Leftist guerrilla groups of Iran

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Several leftist guerrilla groups attempting to overthrown the pro-Western regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi were notable and active in Iran from 1971 to 1979. The groups shared a commitment to armed struggle, but differed in ideology. Most were Marxist in orientation, but the largest group — People's Mujahedin of Iran — was founded as an Islamic socialist organization. The leftist movement is meant to overthrow conservative or capitalist systems and replace them with Marxist–Leninist, socialist, or anarchist societies.

Left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition to social hierarchy. It typically involves a concern for those in society whom its adherents perceive as disadvantaged relative to others (prioritarianism) as well as a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished. The term left-wing can also refer to "the radical, reforming, or socialist section of a political party or system".

Guerrilla warfare form of irregular warfare

Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare in which a small group of combatants, such as paramilitary personnel, armed civilians, or irregulars, use military tactics including ambushes, sabotage, raids, petty warfare, hit-and-run tactics, and mobility to fight a larger and less-mobile traditional military. Guerrilla groups are a type of violent non-state actor.

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi Shah of Iran

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, also known as Mohammad Reza Shah, was the last Shah of Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Islamic Revolution on 11 February 1979. Mohammad Reza Shah took the title Shahanshah on 26 October 1967. He was the second and last monarch of the House of Pahlavi. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi held several other titles, including that of Aryamehr and Bozorg Arteshtaran ("Commander-in-Chief"). His dream of what he referred to as a "Great Civilisation" in Iran led to a rapid industrial and military modernisation, as well as economic and social reforms.


While the guerrilla movement did not lead the revolution that overthrew the Pahlavi regime, four guerrilla organizations — the Feda'i, the pro-Tudeh Feda'i Munsh'eb, the Islamic Mujahedin and the Marxist Mujahedin — are said to have "delivered the regime its coup de grace," in the street fighting of February 9-11 1979. [1]


According to Ervand Abrahamian, a scholar of the subject:

Ervand Abrahamian is a historian of Middle Eastern and particularly Iranian history.

In terms of political background, the guerrillas can be divided into five groups:

  1. the Sazaman-i Cherikha-yi Feda'i Khalq-i Iran (The Organization of the Iranian People's Guerrilla Freedom Fighters), known in short as the Marxist Feda'i;
  2. the Sazman'i Mujahedin-i Khalq-i Iran [or the People's Mujahedin of Iran];
  3. the Marxist offshoot from the Mujadedin, known as the Marxist Mujahedin or Peykar;
  4. small Islamic groups on the whole limited to one locality: Gorueh-i Abu Zarr (Abu Zarr Group) in Nahavand, Gorueh-i Shi'iyan-i Rastin (True Shi'i Group) in Hamadan, Gorueh-i Allah Akbar (Allah Akbar Group) in Isfahan, and Goreueh-i al-Fajar (Al-Fajar Group) in Zahedan;
  5. small Marxist groups. These included both independent groups, such as the Sazman-i Azadibakhshi-i Khalqha-yi Iran (Organization for the Liberation of the Iranian Peoples), Gorueh-i Luristan (Luridtan Group), and Sazman-i Arman-i Khalq (Organization for the People's Ideal); and cells belonging o political parties advocating armed struggle —the Tofan group, the Revolutionary Organization of the Tudeh party, the Kurdish Democratic party, and a new left organization named Grouh-i Ittehad-i Komunistha (Group of United communists). Moreover, some of the feda'is had at the time of their death joined the Tudeh party. [2]

Guerrilla groups formed it is believed, because the non-armed, mass-based communist Tudeh Party was under such intense repression it was unable to function, while in the outside world guerillas Mao Zedong, General Võ Nguyên Giáp and Che Guevara were having, or had had, much success. The Iranian guerrilla strategy has been described by Abrahamian as "heroic deeds of violent resistance to break the spell of government terror".

Communism socialist political movement and ideology

In political and social sciences, communism is the philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society, which is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money, and the state.

Tudeh Party of Iran Iranian communist party

The Tudeh Party of Iran is an Iranian communist party. Formed in 1941, with Soleiman Mohsen Eskandari as its head, it had considerable influence in its early years and played an important role during Mohammad Mosaddegh's campaign to nationalize the Anglo-Persian Oil Company and his term as prime minister. The crackdown that followed the 1953 coup against Mosaddegh is said to have "destroyed" the party, although it continued. The party still exists, but has remained much weaker as a result of its banning in Iran and mass arrests by the Islamic Republic in 1982, as well as the executions of political prisoners in 1988.

Mao Zedong Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China

Mao Zedong, also known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who became the founding father of the People's Republic of China, which he ruled as the Chairman of the Communist Party of China from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976. His theories, military strategies, and political policies are collectively known as Maoism.

In a situation where there are no firm links between the revolutionary intelligentsia and the masses, we are not like fish in water, but rather like isolated fish surrounded by threatening crocodiles. Terror, repression, and absence of democracy have made it impossible for us to create working-class organizations. To break the spell of our weakness and to inspire the people into action we must resort to revolutionary armed struggle... [3]

The background of the guerrillas was overwhelming educated middle class. From 1971 to 1977 an estimated 341 of them were killed, of whom over 90% of those for whom information could be found were intellectuals. [4]


The event from which most historians mark the beginning of the guerrilla era in Iran was the February 8, 1971 attack on a gendarmerie post at Siahkal on the Caspian Sea. Guerillas killed three policemen and freed two previously arrested guerrillas. [4] [5]

The guerrilla organizations were quite active in the first half of the 1970s. [6] In the two and half years from mid 1973 through 1975, three United States colonels, a Persian general, a Persian sergeant, and a Persian translator of the United States Embassy were all assassinated by guerrilla groups. On January 1976 eleven persons sentenced to death for these killings. [7]

By the second half of the 1970s, however, the groups were in decline, suffering from factionalism and government repression. [8]

Iranian Revolution

By late 1978 however, the massive demonstrations, return of oppositionists from abroad, and pressure on the monarchy's security forces from the revolutionary movement revived the groups. Guerilla groups became active "both in killing Iranian military and police leaders and participating in oppositional demonstrations ... in the course of 1978 ... the Fedaiyan and the Mojahedin were able to ... become sizable movements, largely of young people." [9]


Islamic Nations Party
Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan
Kurdistan Free Life Party
Kurdistan Freedom Party
People's Democratic Front
Union of Communist Militants
Worker-communist Party of Iran – Hekmatist
Worker's Way

See also


References and notes

  1. Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.495
  2. Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.481
  3. Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, Princeton University Press, 1982, p.485, from a tract by A. Poyan]
  4. 1 2 Iran Between Two Revolutions by Ervand Abrahamian, p.480
  5. Mottahedeh, Roy, The Mantle of the Prophet : Religion and Politics in Iran, One World, Oxford, 1985, 2000, p.329
  6. Kurzman, Charles, The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran, Harvard University Press, 2004, p.145-6
  7. Fischer, Michael M.J., Iran, From Religious Dispute to Revolution, Harvard University Press, 1980 p.128
  8. 1 2 Kurzman, The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran, 2004, p.145-6
  9. Modern Iran By Nikki R. Keddie, Yann Richard p.233

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