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Tudeh Party of Iran

Tudeh Party of Iran

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The Tudeh Party of Iran ("Party of the Masses of Iran"; Hezb-e Tudeh Iran) is an Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

ian communist party
Communist party
A political party described as a Communist party includes those that advocate the application of the social principles of communism through a communist form of government...

. 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 Mosaddeq's campaign to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and his term as prime minister. The crackdown that followed the 1953 coup against Mosaddeq is said to have "destroyed" the party, although it continued. The party still exists, but is much weaker as a result of the banning of the party and mass arrests by the Islamic Republic
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

 in 1982 and the executions of political prisoners in 1988.

Definition


The party has generally been described as "communist" by historians (for example: "The Tudeh Party was a classical pro-Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 communist party, but wrapped itself at the time in nationalism
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 to be more attractive to Iranians"), but is sometimes described simply as "leftist" or even "left-leaning" by more sympathetic sources.

Birth of the communist movement in Iran


The history of the communist movement in Iran dates back to the late 19th century, when Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 first became introduced to the nation's intellectual and working classes as a result of the rapid growth of industry and the subsequent transformation of the country from feudalism
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

 into capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

. Being close to Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 and Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

, northern Iran became the primary center of underground Marxist and social democrat political activity, and many such groups came into being over the years.

The Communist Party of Iran
Communist Party of Iran
The Communist Party of Iran is an Iranian communist party which is active in the fight against the Islamic Republic of Iran.It was founded in 1983 in Iranian Kurdistan after Komalah merged with Union of Communist Militants...

 was founded in June 1920 in Bandar-e Anzali
Bandar-e Anzali
Bandar-e Anzali , also Romanized as Bandar-e Pahlavī, Bandar Pahlavi, and Bandar Pahlevi, or simply as Pahlavī, Pahlevī, and Pehlevi; earlier, Enceli and Enzeli) is a city in and the capital of Bandar-e Anzali County, Gilan Province, Iran...

, in the province of Gilan, as a result of the first congress of Iranian social democrats. Heidar Amou Oghly
Haydar Khan e Amo-oghli
Haydar Khan e Amo-oghli or Haidar Khan Amu Ogly Tariverdiev - a revolutionary activist who acted in Iran, Republic of Azerbaijan and Central Asia and used terror to radicalize Persian politics in the early 20th century.-Early years:He was born in Salmas or Urmiainto the Tariverdiev family and...

, who was one of the leaders of the Constitutional Revolution of Iran, became the secretary-general of the new party. At the same time, Mirza Koochak Khan Jangali, another major leader of the Constitutional Revolution and also leader of the revolutionary Jangali (Foresters Movement), established the Soviet Republic of Gilan with the assistance of the Soviet Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

.

The British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, who were a dominant influence in the Qajar
Qajar dynasty
The Qajar dynasty was an Iranian royal family of Turkic descent who ruled Persia from 1785 to 1925....

 court of Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

, sent agents to infiltrate the Foresters Movement in a carefully prepared plot which would ultimately result in the defeat of both the newly formed Soviet Republic of Gilan and the Communist Party, which came to be banned and persecuted by the central government. Communist and social democrat activity once again went underground. In the early 1920s the Qajar dynasty finally collapsed, and Reza Shah
Reza Shah
Rezā Shāh, also known as Rezā Shāh Pahlavi and Rezā Shāh Kabir , , was the Shah of the Imperial State of Iran from December 15, 1925, until he was forced to abdicate by the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran on September 16, 1941.In 1925, Reza Shah overthrew Ahmad Shah Qajar, the last Shah of the Qajar...

 ascended to the throne in 1925, establishing the Pahlavi dynasty
Pahlavi dynasty
The Pahlavi dynasty consisted of two Iranian/Persian monarchs, father and son Reza Shah Pahlavi and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi The Pahlavi dynasty consisted of two Iranian/Persian monarchs, father and son Reza Shah Pahlavi (reg. 1925–1941) and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi The Pahlavi dynasty ...

. The new Shah introduced many reforms, such as limiting the power of the Shi'a clergy, but also in turn established an authoritarian dictatorship.

In 1929–30, the party organized strikes in an Isfahan textile mill, the Mazandaran railways, Mashed carpet workshops, and most importantly, in the British-owned oil industry. The government cracked down heavily and some 200 communists were arrested; 38 were incarcerated in Qasr Prison
Qasr Prison
Qasr Prison is a prison in Tehran. It is one of the oldest Iranian political prisons.-History:It was built by the order of Fat′h Ali Shah of the Qajar dynasty in 1790 in the form of a palace. It was the first prison in Iran in which the prisoners got their legal advantages.-References:...

 in Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

. "Seven died there - all from natural causes." Along with the Stalin purges
Purge of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Purges with a "small-p" purge was one of the key rituals during which a periodic review of party members was conducted to get rid of the "undesirables"....

, which took a heavy toll from Iranian communist exiles living in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, these arrests meant the Communist Party of Iran "ceased to exist for all practical purposes outside the walls of Qasr."

Foundation of the Tudeh Party


The British-Soviet Allied invasion
Persian Corridor
The Persian Corridor is the name for a supply route through Iran into Soviet Azerbaijan by which British aid and American Lend-Lease supplies were transferred to the Soviet Union during World War II.-Background:...

 of 1941-42 resulted in the end of Reza Shah's reign and his forced exile to South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

. Many political prisoners were subsequently released and under this new atmosphere, nationalist and socialist groups once again flourished. Iraj Iskandari and his closest colleagues decided to form a Marxist-Leninist party appelaling to the broad masses. They founded the Tudeh party on 29 September 1941, electing Soleiman Mohsen Eskandari as chairman.

Initially the party was intended to be "a liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 rather than a radical party," with a platform stressing the importance of "constitutional" and "individual rights", protecting "democracy" and "judicial integrity" from fascism
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

, imperialism
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

 and militarism
Militarism
Militarism is defined as: the belief or desire of a government or people that a country should maintain a strong military capability and be prepared to use it aggressively to defend or promote national interests....

. "At Soleiman Eskandari's urging," the party initially attempted to appeal to non-secular masses by barring women from membership, organizing Moharram processions
Day of Ashura
The Day of Ashura is on the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar and marks the climax of the Remembrance of Muharram.It is commemorated by Shia Muslims as a day of mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala on 10...

, and designating "a special prayer room in its main clubhouse." This orientation did not last and the party moved "rapidly to the left" within months of its founding.

Early peak


In 1944, the party entered the 14th Majlis
Majlis of Iran
The National Consultative Assembly of Iran , also called The Iranian Parliament or People's House, is the national legislative body of Iran...

 elections and eight of its candidates were elected. It also established the secret Tudeh Party Military Organization of Iran, or TPMO (Sazman-e Nezami-ye Hezb-e Tudeh-ye Iran) made up of officers in the military. The TPMO provided the party with intelligence and information from the military to protect it from the security forces and give it military strength, though historicans believe the party had no plan at that time to use the TPMO to stage a coup.

From this point on the party grew immensely and became a major force in Iranian politics. By early 1945, the party had managed to create the first mass organization in Iran's history. Police records later revealed it have an estimated 2,200 hard-core members - 700 of them in Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

 - "10,000s of sympathizers in its youth and women's organizations, and 100,000s of sympathizers in its labor and craft unions." Its main newspaper, Rahbar (Leader), boasted a circulation of more than 100,000 - triple that of the "semi-official newspaper" Ettela'at
Ettela'at
- Incidents :On January 6, 1978 a slanderous article appeared in Ettela'at suggesting Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was a homosexual and a serving British agent. The next day, clerics in Qom protested and the police demanded they disperse. When they refused, police opened fire and at least twenty...

.
British ambassador Reader Bullard
Reader Bullard
Sir Reader William Bullard KCB KCMG CIE was a British diplomat and author.Reader Bullard was born in Walthamstow, the son of Charles, a dock labourer, and Mary Bullard...

 called it the only coherent political force in the country, and the US newspaper the New York Times reckoned it and its allies could win as much as 40% of the vote in a fair election.

This period has been called the height of the party's intellectual influence which came in large part from the prestige and propaganda of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 as "the world's most progressive nation." Few intellectuals "dared oppose" the party "even if they did not join." Marking the end of the "near hegemony of the party over intellectual life" in Iran was the resignation from the party of celebrated writer Jalal Al-e-Ahmad
Jalal Al-e-Ahmad
Jalal Al-e-Ahmad was a prominent Iranian writer, thinker, and social and political critic.-Personal life:...

 circa 1948 to form a socialist splinter group in protest against the Tudeh's "nakedly pro-Soviet" policies.

Tarnishing the appeal of the Tudeh in the next two years 1944-46 were Soviet demands for a petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 concession in northern Iran and the Soviet sponsoring of ethnic revolts in Kurdestan
Iranian Kurdistan
Iranian Kurdistan is an unofficial name for the parts of Iran inhabited by Kurds and has borders with Iraq and Turkey. It includes Kurdistan Province, Kermanshah Province, Ilam Province and parts of West Azerbaijan province....

 and Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan (Iran)
Azerbaijan or Azarbaijan , also Iranian Azerbaijan, Persian Azarbaijan is a region in northwestern Iran. It is also historically known as Atropatene and Aturpatakan....

. Despite the fact that Tudeh deputies in the Majles had previously vigorously demanded the nationalization
Nationalization
Nationalisation, also spelled nationalization, is the process of taking an industry or assets into government ownership by a national government or state. Nationalization usually refers to private assets, but may also mean assets owned by lower levels of government, such as municipalities, being...

 of the whole petroleum industry, the Tudeh party supported granting the Soviet petroleum industry in Iran its wishes on grounds of `socialist solidarity`, `internationalism,` and `anti-imperialism.`

International Cold War context


During this time the rest of the international communist movement was also thriving. The communist world expanded dramatically in the decade following World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 with Eastern Europe
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

, China
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

, North Korea
Division of Korea
The division of Korea into North Korea and South Korea stems from the 1945 Allied victory in World War II, ending Japan's 35-year colonial rule of Korea. In a proposal opposed by nearly all Koreans, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to temporarily occupy the country as a trusteeship...

, and Vietnam
First Indochina War
The First Indochina War was fought in French Indochina from December 19, 1946, until August 1, 1954, between the French Union's French Far East...

 all becoming states dominated by their respective communist parties, usually via military victory. In the United States, Iran was seen as the holder of reserves of petroleum with "vital strategic" value to western countries, and as part of "a Northern Tier" of countries (along with Greece and Turkey) that constituted a geopolitical "first line of defense" for the Mediterranean and for Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, To counter the activities of the USSR, the CIA established Operation TPBEDAMN in the late 1940s, funded at $1 million a year. It prepared both "disguised (`gray` propaganda) or deliberately misrepresented black propaganda
Black propaganda
Black propaganda is false information and material that purports to be from a source on one side of a conflict, but is actually from the opposing side. It is typically used to vilify, embarrass or misrepresent the enemy...

" in the form of "newspaper articles, cartoons, leaflets, and books" which it translated into Persian, and most of which "portrayed the Soviet Union and the Tudeh as anti-Iranian or anti-Islamic, described the harsh reality of life in the Soviet Union, or explained the Tudeh's close relationship with the Soviets and its popular-front strategy." In addition it paid "right-wing nationalist organizations" and some Shia religious figures. Its agents provoked "violent acts" and blamed them on the communists, and hired "thugs to break up Tudeh rallies." Nonetheless the party was able to fill the streets of Tehran and Abadan "with tens of thousands of enthusiastic demonstrators" for May Day
International Workers' Day
International Workers' Day is a celebration of the international labour movement and left-wing movements. It commonly sees organized street demonstrations and marches by working people and their labour unions throughout most of the world. May 1 is a national holiday in more than 80 countries...

 in 1946.

1949 crackdown



In February 1949 there was an attempt on the life of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, Shah of Persia , ruled Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979...

. The party was blamed by the government and banned. The government "confiscated its assets, dissolved affiliated organizations, especially the Central Council and rounded up some 200 leaders and cadres."

The party continued to function underground however and by 1950 it had organized its supporters under the banner of the Iran Society for Peace (Jam'iyat-e Irani-ye Havadar-e Solh) and was publishing three daily papers, Razm, Mardom, and Besui-ye Ayandeh. In December 1950, the TPMO, its military organization, managed "to arrange for escape of key members of the party leadership who had been in jail since early 1949."

Mosaddeq era, his overthrow and aftermath


The party played an important role both directly and indirectly during the pivotal era of Iranian history that began with the 1951 nationalization
Nationalization
Nationalisation, also spelled nationalization, is the process of taking an industry or assets into government ownership by a national government or state. Nationalization usually refers to private assets, but may also mean assets owned by lower levels of government, such as municipalities, being...

 of the British Anglo Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), and ending with the 1953 overthrow of Mohammad Mosaddeq by a CIA-led coup. The party's policy "fluctuated," first attacking Mosaddeq as `an agent of American imperialism,` then giving him some support during and after the July 1952 uprising. On August 15 a coup attempt against Mosaddeq was thwarted thanks in part to information uncovered by the Tudeh TPMO military network, but two days later party militants inadvertently helped destabilized the government by staging demonstrations to pressure Mosaddeq to declare Iran a democratic republic. As this would have overturned Iran's constitutional monarchy, Mosaddeq reacted by calling out troops to suppress the demonstrators. The party then demobilized late the next day making it unavailable to fight the coup the day after. By 1957 the TPMO was crushed and thousands of party members had been arrested.

Oil nationalization


Following World War II, Iranian public support was growing for nationalization of the British Anglo Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) whose profits had greatly exceeded its royalty payments to the Iranian government.

In 1951, Mohammad Mosaddeq, head of the nationalist movement known as the National Front of Iran, led parliament in the nationalization of AIOC, and shortly after was appointed prime minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 by the Shah. Mosaddeq oversaw the takeover of British oil facilities and rising economic difficulty and polarization in Iran as the AIOC withdrew its employees and retaliated with a boycott of Iranian oil.

In early April 1951 the Tudeh revealing its "true strength" by launched strikes and riots protesting low wages and bad housing in oil industry and delays in nationalization of the oil industry. "Street demonstrations and sympathy strikes in Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

, Isfahan, and the northern cities." Police opened fire on demonstrators. A result was "panic" in Iran's parliament at the power of Marxist forces in Iran.

The Tudeh supported nationalization of the British AIOC oil fields, or "southern oil fields only," as the northern oil fields were owned and operated by the "workers' republic," the Soviet Union.

During this period the Tudeh followed a "leftist" rather than "popular front" strategy, refusing to ally with Mosaddeq. Despite the fact that Mosaddeq had introduced a new policy of tolerance toward the party, that both the Tudeh and Mosaddeq had worked for nationalization of the AIOC, and that expropriation of capitalist Western-owned resource extracting corporations by poor countries was central to Marxist-Leninist
Marxism-Leninism
Marxism–Leninism is a communist ideology, officially based upon the theories of Marxism and Vladimir Lenin, that promotes the development and creation of a international communist society through the leadership of a vanguard party over a revolutionary socialist state that represents a dictatorship...

 doctrine, the party vigorously and relentlessly opposed Mosaddeq and his program. In a June 1950 article in its daily Mardom it described the effects of Mosaddeq's policy thusly:

Already we can be sure that revisions in the southern oil contract will not be in favor of our people and will only result in the consolidation of England's position in our country. ... The solution of the oil question is related to the victory of our party, that is, the people of Iran.


On July 16, 1952, Mosaddeq resigned after the shah refused to accept his nominatation for War Minister. Mosaddeq appealed to the general public for support, but Tudeh press continued to attack him, describing his differences with the shah "as merely one between different factions of a reactionary ruling elite." It was only after the explosion of popular support for Mosaddeq in the street that "many rank-and-file" Tudeh party members "could see first hand Mosaddeq's popularity", and came to his aid.

According to one observer:
although diverse elements participated in the July uprising, the impartial observer must confess that the Tudeh played an important part - perhaps even the most important part. ... If in the rallies before March 1952 one-third of the demonstrators had been Tudeh and two-thirds had been National Front, after March 1952, the proportions were reversed.


Ayatollah Abol-Ghasem Kashani, who later switched sides and supported the Shah, "sent a public letter to the pro-Tudeh organizations thanking them for their invaluable contribution" during the uprising toward Mosaddeq's victory .

Mosaddeq capitalized on the uprising to establish emergency rule, which allowed him to bypass the Majles, and also to institute socialist reforms.

1953 coup


During this time the US government became more and more frustrated with Mosaddeq and the stalemate over negotiations with the UK government on control and compensation, with the American ambassador even questioning Mosaddeq's "mental stability". At the same time the cold war
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 struggle continued to dominate foreign policy thinking in the west. Soviet tanks crushed an anti-Stalinist uprising of strikes and protests in East Germany
Uprising of 1953 in East Germany
The Uprising of 1953 in East Germany started with a strike by East Berlin construction workers on June 16. It turned into a widespread anti-Stalinist uprising against the German Democratic Republic government the next day....

 in June 1953.

As Americans gave up hope on Mosaddeq, their propaganda and covert action campaign against the Tudeh expanded to include him. In 1953, American CIA and British intelligence agents, began plotting to overthrow Mosaddeq in a coup d'état, in large part because of their fear that `rising internal tensions and continued deterioration ... might lead to a breakdown of government authority and open the way for at least a gradual assumption of control by Tudeh,` just as a local communist party had led a coup in Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovak coup d'état of 1948
The Czechoslovak coup d'état of 1948 – in Communist historiography known as "Victorious February" – was an event late that February in which the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, with Soviet backing, assumed undisputed control over the government of Czechoslovakia, ushering in over four decades...

 in 1948, replacing a democratic regime and constitution with a pro-Soviet, one-party Communist government.

The Tudeh also sensed a coup might be coming, and created "vanguard cells" that along with the TPMO, "identified key military installation, army depots, and command and control centers in the capital" Tehran "to react violently to any coup attempt."

The plotters first attempt involved persuading the shah to issue an edict dismissing Mosaddeq and replacing him with retired General Fazlollah Zahedi
Fazlollah Zahedi
Mohammad Fazlollah Zahedi was an Iranian general and statesman who replaced democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq through a western-backed coup d'état, in which he played a major role.-Early years:Born in Hamedan in 1897, Fazlollah Zahedi was the son of Abol Hassan...

, while arresting Mosaddeq and taking over other possible centers of opposition. On August 15 the plot was uncovered by Tudeh supporters in the military, and a contingent sent to arrest Mosaddeq were intercepted and arrested themselves. Colonel Mohammad Ali Mobasherri, was a member of the TPMO's (secret) three-man secretariat, but also an active member of Tehran Military Governor, the center of the coup operation. Major Hehdi Homaouni served in the shah's Imperial Guard and discovered and reported the August plot to the party.

The coup attempt created a backlash against its perpetrators, including the shah. The already anti-monarchical, Tudeh supporters were radicalized and on the morning of August 17 "an angry crowd began to attack symbols of the monarchy" and demanded its abolition. Mosaddeq, who was aware of Western fears of the Tudeh and who had worked to limit the power of the shah but had "never suggested he was in favor of abolishing the constitutional monarchy," saw these attacks as a challenge, as removing the shah would violate the constitution. The next day his regime ordering the military into the streets, and "up to 600 mid and low-level Tudeh activists were arrested in Tehran alone." With its network "severely damaging" the party reversed course once again, and "ordered a demobilization" of its preparations to fight a coup.

Taking advantage of the quiet, the CIA and its Iranian allies struck again, and on August 19 the coup d'état replaced Mosaddeq with Zahedi. The coup was a major event in Third World and 20th Century history and there is debate as to how much of the blame for the overthrow can be traced to bribes paid by the CIA and how much to domestic dissatisfaction with Mossadeq Whatever the motivations, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, Shah of Persia , ruled Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979...

 thereafter assumed dictatorial powers and banned most political groups, including Mossadegh's National Front, which along with the Tudeh Party, continued to function underground.

Crackdown following coup


The mass arrests, destruction of its organization and execution of some 40-50 leaders following the coup has been said to have "destroyed" the Tudeh. Between 1953 and 1957, Iranian security forces using "brute force, together with the breaking of the cryptographic code - probably with CIA know-how - ... tracked down 4,121 party members." This constituted the whole Tudeh underground and "more than half the party membership". Tudeh infiltration of the military by the TPMO totaled 477 members in the armed forces, "22 colonels, 69 majors, 100 captains, 193 lieutenants, 19 noncommissioned officers, and 63 military cadets." Ervand Abrahamian notes that none of these were in the "crucial tank divisions around Tehran" that could have been used for a coup d'état and which the Shah had screened carefully. "Ironically, a Tudeh colonel had been in charge of the Shah's personal security - as well as that of Vice President Richard Nixon when he visited Iran. The Tudeh had the opportunity to assassinate the Shah and the U.S. vice president but not to launch a coup." Maziar Behrooz is more optimistic about the party's chances of stopping the coup, saying that while "most of the Tudeh officers were in non-combat posts," they "were in a position to access and distribute weapons. In their memoirs, TPMO high- and middle-ranking members have confirmed their ability to distribute weapons and even to assassinate key Iranian leaders of the coup. Hence, with a disciplined party membership, backed by military officers with access to weapons, the Tudeh had a strong hand."

With the TPMO decimated, the Tudeh network was compromised as the TPMO had "acted as a shield for the party" and helped preserve it immediately after Mosaddeq's overthrow. "Many high- and middle-ranking Tudeh leaders were arrested or forced to flee the country. The arrest and execution of Khosrow Roozbeh in 1957-8 signaled the end of this process."

Tudeh verdict


After the fact, the party engaged in self-criticism of its policies toward Mosaddeq at its Fourth Plenum was held in Moscow in July 1957. They found them "sectarian and leftist" and not to recognizing "the progressive nature" of the oil nationalization movement.

Late 1950s and 1960s


The Sino–Soviet split caused some splintering of the party in the early 1960s, with at least one Maoist group breaking away.
In the mid 1960s, the U.S. State Department estimated the party membership to be approximately 1500.

In 1965, the party faced a second division between the mainstream of the organization and the splinter faction which advocated violent struggle against the government by arming the tribes of southern Iran. This faction caused a great deal of damage and three years passed before the unity of the party was restored. The remnants of this faction are known as the Labour Party of Iran
Labour Party of Iran
The Labour Party of Iran is a Hoxhaist Communist party whose leadership is currently exiled in Germany. It is against the Iranian government and is a member of the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations ....

.

In 1966, several party members, including Ali Khavari and Parviz Hekmatjoo of the Central Committee, and Asef Razmdideh and Saber Mohammadzadeh, were arrested and sentenced to death. This sparked international outcry and hunger strikes in Europe which forced the government to reduce the sentences to life imprisonment. These events created much international sympathy for the worker's struggle in Iran and helped unify the party after the split. The Tudeh Party from this point on becomes established as one of the strongest underground movements and helps to pave the way for the forthcoming Iranian Revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

 of 1978.

Iranian Revolution of 1979


In the early 1970s, the Iranian guerrilla
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

 movement began in northern Iran in the province of Mazandaran. The 1970s also witnessed the birth of widespread worker's strikes and demonstrations, and university campuses became a hotbed of revolutionary activity. The Tudeh Party drastically increased its activities, recruiting many youth and organizing regional committees.

Islamic Republic


After the revolution, many political prisoners were freed and the Tudeh Party and other leftist groups were able to participate in the presidential and parliamentary elections for the first time in many years. However, the majority of seats in the Majlis were won by the Islamic Republican Party
Islamic Republican party
The Islamic Republican Party was a political party in Iran, formed in mid-1979 to assist the Iranian Revolution and Ayatollah Khomeini establish theocracy in Iran...

 of Ayatollah Beheshti and leftist and nationalist organizations were forced out of the loop, by 1979. The newly elected President, Abolhassan Bani Sadr, who had originally been close with Khomeini, also became increasingly frustrated with the developments that had been taking place and opposed the domination of the clergy and the religious factions in Iranian politics.

In 1981, the Majlis, dominated by the Islamic Republican Party, forced Bani Sadr out of office, which initiated a wave of protests and demonstrations from all segments of the populace. Bani Sadr later fled the country. Armed revolutionary committees loyal to Khomeini (which came to be known as the Pasdaran
Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps
The Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution , often called Revolutionary Guards, is a branch of Iran's military, founded after the Iranian revolution...

) arrested many thousands of youth and activists from both nationalist and leftist groups, many of whom were later tried by Ayatollah
Ayatollah
Ayatollah is a high ranking title given to Usuli Twelver Shī‘ah clerics. Those who carry the title are experts in Islamic studies such as jurisprudence, ethics, and philosophy and usually teach in Islamic seminaries. The next lower clerical rank is Hojatoleslam wal-muslemin...

 Sadegh Khalkhali, who was known as the Hanging Judge, and executed.

Suppression


While other leftist parties opposed the Islamist forces at this time, and were suppressed as a result, the Tudeh Party leadership as well as the Majority Fedaian
Organization of Iranian People's Fedaian (Majority)
The Organization of Iranian People's Fadaian or Fedayan-e Khalq , 'Organization of self-sacrificers of the people of Iran ') is the largest socialist party in Iran and advocates the overthrow of the Islamic regime in Iran...

 decided to collaborate with the new clerical theocratic regime. This may have been to try to take advantage of the lack of competition from the many now suppressed rival leftist groups, or to follow the pro-Tehran line of the Soviet Union. In 1982, however, the Tudeh broke ranks. The Islamist government of Iran had closed down the Tudeh newspaper, and purged Tudeh members from government ministries. According to the Mitrokhin Archive
Mitrokhin Archive
The Mitrokhin Archive is a collection of notes made secretly by KGB Major Vasili Mitrokhin during his thirty years as a KGB archivist in the foreign intelligence service and the First Chief Directorate...

, Vladimir Kuzichkin
Vladimir Kuzichkin
Vladimir Anatoljevich Kuzichkin Владимир Анатольевич Кузичкин now 61. He was a Soviet KGB officer, major who defected to the Tehran Station of the British Secret Intelligence Service in 1982...

 a KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

 officer stationed in Tehran who had defected to the British in 1982 had exposed almost the entirety of the Tudeh leadership as Soviet agents. His information was shared with the Iranian government by the CIA, which was secretly courting Iran, as part of the Iran-Contra deal.

Quite quickly the government arrested and imprisoned its leadership and later more than 5,000 members and supporters of the party. During February 1983, the leaders of the Tudeh Party were arrested and the Party disbanded, leaving Iran effectively a one-party state. The Tudeh arrests revealed that once again the party had managed to find supporters among the armed forces, as a number of officers prominent among them Capt. Bahram Afzali
Bahram Afzali
Captain Bahram Afzali was Commander of Iranian Navy from 1980-1983. He was executed on charges of being a Tudeh Party member....

 commander of the Iranian navy
Islamic Republic of Iran Navy
The Iranian Navy has traditionally been the smallest branch of Iran's armed forces and is designed mainly for securing its own ports and coast.- Overview :...

 were arrested.

From May 1, 1983 to May 1984 almost all the Tudeh leadership appeared in videos, first individually and then jointing in an October 1983 a "roundtable discussion," confessing to "treason", "subversion", "horrendous crimes", praising Islam and proclaiming Islamic government's superiority over atheistic Marxism-Leninism.

"The grand finale" of the Tudeh recantations came on May 1984 when the "party's main theoretician" and co-founder, Ehsan Tabari
Ehsan Tabari
Ehsan Tabari was an Iranian intellectual, a founding member and theoretician of the Iranian Communist Tudeh party.Tabari was born in 1917 in Sari, Mazandaran, Iran...

, appeared on television. A man with "50 years of leftist experiences" told viewers he had read "great Islamic thinkers" such as Ayatollah Motahhari in prison following the 1982 crackdown and had now come
to repudiate the works he had written over the past 40 years. He now realized that his entire life's work was `defective`, damaging`, and `totally spurious` because it had all been based on unreliable thinkers - Freemasons nourished by the Pahlavis; secularists such as Ahmad Kasravi
Ahmad Kasravi
Ahmad Kasravi , was a notable Iranian linguist, historian, and reformer.Born in Hokmabad , Tabriz, Iran, Kasravi was an Iranian Azeri Initially, Kasravi enrolled in a seminary. Later, he joined the Iranian Constitutional Revolution...

; Western liberals
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 and Marxists linked to `imperialism
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

` and `Zionism
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

` ...


Tabari's made frequent references to religion, the Twelve Imams
Twelve Imams
The Twelve Imams are the spiritual and political successors to Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, in the Twelver or Ithna-‘ashariyyah branch of Shī‘ah Islam....

 and Islamic thinkers in his recantation and "praised Islam for its `great spiritual strength.`"

The suspicions of outside observers that the confession was not given freely was reinforced by the absence of Taqi Keymanash and "13 other members" of the Tudeh central committee, who died during prison interrogation. The rapid disintegration of the Tudeh at the hands of the state, and the confessions of its leaders led opposition and remaining party members to seek reason why. Explanations ranged from ideological capitulation to the use of Stalinist methods of trial. The remnant of the party outside the country resorted to strange explanations that special drugs created by the CIA and MI-6
Secret Intelligence Service
The Secret Intelligence Service is responsible for supplying the British Government with foreign intelligence. Alongside the internal Security Service , the Government Communications Headquarters and the Defence Intelligence , it operates under the formal direction of the Joint Intelligence...

 were used. The simplest explanation came several years after the television racantations, from a prison visit by a United Nation's human rights representative (Galindo Pohl) to Iran. The Tudeh Party General Secretary Noureddin Kianouri
Noureddin Kianouri
Noureddin Kianouri was an Iranian architect and political leader. Kianouri was an influential member of the Central Committee for the communist Tudeh Party...

 was reported to have told the representative that he and his wife had been tortured to give false confessions. As evidence, he held up his badly set broken arm. Pohl added that Maryam Firuz had difficulty hearing, swallowing food, and sitting down because of beatings suffered eight years earlier. Kianouri later wrote an open letter to the Ayatollah detailing his mistreatment.

As a result of these purges the party gradually collapsed, with a great number of members leaving the country into exile. It is likely many Tudeh prisoners were killed during the 1988 executions of Iranian political prisoners when thousands of Mojahedin
People's Mujahedin of Iran
The People's Mujahedin of Iran is a terrorist militant organization that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran....

 and leftist prisoners were killed. One report lists 90 Tudeh killed in just some blocks of Evin and Gohar Dasht prisons.

Current status


Despite repression, the party has managed to survive. Though since the Iranian Revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

  the party is officially banned in Iran and individuals found to be affiliated with communist or socialist groups risk imprisonment and possible execution, active members have remained and it continues to operate as an underground political organization there.

Today, however, the party is mainly based in exile, as is the new Central Committee, elected in 1992.

See also

  • Political parties in Iran
  • Constitutionalist movement of Gilan
    Constitutionalist movement of Gilan
    The Jangal movement, in Gilan, was a rebellion against the monarchist rule of the Qajar central government of Iran. It is considered as the extension of Constitutional Revolution of Iran and lasted from 1914 to 1921.-History of the movement:...

  • Soviet Republic of Gilan
  • Co-ordinating Committee of Communist Parties in Britain
    Co-ordinating Committee of Communist Parties in Britain
    The Coordinating Committee of Communist Parties in Britain is a bureau within the CPB which meets with overseas communist parties that have memberships in Britain.These include:*the Communist Party of India ,*the Communist Party of Bangladesh,...


External links

Tudeh Party of Iran