Ali Rahnema. Call to Arms. Iran’s Marxist Revolutionaries: Formation and Evolution of the Fada’is, 1964–1976.

Biblioteca / 2020-2029

Ali Rahnema. Call to Arms. Iran’s Marxist Revolutionaries: Formation and Evolution of the Fada’is, 1964–1976.

Londres: Oneworld, 2021.

528 páginas.

El 8 de febrero de 1971, los revolucionarios marxistas atacaron el puesto avanzado de la gendarmería en el pueblo de Siyahkal, en la provincia iraní de Gilan. Apenas dos meses después, las Guerrillas Fada’i del Pueblo Iraní anunciaron oficialmente su existencia e iniciaron una larga y prolongada guerra de guerrillas urbanas contra el régimen del sha.

En Llamada a las armas, Ali Rahnema ofrece una historia exhaustiva de los Fada’is, empezando por preguntarse por qué tantos de los mejores y más brillantes iraníes optaron por el marxismo revolucionario frente al régimen absolutista. Rastrea cómo estudiantes universitarios radicalizados de diferentes procedencias ideológicas se transformaron en los Fada’is marxistas en 1971, y arroja luz sobre su teoría, práctica y evolución. Aunque los Fada’is no consiguieron provocar directamente la caída del Sha, Rahnema demuestra que tuvieron un impacto duradero en la sociedad y que, en última instancia, vieron cumplido su objetivo.




1 – Violence as a political option?

Demonizing the armed opposition

Why resort to political violence?

The four Iranian Marxist theoreticians of armed struggle

2 – Hasan Zia-Zarifi’s account of why armed struggle

The culprit: Absolutist despotic monarchism

Reflections from prison

3 – Amir-Parviz Pouyan’s account of why armed struggle

Literature in the service of politics

Armed struggle: Rational or irrational? A necessary theoretical digression

Pouyan on the necessity of armed struggle as a rational choice

Refutation of the theory of survival

Pouyan’s incisive impact

4 – Masʿoud Ahmadzadeh’s accounts of why armed struggle

Demystifying classical notions of how and when to take up arms

The fruitful retreat

The Debray factor: From Havana to Tehran via Mashhad

Learning from the past

Breaking with the old sacred cows

Armed struggle by the revolutionary vanguard

5 – Bijan Jazani’s accounts of why armed struggle

Mysteries around What a Revolutionary Should Know

To confront a monarchical military dictatorship

Revolutionary intellectuals: The dynamite of the revolutionary movement

Jazani’s paradoxical hints

Revolutionary agents and the question of leadership in a despotic or democratic Iran

6 – The Tudeh Party’s awkward tango with armed struggle

Ideological rift over revolution-making

Iranian students take sides

The Tudeh Party’s reluctant approval of armed struggle

The Tudeh Party pushes back against armed struggle

Revolution means employing peaceful methods of struggle

The Tudeh Party denounces armed struggle

What did the revolutionary Marxists think of the Tudeh Party?

7 – Monarchists, Maoists, and the Tudeh Party in unison: armed struggle is counter-revolutionary adventurism

For Nikkhah the red revolution turned white

Kourosh Lashaʾi’s rejection of romanticism and embrace of realism

The Tudeh Party: We told you so

8 – Armed struggle and Marxist canonists

Historical determinism or revolutionary voluntarism?

Marx and Engels: Wavering over the role of violence?

Lenin on violence, unequivocal?

Trotsky: Dissonance between intellectual revolutionary consciousness and backward economic conditions invites violence

9 – Armed struggle and Marxist revolutionaries

Mao Tse-tung’s revolutionary authority

Che Guevara’s revolution-making to overthrow dictators

Carlos Marighella: Unleashing violence to end dictatorial violence

Marighella in Iran via Baghdad

10 – Formative years of the Jazani group

Jazani the entrepreneur

Whence it came

Student political activities

First phase of the Jazani Group

Jazani and The Message of University Students

Second phase of the Jazani Group

The political and propaganda branch

The operational and military branch

The military operation that should have happened but did not

Ghafour Hasanpour’s networks: Recruiting behind the scenes

11 – Jazani Group compromised

First raids

The remnants of the Jazani Group under siege

Bank robberies

The decision to leave the country

The final nabs

12 – The new Hasanpour, Ashraf, and Safaʾi-Farahani Group: Preparations and operations

Picking up the broken pieces

Organizing armed struggle: Three teams

The first urban operations of the H-A-S Group

13 – The Pouyan, Ahmadzadeh, and Meftahi Group

The dissimilar but inseparable Pouyan and Ahmadzadeh

Enter ʿAbbas Meftahi

Pouyan’s circles at Mashhad and Tabriz

Ahmadzadeh’s membership in Hirmanpour’s circle

Meftahi’s Sari and Tehran circles

The P-A-M Group’s military operations before Siyahkal

An ethical digression: To press or not to press the trigger

14 – Armed struggle in Iran: Rural or urban

Theoretical positioning

Ahmadzadeh gently parts with the Cuban model

Jazani: Rural Iran not the ideal revolutionary base

Jazani’s change of heart: Emphasis on rural/mountainous warfare

15 – Merger discussions for “Iran’s revolutionary armed movement”

The painful and slow process of negotiation

Last hurdle: Convincing the P-A-M rank and file

The mountain group’s five-month reconnaissance mission


16 – The H-A-S Group hounded

The beans are spilled

The arrests begin

The mountain team compromised

17 – The Siyahkal operation

Assault on the Siyahkal Gendarmerie Station on 19 Bahman

The aftermath of the assault

The nineteen-day odyssey of the retreating guerrillas

18 – Assessing the Siyahkal strike

Objectives of the Siyahkal strike: Ahmadzadeh, Ashraf, Safaʾi-Farahani

Siyahkal as a military operation: Fumbles and blunders

The regime’s first public response to the Siyahkal strike

The Ranking Security Official’s spectacle

19 – The Hamid Ashraf factor


Ashraf in the eyes of fellow combatants

Three years of guerrilla struggle in perspective

Ashraf violent and authoritarian?

20 – Hemming the guerrillas or cultivating a guerrilla culture?

The Shah declares the end of terrorist activities in Iran

The Golesorkhi affair

Revolutionaries of the Film School of the Iranian National Television

Slaying heroes: Fuel on fire

21 – Jazani’s questioning of armed struggle

Challenging the theory and practice of the Fadaʾis

Looking for new forms of struggle

Underlining the role of legal methods of struggle

A matter of trade-off

22 – Softly disarming armed struggle to regain the trust of the masses

Step one: The correct stage in the movement

Step two: Walking on two legs

Step three: Iran’s paradoxical political condition, democratic and despotic

Step four: The guerrillas’ conflicting remits, or unity of opposites

Step five: Armed propaganda and the combined method of struggle

Two interpretations of armed struggle

The issue of objective conditions of revolution

How long would it take the masses to join the movement?

Saving the armed movement from the unhealthy leftist tendency

23 – Jazani’s ideological offensive in prison

Spreading the good word

Open schism in prison

Where did the original members of the Jazani Group stand?

The secretive delinking of armed struggle from the movement

The misunderstood or conflicted theoretician

24 – The Fadaʾi interface, inside, outside prison

Indirect interactions between Ashraf and Jazani in 1973

On the correct method of struggle: The Fadaʾis and the Star Group

Summer 1974: Armed struggle as strategy and tactic has the upper hand

Reading about the correct method of struggle in People’s Combat

Familiarity with and reaction to Jazani’s works outside prisons

25 – Fadaʾi leadership debating correct methods of struggle

A discreet Jazani special issue of People’s Combat

Growing a second leg?

Political activities in 1976 discussions with the Marxist Mojahedin

Does Ashraf take sides in May/June 1976?

26 – Bird’s-eye view of armed struggle (1971–1976)

The guerrillas’ persistent presence

Guerrillas highlighted: Partial transparency

The news blackout and the Fadaʾis’ rising success

Changing tides: Expansion, exposure, and beleaguered

The Fadaʾis’ relations with Libya, Palestinian groups, and the Soviet Union

The shock of state terrorism

Fadaʾis under attack

The Fadaʾis without Ashraf

27 – Guerrillas conducting the regime’s requiem

Students at home beat on the drums of war

University turmoil and campus guards

Policy of zero tolerance

The student backlash to the Golesorkhi affair

Winds of change

28 – The regime’s requiem: The players abroad

Iranian students abroad rallying against the regime

Iranian students abroad take their cue from the guerrillas

Radical methods to put the Shah’s regime on the spot

29 – Prelude to the Shah’s free fall

The Western press reveals secrets

Disdain for torture

The grand anti-Shah conspiracy

A last-ditch effort against the guerrilla–CISNU coalition

Beating a fatal retreat