Causes and factors of the event in Gonband

Taking a Look at the Book "Dust of the Desert"

Fereydoun Heydari Molkumian
Translated by: Fazel Shirzad


The book "Dust of the Desert" (The First and Second Wars of Gonbad Kavous in 1979)" by Ahmad Khajehnejad has been written for the Office of Resistance Literature and Culture Studies of Golestan Province, and the first edition of the book was published in 2020 by Surah Mehr Publications in 392 pages and 1250 copies.

The book begins with a short introduction by the Office of Resistance Literature and Culture Studies of Golestan Province’s Art Centers. Then, there are the author's introduction and the text, which consists of nine chapters. The end of the book is dedicated to the attachments (including statements and documents that are related to the subject of the dual wars of the Gonband, and at the end of it, three pages of photos are included), some attachments of people, places, and references.

As mentioned in the preface of the book "Dust of the Desert", this book deals with the events and conflicts in Gonbad Kavous in the early days after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, as well as the formation and establishment of the Turkmen People's Cultural and Political Center, and the support, the influence of leftist groups and Fadaiyan-e-Khalq (Organization of Iranian People's Fedai) guerrillas. In the introduction to the book, the author first gives a brief history of the Turkmen  conflict with the central rulers over time (mainly in the Qajar and Pahlavi eras) and then deals with the situation of the Turkmen  after the victory of the Islamic Revolution; that is, the conflict that first occurred due to the activities and incitement of leftist forces in the Gonbad region, as well as the convergence and unity that eventually formed with the trust of the Turkmen  people in the political sovereignty of the Islamic Republic.

Also, the author has tried to deal with the events of the two wars of Gonbad in 1979. However, he emphasizes that this event has wide dimensions and we need to do a lot of works to clarify the nature of the event. He writes: "The information of this book is more focused on the narrative history and is not based on analysis of incident and there is also very little analytical discussion, and the forces' narration that is attributed to the Fadaiyan-e-Khalq guerrillas and the Turkmen  People's Headquarters is more highlighted.  It was intended to plot and prove the truth of the event through their words. Although I went to many influential people on the Islamic Revolutionary Committee, they, unfortunately, did not cooperate in providing their information." (P. 13)

The first chapter of the book refers to the political, social, and economic situation of the Turkmen  Sahra. First, he deals with the situation of the Turkmen until the Pahlavi era, and to begin the discussion, he mentions the Turkish tribes that have been living "in the north of Lake Balkhash for a long time. In later periods, a tribe from Ghazan called the Seljuks conquered Iran and Asia Minor. A vast desert gradually appeared between Jeihoon and the Caspian Sea and it became the settlement of the Turkmen. These Ghazan were known as Turkmen during the reign of Genghis Khan [1] and were introduced to the character of modern Turkmen. ” (P. 15). He then discusses the situation of the Turkmen in the first Pahlavi era, who said that "the Turkmen, as a people with certain ethnic and religious characteristics, were disregarded by the Pahlavi regime and the government at that time had no will and understanding to pay attention to this people." The Pahlavi court did not look at the Turkmen as a social group with humane and legitimate desires, but rather as a disturbing native people." (P. 36) the author goes on to note that "with the continuation of the policy of occupation of agricultural lands in the Turkmen Sahra in the second Pahlavi era, the movements of Turkmen forces, especially some educated Turkmen’s people, increased their political struggle, and they became more inclined to participate in the activities and political programs of the leftist organizations. These oppositions caused conducting more economic approach in the Turkmen’s people, and the two factors, i.e. ethnic oppression and economic oppression, played a major role in creating their fighting perspective." (P. 36) then, the Pahlavi regime's resistance broke and it leads to the victory of the Islamic Revolution.

With the formation of the People's Committees of the Revolution, the people took control and security of the cities. This was done in Gonbad as well, but there were no Turkmen members in the Gonbad Revolutionary Committee; this created one of the conditions for a gap between Turkmen and non-Turkmen in the Gonband." (P. 40)

The second chapter examines the issue of land in Gorgan and the plain and specifically emphasizes that "the Turkmen Sahra region has undergone various social and economic changes in the last century, including the issue of land ownership." (P. 45) Of course, this chapter reaches a similar result in examining the origin of Gonbad’s event:" Perhaps the main issue that was able to move part of the Turkmen people toward the protest groups was the issue of land and the negative mentality that the Turkmen public had towards them in the past concerning the country's political sovereignty over the land issue." (P. 45)

The third chapter deals with the formation of leftist political activities in the Turkmen Sahara and that" The origin of left-tendency political activity among Turkmen forces may be traced back to the reign of Reza Shah. Sometimes there were limited assemblies in the Turkmen Sahara cities and they were confronted by government forces, but not very widely. » (P. 61)

Chapter four examines the leftist organizations of the Turkmen: "The history of left-tendency political activities and the special situation in Iran -shortly before the victory of the Islamic Revolution -paved the way for the activities of the Turkmen Political Cultural Center as the first comprehensive and official organization." (P. 76)

Chapter five includes words related to the Fadaiyan-e-Khalq which was formed by the joining of some political and military groups in 1971 and carried out military operations to strike at the Pahlavi government. "(P. 89).

Chapter 6 refers to the time and events that are intertwined on the eve of the First World War. "from February 1978 - the victory of the Islamic Revolution- to April 1979, when the first Gonbad war took place, some events took place in this area that has been effective in creating a tense atmosphere and conflicts." (P. 113)

The seventh chapter deals with the first war in Gonbad, in which it is mentioned that: "As the oppression of the Turkmen people in the past and many of their demands were ignored by the government, space was provided that these demands were seriously followed up and requested after the victory of the Islamic Revolution."(Page 121)... That is, a series of different factors and events caused the atmosphere to become inflamed and create an atmosphere of mistrust between the Turkmen and non-Turkmen Sahra, and eventually led to the First War.

Chapter eight examines the distance between the two wars that " although some struggles that had begun in Gonbad since the early days of 1979 had relatively subsided in mid-April and the two parties had agreed to a ceasefire, a bipolar atmosphere had developed and "both parties took positions against each other and attacked the other one under various pretexts, and each sought to equip itself further." (P. 207)

The ninth chapter is devoted to the Second War of the Gonbad, which states that "the manner, reasons, and causes of the beginning of the Second World War are different from the First World War. You could hear whispers of a gap and struggle between the views of the Fadaiyan-e-Khalq guerrillas Guerrilla Organization and the Turkmen forces, although both of them had months of experience in the joint activities. The Fadaiyan-e-Khalq Guerrilla Organization sought to expand its power and influence against the central government, and made great efforts to gain the most of usefulness from the situation created in the Turkmen Sahra, and tried severely to highlight dual sovereignty; as the days of mid-February 1979 approached, their propaganda and efforts to show themselves increased." (P. 237)

 The attachments "Dust of the Desert" also contain a considerable amount compared to the main text of the book. These attachments first include some analytical statements related to the event of Gonbad, which were published by various groups and organizations shortly after the event. These statements, as noted in the book, can be important and useful in providing different and sometimes contradictory information and analysis from the perspective of different observers.



[1] Genghis Khan was the founder and first Great Khan of the Mongol Empire

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