Ibrahim Alizade, a founding member and secretary general of the Kurdish Komala communist party in Iran, sees a communist revolution as a possibility in the Islamic Republic. Komala, which traces its roots to the Communist Party of Iran, has undergone several schisms. After Iran’s 1979 revolution Komala began armed struggle against the new clerical regime. In the beginning, it was known as the Tailors Revolutionary Group of Iranian Kurdistan. In 1983, the leaders of Komala, together with some Iranian communist activists, established the Communist Party of Iran and Komala became the branch of the party in Kurdistan. But in 1991, a group broke off and established the Workers Communist Party. In 2000, the party experienced another split. A group broke off and established Komala. In recent years, yet another group walked away and formed the socialist party. Alizade, who has been secretary general since 1983, spoke to Rudaw about these splits, his party’s ideology and relations with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq. Here is an edited transcript of his interview:
Rudaw: Your party has experienced several secessions. Why?
Ibrahim Alizade: Komala is established based on a strategic and ideological program. Its strategy, ideology and way of thinking have been the same since its establishment and we have been representing them. Of course, there have been changes over time. Whenever a group broke away from Komala it forced the party to review its policy.
However, there have been two fundamental secessions: The first one was the separation of the movement of the communist workers and the second was the secession of the Kurdistan revolutionary tailors movement. The secession of these two groups was over ideology and strategy, not over personal differences. This is very normal. When a group of our friends in a stage of their political life experience a change in their ideology or experience disagreement over their objectives, it is very normal to form different political parties.
The secessions from Komala were two different ones. One was the result of lack of activities of the Kurdish movement and the other one was caused by lack of participation in the Iranian national movement and lack of commitment to communism and socialism. Currently, they are two very different parties than us. Although one of them still carries the name of Komala, we have announced that they should change that name because they were a minority within Komala.
Rudaw: Do you think communism can offer a solution to the current world problems?
Ibrahim Alizade: Unfortunately, the countries that claim to be communist are capitalist in essence. It means capitalism rules communist countries. But when you look at the world you see two realities: The first is that capitalism has reached a deadlock and it cannot solve any political, economic or social problems. The second is that all humanity is dissatisfied with the current life situation. We see that there are constant demonstrations in the capitalist countries. Therefore, we think that there has to be an alternative to the current system and we believe we are the alternative.
Rudaw: Doesn’t this mean that communism has failed?
Ibrahim Alizade: No doubt it experienced failure and that is very obvious. But I think the time has come for its revival.
Rudaw: Does Komala still believe in a communist revolution?
Ibrahim Alizade: Of course, there is always the possibility of such a revolution. Revolutions are not unusual; you will see it these days. We want the labor sector to take over power. The labor sector should take over through its parties and organizations and it does not have to be through violence. It depends on the reaction of capitalist countries. A labor strike, administered by a radical and truthful party, will put an end to capitalism.
No doubt, the majority of the Kurdish community is made up of workers. This is obvious. Our political program is not to implement socialism in Kurdistan. We don’t think that we can protect a socialist island within a sea full of problems and violence. Therefore, we are trying to establish communism in all of Iran.
Rudaw: Some of the Komala groups have chosen more nationalistic approaches. They returned to the ideology that Komala was established upon. Don’t you think it’s time for you as well to reassess your ideology?
Ibrahim Alizade: I think there has been some misunderstanding about the ideologies that Komala was established upon. Komala’s fundamental ideology was socialism. It is a short-term objective was to establish the communist party of Iran. The plan was to organize the labor sector and promote socialism. This is history and we can’t change it.
But there is something else. Do we refuse any alteration in our strategy and policy? From our perspective, socialism is a science. We learn it as a science. The science of socialism, as any other science, evolves. Along with all societal discoveries and with the modern science of today, socialism reforms itself.
Rudaw: You are a Kurdish organization but you refuse to raise the Kurdish flag. Why?
Ibrahim Alizade: We have a great deal of respect for the Kurdish flag as the flag of the Kurdistan Regional Government. The decision to raise the Kurdish flag by the KRG was a wise political decision but at the same time a flag is a symbol. Whenever you choose that symbol as a symbol of united Kurdistan then you have to work for that strategy. A party cannot claim to be more nationalistic than any other Iranian party, to accept federalism and express its readiness to accept a general amnesty and tell people that you have raised the flag of united Kurdistan. My flag is similar to the flag of that part of Kurdistan. You have to be truthful when it comes to the flag.
Rudaw: Are you saying that other political parties in Eastern Kurdistan (Iranian Kurdistan) are not being honest toward public opinion?
Ibrahim Alizade: I think they are not being truthful. The Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) has a point. They say that it is their flag and it was chosen when the party was established. But other parties raise the same flag regardless, whether the flag matches their political ideology and objectives. This confuses people.
Rudaw: How are your relations with the other splinter groups of Komala?
Ibrahim Alizade: Despite the fact that we have criticized them for choosing Komala as the name of their groups -- because they should have selected a name that matched their new position -- we have normal relations with them and we hold meetings to a certain level.
Rudaw: Do you recognize the other two parties?
Ibrahim Alizade: As a name, no. But as certain organizations we accept their existence.
Rudaw: Do you have any relations with them?
Ibrahim Alizade: If there is a political necessity that would benefit the Kurdish people we will establish relations with them. But so far we have not seen any political necessity to establish such a relation.
Rudaw: You mean if there is pressure?
Ibrahim Alizade: It is not about pressure. The thing is, there has to be a reason for every single meeting. We can’t establish relations in a tribal manner. We are political organizations and we have to have a valid reason for whatever we do. If a reason convinces us to, we will preserve it.
Rudaw: Don’t you think there is still the necessity for all Kurdish parties in Iran to strengthen their relations?
Ibrahim Alizade: These are two different topics. We will support a united front for all Kurdish parties in Iran. Unfortunately, in the last few years there have been some important issues that prevented such an idea. One of the issues was the role of the United States of America in the area. We believe that America is not here to promote the interests of Kurds and freedom. America is here to preserve its interest in the area. The other political parties had different approaches. There have been times in which reformists ruled Iran. They had different perspectives towards armed struggle and political activities. We have always stressed that no party should be marginalized and that we need to get together under one umbrella. But unfortunately, they created different factions.
Rudaw: What is your stand towards local organizations such as United Kurdish Front and Reformist Group?
Ibrahim Alizade: There is a front in Iran, which is called government reformists. They emerged during Mohammad Khatami’s presidency, but they were all dismissed. But another group of reformists emerged, who are led by Hassan Rouhani, because they are needed. However, the government reformists only have one objective, which is to assure the survival of the Islamic regime of Iran at any cost. One of the policies implemented by the reformists is to control radical groups and other movements such as the movement of women and the movement of labor, including the Kurdish movement and to steer them towards the Islamic regime. The government reformists are making concerted efforts to isolate the movement from its revolutionary, radical and humanitarian agenda through some minor reforms. In fact, they want to extinguish the Kurdish people from the Kurdish political parties. They have become a tool for the reformists.
Rudaw: You don’t believe in their struggle?
Ibrahim Alizade: No. In fact they damage it. We believe in civil, genuine public, semi-public and civil strife inside the country, and we try to form such strife. But what they represent might destroy the Kurdish movement. For instance, one of their demands during their campaign for Hassan Rouhani was to appoint a Kurdish governor for Kurdistan. But this is a very minor demand, it is nothing. This is despite the fact that their demand was not considered and they were told that there weren’t any capable individuals to assume the post.
Rudaw: You have good relations with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), but not so much with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Why?
Ibrahim Alizade: We have balanced relations with the KDP. We have no problems with them and there have been meetings between the leadership of both sides.
Rudaw: Was it the same in the past?
Ibrahim Alizade: No, it wasn’t, because for many years we were active in an area which was under the control of PUK. Also, a left group “Komalai Renjdaran” was one of the founding groups of the PUK. Therefore, historically, we have had closer relations with PUK.
Rudaw: Why don’t you have an office in Erbil?
Ibrahim Alizade: As a matter of fact, for the last three years we have been trying to establish our office in the capital of the Kurdistan Region, but we have not gotten the approval yet.
Rudaw: Isn’t it because of this that you have better relations with PUK?
Ibrahim Alizade: I don’t think so, because they don’t tell us that. They always blame it on technical problems.