of the national state power of Turkey have come to naught.

Even in 1928 at the Sixth World Congress, an ECCI report on the Middle East and Turkey had the following evaluation: Like everywhere else, capitalist development in Turkey is also being realised on the backs of the labouring masses. Although the Kemalist revolution owes its victory to the support of the peasant masses, the latters situation has not improved at all. Economic and political power in the Eastern provinces is still in the hands of feudal lords and Sheiks as in the past. The Kemalist government could not even utilise the famous counter-revolution in Kurdistan (1925) to eliminate the feudal fiefdoms in this region. The Kemalist government was content with just punishing a few feudal landlords.

It is reasonable to suspect that the TKP revisionists were influential in formulating such evaluations. Furthermore, they used them to justify their brazen support for the completely counter-revolutionary Kemalist regime even in its brutal aggression against the Kurdish people. The TKP revisionists thus chose to abandon the Kurdish proletarians, peasants and broad masses in the face of bloody genocide. Naturally it could not have occurred to the revisionists to lead the Kurdish proletariat in organising a mighty revolutionary movement to channel the Kurdish masses righteous anger against this.

The revisionist policy led to the strengthening of the leadership of the nationalist bourgeois and feudal forces to the detriment of the proletariat and working masses of Kurdistan. It provided support to the Turkish chauvinist propaganda of the ruling classes to befuddle the minds of the Turkish workers and peasants.

In Iran during and after the Second World War, the line of the Tudeh Party did serious damage to the Kurdish national movement, which held great potential for the development of a revolutionary struggle throughout the country. Instead the Tudeh Partys reformist outlook served only to strengthen illusions about achieving autonomy for both the Kurdish and Azerbaijani national movements. With promises of cabinet posts, the Iranian regime was able to have the Tudeh Party pull the reins on the tremendous revolutionary potential that existed among the working class at the time. Though the Tudeh party fulfilled its promises of holding the revolutionary masses in check, the regime clamped down on it shortly before the elections in 1947. Further, in 1946 the Autonomous Kurdish Republic of Mahabad faced assault by the regime and received no substantial support from the revolutionary masses in the rest of the country due to the class-collaborationist policy of the Tudeh Party.

Mababad Kurdish Autonomous Republic

The resounding collapse of the Shahs monarchy under the blows of the February 1979 revolution in Iran, together with the US-sponsored September 1980 coup détat in neighbouring Turkey  which was an integral part of the calculated imperialist response to the revolutionary ferment of the Iranian masses  and the Iran-Iraq war, now entering its sixth year, have all laid bare the depth of the crisis of the imperialist world order and profoundly influenced the situation throughout the Kurdish regions of these countries.

The period after the mid-1960s was a prelude to the February revolution and provided tremendous impetus for the revolutionary process in the Kurdistan region of Iran. There emerged new lines of demarcation and a new alignment of forces within the more revolutionary sections of the national movement, which had earlier suffered a serious setback. In the late 1940s the Iranian regime had unleashed an annihilation campaign against the Kurdish nationalist movement, culminating in the genocidal murder of thousands of Kurds. The head of the Kurdish Democratic Party (Iran), Gazi Mohammed himself, was caught and hung by the regime to demoralise the Kurdish rebels who had been fighting with inspiring heroism. Under the leadership of Gazi Mohammed, the Kurdish rebels had developed political and military strength and had gained some autonomy. This came about through the opening created by the Second World War, particularly following the entry of the Soviet Red Army from the north and the British troops from the south. On 11 January 1946, in Mahabad, Gazi Mohammed publicly announced the founding of the Mahabad Kurdish Autonomous Republic.

His speech at the founding ceremony of the republic reveals the political thinking that had been guiding the movement up to that point: A salute to you, Flag, you who symbolise justice and law, we give our word that we shall live in unity and do away with strife forever. Flag, now you fly over only one part of Kurdistan. Tomorrow when you fly over all parts, you will sweep away oppression and injustice. Long Live Great Kurdistan! Gazi Mohammed and the KDP (Iran) in that period had a revolutionary nationalist outlook and were opposed to the national oppression perpetrated on the Kurdish people. Their struggle was limited to securing national equality for the Kurds. Their programme did not call for an anti-feudal struggle, and it reflected the illusion that there could be equality between oppressed and oppressor nations in Iran, or at least that the regime would respect Kurdish autonomy, without any kind of proletarian-led revolutionary overthrow of the central state power.

The same illusion held sway in Azerbaijan as well, where the nationalist movement led by the Azerbaijani Democratic Party also obtained the recognition of regional autonomy for the Azerbaijani people on 19 June 1946 from the representatives of the government of Gavam-o-Saltaneh in Tehran. The presence of the Red Army in the north played a decisive role, along with the militancy and wide scope of the nationalist movement, in forcing the central government in Tehran to yield to the demands for autonomy of the oppressed nations in Iran. The standing army of the regime had practically disintegrated after the entry of the Soviet and British armies in 1941; the regime had no means to crush the nationalist movements, other than diplomatic demagogy designed to bring the US and its European allies to bear on the Soviet Union, which it charged with instigating civil war through the presence of its armies in Iran. The Red Army pulled out of Iran on 6 May 1946, but the US imperialists were the ones who bellowed the most about the alleged danger of the Soviet move to seize the oil reserves and to extend its influence in the region. True enough, the victory of the USSR, then a socialist country, over German imperialism did in fact gain genuine sympathy from the oppressed, including in Iran. But the socialist Soviet Union then, unlike the social-imperialist USSR today, was not motivated by the need to establish world hegemony. Coming out of the Second World War on top among the imperialists, it was the US that was aggressively pursuing a policy of consolidating its hegemony and containing the revolutionary upsurges that had erupted during and after the war.

The Mahabad Kurdish Autonomous Republic emerged under these conditions and, given that the situation in Iran and internationally had more or less stabilised and that the US imperialists were backing Iran, it now had to face a murderous backlash by the regime. The limitations of the nationalist ideology guiding it meant that the Republic could not withstand this attack, despite heroic resistance by the masses.

Confusion and demoralization characterised the ensuing years. In the mid-1950s, the seizure of power by the revisionists in the Soviet Union and the restoration of capitalism there caused great damage to the world-wide revolutionary front, dragging many communist parties into the swamp of class collaboration and degeneration. In Iran, the Tudeh Party, which had never been a genuine Marxist-Leninist party, was in no position to resist this international malady or the attacks of the regime. The 1953 CIA-engineered coup détat was a heavy price paid for all reformist illusions and marked the consolidation of US domination in Iran.

However, as Lenin remarked on one occasion, history does not stand still even in times of counter-revolution. The liberation struggles of the oppressed peoples and nations in the colonies and semi- (neo-) colonies were experiencing a powerful new upsurge. Under the leadership of Mao Tsetung, the Communist Party of China gave invaluable political and material support to these struggles and launched a stinging critique of the Soviet revisionists betrayal of revolution at home and abroad.

III. Crucial Questions of Political Line

The experience accumulated over decades of bitter struggle, the historical limitations of the various feudal-bourgeois and bourgeois leaderships, the further development of the proletariat as a social class and especially the painful lessons of the repeated betrayals and back-stabbings by the revisionists  all this bore down on the more revolutionary sections of the Kurdish movement, compelling them to search for a truly revolutionary orientation.

The Soviet Union, after the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1956, was anxious to collude with the Western imperialist powers, particularly the US. The new bourgeoisie that had usurped power after the death of Stalin was aggressively pursuing a policy of restoring capitalism at home and opposing the revolutionary struggle of the oppressed peoples internationally. The new Soviet bourgeoisie was heaping praise on the Iranian constitution and on the White Revolution instituted by the Shahs regime, which had been a mortal enemy of the Kurds. Attuned to Moscows directives, the counter-revolutionary Tudeh Party was a willing abettor of the regimes bloody measures to suppress the Kurdish revolutionaries.

Similarly, the pro-Moscow revisionists of the Communist Party of  Iraq chose to condone all the savagery against the Kurdish people in a despicable complicity of silence as the regime of Abdul Kerim Ghassem launched a full-scale military campaign against Iraqi Kurdistan in 1961 in order to consolidate the central state authority. As Iraq was pulled increasingly into the social-imperialist orbit, it was the Soviets who armed, trained and advised the Iraqi military apparatus  particularly after 1968  to rain death and destruction on the Kurdish landscape, while the CP of Iraq naturally stood by and gave full consent to avoid jeopardizing its chances of getting a few token seats in the government.

In Turkey, the revisionists had long since succumbed to the unbridled Turkish chauvinism of the Kemalist ideology, which did not even recognise the existence of Kurdish as a language. They were more than willing to assist the ruling classes in brutally clamping down on the Kurdish national movement in exchange for being granted the legal status they had long cherished.

Mao Tsetung Thought

Against this background, the momentous international battles waged under the leadership of Mao Tsetung against Khrushchevite modern revisionism and the new capitalist class in the Soviet Union as well as the capitalist-roaders in China could not but have a profound effect on the revolutionary struggle in Kurdistan. As observed in the Declaration of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement:

If the theoretical struggle against modern revisionism played a vital role in the rebuilding of a Marxist-Leninist movement it was especially the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, an unprecedented new form of struggle, itself in large part a fruit of this combat against modern revisionism, that gave rise to a whole new generation of Marxist-Leninists. The tens of millions of workers, peasants and revolutionary youth who went into battle to overthrow the capitalist-roaders entrenched in the party and state apparatus and to further revolutionise society struck a vibrant chord among millions of people across the world who were rising up as part of the revolutionary upsurge that swept the world in the 1960s and early 1970s.

...The Cultural Revolution was waged as part of the international struggle of the proletariat and was a training ground in proletarian internationalism, manifested not only by the support given to revolutionary struggles throughout the world but also by the real sacrifices made by the Chinese people to render this support...

The Cultural Revolution was the living proof of the vitality of Marxism-Leninism. It showed that the proletarian revolution was unlike all previous revolutions which could only result in one exploiting system replacing another. It was a source of great inspiration to the revolutionaries in all countries.

The revolutionary movement in Kurdistan was no exception. A significant number of revolutionary Kurdish intellectuals and students around the University of Tehran were influenced by the red storm that had broken loose in China sweeping away the revisionist debris that cluttered the path of revolutionary struggle. The historic significance of the revolutionary line represented by Mao Tsetung and of the battle between Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and modern revisionism was certainly grasped unevenly by such forces. Revolutionaries such as Fuad Soltani considered themselves upholders of Mao Tsetung Thought, and others, such as Suleyman Moiini and Ismail Sherifz Edeh took a militant stand against the revisionist and reformist debasement of the revolutionary struggle, mainly regarding the class-collaborationist thesis of the peaceful road to socialism, endorsed by the Tudeh Party renegades. They began to organise armed struggle in Kurdistan.

The revisionist forces, with the Tudeh Party at their head, were bitterly set against this nascent revolutionary trend in Iran. During the mop-up operations of 1967, which were launched in Tehran and Kurdistan to nip this trend in the bud, the Tudeh revisionists did not hesitate to collaborate with the Shah. The US-engineered land reform  which, not surprisingly, enjoyed the editorial praise of Izvestia and Pravda  had conspicuously refrained from changing the landholding arrangements in Kurdistan, a move designed to enlist the support of the Kurdish feudal landlords and khans (local feudal authorities) against the progressive and revolutionary forces in Kurdistan. All this could only reaffirm Mao Tsetungs scientific teachings on the nature of modern revisionism and on the necessity of integrating armed struggle and the agrarian revolution, so as to start a prairie fire across the Kurdish landscape.

However, the shortcomings of this beginning revolutionary current, along with early and savage repression by the regime, did much to impede the development of a revolutionary movement guided by Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought capable of unleashing the full revolutionary potential in Kurdistan. Even among the forces who claimed adherence to Mao Tsetung Thought, such as Fuad Soltani, the ideological fetters of nationalism hindered their ability to develop a thorough-going scientific understanding of Mao Tsetung Thought as a qualitative advance in the science of Marxism-Leninism. Mao Tsetung continually insisted on the role of revolutionary consciousness, on the decisiveness of the correct political and ideological line and developed his path-breaking theory and practice of continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat to transform and further revolutionise society and the party, which, he warned, must constantly renew itself to guide the revolutionary struggle until the achievement of communism. All this was a brilliant application and a qualitative development of Lenins teachings, particularly on revolutionary theory and the role and necessity of the vanguard party, yet even some of those influenced by the revolutionary vigour and earthshaking victories of Mao Tsetungs line tended to interpret it in a somewhat economist, tailist fashion, in fact separating Mao from Lenin. As it was also viewed through the prism of Kurdish nationalism, however revolutionary, the depth and scope of the integrated whole of the science of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought was inevitably distorted to varying degrees with nationalist and pragmatic deviations.

The fact that the Soviet Union was at that time colluding with the US (and the Western imperialists) in actively suppressing the revolutionary struggle of the oppressed peoples and nations (now it has adopted a more militant posture, providing arms, etc., to these movements to try to turn them into instruments of inter-imperialist rivalry) reinforced the tendency to reduce Mao Tsetungs devastating all-round critique of modern revisionism to merely siding with the armed struggle of the oppressed in opposition to the Soviets. This has been, and still is, accompanied by the tendency to narrowly view both the armed struggle and the revolutionary struggle in a particular region of the world as well as to conceive of this as a separate phenomenon in itself and not as an integral component of the single process of world proletarian revolution, however tortuous and complex. And clearly, the prism of Kurdish nationalism ultimately blurs the significance of the all-around development of the revolutionary struggle in Kurdistan, since it underestimates the international factors and forces in its favour and, reciprocally, the tremendous impetus this struggle can give to the world proletarian revolution, particularly if led by a genuine vanguard party firmly based on Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought and taking proletarian internationalism as its point of departure.

Such shortcomings (by no means unique to them) which marred the Kurdish revolutionaries evaluation of Mao Tsetung and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution led them to belittle the need both to form a vanguard party of the proletariat of all nationalities and to take responsibility for leading the revolutionary struggle as a whole. Tailist interpretations of Mao Tsetungs teachings compounded the distortions resulting from the nationalist outlook. Hence much of the revolutionary mass work carried out was characterized by a slow, patient and at times even pedagogic approach. The reaction to the emergence of the foco-ist Castro-ist distortion of armed struggle strengthened these tailist tendencies. It was not until immediately prior to the February 1979 revolution that the prospects of struggle for political power were ever truly seen or acted upon.

These shortcomings and ideological deviations later rendered political forces such as the Komala particularly vulnerable to more open opportunist and revisionist trends. The Communist Party of Iran (CPI), the product of a peculiar amalgamation of the Union of Militant Communists (UMC) and the Komala (The Organization of the Toilers of the Kurdistan of Iran, founded by Fuad Soltani in 1978), is a good example of this today. The line and practice of the CPI merits criticism not only because it claims to be the vanguard of the class-conscious proletariat but, more seriously, because it strikingly embodies a number of dangerous deviations that have plagued the revolutionary movement. These have culminated in a series of ramshackle attacks on Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, concentrated against the immortal contributions of Mao Tsetung. Flowing from this, the CPIs line also suffers from pronounced deviations from the cardinal principles set forth by Lenin on the party, the role of revolutionary consciousness and revolutionary mass work, the national question, etc. Moreover, its inability and refusal to understand the decisiveness of Mao Tsetung Thought as a scientific weapon in the struggle against modern revisionism has completely disarmed the CPI in explaining the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union. This could well lead to capitulation to social-imperialism in one form or another and, as is indicated in their party positions, the CPI is already beating a hasty retreat from identifying the Soviet Union as social-imperialist. This is indeed an alarming retreat not only from a thorough-going Marxist-Leninist stand but also from that of the founding leaders of Komala in 1978.

In Iraqi Kurdistan, the formation of the Komala Ranjedaran was the most significant expression of the influence of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. During the period following its founding until after the seizure of power by the revisionists in China, Komala Ranjedaran played an important role for the revolutionary movement, not just in Kurdistan but in Iraq as a whole, due to its open defence of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. Nevertheless, Komala Ranjedaran shared some of the same weakness of nationalism and the failure to grasp the crucial role of the proletarian party. Later on, with both crisis in the Marxist-Leninist movement following the coup détat in China and changes in the world situation, these weaknesses manifested themselves in the dropping of Mao Tsetung Thought in their propaganda and their training of cadres. This retreat from the positions adopted at the time of the groups formation not only kept them from fully playing the kind of revolutionary role they might have played in Iraq, but led in 1982 to reversing the correct verdict on the social-imperialists. Ideological shortcomings, blended with revolutionary nationalist tendencies, were responsible for their inability to advance from their original stand and to resist the spontaneous and pragmatic pull that tended to liquidate the political and ideological independence of the proletariat. The organisational expression of this was a tendency to replace the role of the party with that of the front.

The class struggle in Turkey opened up a different path for those Kurdish revolutionaries in Turkey who were influenced by the achievements of Mao Tsetung and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Ibrahim Kaypakkaya led the revolutionary communists to split from a revisionist organisation that was pretending to uphold Mao Tsetung against modern revisionism. His struggle to forge a genuine proletarian party through a fierce political and ideological debate over the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought enabled the communist movement in Turkey to attract the most revolutionary forces among the Kurdish people into its ranks. Ibrahim Kaypakkayas vigorous exposition of the Marxist-Leninist stand on the national question helped the Kurdish revolutionary masses to gain a scientific understanding of national oppression, the chauvinism of the ruling Turkish nation and the nationalist aims of the Kurdish bourgeoisie and small landlords in opposition to the interests of the proletariat.

In addition, Ibrahim Kaypakkaya ruthlessly exposed the pacifist and economist distortions of Mao Tsetungs brilliant contributions to the military science and the strategy of peoples war. As he pointed out, peoples war is the scientific approach to waging revolutionary warfare and seizing power in Turkey, particularly in order to create red political power in the Kurdistan region where the savage national oppression and the suffocating pre-capitalist (semi-feudal relations) had long rendered the prairie dry. Ibrahim Kaypakkaya made the first serious attempt of the Marxist-Leninists of that country to launch armed struggle, precisely in the Kurdistan region of Turkey.

Revolutionary Warfare

For long decades revolutionary warfare and the objective conditions for it have continued to prevail in Kurdistan. But particularly now, it is of crucial importance that such warfare must be carried out resolutely and according to the military science and outlook of the revolutionary proletariat, which has been qualitatively enriched by the contributions Mao Tsetung made on the basis of summing up the experience of long years of revolutionary warfare in China.

Many armies currently exist on the Kurdish terrain. They are led by various political forces, ranging from those with a revolutionary communist political and ideological line, to those with a revolutionary nationalist or progressive outlook, to those that have been or are becoming tools of reactionary nationalism and imperialism. As much as this situation makes the political and military terrain extremely complex and difficult, it also lays bare the nature and programme of the political forces leading these peshmerga armies, providing the raw material for the revolutionary masses to grasp the international significance of the struggle and the necessity of proletarian leadership to lead it to victory.

War is the highest form of class struggle, Mao Tsetung said, for resolving contradictions, when they have developed to a certain stage, between classes, nations, states, or political groups, and it has existed ever since the emergence of private property and of classes. (Problems of Strategy in Chinas Revolutionary War.) For this reason, the troops involved in the armed struggle concentrate the aspirations and the political and ideological aims that move them to action in the first place. Hence, it is unavoidable that the organisational principles, composition and structure of a peshmerga army and the way in which it carries out the actual fighting and relates to the broad masses, its allies and enemies will be fundamentally determined by whether in essence it is waging warfare to preserve society based on inequality, oppression and exploitation in one form or another or it is fighting to destroy all this, and those representing this, in order to advance society towards communism as part of transforming the whole world. All armies in the field without exception will have to be tested by the revolutionary Kurdish masses according to this criteria. In effect this has already begun to occur, since those who deserve their wrath are being labelled Josh or josh-e hafif (sold out or semi-sold out!).

Furthermore it is self-evident that with an army of peshmergas that is not guided by revolutionary principles and a revolutionary military doctrine, it is impossible in the final analysis to wage and win warfare for social or national emancipation, since the armed forces of the old order have a wealth of experience and superiority in non-revolutionary warfare. Therefore it is indispensable and imperative even from a military standpoint that an army fighting for a genuine revolutionary cause must be revolutionary in the fullest sense of the word.

The longer the duration of the fighting, the more apparent becomes the qualitative difference between an army of revolution and one of counter-revolution, thereby facilitating the victory of the former over the latter. It is not without reason that the reactionaries are always anxious to achieve quick victories and worry about prolonging the war, particularly when they are challenged by revolutionary armies. Or they feel the need to periodically introduce cease-fires in order to impede the dissemination of the revolutionary ideals embodied in the discipline, heroism and social practice of the revolutionary army. Mao Tsetungs reference to the Long March as a seeding machine underscores this basic truth.

The revolutionary army epitomizes the new, revolutionary society rising up in arms, locked into battle with the old order. Warfare conducted by the revolutionary army is thus assured of victory to the extent that it also comprehends persuasion by arms: by its fighting spirit and style, a revolutionary army can and must induce and spread demoralisation among the troops and the social base of the reactionaries, persuading them of the hopelessness of their predicament and the invincibility of the revolutionary cause. More importantly, it can arouse and persuade ever-broader sections of the masses to become part of consciously transforming the world. All this very much depends on the way a revolutionary army conducts its criticism of weapons. And as pointed out by Lenin, only the proletariat can create the nucleus of a mighty revolutionary army, mighty both in its ideals, its discipline, its organisation and its heroism in struggle.

Based on this understanding of Lenin and on the experience of the Bolshevik Party, Mao Tsetung, summing up the development of Chinas revolutionary war, said ...in an era when the proletariat has already appeared on the political stage, the responsibility for leading Chinas revolutionary war inevitably falls on the shoulders of the Communist Party of China. In this era, any revolutionary war will definitely end in defeat if it lacks, or runs counter to, the leadership of the proletariat and the Communist Party... Hence only the proletariat and the Communist Party can lead the peasantry and the urban petit bourgeoisie and bourgeoisie, can overcome the narrow-mindedness of the peasantry and the petit bourgeoisie... the vacillation and the lack of thoroughness of the bourgeoisie and can lead the revolution on to the road of victory. (Problems of Strategy...) The importance of proletarian leadership as the most crucial condition enabling the revolutionary war to be carried through firmly to the end is also sharply expressed by Mao Tsetung in another statement emphasising the inseparable connection between political and military affairs: Our revolutionary war has proved that we need a correct Marxist military line as well as a correct Marxist political line. (Problems of Strategy... )

Thus, for the revolutionary movement in Kurdistan, Mao Tsetungs contribution in the field of revolutionary warfare and military strategy  which cannot be divorced from his contribution to the line for revolution in colonial and semi- (neo-) colonial countries, specifically the theory of new-democratic revolution  has, as an integral whole, direct relevance and utmost significance. And it must be bluntly stated that among the revolutionary peshmergas in Kurdistan, those who are not armed with Mao Tsetungs teachings on political and military affairs cannot be  in spite of the weapons they might carry  considered armed against imperialism, social-imperialism and local reactionaries.

The Declaration of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement pointedly says: ...revolutionary war and other forms of revolutionary struggle must be carried out as a key arena for training the revolutionary masses to be capable of wielding political power and transforming society. Only this orientation can increase the depth and scope of the revolutionary war, strengthening its social and political base and drawing larger sections of the masses into the war effort. Due to the leadership of non-proletarian forces, much of the armed struggle currently conducted in Kurdistan suffers serious shortcomings in this regard. And the practices of reactionary mercenary armies in the field serve as good lessons by negative example.

Red Base Areas

The establishment of liberated base areas provides a foundation for waging a peoples war. A new-democratic political power of the masses can be established under the leadership of the proletariat through the political mobilisation of the people for the armed struggle integrated with agrarian revolution and other necessary revolutionary social transformations. Such liberated areas are the embryo of a new independent regime where the masses who have been oppressed, exploited and, as Kurds, subjected to the most brutal national oppression, can exercise political power. Such red base areas hoist the red flag of revolution and become living political manifestos calling to the ranks of people in the respective states and even beyond. The birth of the revolutionary new regime in liberated areas is not an end in itself; it must serve as a base for expanding the armed forces of the revolution, deepening the agrarian revolution, transforming the backward relations of production, and hence creating better conditions both politically and militarily for engaging the enemy in revolutionary warfare on an even grander scale and moving towards final victory. As Mao Tsetung said, ...spreading political power by advancing in a series of waves, etc., etc. Only thus is it possible to build the confidence of the revolutionary masses throughout the country&.Only thus is it possible to create tremendous difficulties for the reactionary ruling classes, shake their foundations and hasten their internal disintegration. Only thus is it really possible to create a Red Army that will become the chief weapon for the great revolution of the future. In short, only thus is it possible to hasten the revolutionary high tide. (A Single Spark Can Start a Prairie Fire)

Such red base areas can only emerge through the political mobilisation and struggle of the people and through warfare based on their initiative. Neither defending nor spreading the revolutionary political power can be accomplished without relying on the masses. Their revolutionary energy and initiative can only be truly unleashed through warfare that targets the centuries-old social relations enslaving them in the interests of the exploiting classes as well as foreign imperialism and its agents. Furthermore, actively participating in and supporting such revolutionary warfare enables the masses to revolutionise and train themselves to wield political power as masters of the new society. Herein lies the meaning and superiority of peoples war, against which the army of the enemy and its technical superiority will inevitably prove ineffective. Ultimately not weapons but people and their politically conscious revolutionary activism will be decisive.

Leaving aside the reactionary nationalist organisations such as KDP of Iraq (GM), even among the progressive and revolutionary organisations of the Kurdish nationalist forces, their class outlook and nationalist ideology severely hinders their ability to conduct warfare against the reactionary regimes. In contrast to the outlook of the revolutionary proletariat, the outlook of the Kurdish bourgeoisie and other landed property owners naturally does not and cannot allow the full mobilisation and political awakening of the peasants, proletarians and semi-proletarians, whose revolutionary aspirations cannot be fulfilled by just exchanging one set of oppressors for another but requires instead the victory of the new-democratic revolution over feudalism, bureaucrat capitalism and imperialism.

These nationalist forces strive to confine the revolutionary struggle of the proletarians and peasants, trying to befuddle the minds of the masses with Kurdish nationalism to the detriment of the interests of the labouring classes and the class struggle of the proletariat. Ironically, this has only prolonged the subjugation of the Kurdish nation to national oppression.

The effort to avoid the integration of the armed struggle with the agrarian revolution in order to enlist the support of feudal property owners in the struggle against national oppression has only dampened the revolutionary enthusiasm of the peasants, who are the main force of the armed struggle. Those who today stand in the way of the poor peasants confiscating the land or storming the warehouses and granaries of the feudal landlords will later on bemoan the shortage of peshmergas or their unwillingness to engage the enemy. Without boldly unleashing and relying on the revolutionary enthusiasm of the broad masses of the people as a bastion of iron for the revolution, as Mao Tsetung put it, revolutionary warfare cannot be successfully waged. And against those who accused the peasantry and the masses of going too far and of committing excesses in their revolutionary vehemence, Mao Tsetung upheld the revolutionary initiative and enthusiasm of the people by saying, Where there are two opposite approaches to things and people, two opposite views emerge. It is terrible! and It is fine! riffraff and vanguards of the revolution  here are apt examples. (Peasant Movement in Hunan)

In the areas controlled or contested by the revolutionary or progressive Kurdish nationalist forces, the policy of not tampering with the existing social relations, of not carrying out and spreading the agrarian revolution, of complicity with the old feudal authority, with sheikhs, mullahs and other reactionary elements, of not establishing an independent regime of peoples new-democratic power in an appropriate form  this can only erode and sabotage the social and political basis of revolutionary warfare.

To a great extent, the difficulty experienced in defending these so-called liberated areas from enemy attacks stems from this non-proletarian policy that hinders or even consciously prevents the toiling masses struggle from establishing their own revolutionary regime and transforming society. Therefore, the liberated areas are in effect liberated only from the free roving of the enemy troops but not, in essence, from the old structure of reactionary political power and social relations of production. Under such conditions the reluctance of the masses to go all-out in fighting to defend so-called liberated areas can only be attributed to the nature of the political line of the organisations that control these areas. Especially when such a political line is more interested in using the armed struggle to pressure the reactionary regime for concessions at a negotiating table or relying on the support of the social-imperialists or other reactionary states rather than maintaining and developing the armed struggle and the base areas, the revolutionary masses reluctance to fight for the defence of such liberated areas should not be so difficult to comprehend  after all, the political line leading does not plan to hold on to them itself.

All this closely interpenetrates with military affairs. Without building up and expanding genuine liberated areas as rear areas from which the armed struggle can draw political, social, economic and military support, without fully mobilising and political unleashing the masses, it would be impossible to lure the enemy in deep, to fight battles where tactical superiority can be wrested from the enemy, to launch surprise attacks, to circle around and trap the enemy, etc. All the military advantages of fighting a peoples war would no longer be at the disposal of the peshmergas, hence tendencies would emerge to rely on modern weaponry and aid from at best dubious sources, to depend on foreign imperialists and even to capitulate. As Mao was to put it, you fight your way and Ill fight my way.

Pessimism, defeatism, overrating of the enemys combat effectiveness, seeking the support of an imperialist power (these days most often the Soviets) would inevitably set in. This has been the fate of more than one erstwhile revolutionary nationalist (even with pseudo-Marxist colouration).

Communist Party of Iran

This kind of outlook is both reflected in and reinforced through the political line of the Communist Party of Iran (CPI), among others. The opportunist line of the CPI, which includes a lavish amount of Trotskyism, produces some most conservative and liquidationist pronouncements concerning the armed struggle and the seizure of power by the proletariat through protracted peoples war. For the CPI, the armed struggle carried out even by their own Komala peshmergas in Kurdistan is a phenomenon that hinders the task of organising the proletarians in party cells that should be constructed at the production place and in the urban working class districts. The implication of this losing proposition can be nothing but preparing to get rid of this nuisance. Considering the CPIs deep-seated economism, this should by no means come as a surprise.

The most unmitigated economist and liberal-reformist recipes are being tossed back and forth between the CPI and infamous pro-Soviet revisionists such as Rah-e-Karghar (Path of the Worker) regarding the most efficient means for keeping the workers as isolated as possible from revolutionary politics. The CPI proposes to organise a movement for workers councils in the factories as the most suitable way to develop the working class movement and to lay the basis for some future Soviets, which the CPIs vision deems to be the road to political power. Leaving aside the patently absurd caricature of the experience of the Bolshevik Revolution on the Soviets as organs of political power as well as the CPIs untenable schematism, on at least two accounts the CPIs alleged concern for creating organs for seizing political power cannot be taken seriously: firstly, with such liberal bourgeois economism the working class can never be trained in revolutionary communist politics to struggle for and exercise political power; and secondly, such a miserable economist recipe is only a justification for abandoning the revolutionary potential for establishing red political power through armed struggle led by the proletariat in Kurdistan, despite and in the face of very favourable prospects for doing that. Thus, the CPI is, in effect, to quote the Declaration of the RIM, appealing to the workers on the narrowest of bases and negating the necessity of the working class to lead the peasantry and others in thoroughly eliminating imperialism and the backward and distorted economic and social relations that foreign capital thrives on and reinforces.

The CPI, which proclaims to be a communist party, happens to command a relatively significant army of experienced Komala peshmergas and enjoys a respectably large mass base among the more revolutionary sections of the Kurdish people who have a burning hatred of the regime and the existing backward social and economic relations. Yet it is somehow unable to appreciate the immense potential that exists for waging armed struggle to establish red political power in Kurdistan. The CPI is infatuated by the idea of a bunch of workers councils managing the daily affairs of the factory, allegedly to train the workers for exercising state power sometime in the future - instead of fully developing the armed struggle in Kurdistan to establish base areas.

The CPIs flight from the science of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought stands stark naked when its propositions and the objective circumstances in Kurdistan are weighed against the following scientific formulation of Mao Tsetung: The seizure of power by armed force, the settlement of the issue by war, is the central task and the highest form of revolution. This Marxist-Leninist principle of revolution holds good universally, for China and for all other countries. (Problems of War and Strategy.) Especially when all the objective conditions are present for the execution of this central task, it is evident that the CPIs opportunist line will increasingly be exposed, destroying the militant heritage and experience built up by Komala in the past. The forces of Khomeini and the reactionary nationalists will exploit their serious errors to try to consolidate their own position and to suppress the revolutionary struggle of the masses.

The Revolutionary Army

Warfare divorced from the struggle for the revolutionary transformation of the old social order through the active and conscious participation of the broad masses will ultimately degenerate into warlordism. The imperialist powers of both blocs and their puppets in the region exert every effort in this direction, each trying to acquire armies on the Kurdish terrain that can be deployed for their predatory aims. The intensification of inter-imperialist rivalry in particular has been fuelling any latent potential for such developments. Furthermore, the existing feudal social structures of ashirets (a type of Kurdish clan) and the reactionary authority vested in them provides a basis for this type of degeneration. The KDP-Iraq (GM) stands as a most despicable manifestation of this phenomenon, which can also be observed in KDP-Iran and PKK in Turkey.

A revolutionary army is distinguished by and draws its strength from its revolutionary unity with the masses and the revolutionary unity between the soldiers and the officers. Such an army must avoid at all cost being a burden on the masses as gallant warriors who deserve special services. On the contrary, they themselves must serve the people, in addition to fighting battles, by conducting revolutionary agitation and propaganda among them and by taking part in production reorganised on a revolutionary basis. Correctly combining fighting battles and taking part in production can not only meet the cost of maintaining the army but more fundamentally it can provide disciplined and politically conscious production detachments that can lead the masses in achieving self-sufficiency and laying the foundation of the new economic order with an eye towards future socialist transformation. Thus, profound political unity can be achieved between the people and their revolutionary armed forces.

The violation of such principles, created and brilliantly applied under the leadership of Mao Tsetung, has done great damage in Kurdistan and provided opportunities for the reactionary regimes to create hardship and to demoralize people. Continuous military harassment, bombing of villages and fields, blocking of fresh-water springs, planned raids to burn and destroy the harvest and other retaliatory crimes by the regimes are all intended to daunt the revolutionary masses. At the same time they graphically underscore the dire necessity as well as the material basis for reorganising production and the socio-economic order along revolutionary lines. From the standpoint of the revolutionary communist line, any belittling or neglect of these tasks would be tantamount to betraying the revolutionary masses and sabotaging the material basis for consolidating and expanding revolutionary political power and thereby immensely strengthening revolutionary warfare. Indeed, the neglect or blatant refusal of the nationalist forces to seriously take up these tasks has not only demoralized the masses in these areas but forced them to seek a livelihood in smuggling and other unproductive and harmful practices. The fact that a truly revolutionary political power does not exist to provide a rallying point for them has also made it easier for the reactionary regimes to recruit mercenaries.

Radical Rupture Required

A revolution, Mao Tsetung insisted, is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. To enable the masses to overthrow the oppressor, they have to also rebel against and overthrow the ideas, values, and culture of the oppressors as part of transforming the whole superstructure that rests on the backward relations of production. A people still enslaved spiritually and ideologically by the ideas, culture and world outlook of their oppressor cannot be successful in smashing the material chains that keep them in captivity either.

Perhaps more than anything else, the thoroughness of the position taken against the oppression of women is the measure of the thoroughness of ones revolutionary outlook. Whether a political force stands for the complete abolition of all forms of exploitation and oppression or for transplanting itself onto the seats of political power and, thus, merely changing the form of the system of oppression will be revealed by whether it fights actively to unleash the fury of women as a mighty force for revolution, as it is powerfully expressed around the world in the May First slogan of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement.

The absolutely reactionary attitude of part of the nationalist forces (and all of the reactionaries) towards women, in defending and even reinforcing the social and ideological shackles that bind them, is nothing but a reflection of the bourgeois outlook. Those who vilify and try (!) to degrade women who join the peshmerga army as fighters by openly insinuating that they are promiscuous or of loose morality must be exposed as defenders of the enslavement of women under the feudal, bourgeois-feudal male authority, which serves and reflects the existing system of exploitation and oppression. It is worth recalling that it was Karl Marx who said, Anybody who knows anything of history knows that great social changes are impossible without the feminine ferment. To be willing to have half of its fighters in chains and bondage is not only to surrender half of the revolutionary army to the enemy, but more significantly it is to blind the remaining half to the real sources of oppression and to fetter the overall struggle for social emancipation, which must eliminate not some but all forms of oppression and exploitation. The victory of the revolutionary struggle and warfare will greatly depend upon to what extent the feminine ferment, as Marx called it, will be not simply tolerated but consciously and actively encouraged, unleashed and organised to produce peshmergas, military commanders, and proletarian political leaders for revolution.

The revolutionary movement throughout Kurdistan can, and given the current situation in the area, must make use of the contradictions among the reactionary ruling classes of the vassal states. However under no circumstances should such tactical considerations take priority over or assume more prominence than the correct revolutionary orientation. They should never be allowed to blur the cardinal line of demarcation between the enemies of revolution  regardless of which country they are based in or which of the two imperialist blocs they may represent or be allied with  and the genuine forces of revolution, particularly the revolutionary communist forces.

In revolutionary struggle, some concessions and tactical compromises are unavoidable, but the blatant betrayal of the revolutionary cause has been justified only too frequently in the name of down to earth politics allegedly intended to make use of contradictions in the enemy camp. The annals of history  and the history of the revolutionary movement in Kurdistan is no exception  are cluttered with painful episodes of either serious setbacks or outright betrayals that occurred either in blind pursuit of, or under the guise of, such realism, strengthening the hand of the oppressor and seriously undermining past victories as well as the strength of the oppressed.

Tactical considerations must under all circumstances be subordinate to the overall revolutionary strategy, which must be based on firm principles that do not wobble in the face of changing circumstances and the sugar-coated bullets or false promises of the enemy. Under all circumstances, the tactics adopted to make use of the contradictions among the reactionaries must drive a wedge into the enemy camp and weaken the enemies of revolution overall, and they must enhance the conditions for revolutionary struggle, not just in one area or even in the Kurdish region of one of the countries in question, but in all of them. It is not too late to learn from the enemy. Even a cursory survey of the policies of the British and US imperialists against the revolutionary movement in Kurdistan reveals that they tried to avoid the mistake of encouraging the overall revolutionary movement in Kurdistan to the detriment of their loyal puppets. This is true, for example, when they resort tactically to using certain forces in the Kurdish region of one or another country as an instrument of their reactionary machinations aimed at getting a more desirable performance from any of their own puppets.

The ability to correctly handle these contradictions and to correctly apply the policy of being firm in principle and flexible in tactics requires, above all, a vanguard party of the proletariat. As the Declaration of the RIM puts it:

The key to carrying out a new-democratic revolution is the independent role of the proletariat and its ability, through its Marxist-Leninist party, to establish its hegemony in the revolutionary struggle. Experience has shown again and again that even when a section of the national bourgeoisie joins the revolutionary movement, it will not and cannot lead a new-democratic revolution, to say nothing of carrying this revolution through to completion. Similarly, history demonstrates the bankruptcy of an anti-imperialist front (or similar revolutionary front) which is not led by a Marxist-Leninist party, even when such a front or forces within it adopt a Marxist (actually pseudo-Marxist) colouration. While such revolutionary formations have led heroic struggles and even delivered powerful blows to the imperialists they have been proven to be ideologically and organisationally incapable of resisting imperialist and bourgeois influences. Even where such forces have seized power they have been incapable of carrying through a thorough-going revolutionary transformation of society and end up, sooner or later, being overthrown by the imperialists or themselves becoming a new reactionary ruling power in league with imperialists.


It is indisputable that the Kurdish national movement has consistently been a most explosive component of the revolutionary ferment in this part of the world, even at times the sole movement to raise and carry the banner of rebellion against the reactionary regimes propped up by various imperialist forces. However, a number of factors historically have also forestalled the full realisation of the revolutionary potential in Kurdistan. Overall the movements in Kurdistan have predominantly been under the leadership of bourgeois nationalist forces or bourgeois-feudal nationalist forces whose class interests and outlook have been an impediment to the Kurdish revolutionary masses in their contribution to the world proletarian revolution. Although ferocious national oppression has continued to fan the flames of the struggle, it has also been a factor retarding the development of the working class both economically and politically. Lenin remarked that, The bourgeoisie, which naturally assumes the leadership at the start of every national movement, says that support for all national aspirations is practical. [Emphasis added.] (The Right of Nations to Self-Determination, Collected Works, 20.)

Even revolutionary Kurdish nationalism has not always proven practical to the Kurdish bourgeoisie and landlords. The practicality of the bourgeois outlook has inexorably driven the various leaders of the Kurdish national movement to concede to what was acceptable to the state of the ruling nation. These reactionary states at certain points, when in a difficult position, manoeuvred to offer partial autonomy or cultural national autonomy in order to split up or control the growing revolutionary ferment in Kurdistan.

Examples of such fiendish moves can be observed in the wake of the First World War in Iraq in the form of partial autonomy under His Majestys mandate, and right after the Second World War in Iran in the case of the Autonomous Republic of Mahabad. In view of the longstanding vulnerability of the Iraqi regime in the face of the movement in Kurdistan, the imperialist advisers of the regime find it opportune to dangle hints of promises for an autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq. Remember Lenins warning: Like all reformists, our reformists of 1905 could not understand that historic situations arise when reforms and particularly promises of reforms, pursue only one aim: to allay the unrest of the people, force the revolutionary class to cease, or at least slacken, its struggle. (A Lecture on the 1905 Revolution, Collected Works, 23.)

It seems that the French imperialists, who have been quite influential over the Iraqi regime, favour granting some type of counterfeit autonomy status to Iraqi Kurdistan, an area that has tied down a major section of the Iraqi Army that could otherwise be deployed on the Iranian front. Undoubtedly such promises are intended not to be kept but to create splits among the Kurdish nationalists. Saddam Husseins granting of autonomy for Kurdistan in 1970 stands as a typical example of what such promises hold for the Kurdish people.

Nonetheless hopes of being granted autonomy, partial autonomy or cultural national autonomy continue to exist among Kurdish nationalists, since this appears to be more practical than overthrowing the reactionary state power of the oppressor nations ruling classes. Lenins criticism of such practical-minded reformism on the national question remains valid: A reformist change is one which leaves intact the foundations of the power of the ruling class and is merely a concession leaving its power unimpaired. A revolutionary change undermines the foundations of power. A reformist national programme does not abolish all the privileges of the ruling nation; it does not establish complete equality; it does not abolish national oppression in all its forms. An autonomous nation does not enjoy rights equal to those of the ruling nation; ...until 1905 autonomous Norway, as a part of Sweden, enjoyed the widest autonomy, but she was not Swedens equal. Only by her free secession was her equality manifested in practice and proved&.As long as Norway was merely autonomous, the Swedish aristocracy had one additional privilege; and secession did not mitigate this privilege (the essence of reformism lies in mitigating an evil and not in destroying it), but eliminated it altogether (the principal criterion of the revolutionary character of a programme). (The Nature of Self-Determination Summed Up, Collected Works, 22.)

It is practical for the nationalists to take the capitulationist and reformist road, even when the struggle against national oppression, far from just beginning, has already reached the stage of full-fledged warfare against the oppressor. Nationalism, even in its revolutionary form, inevitably embraces pragmatism and deems it more feasible to strike a deal with the national oppressor rather than to rely on the revolutionary masses in a protracted struggle to eliminate the evil altogether. Although there is a qualitative difference between the thoroughly reactionary KDP-Iraq under the leadership of Barzani and progressive and revolutionary nationalist forces today, still the ceasefire struck with the Iraqi regime in 1975 stands as a most stinging indictment of such illusions. How detrimental to the cause of the proletariat and other oppressed masses and how unbearable was the anguish felt by the revolutionary masses came through vividly when peshmergas committed suicide by the hundreds rather than bear the humiliation of surrendering to the enemy.

Lenin warns that The bourgeoisie of the oppressed nations persistently utilise the slogans of national liberation to deceive the workers; in their internal policy they use these slogans for reactionary agreements with the bourgeoisie of the dominant nation...in their foreign policy they strive to come to terms with one of the rival imperialist powers for the sake of implementing their predatory plans& (The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination Summed Up, Collected Works, 22.) This assessment by Lenin forcefully depicts the character of a number of nationalist forces in Kurdistan that portray themselves as the champion of Kurdish national liberation while either flirting or directly serving one of the imperialist blocs or sometimes straddling the fence for a better offer. In particular, the KDP-Iran, which has long been cashing in on the prestige of the 1946 Kurdish Autonomous Republic of Mahabad, typifies the characteristics cited by Lenin above. As late as 1985, on the heels of the biggest reactionary military offensive ever by the Khomeini regime against Kurdistan, the KDP-Iran, led by none other than Gassem Lu in secret collusion with the Tudeh revisionists, noisily scurried about in an effort to come to terms with the Khomeini regime. Internationally, as a strong supporter of Soviet social-imperialism and as friends with European social-democracy, it has been seeking aid and recognition not from the revolutionary masses and genuine revolutionary communist organisations and parties but from the imperialist powers. Lately, under pressure from the social-imperialists, it shows inclinations to sign up on the payroll of the revisionists. Recent reactionary armed attacks by the KDP-Iran on Komala provide indisputable evidence of the formers counter-revolutionary policies.

Greater Kurdistan

In terms of utilising slogans of national liberation to deceive the workers, various Kurdish nationalist organisations have put forward the slogan of Greater Kurdistan. More often than not, this slogan has been used as justification for not waging a militant struggle to overthrow the reactionary government, which is the instrument of national oppression in that very same state. The establishment of Greater Kurdistan would require the overthrow of several, if not all, of the reactionary states that have divided up the Kurdish territory. Moreover, the emergence of a Greater Kurdistan would by no measure be an insignificant event in the region and in the world as a whole; it would effect tremendous upheaval, and, thus, a fracturing of the existing international and national political matrix in the region.

Clearly all these factors must have entered into the feasibility analysis of the practical-minded Kurdish bourgeois forces, and the slogan of Greater Kurdistan is certainly not intended to blow the biggest possible hole through the imperialist network in the region. As Lenin observed, the bourgeoisie is most interested in the feasibility of a given demand and hence the invariable policy of coming to terms with the bourgeoisie of other nations& (Right of Nations to Self-Determination, Collected Works, 20.) If, through the twists and turns of the struggle and the unfolding of contradictions in the region and the world, the prospect of establishing a Kurdish state comprising the Kurdish regions in several of the existing states were to emerge, the communists would evaluate the advisability of such a state on the basis of the overall interests of the advance of the world revolution.

However, the cutting edge of the slogan Greater Kurdistan is not so much directed against the reactionary states and the imperialists backing them as it is nationalist demagogy against the working class, pandering to national prejudices that already exist among the masses in order to lead them by the halter for the class interests of the Kurdish bourgeoisie. It serves to segregate the Kurdish proletarians from the proletarians of other nationalities, vindicating the failure to join ranks for the overthrow of the existing state power in a given country.

The Declaration of the RIM states that: Due to the establishment of central state structures prior to the process of capitalist development, semi (neo) colonial countries, in the main, have multi-national social formations within them; in a large number of cases these states have been created by the imperialists themselves. Furthermore, the borders of these states have been determined as a consequence of imperialist occupations and machinations. Thus it is generally the case that within the state borders of countries oppressed by imperialism, oppressed nations, national inequality and ruthless national oppression exist. In our era, the national question has ceased to be an internal question of single countries and has become subordinate to the general question of the world proletarian revolution, hence its thorough-going resolution has become directly dependent on the struggle against imperialism. Within this context Marxist-Leninists should uphold the right of self-determination of oppressed nations in the multi-national semi-colonial states.

There is absolutely nothing sacred about the current state borders dividing the Kurdish territory, nor is it written in stone that the only possible or legitimate course for the development of the world proletarian revolution must be in the form of a separate revolution in each state, resolving the Kurdish national question as part of the new-democratic revolution within the borders of each. The following remark by Lenin is to the point here: Marx did not make an Absolute of the national movement, knowing, as he did, that only the victory of the working class can bring about the complete liberation of all nationalities. It is impossible to estimate beforehand all the possible relations between the bourgeois liberation movements of the oppressed nations and the proletarian emancipation movement of the oppressor nation (the very problem which today makes the national question in Russia so difficult). (Right of Nations to Self Determination)

Theoretically it would be impossible to determine in advance the exact course of the Kurdish national liberation movement; it is certain, however, that it will play a tremendously significant role in the revolutionary turmoil of the upcoming period. In any event, the Kurdish class-conscious proletariat must be first and foremost concerned with ensuring the development and the interests of their class as part of a single international class of proletarians world-wide. As Lenin put it, The proletarian cause must come first, we say, because it not only protects the lasting and fundamental interests of labour and of humanity, but also those of democracy; and without democracy neither an autonomous nor an independent Ukraine [in this case Kurdistan  AWTW] is conceivable. (Critical Remarks on the National Question, Collected Works, 20.)


The possibility and necessity of hoisting the red flag in Kurdistan more forcefully than ever before is confronting the communists and the masses. The prospects for establishing red political power in the form of base areas and independent regimes are quite favourable. In this eventuality the revolutionary masses in Kurdish regions in all of the bordering states will provide tremendous support and rally around the red banner hoisted in any one particular Kurdish region to wage revolutionary warfare for its defence and expansion. A genuine peoples war under the leadership of the revolutionary communists in any one of the Kurdish regions can quite easily rip the existing political structure in the Middle East irreparably apart, providing an opening for all the oppressed in the region. Under these circumstances, the question for the international proletariat cannot be to confine such a revolutionary storm to the borders of any one particular state or nation but to liberate as much of the worlds territory as possible from the bloody claws of imperialism and reaction. <