“Just solution of the national problem is an unavoidable necessity to protect the territorial integrity of the country”
Editorial article of Nameh Mardom, The Central Organ of the Tudeh Party of Iran – No. 1029, published on 10 July 2017
At a time when political developments are taking place at a rapid pace in the Middle East while imperialism and the regional reaction are hatching dangerous plans to change the political geography of the region, any kind of conflict and military clash around the borders of Iran – under any pretext whatsoever – will threaten the territorial integrity and stability of the country.
As per the reports of the official media in Iran as well as the statements of the various political organisations; the conflicts between the military forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Peshmerga and cadres of the political parties operating in Iranian Kurdistan have considerably escalated in recent weeks. All patriotic and freedom-loving forces are anxiously watching these dangerous military conflicts that could lead to the flaring up of a new war on the western borders of our county. The announcement by Masoud Barzani, the President of Iraqi Kurdistan, regarding the holding of a referendum on the independence of the Kurdistan Region from the Republic of Iraq, has raised concerns over the significant and unpredictable political consequences of this action within the borders of neighbouring Iran. The prospect of the creation of an independent Kurdistan under the current circumstances in the region has without a doubt impacted upon the position of some of the political forces in Iranian Kurdistan. There have been orchestrated efforts by some of the states in the region, and their international supporters over the past two years, to gain the support of the political forces in the four principal Kurdistan regions in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey to launch a campaign to organise separatist movements in the Middle East. There is also this fact that since the sudden “emergence” of ISIS (Daesh) in the region, and the declaration of the “Islamic Caliphate” in Iraq and Syria, there has been much speculation about such imperialist-backed plots to create divisions within the borders of some Middle East countries, to in effect “Balkanize” this region.
It cannot be accidental that since 2014, the US administration has, under the pretext of limiting and besieging the Daesh-controlled regions, systematically provided political, financial, and military support to the Kurdish forces in Syria, particularly the “People’s Protection Units” (YPG) operating within the framework of the “Syrian Democratic Army”. The meetings and talks between the Syrian Kurds and the representatives of the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and their talks about the future of the Syria in recent months, indicate the shaping of a powerful current of support for the separation of the Kurdish regions from Syria, along the path of weakening the central government in Damascus.
This situation is taking shape at a time when, because of the positions of the reactionary regimes such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE in regard to their conflicts with Qatar, the Persian Gulf region is facing extensive political challenges which could have disastrous consequences for all of the countries in the region, including Iran. The fact that Saudi Arabia and Israel have been busy with forming an unprecedented active and powerful alliance in dealing with the developments of the region, including the conflicts in Syria and the Kurdistan Region, reinforces the concern that the flames of the next phase of regional conflict might indeed start from the sparks created in the Kurdistan Region.
End the military conflicts in Kurdistan!
It is in this context that we believe that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s shelling, on Monday 3 July, of the areas close to the Iran-Iraq border, and in a region of Iraqi Kurdistan in which the bases and camps of the political forces of Iranian Kurds are located, firmly indicate a significant deterioration of the situation in the region.
On Tuesday July 4th, the government of the autonomous Kurdistan Region in Iraq condemned this shelling of the regions under its control and summoned Iran’s consul general in Erbil to convey its protest to the Iranian government officials. The shelling had targeted a region that, as stated by the “Rodaw” website, is the location of several bases of the armed groups opposing Iran’s ruling theocratic regime. According to the “Rodaw” report, these Iranian opposition groups chiefly consist of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan (KDP), the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI), and Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan.
Two weeks prior to this, the media reported armed conflicts in the city of Sanandaj (in Iranian Kurdistan). On 24 June, the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Komala Party released a statement reporting that “a group of Peshmerga and the militants of the covert organisation of the Party” had been attacked in the city by Iranian security forces on Friday 22 June during which three of the group were killed. Earlier that day, the public relations department of the Guards Corps had issued a release stating that it had killed a number of Kurdish militants during an exchange of fire in Kurdistan province. The news agency of the Guards Corps quoted an Army commander as having said that “in strongly countering the presence and movement of opposition parties in Iran, their bases will be targeted at any and all points.” The Kurdish media also reported that the forces of the Guards Corps had shelled the mountainous heights around Mahabad and Marivan earlier in June.
Considering the complex situation in the region – and ever increasingly so – the political forces operating in Kurdistan need to choose their battlefield prudently, and acknowledge the fact that the heads of the Guards Corps and the authoritarian faction of the regime will not refrain from waging a military conflict in this province, or even interfering in Iraqi Kurdistan, in order to enforce its political control over the country. The starting steps in the path to choosing the battlefield are the accurate analysis of the balance of forces on the ground; a precise understanding of the objective and subjective conditions and level of preparedness of the people – not only in Kurdistan but the entire country – in support of the tactical and strategic slogans of the struggle; as well as the wider consideration of the situation in the region and around the world. We cannot hide our concerns about the tendency amongst some of the more credible and reputable political forces in Kurdistan, in recent years, to relaunch the armed struggle. For example, Mr. Arash Saleh, the representative of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI) in the US, in an interview with “Kurdistan Media”, talked about the efforts to change the mind of the American officials in favour of the Kurd peoples’ movement and said: “The Peshmerga is the most important asset that we have, and we must try to strengthen it quantitatively and qualitatively […] If Peshmerga can demonstrate its iron will to the world, the authorities and politicians of the US will welcome it more.” Such words should be of very real concern to those who are genuine supporters of the Kurdish people and a proper resolution of the “national problem” for therein lay serious questions; why should the KDPI specifically concern itself with obtaining the favour of the American authorities for its tactics of struggle, and particularly the armed struggle against the theocratic regime of Iran? How did the Mojahedin-e Khalgh (MKI) or monarchists fare with such favourable consideration and treatment by the US neo-con establishment, that the KDPI – with its historic record of progressive struggle – should now consider obtaining the same?
Over the past seven decades, the leaders of the Iranian Kurdish people have always declared their aim, in the slogan of their struggle, as being the achievement of the “national rights of the Kurdish people within a federal and democratic Iran” – a slogan that is clearly printed on the forefront of the “Kurdistan”, the central publication of the KDPI. Komala has also declared the “defence of the right to self-determination while supporting a secular, federal, democratic Iran” as its policy. We, and the majority of the progressive and democratic political forces of Iran, believe that the slogan of a principled struggle in support of the “national right of the Kurdish people within a federal and democratic Iran” has the capacity to mobilise the largest possible national and international solidarity with the struggle of the Kurdish people to realise their legitimate rights. Considering the current circumstances in Kurdistan, Iran and the wider region, would pursuing an armed struggle represent the best option in creating the necessary conditions for solving the national question in Kurdistan? On the basis of which analysis and assessment of the conditions of struggle have our Kurdish comrades determined and defended a recourse to armed struggle in Kurdistan, after more than two decades of having dispensed with this option and pursuing their cause politically instead?
In defence of peace and the rights of the peoples of Iran
Since its very foundation, the Tudeh Party of Iran have fought continually and consistently to properly address the country’s ethno-national issues through its advocating for the eradication of the national oppression within the framework of an independent and unified Iran. Now, in light of its great patriotic duty, our party marches again along this same path of reason and calls for peace and security based on Iran’s inalienable independence and sovereignty and, at the same time, the realisation of the legitimate rights of the Kurdish people and indeed all of the peoples living throughout Iran. The fact is that the policies of the various ruling regimes in our country over the past seven decades have basically prevented the freedom of the Kurdish people, blocked them from realising their natural rights to govern their own affairs and to promote the noble Kurdish culture, as well as obstructing any attempt or effort to eliminate national oppression. Such failures and prohibitions have in effect continually violated the rights of the people of Kurdistan. The Kurds have been prevented from using their dialects and languages – in conjunction with Farsi – to study, engage in education and schooling, or in the addressing of everyday administrative issues appurtenant to local government. The use of native or mother tongue dialects and languages in speaking, communication, expression and education; the use of national culture in everyday life; and the right to elect their own representatives to govern local affairs, are amongst the primary elements of the right of everyone to freedom.
The Tudeh Party of Iran have always, without hesitation or waver, placed the defence of the rights of all peoples living in the land of Iran highly in its political agenda and continues to do so. Our party’s documented policies and statements have always reflected this throughout its history. In the stormy political conditions governing the country in June 1979, the Central Committee of the Party declared: “The Tudeh Party of Iran believes that the respect for, and the recognition of, the national rights of minorities, i.e. the administrative and cultural autonomy for non-Persian peoples in Iran, is in no way contrary to the principle of the defence of national unity of Iran in the context of the country’s territorial integrity. On the contrary, it recognises respect for the national rights to be one of the most important foundations in realising the real and voluntary national unity of the country. “
In recent decades, based on the wide and extensive study of the struggles of the peoples and minority nations – who are struggling across the world in the same conditions as our people – as well as on the fundamental principles of a Marxist approach to national questions, has been the first political party in Iran to declare “federalism” as the organisational model for the political administration of the country. The sixth congress of the Tudeh Party of Iran, held in February 2013, confirmed the official policy of the party on this issue to be the persistent advocating of national unity based on the establishment of a federal government in Iran, as well as the provision of full rights for the peoples of Iran to determine their own destiny and enjoy all national, social, economic and cultural rights.
Since the 1940s, our party has always been of the opinion that one of the major issues for the national democratic movement of the people of Iran, is the “national problem”. This is a problem whose proper and wise solution could advance our society in a great leap forward while a failure to do so could increasingly open the way to the creation of hotspots of division and insecurity, and the consequent colonialist and imperialist ploys… Our party believes that, in these historic moments, only the unity of national, progressive, and democratic forces and the deep understanding of these forces of the interests of the country and all the peoples of Iran can defeat the domestic and foreign machinations and neutralise the efforts of the reactionary forces. The Tudeh party of Iran supports the realisation of the cultural, social, political, and economical rights of the peoples living in Iran based on a federal system.
The careful study of the experience of the national struggles in other multi-ethnic countries around the world shows that the only way to fully and irreversibly overcome and eradicate the national oppression of peoples in a country like Iran is via the struggle to achieve peace, freedom, democracy, and social justice throughout the entire country.
The goal of the anti-people policies of the theocratic regime of Iran over the past thirty-eight years has basically been to violently suppress the right of the peoples of our nation, and these policies are still in force. Confronting these suppressive and anti-people policies requires a precise understanding of the power of the freedom-loving and progressive forces, attention to the complicated and grim situation of the Middle East region, and tying the struggle of the peoples of Iran with the general struggle of the population to get rid of the theocratic regime of Supreme Religious Leader in Iran. What ties and links the struggles of all the fighters for democracy and justice in our multi-ethnic nation is the impetus to create the necessary and stable conditions for peaceful coexistence of all the peoples living in Iran and simultaneously to establish a governing structure that will make national unity – along with the comprehensive, democratic, and progressive self-determination of the peoples living in Iran – possible. The Tudeh Party of Iran believes that the existence of national suppression, and depriving the rights of the peoples, minorities, and national elements to self-determination and their own culture, will ruin the unity of our multi-ethnic society and hence the possibility to protect our national sovereignty and independence. On this basis, we demand the solution of the national problem within the framework of a single homeland – i.e. within the framework of protecting the territorial integrity of a federal Iran.
In the perception of the Tudeh Party of Iran of the concept of resolution of the national problem, the respect for the desires and aspirations of the people in the entire country for the right of self-determination is considered, i.e. the right, which as a democratic principle, demands the satisfaction of the governed people from the democratically elected regime, in all areas of political, civic, economic, social, and cultural rights. According to this right, the people can freely determine the political management method of the country and will have a common right on the national resources of their country. It is only by ensuring such right that the people all around the vast and multi-ethnic country of Iran can pursue peace, and a stable social, economic, and cultural development.