Fragile Solidarity: The Iranian Left and the Kurdish National Question in the 1979 Revolution

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This chapter aims to shed light on the relationship between one of the major leftist groups and the Kurdish national liberation struggle in the context of revolution. By focussing on the Sazman-e charik-ha-ye fada‘i-ye khalq (Organization of the People’s Fada‘i Guerrillas, henceforth FEK) in relation to events in Kurdistan in the period February 1979 to May 1980, the chapter contributes to a small but growing literature on Kurdistan in revolutionary Iran. While we must limit ourselves in this chapter to a focus on the FEK, we also hope the research contributes to a more comprehensive and nuanced historiography of the Iranian left.

Drawing on Persian- and Kurdish-language party documents and publications, published eyewitness accounts and new oral history interviews, the chapter makes the following argument: that the conundrum of the national question in Marxist-Leninist theory, coupled with Persian-centric and nation-state-centric views entrenched on the left, came into direct clash with the Third Worldist ideal of solidarity with oppressed peoples in the case of Kurdistan in Iran after the revolution. This clash, we will argue, contributed to the failure of a leftist alternative to the emerging Islamist dictatorship of Ayatollah Khomeini. Zooming out, we further argue that this clash is an important but understudied component of the story about the fate of Third Worldism in the Middle East.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Fate of Third Worldism in the Middle East: Iran, Palestine and Beyond
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Sep 2023
SeriesRadical Histories of the Middle East

ID: 334650809