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The Tudeh Party, a Marxist party was founded in 1941. The Tudeh recieved considerable support during the Second World War from the Soviet Union, who, along with tbe British, occupied Iran.

Eventually, collusion between the Tudeh and the Soviet Union brought further disintegration to Iran. In September 1944, while American companies were negotiating for oil concessions in Iran, the Soviets requested an oil concession in the five northern provinces. In December, however, the Majlis passed a law forbidding the government to discuss oil concessions before the end of the war. This led to fierce Soviet propaganda attacks on the government and agitation by the Tudeh in favor of a Soviet oil concession.

In December 1945, the Azarbaijan Democratic Party, which had close links with the Tudeh and was led by Jafar Pishevari, announced the establishment of an autonomous republic. In a similar move, activists in neighboring Kordestan established the Kurdish Republic of Mahabad. Both autonomous republics enjoyed the support of the Soviets, and Soviet troops remaining in Khorasan, Gorgan, Mazandaran, and Gilan. Other Soviet troops prevented government forces from entering Azarbaijan and Kordestan. Soviet pressure on Iran continued as British and American troops evacuated in keeping with their treaty undertakings. Soviet troops remained in the country. Prime Minister Ahmad Qavam had to persuade Stalin to withdraw his troops by agreeing to submit a Soviet oil concession to the Majlis and to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the Azarbaijan crisis with the Pishevari government.

In April 1945 the government signed an oil agreement with the Soviet Union, and in May 1945, partly as a result of United States, British, and UN pressure, Soviet troops withdrew from Iranian territory. Qavam took three Tudeh members into his cabinet. Qavam was able to reclaim his concessions to the Soviet Union, however. A tribal revolt in the south, partly to protest communist influence, provided an opportunity to dismiss the Tudeh cabinet officers.

In December 1945, ostensibly in preparation for new Majlis elections, he sent the Iranian Army into Azarbaijan. Without Soviet backing, the Pishevari government collapsed, and Pishevari himself fled to the Soviet Union. A similar fate befell the Kurdish Republic of Mahabad. In the new Majlis, a strong bloc of deputies, organized in the National Front and led by Mohammad Mossadeq, helped defeat the Soviet oil concession agreement by 102 votes to 2. The Majlis also passed a bill forbidding any further foreign oil concessions and requiring the government to exploit oil resources directly.

Soviet influence diminished further in 1947, when Iran and the United States signed an agreement providing for military aid and for a United States military advisory mission to help train the Iranian Army. In February 1949, the Tudeh was blamed for an abortive attempt on the shah's life, and its leaders fled abroad or were arrested. The party was banned. The Tudeh came back into existance for a short period during the Mossadeq administration, before he was overthrown in a coup. The monarchy of Shah Reza Pahlavi banned the Tudeh party again, and its leaders went into exile, not to return until the Revolution

During the revolutionary period, the Tudeh, along with the Fadayan Majority, condemned the insurrection led by the Mojehadin and proclaimed their loyalty to the constitutional process. Even though these parties were permitted to function within narrowly circumscribed limits, the leaders of the Islamic Republican Party remained deeply suspicious of them. Both parties were distrusted because of their espousal of Marxist ideas. In addition, a widespread perception prevailed that the Tudeh was subservient to the Soviet Union, an attitude derived from the Tudeh's historic practice of basing its own foreign policy stances upon the line of the Soviet Union.

The Tudeh had secured itself a measure of freedom during the first three years of the Revolution by declaring loyalty to Khomeini and supporting the clerics against liberal and left-wing opposition groups. The government showed less tolerance for the party after the impeachment of Bani Sadr and the repression of left-wing guerrilla organizations. The party's position further deteriorated in 1982, as relations between Iran and the Soviet Union grew more strained over such issues as the war with Iraq and the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. The government began closing down Tudeh publications as early as June 1981, and in 1982 officials and senior clerics publicly branded the members of the Tudeh as agents of a foreign power.

In the autumn of 1982, toleration for the Tudeh dissipated quickly once the party began to criticize the decision to take the Iran-Iraq War into Iraqi territory. In February 1983, the government arrested Tudeh leader Nureddin Kianuri, other members of the party Central Committee, and more than 1,000 party members. The party was proscribed, and Kianuri confessed on television to spying for the Soviet Union and to "espionage, deceit, and treason." Possibly because of Soviet intervention, none of the leading members of the party was brought to trial or executed, although the leaders remained in prison. Many rank and file members, however, were put to death.

The Tudeh leaders who managed to escape the government's mass arrests and forcible dissolution of their party in early 1983, reestablished the Tudeh in exile in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). The Fadayan Majority, which later in 1983 suffered the same fate as the Tudeh, was decimated by government persecution. Its surviving members eventually joined the Tudeh.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:46:37 ZULU