After 1965, an Iranian New Left of younger Iranian activists developed which worked for the overthrow of the Shah of Iran’s U.S.-backed dictatorship. Influenced by the Cuban Revolution, the Chinese Revolution and the Vietnamese Revolution, two New Left groups were formed in Iran which waged guerrilla warfare against the Shah of Iran’s regime between 1966 and 1978: The People’s Fedayeen and the People’s Mojahadeen.
Formed by defectors from the outlawed Tudeh Party’s youth group, in 1963 the People’s Fedayeen group was secular and Marxist-Leninist in its political orientation. Its founder, Bijan Jazani and three other former Tudeh Party Youth organization activists, had met while in prison in 1955. In 1966, Bijan Jazani and other People’s Fedayeen leaders concluded that the Shah of Iran regime’s limited land reform program had changed Iranian society internally from one dominated by feudalist Iranian landlords to one dominated by pro-imperialist Iranian businesspeople.
In 1968, the original New Left leaders of the People’s Fedayeen were arrested by the Shah of Iran’s secret police, the CIA-trained SAVAK, and sentenced to a long period of imprisonment. During the 1970s, Bijan Jazani was, subsequently, executed in Iran’s Evin Prison by the Shah of Iran’s regime. Other People’s Fedayeen leaders, like Hassan Zarif and Aziz Sarmedi, were also murdered while in prison by the Shah of Iran’s regime in the 1970s.
Despite the imprisonment and repression of its leaders, however, between 1971 and 1978 membership in the People’s Fedayeen guerrilla group grew to around 2,175. And prior to the early 1979 overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the People’s Fedayeen organized politically effective strike committees in Iran.
The founders of the religiously-oriented People’s Mojahedeen guerrilla group were former members of the non-communist National Front. Its leaders concluded in a 1969 position paper that under the Shah of Iran’s regime:
“Iran was essentially a police state where the armed forces constituted the ultimate power base. The strength and political stability of the regime was based on the effective functioning of its security bases, which were directed by the American Central Intelligence Agency.”
Given this 1969 political analysis’ conclusion, the People’s Mojahadeen group, not surprisingly, decided that the only way to establish a democratic, Islamic-oriented society in Iran was to begin urban guerrilla warfare against the Shah of Iran’s regime in 1970.
Unlike the People’s Mojahadeen, the People’s Fedayeen generally waged guerrilla warfare in rural areas of Iran, not in Iran’s cities. But both the People’s Fedayeen and the People’s Mojahadeen guerrilla groups held U.S. imperialist government policies responsible for the political repression and mass poverty that existed in Iran under the Shah’s regime. (end of part 20)