Thursday, May 25, 2006

08. Kurds in Modern Iran-Reza Shah-IRI

08. Kurds in Modern Iran-Reza Shah-IRI

The emergence of Reza Shah's dictatorship in 1925 meant the unfolding of a new period in Iranian history. The centralized, "modernizing" administration had subsumed the progressive aims of the Constitutional Movement in one of the earliest types of neo-colonial societies.

Feudalism in agriculture remained, but big landownership became increasingly free and could pass into the hands of rich merchants. Within the framework of disintegrated feudalism and dependence, commerce and industry experienced unprecedented (for Iran) development. Looked at superficially, it appeared that "national unity", "modernization", and "nationalism" or "Iranian Renaissance" were safely and rapidly materializing.

The dominant imperialist power in the region was Britain, and it, too, was quite satisfied with this arrangement, which safeguarded all its major interests. The new form of Iranian state was able to avoid the type of conflicts and clashes that occurred between Iran and British imperialism during and after First World War, because it was doing away with fiefdom and anarchy which was prevalent at the end of Qajar dynasty.

The birth of the Soviet Union was one more reason for the British to favor a strong centralized state in Iran. Ahmad Shah was too weak and disinterested to ever accomplish what was expected from him by the British. Seyed-Zia failed in his efforts to rise to power and so the choice for early neo-colonialist experiment of the British in Iran was none but Reza Khan who succeeded in his coup. Thus the British supported Reza Khan.

Rebellion chiefs and tribes were easily eliminated or subdued by Reza Shah's armed forces. Among these were Ismaiil Agha Shakkak (Simku) and his men, who were apparently put to use by the British in Musol for the purpose of acquiring the oil-rich region.

In the "calm and security" provided by Reza Shah's dictatorship, the Kurdish capitalists, in close connection with the capitalists of Kermanshah, Azerbaijan, and elsewhere, started to make a new growth. But due to Kurdestan's limited participation in the general primitive formation of capitalism in Iran, it has been PURELY commercial, whereas the Iranian capitalists as a whole were MAINLY commercial. Moreover, the absence of Kurdish elite in the Iran's power structure was another disadvantage at the time of capitalist growth for Kurdestan.

Thus, if the bourgeoisification of Kurdestan means at the same time the formation of the Kurdish nation, and vice versa, this process has, since 1925, been linked with the all-Iranian development of capitalism.

There should be no doubt that the capitalist and modern constituent in Kurdestan is not in favor of secession and isolationism from Iran. Because the Kurdish capitalist and modernists are well aware that in the absence of armed forces of the central government, the revival of tribalism, the anarchy of fiefdom, the supremacy of chiefs and feudals, and the loss of security is inevitable.

In the days following the fall of Reza Khan (after Shahrivar 1320) and the general chaos in Iran, during 1945-46, the Kurdish capitalists accepted separation from Iran to some extent, but only because on one hand Iran as a whole was very unstable and secondly the presence of the Red Army deterred tribal-feudal anarchy and economic relations with the Soviet Union had temporarily replaced those with the rest of Iran.

But when the Red Army left, following the Stalin-Ghavam pact, and when economic relations with the Soviets narrowed, Kurdish capitalists were frightened at the prospect of separation. More so because they saw the chiefs and feudals gaining power in the Democratic Party of Kurdestan. The conciliation/agreement in 1946 between Qazi Mohammad, the Party leader and the Central Government has to be reviewed in this light, rather than as a deceptive tactic by Premier Ghavamus Saltana.

Another factor contributing to the alienation of the Kurdish capitalists from the Democratic Party Leadership was the presence of the Barzani Peshmarga as the main armed force of the Mahabad Republic, for it not only suggested separation, but also the idea of "The Unity of Greater Kurdestan" which the Kurdish capitalists would never welcome because they have inseparable interests in the rest of the Iranian market.

At this point I am going to make a digression from history and discuss the issue of Greater Kurdestan and Autonomy of Kurdestan in the NEXT part.

But before ending this part, I need to mention that both during Reza Shah, and during the Mohammad Reza Shah's reign, the presence of the Kurds in the Iranian central elite has been extremely limited, because of the historical reasons that I have written in this paper, and it is important to note that any government in Iran should pay particular attention to encouraging the Kurdish participation in the central government.

At the same time, both during the Reza Shah and Mohammad Reza Shah's reign, the Kurdish isolationism was more and more replaced with closeness with the rest of Iran. The current aspirations of modernists and Kurdish people are more cry for religious and national freedom than a desire to be isolated from Iran. Kurds are Shafei Muslims and it bothers them to hear insults to Omar! This simple!

Movements such as Sharif-Zadeh and Molla Avareh at the time of the Shah did not contribute to any change in the status of Kurds in the Iranian Central Government. This is why I am not discussing them here. They were part of the general Iranian movement against the Shah's dictatorship.

Actually Sharif-Zadeh (1345 H.) and his group were predecessors to other Iranian opposition groups and their work was literally continued in other parts of Iran. These movements more and more showed that Kurdestan is really not a separate feudal state anymore, and it is sharing in the good and bad of whatever the rest of Iran is experiencing.