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The Next Iranian Revolution

Reason Cover Next Iranian Revolution.jpg

Reason Magazine just published an article I wrote this summer called The Next Iranian Revolution, about Kurdish Iranian exiles in Iraq plotting revolution against the regime of the Islamic Republic. There are two groups of armed revolutionaries just outside the city of Suleimaniya; one is liberal, and the other is communist. Both call themselves Komala. I wrote about these people on the blog in the spring but there’s quite a bit of material in the magazine that I didn’t cover here. The article only exists today in the dead tree version, but will appear online later this month. Below is an excerpt.

IN A GREEN VALLEY nestled between snow-capped peaks in the Kurdish autonomous region of northern Iraq is an armed camp of revolutionaries preparing to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran. Men with automatic weapons stand watch on the roofs of the houses. Party flags snap in the wind. Radio and satellite TV stations beam illegal news, commentary, and music into homes and government offices across the border.

The compound resembles a small town more than a base, with corner stores, a bakery, and a makeshift hospital stocked with counterfeit medicine. From there the rebels can see for miles around and get a straight-shot view toward Iran, the land they call home. They call themselves Komala, which means simply Association.

Abdulla Mohtadi, the Komala Party’s secretary general, and Abu Baker Modaressi, a member of the party’s political bureau, hosted me in their meeting house. Sofas and chairs lined the walls, as is typical in Middle Eastern salons. Fresh fruit was provided in large bowls. A houseboy served thick Turkish coffee in shot glasses.

Both men started their revolutionary careers decades ago, when the tyrannical Shah Reza Pahlavi still ruled Iran. “We were a leftist organization,” Mohtadi said, speaking softly with an almost flawless British accent. “It was the 60s and 70s. It was a struggle against the Shah, against oppression, dictatorship, for social justice, and against — the United States.” He seemed slightly embarrassed by this. “Sorry,” he said.

I told him not to worry, that I hadn’t expected anything else. The U.S. government had backed the dictatorship he fought to destroy. Pro-American politics had not been an option.

Read the rest in the October issue of Reason Magazine, which should be available now in book stores and news stands. (Or you can wait for the free online version.)

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