A communist approach to the question of the right of nations to self-determination in the era of imperialism

In theory:

In his analysis of the right to self-determination of nations in the era of the old colonial system, Lenin had a harsh confrontation with the national chauvinists of the Second International who defended the rule of imperialist Europe over its colonies. They saw the colonization of other nations as a natural right of their countries and were generally unwilling to recognize the right of self-determination for other nations. This right has bourgeois content, and its implication is an expression of the realization of democracy or recognition of bourgeois democracy in a country. For the communists, however, democracy is not a pure, absolute, unassailable, class-independent, or holy principle. Democracy has always had social and class content, and the approach to this concept always has to be from the point of view of class struggle. This is why the dictatorship of the proletariat is the most democratic form of rule for the majority of the population, namely the working people. Lenin, within the debates over the right to self-determination of nations, which took place at different times and stages, makes two fundamental points:

1. Lenin's first discussion in his work “The Right of Nations to Self-Determination” is about those who do not recognize this right in principle. This discussion takes place in an era when the modern nation-states were emerging and were beginning their fight for independence. In the debate on the right of nations to self-determination, which goes back to the time of the bourgeois democratic revolution, Lenin, argues that those who do not recognize this right in principle and who instead defend the interests of oppressing nations are not Social Democrats. These are colonialists and are actually anti-democratic. The recognition of this right as well as the recognition of the fact that all nations of the world must have the same rights and sincere recognition of the right of nations to secession is the demarcation line that should be drawn between democratic and socialist forces on the one hand and the anti-democratic and colonialist forces on the other hand, as well as between the interests of the oppressing and oppressed nations. However, there were also those who in principle were not against the right of nations to self-determination but did not acknowledge the right to secession. Naturally, the recognition of the rights of nations to self-determination encompasses the recognition of the rights to secession. However, Lenin, contrary to the arguments of his opponents, has stressed that the recognition of the right of nations to self-determination does not always necessitate support for secession. Though the communists recognize these rights, they may or may not, after considering the concrete circumstances and the interests of class struggle at the time, support secession of this or that people.

Those who do not recognize the rights of nations will definitely support the principle of national domination.

This view of Lenin refers to his dispute with the leaders of the Second International before the First World War and before the great October Socialist Revolution. These leaders did not recognize the right of the colonized nations to self-determination. They did not have the view that the fate of the struggle of the proletariat in the colonizing states is tied to the fate of liberation movements in colonized countries. For this reason, Leninism created the slogan WORKERS AND OPPRESSED NATIONS, UNITE!”.

2. Lenin’s second discussion is not with anti-democrats, with anti-socialists, nor with defenders of colonization in Europe. His discussion is about the conditions of secession. He draws a demarcation line with the bourgeoisie of the oppressed nations. The communists support secession of a nation when it serves the interests of the class struggle and does not harm the unity and the interests of the proletariat. The communists are not allies of one side or the other in the fight between two bourgeoisies.

 The communists’ support for the fight of one faction of bourgeoisie against another faction is always conditional; this fight must have a democratic content, and it must be directed against oppression.

Of the proletariat of oppressed peoples, who will be exploited as wage labour in any capitalist system, Lenin says that it makes no difference to the hired worker which faction of the bourgeois exploits him.

 In any case the hired worker will be an object of exploitation. Successful struggle against exploitation requires that the proletariat be free of nationalism, and be absolutely neutral, so to speak, in the fight for supremacy that is going on among the bourgeoisie of the various nations. If the proletariat of any one nation gives the slightest support to the privileges of its “own” national bourgeoisie, that will inevitably rouse distrust among the proletariat of another nation; it will weaken the international class solidarity of the workers and divide them, to the delight of the bourgeoisie. Repudiation of the right to self- determination or to secession inevitably means, in practice, support for the privileges of the dominant nation.  (Lenin, Collected Work, Volume 20, “The Right of Nations to Self Determination”)                                  

Therefore, the proletariat of the oppressing nation should recognize the right of nations to self-determination and combat national chauvinism of its nation. Accordingly, the proletariat of the oppressed nation should fight against national chauvinist forces of its own nation in order to consolidate the democratic unity of the entire proletariat and to pave the triumph of proletarian internationalism over bourgeois nationalism.

Lenin states that:

“What every bourgeoisie is out for in the national question is either privileges for its own nation, or exceptional advantages for it; this is called being “practical”. The proletariat is opposed to all privileges, to all exclusiveness. To demand that it should be ‘practical’ means following the lead of the bourgeoisie, falling into opportunism.

The demand for a “yes” or “no” reply to the question of secession in the case of every nation may seem a very “practical” one. In reality it is absurd; it is metaphysical in theory, while in practice it leads to subordinating the proletariat to the bourgeoisie’s policy. The bourgeoisie always places its national demands in the forefront, and does so in categorical fashion. With the proletariat, however, these demands are subordinated to the interests of the class struggle. Theoretically, you cannot say in advance whether the bourgeois-democratic revolution will end in a given nation seceding from another nation, or in its equality with the latter; in either case, the important thing for the proletariat is to ensure the development of its class. For the bourgeoisie it is important to hamper this development by pushing the aims of its “own” nation before those of the proletariat. That is why the proletariat confines itself, so to speak, to the negative demand for recognition of the right to self-determination, without giving guarantees to any nation, and without undertaking to give anything at the expense of another nation.” (Lenin, Collected Work, Volume 20, “The Right of Nations to Self Determination”)

 Insofar as the bourgeoisie of the oppressed nation fights the oppressor, we are always, in every case, and more strongly than anyone else, in favour, for we are the staunchest and the most consistent enemies of oppression. But insofar as the bourgeoisie of the oppressed nation stands for its own bourgeois nationalism, we stand against. We fight against the privileges and violence of the oppressor nation, and do not in any way condone strivings for privileges on the part of the oppressed nation.”

“The bourgeois nationalism of any oppressed nation has a general democratic content that is directed against oppression, and it is this content that we unconditionally support, at the same time we strictly distinguish it from the tendency towards national exclusiveness; we fight against the tendency of the bourgeoisie…..” (Ibid)


Lenin makes it clear that the struggle of the oppressed nation against the oppressor nation may be assessed not only in the context of the fights in the camps of the bourgeoisie, but on the basis of the extent these struggles serve democracy and are against oppression also. This orientation helps to support the struggles of the proletariat within the oppressed nation. The bourgeoisie of the oppressed nation must deepen the content of these democratic and anti-suppression struggles and extend them to the society. Otherwise, the communists, by not taking into account the interest of the proletariat in these struggles, only support the demands of the bourgeois class. This would mean that communists, as the fifth column, occupy a propagandist role for the bourgeoisie.

These points of contention on the right of nations to self determination that Lenin had with the leaders of the Second International were raised in the discussions before the First World War and before the Great Socialist October Revolution. These discussions were about the right to self-determination of the peoples in the colonies.

After the First World War, after imperialism consolidated its worldwide extensive presence, and after the victory of socialism in the Soviet Union, the old colonial system collapsed and new forms of domination and oppression of peoples emerged. Thus, the character of developments changed during this stage. Based on the new objective situation, Stalin concluded that the solution to the national question can no longer be achieved in the framework of the rivalries between the factions of the bourgeoisie within a country, and that the struggle for self determination must be carried out as a part of the whole proletarian and anti-imperialist struggle.

“Formerly, the national question was usually confined to a narrow circle of questions, concerning, primarily, "civilised" nationalities. The Irish, the Hungarians, the Poles, the Finns, the Serbs, and several other European nationalities-that was the circle of unequal peoples in whose destinies the leaders of the Second International were interested. The scores and hundreds of millions of Asiatic and African peoples who are suffering national oppression in its most savage and cruel form usually remained outside of their field of vision. They hesitated to put white and black, "civilised" and "uncivilised" on the same plane. Two or three meaningless, lukewarm resolutions, which carefully evaded the question of liberating the colonies-that was all the leaders of the Second International could boast of. Now we can say that this duplicity and half-heartedness in dealing with the national question has been brought to an end. Leninism laid bare this crying incongruity, broke down the wall between whites and blacks, between European and Asiatics, between the "civilised" and "uncivilised" slaves of imperialism, and thus linked the national question with the question of the colonies. The national question was thereby transformed from a particular and internal state problem into a general and international problem, into a world problem of emancipating the oppressed peoples in the dependent countries and colonies from the yoke of imperialism.” (Stalin, Collected Work, Volume 6, Foundations of Leninism, On National Question)

 “Formerly, the national question was regarded from a reformist point of view, as an independent question having no connection with the general question of the power of capital, of the overthrow of imperialism, of the proletarian revolution. It was tacitly assumed that the victory of the proletariat in Europe was possible without a direct, alliance with the liberation movement in the colonies, that the national-colonial question could be solved on the quiet, "of its own accord," off the highway of the proletarian revolution, without a revolutionary struggle against imperialism. Now we can say that anti-revolutionary point of view has been exposed. Leninism has proved, and the imperialist war and the revolution in Russia has confirmed, that the national question can be solved only in connection with and on the basis of the proletarian revolution, and that the road to victory of the revolution in the West lies through the revolutionary alliance with the liberation movement of the colonies and dependent countries against imperialism. The national question is a part of the general question of the proletarian revolution, a part of the question of the dictator of the proletariat.” (Ibid)

In response to some development, Lenin reentered the discussions on national question in July 1916:

"The various demands of democracy, including self-determination, are not an absolute, but a small part of the general democratic (now: general socialist) world movement. In individual concrete cases, the part may contradict the whole, if so, it must be rejected." (Lenin, Collected Works, Volume 22)

In the discussion of the national question in Yugoslavia in June 1925, Stalin criticized the views of those who mistakenly thought that the national question was a competitive struggle between bourgeoisie of the different nationalities, and that in Yugoslavia this struggle is between Slovenian and Croatian bourgeoisies on the one side and Serb bourgeoisie on the other side.  Stalin’s respond is:

“What is the essence of the national question today, when this question has been transformed from a local, intrastate question into a world question, a question of the struggle waged by the colonies and dependent nationalities against imperialism? The essence of the national question today lies in the struggle that the masses of the people of the colonies and dependent nationalities are waging against financial exploitation, against the political enslavement and cultural effacement of those colonies and nationalities by the imperialist bourgeoisie of the ruling nationality.” (Stalin, Collected Work, Volume 7, “The National Question Once Again”)


The point of this Stalin’s statement in fact applies to the countries in the Middle East region. For the solution of the national question in Iran, Iraq or Syria, one should not look at it from the point of view of the struggle between bourgeoisies of different within these countries; between Persian and Azeri, Kurdish and Persian, Kurdish and Arab, or between Persian and Arab bourgeoisies.  In the era of imperialism, we should consider the importance of the united struggles of peoples against imperialism and Zionism. We should look for national liberation within democratic and anti-imperialist states, states in which grounds for making democratic decisions for secession as well as for unity would exist. The national question is not resolved by dissension, division and hostility between these peoples but through democratic and combative unity. The recognition of the right of nations to self-determination is for and has significance in building mutual trust and in strengthening association. We refer to Stalin’s statement about his work “Marxism and the National Question”, written in 1912, before the October Revolution and before the First World War. Stalin considered his work as a historical approach to national question and warned the communists who still invoked this work in the era of imperialism. In the treatment of the national question in Yugoslavia in 1925, Stalin considered the fight between bourgeoisies of various nationalities of Yugoslavia insignificant but the common struggle of peoples against imperialism very important.  He writes:


Semich refers to a passage in Stalin's pamphlet Marxism and the National Question, written at the end of 1912. There it says that "the national struggle under the conditions of rising capitalism is a struggle of the bourgeois classes among themselves." Evidently, by this Semich is trying to suggest that his formula defining the social significance of the national movement under the present historical conditions is correct. But Stalin's pamphlet was written before the imperialist war, when the national question was not yet regarded by Marxists as a question of world significance, when the Marxists' fundamental demand for the right to self-determination was regarded not as part of the proletarian revolution, but as part of the bourgeois-democratic revolution. It would be ridiculous not to see that since then the international situation has radically changed, that the war, on the one hand, and the October Revolution in Russia, on the other, transformed the national question from a part of the bourgeois-democratic revolution into a part of the proletarian-socialist revolution. As far back as October 1916, in his article, "The Discussion on Self-Determination Summed Up," 3 Lenin said that the main point of the national question, the right to self-determination, had ceased to be a part of the general democratic movement, that it had already become a component part of the general proletarian, socialist revolution.

Read the following passage from Semich's speech in the Yugoslav Commission and judge for yourselves:

"What is the social significance of the national movement in Yugoslavia?" asks Semich, and he answers there: "Its social content is the competitive struggle between Serb capital on the one hand and Croat and Slovene capital on the other" (see Semich's speech in the Yugoslav Commission).

There can be no doubt, of course, that the competitive struggle between the Slovene and Croat bourgeoisie and the Serb bourgeoisie is bound to play a certain role here. But it is equally beyond doubt that a man who thinks that the social significance of the national movement lies in the competitive struggle between the bourgeoisies of the different nationalities cannot regard the national question as being, in essence, a peasant question. What is the essence of the national question today, when this question has been transformed from a local, intra-state question into a world question, a question of the struggle waged by the colonies and dependent nationalities against imperialism? The essence of the national question today lies in the struggle that the masses of the people of the colonies and dependent nationalities are waging against financial exploitation, against the political enslavement and cultural effacement of those colonies and nationalities by the imperialist bourgeoisie of the ruling nationality. What significance can the competitive struggle between the bourgeoisies of different nationalities have when the national question is presented in that way? Certainly not decisive significance, and, in certain cases, not even important significance. It is quite evident that the main point here is not that the bourgeoisie of one nationality is beating, or may beat, the bourgeoisie of another nationality in the competitive struggle, but that the imperialist group of the ruling nationality is exploiting and oppressing the bulk of the masses, above all the peasant masses, of the colonies and dependent nationalities and that, by oppressing and exploiting them, it is drawing them into the struggle against imperialism, converting them into allies of the proletarian revolution. The national question cannot be regarded as being, in essence, a peasant question if the social significance of the national movement is reduced to the competitive struggle between the bourgeoisies of different nationalities. And vice versa, the competitive struggle between the bourgeoisies of different nationalities cannot be regarded as constituting the social significance of the national movement if the national question is regarded as being, in essence, a peasant question. These two formulas cannot possibly be taken as equivalent.

I do not even mention subsequent works on the national question by Lenin and by other representatives of Russian communism. After all this, what significance can Semich's reference to the passage in Stalin's pamphlet, written in the period of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia, have at the present time, when, as a consequence of the new historical situation, we have entered a new epoch, the epoch of proletarian revolution? It can only signify that Semich quotes outside of space and time, without reference to the living historical situation, and thereby violates the most elementary requirements of dialectics, and ignores the fact that what is right for one historical situation may prove to be wrong in another historical situation. In my speech in the Yugoslav Commission I said that two stages must be distinguished in the presentation of the national question by the Russian Bolsheviks: the pre-October stage, when the bourgeois-democratic revolution was the issue and the national question was regarded as a part of the general democratic movement; and the October stage, when the proletarian revolution was already the issue and the national question had become a component part of the proletarian revolution. It scarcely needs proof that this distinction is of decisive significance. I am afraid that Semich still fails to understand the meaning and significance of this difference between the two stages in the presentation of the national question.

That is why I think Semich's attempt to regard the national movement as not being, in essence, a peasant question, but as a question of the competition between the bourgeoisies of different nationalities "is due to an un-der-estimation of the inherent strength of the national movement and a failure to understand the profoundly popular and profoundly revolutionary character of the national movement" (see Bolshevik, No. 7).

That is how the matter stands with Semich's second mistake.

It is characteristic that the same thing about this mistake of Semich's was said by Zinoviev in his speech in the Yugoslav Commission:

"Semich is wrong when he says that the peasant movement in Yugoslavia is headed by the bourgeoisie and is therefore not revolutionary" (see Pravda, No. 83).

Is this coincidence accidental? Of course, not!

Once again: there is no smoke without fire.

Finally, on the third question I stated that Semich makes an "attempt to treat the national question in Yugoslavia in isolation from the international situation and the probable prospects in Europe."

Is that true?

Yes, it is, for in his speech Semich did not even remotely hint at the fact that the international situation under present conditions, especially in relation to Yugoslavia, is a major factor in the solution of the national question. . The fact that the Yugoslav state itself was formed as a result of the clash between the two major imperialist coalitions, that Yugoslavia cannot escape from the big play of forces that is now going on in the surrounding imperialist states — all this remained outside of Semich's field of vision. Semich's statement that he can fully conceive of certain changes taking place in the international situation which may cause the question of self-determination to become an urgent and practical one, must now, in the present international situation, be regarded as inadequate. … (Stalin, Collected Work, Volume 7, Concerning the National Question in Yugoslavia and National Question Once Again)

The study and review of these communist concepts on national question could be continued. However these quotes make it clearer that the approach to resolving the national question should be different in the era of colonial wars before the First World War and before the October Revolution and in the era of worldwide expansion of imperialism and proletarian revolution after the October 1917. The wheels of history cannot be turned back.

The view of the Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan) on the solution to the national question in Iran, Iraq, and Syria

1. The national question in Iran

Iran is a country created from various nations. After the Arabian conquest of Iran, Persians and Turks (both Azeri and other Turkish peoples) have always ruled and dominated Iran and had bloody hands in the suppression of the other nationalities in the region. Iran's economy is primarily dominated by the Azerbaijanis and Persian bourgeoisie. In Iran, national oppression manifests itself mainly in the education system and in the inequality of the use of native languages. Persian is the official language of Iran and is taught in schools and universities as well as applied in the workplace. This is an expression of national oppression in Iran, against which our Party is fighting. Along with Farsi as the common national language, we demand the recognition of equal treatment of the other languages of the Iranian nationalities for their respective regions.

The liberation path for the Kurdish people and other peoples in Iran is in their common struggle to topple the capitalist and anti-democratic Islamic Republic as the biggest obstacle to the realization of democracy and the right of nations to self-determination. The realization of the genuine equal rights of peoples in Iran is possible only in a socialist Iran, which will be a result of the struggle of the Iranian working class. This means that we must advocate and fight for the unity, under the leadership of the Party, of the peoples and the working class of Iran. For the establishment of a socialist Iran, ties and solidarity with all the revolutionary forces of Iran's nationalities are necessary. For victory in the fight against imperialism and Zionism, which are the enemies of revolution in Iran, we must wage a common struggle and have a clear political line in order to expose their sinister intentions in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and throughout the entire region. We must advocate and strengthen the single party of the Iranian proletariat and a national trade union. The idea of establishing an independent and democratic Kurdistan without a fight against the entirety of the Islamic Republic and without solidarity with the working class and its single communist party is an absurd idea whose promoters are an accomplice to imperialist and Zionist schemes for Iran. The bourgeois national chauvinists are mistaken when they imagine they can separate their destiny from the destiny of other peoples in the country.

In 1970, at the time when the Shah as the stooge of U.S. imperialism and the gendarme of the Middle East was in power, Toufan, the Organ of the Marxist-Leninist Organization of Toufan, wrote under the title “On the Discussion of the National Question”:

“In today’s world, in the era of imperialism, self determination of Iran’s nationalities can be achieved only through the defeat of imperialism and its puppet in Iran. Such prevalence over reaction can be realized only through consistent, long, and unified struggles of all nations in Iran.

Any division of the combative forces of these nations, any split in their mass organizations, or any disruption in the unity of their working-class party, harms the national and anti-imperialist struggle in favor of colonization and further postpones the solution to the various problems of society including the right of nations to self determination.

We condemn the views of national-chauvinistic and fascist circles in power who attempt to deny existence of different peoples in order to deny the existence of national oppression in Iran. Their views are malicious and anti-revolutionary. We are of the opinion that the victorious national democratic revolution, under the leadership of the working class, provides the foundation for the solution to the national question on the basis of the right of nations to self-determination.”

Marxist-Leninists recognize the right of nations to self-determination. The repudiation of this right stems from bourgeois nationalism. It is obvious the “right to secede” is not the same thing as the “necessity of secession.” Marxist-Leninists, while recognize the right to secede, favor secession only when it is in the interest of the development of the proletarian revolution.

 Lenin compared the “right to secession” to the “right to divorce” in a marriage.  Just as accepting the right to divorce for couples does not mean breaking the family, but rather the means of consolidating it as much as possible, the right to secede does not mean encouraging secession, but rather a means of consolidating their unity.

“The closer a democratic state system is to complete freedom to secede the less frequent and less ardent will the desire for separation be in practice, because big states afford indisputable advantages, both from the standpoint of economic progress and from that of the interests of the masses and, furthermore, these advantages increase with the growth of capitalism.  (Lenin, Collected Work, Volume 20, “The Right of Nations to Self Determination”)

In 1975, Toufan wrote under the title “What does the uprising of the Kurdish people in Iraq teach us?”:

 “The solution of the national question in Iran necessitates the total elimination of the influence of imperialism and of social-imperialism in Iran, the elimination of internal reaction, and ending the rule of the forces that are hostile to the freedom for the Iranian nationalities and that have no regard for their right to self-determination. Only a national democratic revolution under the leadership of the working class can solve the national question in Iran once and for all. The triumph of this revolution requires the revolutionary unity of the working class of the country and national unity of their trade union organizations. Division in the party of the working class and their mass organizations on the basis of specific national characteristics will cause discord and division among the revolutionary forces and their leadership and thereby will hinder the revolution. Consequently, the national question will remain unresolved. All Iranian Marxist-Leninists, regardless of the nationality they belong to, have the duty to commit to the Leninist principles of a single party, which must assume the leadership of all national mass organizations. They must gather in this party, take guidance from it, and organize the common struggle for the victory of the national democratic revolution under the leadership of the party. This is the only path to the solution of the national question in Iran, to the liberation of nationalities from subjugation and suppression, and to development and prosperity and national dignity.”

2. The National Question of the Kurds in Iraq

As we have mentioned in the theoretical part, we do not consider the solution of the national question in Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria detached from the anti-imperialist struggles of people today. Therefore, we do not support the fights that take place among different bourgeoisies of the region; such fights are not in the service of the interests of the proletarian revolution. Historical experience has shown that these battles have always been in the interest of imperialism and of Zionism in the region.

Iraqi Kurds have tried to secede from Iraq at a time when they have achieved their national rights in the form of autonomous Kurdistan on the basis of Iraq’s Constitution. They have even recognized the Constitution. The attempt by the Iraqi Kurds to use the “right to secede”, which resulted in a disgraceful defeat, was an act against the democratic unity of the Iraqi proletariat and in the service of discord and in the interest of imperialism and Zionism.

The collaboration of the leaders of the Iraqi Kurds with the Israeli Zionists has a long history and has always been against the interests of the peoples of the region including the Palestinian people. The political leaders of the Iraqi Kurds have always received and continue to receive assistance from Israel in the form of financial and military expertise to help them for their “struggle” for Independent Kurdistan. This aid is directed against the Arab and Iranian peoples. Iraqi Kurdistan has presently become a base for hidden and public activities of imperialist and Zionist agents. The support for this “independence” is a support for the Kurdish bourgeoisie who backed the U.S. economic blockade of Iraq that resulted in the deaths of nearly one million Iraqi children. The support for this “independence” is the support for those sellout Kurdish leaders who celebrated the invasion of Iraq. This so-called independence was against all peoples of the region, and it served to stir national hatred between those same people. Due to these blind national chauvinist activities, the peoples and the proletariat of the region have put under suspicion the Iraqi Kurdish leaders who act against the interest of all peoples of the region and who see them as stooges of imperialism and Zionism.

Toufan wrote in June 1970 under the title “Once Again on the National Question of the Iraqi Kurds”:

“As it is known, the uprising of Iraqi Kurds under the leadership of Mustafa Barzani, from the first day and during the entire nine years, has been purely nationalistic and not a part of a national democratic revolution in Iraq. Mustafa Barzani has repeatedly said that he was ready to accept arms from anyone, whether from Russia or the United States of America, to advance the fight for Kurdish self-determination. This statement is a manifestation of a clear reformist and conciliatory approach to the national question, a manifestation of a wide gap between the Kurdish rebellion and the anti-imperialist struggle.”

Mustafa Barzani did not raise a finger in the days when Abdul-Salam Arif carried out a coup and started to brutally suppress and murder the Iraqi communists and democrats. Barzani allowed Arif to consolidate his bloody dictatorship in the hope that he may get an exclusive deal for the Iraqi Kurds. He has always acted similarly with subsequent Iraqi governments.

Some time ago, the representative of the Iraqi government in Paris revealed that Mustafa Barzani had sent a congratulatory letter to Israel officials in June 1968 on the occasion of winning the war in the Israeli invasion of Arab countries. This is not an unlikely act by Mustafa Barzani as he considers the Israeli conflict with Arab people as the conflict of the national minority with the ruling nation, similar to the conflict of the Kurdish people to the Arabs in Iraq. The least we can say is that Mustafa Barzani has never allied himself with the Arab peoples in the fight against Zionists and imperialists.

At the time when a problem developed between the Shah and the Iraqi government, Mustafa Barzani turned to the Shah and, in the name of the fight for national rights, received weapons to use against the Iraqi government. This fact was often mentioned in various newspapers and was confirmed by the Shah in an interview with French Radio-Television.

When the anti-imperialist government of Abdul Karim Qasim took power in Iraq and set up a plan to nationalize the oil industry and to carry out a land reform in favor of the farmers, the Iraqi Kurds, due to their tribal, feudal, national chauvinistic, and reactionary characters resisted the plan. And when the United States of America and the United Kingdom carried out a coup against the progressive government of Qasim, the Iraqi Kurds launched an armed struggle against the government to help the coup to succeed.

The Democratic Party of Iraqi Kurdistan sent some Kurds, including two sons of Mustafa Barzani  -Masoud and Idris Barzani- , to Israel for training in military and information services. Also, Mustafa Barzani personally visited Israel in 1967 and 1972 and concluded agreements for cooperation with Zionists. Israelis provided the Kurds, in the context of military aid against the Iraqi government, the Russian-made weapons, which had been seized during the 1967 war.

The Iraqi Kurds cooperated with imperialists and Zionists during the invasion of Iraq against the legitimate and sovereign government of Saddam Hussein. Therefore, they bear responsibility for the consequences of the economic blockade and the invasion that was based on lies and fabrications about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

When the Israeli Government and its intelligence service Mossad played a major role in the arrest in Kenya of Abdullah Ocalan, the national leader of Kurds in Turkey, and delivered him to the fascist police of Turkey, the Iraqi Kurds did not protest his kidnapping.

 Clearly, Iraqi Kurdistan, with this history and such policies, would have been a basis for anti-revolutionary forces.

Obviously, an “independent” Iraqi Kurdistan, with this history and such policies, does not serve the interests of the Kurdish people, the Kurdish proletariat, or the people of the region but will instead be a base for counter-revolutionary activities. The Kurdish national chauvinists are not willing to support the rights of the Palestinian people nor condemn the occupation of Palestine by the Israeli Zionists. In fact, they acknowledge the occupation of the Palestinian people.

In the mid-1970s, the Shah gave military aids to Barzani Kurds to fight the Iraqi government, which at that time was under influence of the U.S.S.R. At that time, the Shah called the Kurds true Aryans. To achieve “the rights of Iraqi Kurds,” Barzani relied on the Shah and on U.S. imperialism. In 1975, when the Shah and Saddam Hussein signed a treaty mediated by Algeria, the Shah dropped his support for the Kurds and victimized them. The Kurdish uprising, which had relied on imperialism and its puppet the Shah, collapsed, and Barzani fled to Iran.

In July 1975, Toufan wrote:

Barzani did not base his movement on the power of Kurdish masses; rather, he relied on the Shah, the enemy of the Kurdish people. The shah sided with Barzani on the surface, but he was secretly against the Kurdish movement and eventually stabbed it in the back.”

 In June 1975, Toufan cited from the article “Kurds and Israel” published in Newsweek in April 07, 1975:

 “One of the reasons for Israel's anger and distrust of the United States during the recent negotiations on the Middle East is the fact that the Americans knew about the Shah’s decision to cut assistance to the “rebellious Kurds” in Iraq and hid it from Jerusalem.

Israel took over the supply of weapons, military equipment and dispatch of military advisers for the Iraqi Kurds in a trilateral agreement with the Americans and the Shah for five years. Before this time, the support for the Kurds was left to the Shah, but insufficient weapons and military equipment were sent to Iran by the Americans, so the Shah could not provide the assistance the rebellious Kurds needed. Therefore, the American weapons and military equipment for the Kurds were delivered by Israel, of course, via Iran. “

The journal Aftab News wrote on April 2, 2017:

 “The Kurdish leaders in Iraq still have good relations with Israel. For example, Mustafa Barzani and Jalal Talabani travelled to Israel in 2004 and have met with former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. In order to prevent the participation of the Iraqi military in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the Kurds started an extensive armed insurrection in the north of Iraq. In October 1980, Menachem Begin, the former Prime Minister of Israel, confirmed that Israel gave the Kurds humanitarian and financial assistance, as well as weapons between 1965 and 1975 (when the Shah signed the Algerian agreement with Iraq), but the fall of the Shah ended Israel's presence in the north of Iraq. These events forced Israel and its secret service Mossad to focus their attention on the Iranian Kurds. After the occupation of Iraq by the U.S. and the U.K. in 2003, Israel could once again have a foothold in the northern Iraq, this time pursuing the goal of destabilization and harming Iran.”

In March 2012, The London Times reported that the Mossad has a base in Iraqi Kurdistan where it infiltrates Iran and spies on Iran's nuclear facilities. This report has even claimed that the Israeli commandos infiltrate from Iraqi Kurdistan into various Iranian regions in which there are nuclear research facilities.

The French newspaper Figaro reported in January 2012 that Mossad agents give the exiled Iranians, particularly the Kurds, military and espionage training to carry out acts of sabotage in Iran. The training takes place in the Kurdish region in the north of Iraq. According to Figaro, part of this training is for attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities and for the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists. Figaro reported that this training and the presence of Mossad agents in northern Iraq are not secret and are totally known in the region.

3. The Kurdish National Question in Syria

After the Syrian Kurds gained praise after resisting attempts by the U.S., NATO, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and ISIS (Daesh) to divide Syria, they now operate as American Stooges. Like the Kurds in Iraq and Iran, the Syrian Kurds see the destiny of the fight for their national rights, not in the combative unity with the peoples of the region and in the fights against imperialism and for socialism, but in separation from the path of the revolutionary forces. They have been looking for allies among world reactionary forces. They do not wage a united struggle with the Syrian revolutionary and democratic forces for a free, democratic, and anti-imperialist Syria, but instead take the path of secession and split from the revolutionary forces. They claim that they tactically cooperate with the U.S. forces. This means that the leadership of the Syrian Kurdish movement sees their enemies, not in the policies of the U.S., Turkey, and in the Syrian reactionaries, but in the struggle of the Syrian people for political independence and national sovereignty. They want to establish a “socialist-soviet or the like” state in a sea of reactionary states based on their powerful imagination and the myth of “temporary” assistance from the United States of America.

Does U.S. imperialism agree with the establishment of such a government in the region? Does American imperialism prefer Rojova-type socialism to the capitalist regime of Bashar al-Assad? It must be asked whether it is the left-wing of the Syrian Kurds who fool American policy-makers or they are the sly American officials who fool the Syrian Kurds using Kurdish blind chauvinism and propagation of national hatred.  The U.S. imperialists, after their failure in the ISIS project, initiated a new project, the “Free Syrian Kurdistan” project as a base for the U.S. in the region. The right-wing of the Syrian Kurds, who are more frank than the self-deceptive “left” wing, state plainly that the United States is their strategic ally on which they must rely.

The German paper Zodwetchetzitung, in its January 19, 2018 issue, referred to comments made by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson:

“The U.S. troops will remain in Syria for an indefinite period. They must establish security so that the severely suppressed terrorist group ISIS cannot reorganize. At the same time, the presence of U.S. troops in Syria must oppose Iran’s influence in Syria and must help bring about a process of political transition under the leadership of the United Nations in Syria. He [Tillerson] denied that they are organizing a military group with the participation of People’s Protection Units (YPG) to protect the northern borders of Syria….”

On May 31, 2017, the Times of Israel reported: “The United States of America has begun delivering arms shipments to the Syrian Kurds.”

This group of Syrian Kurds who are organized into “People’s Protection Units” consists of a conglomeration of Syrian Kurds and Arab “democrats,” some of whom were in the so-called “Free Syrian Army.” In northern Syria, they are engaged in dislocating Arabs. They intend to grab a section of Iraqi Kurdistan and unify it with the Syrian Kurdistan and then extend it to the Mediterranean Sea in the service of U.S. imperialist strategy. According to a report by Al-Arabia, the United States Department of Defense has announced that Donald Trump has ordered the delivery of arms to the Kurdish forces affiliated with “Syrian Democratic Forces.”

 In September 2017, Thierry Meyssan wrote in an article entitled “The Anarchist Brigades of NATO”:

“Presented in the West as the realization of a nice utopia, the brand new “Rojava” is actually a colonial state, wanted and organized in blood by Washington. This time it is to hunt people in Northern Syria and replace them with people who are not born there. To achieve this ethnic cleansing, the Pentagon and the CIA mobilized fighters in the far-left European circles. Thierry Meyssan reveals this crazy project has been in progress for a year and a half.”  http://www.voltairenet.org/article197821.html

This policy of U.S. imperialism is not new. In February 2016, Brett McGurk, the “anti-terror czar” of the White House, was sent by President Obama to monitor the battle of Ain al-Arab (Kobane). McGurk received an honorary award from YPG. This visit was protested by Turkish president Erdogan and made the tension between the U.S. and Turkey more vivid.

Recep Erdogan also condemned the award and made the following statement:

“He (McGurk) has traveled to Kobane and has received an award from a Kurdish general exactly at the time of Geneva negotiations. How can we trust you? Are we or the Kobane terrorists your ally?”

The separatist Syrian Kurds have already allowed the U.S. to build a huge military base and further facilitated the U.S. violation of the territorial integrity and the right to sovereignty of all the countries in the region. Such a policy is reactionary and is directed against the revolutionary movements of the region.

The solution to the Kurdish national question does not lie in an alliance with imperialist forces under the cover of “revolutionary tactics”; instead, it lies in an alliance, as a strategic policy with revolutionary and progressive forces in establishing a democratic Syria.

On Thursday March 20, 2016, in an article entitled, “After declaring autonomy, Syrian Kurds open to ties with Israel,” The Times of Israel reported that:

 “ ‘[The Syrian Kurds] are a community of people who are willing to cooperate with Israel,’ Professor Ofra Bengio, head of the Kurdish studies program at Tel Aviv University, told The Times of Israel on Thursday.

Israeli Professor Ofra Bengio says Jerusalem should endorse Kurdish aspirations in war-torn Syria, which can help defeat the Islamic State. Bengio believes Israel should move quickly to give behind-the-scenes support to the nascent Syrian Kurdish polity. There have not been any pro-Israel public declarations by Kurdish Syrian leaders, Bengio said, ‘but I know some that have been to Israel behind the scenes but do not publicize it.’ The Kurdish expert said that she has made personal contacts with Syrian Kurds who would like to send the message that they are willing to have diplomatic relations. ‘This is like the Kurds of Iraq behind the scenes. Once they feel stronger, they can think about taking relations into the open,’ she said. “(https:// www.timesofisrael.com/after-declaring-autonomy-will-israel-embrace-syrias-kurds)

The Syrian journalist, Tamar Hussein Ibrahim, who now lives in the city of Erbil in Kurdistan of Iraq, said that neither Israel nor the Syrian Kurds should be required to hide their mutual support. He added that Israel should clearly endorse and support the ideals of the Kurds in Syria, and the Syrian political groups should clearly declare such relations. Such action is a step forward for stability and coexistence in the region.

On Wednesday, May 31, 2017, in an article titled, “As the ISIS headquarters progressed, the United States began to send weapons to Syrian Kurds,” the Times of Israel reported:

“The U.S., along with the advance of armed Kurdish forces (known as the ‘People’s Protection Units’) to the capital of ISIS Rakka, began delivering weapons to this group within 24 hours.”

Pentagon spokesperson Adrian Rankin Galway has said:

 “We have begun the delivery of light military equipment and transport vehicles to the Syrian Kurdish force and Syrian Democratic Forces. The military forces of the Syrian Kurds (The People’s Protection Units) in the ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ and the Syrian Arab militias are already advancing,  under the leadership of the U.S., in the direction of ISIS capital Rakka.”

The “Communist Party of Iran,” which is in fact a Kurdish party, in issue 365 of their political paper “Jahan e Emrooz,” (December 2017), wrote about Mr. Saleh Muslim who belongs to the left-wing of the “Democratic Unity Party-PYD”:

“He, in an Interview with ‘Washington Kurdistan Institute (WKI) ‘on September 2, 2015, has said that the United States of America is a superior power in the world which strengthens democracy everywhere in the world and strives to spread it all over the world.”

After one year of silence about his already widely-distributed and widely-read interview with the WKI, Mr. Salih Muslim has made the comment to a concerned sympathizer of the Communist Party of Iran in a private meeting: “I did not give such an interview.” Mr. Salih Muslim’s comment, if in fact he made it, has no political importance, since it is only a personal reply to a personal request. Mr. Salih Muslim is unwilling to issue an official statement denouncing WKI and exposing its lie and its imperialist connections.

Thierry Meyssan wrote in his article “The Anarchist Brigades of NATO”:

“However, on October 31, 2014, one of the two co-presidents of the YPG, the Syrian branch of the PKK, Salih Muslim, participated in a secret meeting at the Élysée Palace with French President François Hollande and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He was promised to become head of state if he agreed to commit to recreating Kurdistan...in Syria.

Immediately, the International Coalition, which the United States had recently created against Daesh (ISIS), committed support for the YPG, providing it with money, training, weapons, and mentoring. Forgotten, then, are the imprecations against Washington, now a good ally. The Kurdish organization began to expel the inhabitants of the regions on which it had set its sights.” http://www.voltairenet.org/article197821.html

After Salih Muslim was arrested in Prague at the request of Turkey, the Süddeutsche Zeitung (No. 48, Tuesday February 27, 2018) wrote under the title “Erdogan hopes for extradition”:

“The political consequences of the arrest in the luxury hotel are, however, explosive; Salih Muslim, who was arrested, is ex-chairman of the Syrian Kurdish Party PYD. Sixty-seven-year-old Muslim resigned from his post last year .He acts as a kind of foreign minister of the virtually autonomous Kurds in northern Syria. In this function, Muslim was invited to an annual secret conference in Prague, where representatives of the E.U. and the U.S. discussed security and defense policy in the Middle East and in Turkey. The government of Recep Tayyib Erdogan had received Muslim, who had studied and worked in Turkey in 2013 for talks in Ankara. Two weeks ago, however, an international arrest warrant was issued against him. When a Turkish conference participant photographed him at the hotel, Ankara notified the authorities in Prague.”


The Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan) is opposed to these types of “independence,” which are against all the peoples of the region, against the democratic unity of the proletariat of the region, against all democratic principles, and against democratic or socialist revolutions in the region. We are not willing to sacrifice the interests of the class struggle in the region for the hollow struggle under the title of self-determination with the help from Imperialists and Zionists. We are not going to be silent for the establishment of the Second Israel and new U.S. imperialist military bases in the region. We never recognize such a “self-determination” that serves the enemies of the proletariat and the people of the region. Furthermore, we strongly fight against such “self-determination”. We will never be enticed by hollow slogans.

The devastating effects of Kurdish national chauvinism in Iran are already evident. The Kurdish political leaders, wearing a variety of “communist” or “democratic” masks, request support and help from Israel and the United States to split Kurdistan from Iran. They have created a united front with the other secessionists in our country. They did not and are not willing to condemn the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The Iranian national chauvinist Kurds supported the Israeli-instigated referendum of Iraqi Kurdistan to secede from Iraq and have introduced Israel to the Kurds as a friend of the people of the region. No one has the right to act against the people of other nations under the cover of a fight for self-determination.

In Kurdistan of Iraq and Syria, the task of Kurdish democrats and revolutionaries is not to promote national hatred and divisions. They have to fight alongside with other Iraqi and Syrian peoples against the intervention and occupation by foreign powers, whether the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia, or Iran, and to secure the independence of their countries. The struggle of people in these countries is a national, anti-imperialist, and anti-Zionist struggle, not a struggle between the Kurdish bourgeoisie and the Arab bourgeoisie. The revolutionary and communist forces must promote national solidarity for a democratic and independent Iraq and Syria and try to get the initiative and leadership of this struggle to lead the entire people. Without such a strategy, the “independence” of the Kurdish people in Iraq and Syria, would be gained at the expense of the peoples of the region.

The Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan)




                Barzani with Israeli Generals and Mossad agents, 1968      Barzani with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dian, 1968


                          Mustafa Barzani  with Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban and the head of Mossad General Meir Amit    

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                  Masoud Barzani with the the Head of Mossad, 1971    Iraqi Kurds carrying Israeli flag at the campaign for independence, 2018     

                                                                                                                                            Iraq: Jalal Talebani with George Bush    

                                                                                                              Iraq: Masoud Barzani with the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice 


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Iraqi Kurds carrying the Kurdish, U.S. and Israeli flags at the campaign for independence, 2018    Iraqi Kurds praying on Israeli and Kurdish flags