Excerpts from an interview with Tudeh Party Secretary General Nureddin Kianuri by Elevtherotipia (Athens), November 27 and 28, 1979.
Since it is a timely issue, I would like to begin with the occupation of the US Embassy. What is your party’s position on this issue?
From the very beginning, our party supported the action of the young students who are following Khomeini’s line. Our party has recognized that it was an anti-imperialist action which has given an opportunity to the youth and the people of Iran to understand that the US Embassy was indeed a center of conspiracy against the Islamic Revolution….
Of course, the action of the students may have had an anti-imperialist character, but it is impossible for one to describe it as an action with a determinative significance. Given the fact that political gains are very few whereas dangers are very great, I cannot see its use.
I do not agree. You should not forget that the occupation of the embassy took place precisely when Prime Minister Bazargan and Foreign Minister Yazdi were talking for hours in Algiers, without Imam Khomeini’s permission, to Brzezinski, prime underminer of the Islamic Revolution…. The occupation coincided with the anniversary of the massacre of hundreds of students a year ago by the butchers of the Shah who had shot at demonstrators from helicopters that had been flown by US pilots. As soon as news of the occupation of the embassy spread, hundreds of thousands of people and millions in the following days rushed to the streets distributing carnations and sweets, precisely as they had done on the day the Shah had departed Iran, asking for independence, freedom, the cancellation of military agreements with the United States and other things. Undoubtedly, these millions were expressing the views of all our people.
Our party approved of this action which was timely and politically correct, as it also approved the way in which the students understood Khomeini’s instructions.
Our party’s members also participated in the five-day hunger strike which was held in support of the Revolution Council’s decision to resist an economic “embargo.”
Please explain your party’s activities since the beginning of the revolution.
Our basic duties were two: to rebuild our party in such a way as to enable it to respond to the conditions of legal work, and to actively participate in the country’s political life. In the plenary session of the Central Committee in March 1979, we elaborated these two issues and decided to direct all our efforts toward the creation of a front of cooperation by all anti-imperialist forces for popular support of the anti-imperialist revolution of February 1979.
Which forces do you mean?
The forces of the Muslim camp which are under the Imam’s leadership, as well as the leftist and progressive forces.
I see you exclude those forces which in Europe we call the extraparliamentary left.
Except for the Fedayi, these forces by themselves have remained outside the framework of revolutionary procedures.
Has this anti-imperialist front materialized?
We have not contracted official relations with any of these forces but in fact, that is in the streets and in common political work, cooperation has been achieved on many occasions.
I notice that you are using the term anti-imperialist revolution, not anti-imperialist Islamic Revolution. Is this deliberate or are you simply doing it for the sake of brevity?
For us, the content of this revolution is anti-imperialist, popular and democratic. Of course it took place under Islam’s umbrella, but this is precisely what Islam, or better Shi‘ism is. It is anti-imperialistic, anti-dictatorial and consequently democratic, popular and anti-capitalist. After all, the role Islam played in the pre-revolutionary period, not only politically and organizationally, through the mosques, was catalytic and principally indicative of its more profound content. It is precisely this content that our party recognized. We therefore joined the Muslim forces in the unitary, anti-Shah, anti-imperialist camp which finally succeeded in overthrowing the regime of dependence.
In concise terms, describe for me Islamic Shi‘ism.
Shi‘ism is a revolutionary and progressive ideology which we shall never encounter blocking our road to socialism which — let us make things clear — in our country cannot have a Muslim content but will be achieved through the cooperation of Muslim forces. Consequently, the cooperation of our party does not have a tactical nature but a strategic one.
Have you ever had any contact with the Ayatollah Khomeini?
We have never had any personal contact. We did, however, have contact with his aides. The Imam Khomeini, however, knows our policy and our line as well as our action extremely well.
It is said that relations between you are a one-way street. It is said that you yourself are much more pro-Khomeini than he is pro-Tudeh.
This was very correctly put. Answering you, however, I would say this: Have you ever considered how many times something similar occurs in world political affairs? In France, the communists want unity with the socialists much more than the latter want it. The same occurs in other West European countries in reference to the unity of the working class which all the communist parties want. In England, the majority of workers are with the Labor Party. Those, however, who understand the unity of the workers’ movement are the communists. The same is happening in our country in reference to the unity of the anti-imperialist camp.