After the Bolshevik seizure of power, the colonial and "semi-colonial" problem achieved a qualitative significance which no serious Bolshevik could ignore. Seeking to apply the Marxist theory of revolution to the contemporary world, the Bolsheviks were confronted with the task of setting up guidelines and strategies not only for the capitalist countries, but also for the technologically backward Eastern countries .
On the theoretical level two problems in regard to the revolution in the East had to be solved: (1) the question of nationalism in the "backward" countries where European rule or pervasive influence was the order of the day and nationalist upsurges, of varying strength, which were attempting to abolish European domination; and (2) the question of the social and economic conditions of the Eastern countries where the capitalist phase of development had either not started or was not completed.
In relation to nationalism, Lenin and his Asian associates, such as M.N. Roy of India and A. Sultanzadeh of Iran, developed contrasting analyses of the problem in their respective theses presented in the Second Congress of the Communist International . Lenin recommended to the Asia communist parties a temporary alliance with the national and anti-colonial movements, providing that:
…the elements of the future proletarian parties, which will be communist not only in name, are brought together and trained to appreciate their special tasks, that is, to fight the bourgeois-democratic movements within their own nations .
Roy, a distinguished Indian Marxist, on the other hand, believed that socialism had to oppose bourgeois nationalism and proposed no compromise with the latter in the underdeveloped counties .
Influenced by Lenin but concerned over the particular characteristics of his own country, Sultanzadeh, a noted Iranian communist, contended that:
The passage in the thesis (of Lenin) in which support is pledged for the bourgeois-democratic movement in the backward countries, appears to me to be applicable only to these countries where the movement is still in an embryonic stage, but not in those countries where the movement has already been going on for ten years and more, or in those countries where, as in Persia, the bourgeois democracy is the basis and the prop of the government. In Persia such a support would mean leading the masses to counter-revolution. In such countries, we must create a purely communist movement in opposition to the bourgeois tendencies. Any other attitude might bring deplorable results .
Finally, Lenin's guideline, which emerged with a number of modifications,  was approved by the Second Congress of the Communist International and henceforth became the basis of Soviet theory and practice on the national and colonial questions.
Concerning the second question, whether or not the capitalist stage could be skipped, the Bolsheviks sought necessary modifications. Stalin for example, maintained that it was possible for a non-capitalist country to by-pass the capitalist phase of its historical development if its national-democratic revolution was led by the communist party of that country. A transition period would be required during which great caution would have to be exercised. The party's tactics, he contended, must be flexible, taking into account all the peculiarities of economic life and even the history, social life, and culture of these nations .
At the Second Congress of the Communist International in 1920, Lenin laid down the theoretical formulation of such a policy by declaring that, with the assistance of the class-conscious "proletariat of the advanced countries," the oppressed peoples of the East could certainly push forward to establish Soviet Republics . He contended that once the first proletarian state had been consolidated in Soviet Russia, the peoples of the colonies and semi-colonies could liberate them selves from imperialist domination, provided they were helped by the advanced proletariat. They could then by pass the capitalist stage of development and move directly from the feudal or semi-feudal stage to socialism .
Having outlined the political guidelines and directives for national liberation movement in the East, the Bolsheviks launched campaigns to spread the revolutionary views to the East, especially to the "semi-colonies" of Turkey, Iran and China.
Of the colonies and "semi-colonies" in Asia, Iran was certainly viewed as the most fertile ground for the application of these policies. In fact, after the Bolshevik Revolution, the strategic significance of Iran in the eyes of Lenin and his associates substantially increased. While to the Tzars the territorial conquest of Iran was considered a step toward gaining access to India, to the early Bolsheviks Iran appeared as a favourable land for breeding an anti-imperialist struggle which, with the support of the Bolsheviks, could be utilised as a spark for the socialist revolution in Asia. The Bolsheviks were of the opinion that a successful revolution in Iran would be a significant step toward revolution in India because Iran was a gateway to the Indian sub-continent .
In fact, these theoretical policies had found their application in a written appeal ("To All Muslim toilers of Russia and the East"), issued on November 24/December 7, 1917 by the Council of people's Commissars. The Muslims of Russia were assured that their beliefs and traditions, "their national and cultural institutions", were hence forth protected. Those of the East - among whom Iranian were specifically named -were encouraged to overthrow the imperialist "robbers and enslavers" of their countries. Furthermore, the appeal declared that "the treaty for the partition of Persia is null and void. Immediately after the cessation of military operations, the troops will be withdrawn from Iran and the Iranians will be guaranteed the right freely to determine their own destiny" .
Of no less political significance was the invitiation dispatched by the Third International to the peoples of the East for them to convene in Baku for solidarity purposes on August 15, 1920. An important and relevant section of the invitation declared:
Peasants and Workers of Persia! The Tehran Qajar Government and its hirelings - the provincial Khans - have plundered and exploited you for centuries. The land was seized by the Lackeys of the Tehran government; they control this land, they are imposing taxes and levies on you at their discretion; and after having drained the country of its vitality and reduced it to poverty and ruin, they sold Persia last year to the English Capitalists for 2,000,000 sterling, so that the latter could form an army in Persia which will oppress you even more than heretofore .
By declaring that the Anglo-Russia convention of 1907 over the division of Iran was null and void and by inviting the representation of these nations to Baku, the Bolsheviks were trying to gain popular support for their policies in Iran. The favourable reaction of the Iranian to ward the Bolshevik renunciations was remarkable . For example, Iran, a prominent daily newspaper in Tehran, quickly pointed out that:
The Russian Revolution and the Lenin Manifesto (the appeal by Council of People's Commissar ) took away the dangers of Russia, and now, the only differences that remain are between Persia and England. . . Since receiving the manifesto of Lenin, regarding the nullification of the 1907 convention by the Russian Government, we have hope and expected that England also would notify us that the said treaty is null and void .
Kaveh, a noted political magazine, reacted in the same way by praising the sincerity of the Bolsheviks in relation to Iran's independence and progress. It denounced the British for their ambiguous statements concerning the Anglo-Russian convention of 1907 .
Appreciating the favourable impact of their renunciation policy upon the press and public opinion in Iran, the Bolsheviks moved forward to achieve their major policy objective in Persia: to prevent Great Britain from using Iran as a base for an attack on Soviet Russia.
For the fulfilment of this basic strategic aim, the Soviet leaders opted to: (1) assist the Communist Party of Iran through the Comintern offices;  (2) withdraw Russian troops from Iran and renounce all Tzarist concessions and treaties ; and (3) initiate an offensive diplomacy in Tehran, coupled with the full support for the national liberation movements in Ghilan, Azerbaijan, and Khorasan .
In struggling to implement their anti-imperialist policies in Iran, the Bolsheviks challenged the British interests and, thus, brought about a conflict with Britain. The nature this conflict was fundamentally different from the traditional rivalry between Tzarist Russia and Great Britain. To the government of Palmerstone and Curzon, Tzarist Russia, either as an open or a secret rival, was an empire with which they were accustomed to colluding and/or colliding, because both empires had similar socio-political and foreign policy outlooks. Furthermore, Tzarist Russia was an imperialist power which could be understood in the context of the international status quo and the law of imperialist contention. Certainly, the Russia of the Tzarists was a rival which the British - either liberal or conservative - could communicate, exchange diplomatic niceties, and even reach an "entente" with to divide Iran into "spheres of influence". But the Bolsheviks were qualitatively different types of "enemies". Their renunciations of all significant concessions obtained throughout the centuries of Tzarist military and political expansion in Iran were completely incomprehensible to the empire-oriented British statesmen. They could not understand the Bolsheviks' support of the national liberation movement in Iran and elsewhere. In addition, the British now could not persuade the Bolsheviks to come to an understanding over Iran and the Middle East.
Therefore, after the Bolshevik Revolution, the conflict between the new Russia and Great Britain became even more antagonistic. Lenin and his associates struggled, on the one hand, to combat the British imperialist presence and on the other, to assist the national liberation movements in Iran.
Facing the rise of the anti-imperialist tide in Iran, the British originated and planned the Anglo-Persian Treaty of 1919. Curzon's plan was to create a chain of pro-British countries stretching from the Mediterranean to the borders of India aimed at perpetuating Great Britain's interest in the strategically-located Iran . "The weakest and most vital link" of the Chain, as viewed by Curzon, was Iran. On these grounds, he regarded a policy of evacuation of Iran by the British as "immoral, feeble and disastrous" . To avoid such a "disaster", (i.e., the victory of the national liberation movement and the expulsion of the British troops from Iran), Great Britain sought to dominate Iran by imposing the infamous Anglo-Persian Treaty of 1919.
The Anglo-Persian Agreement of August 9, 1919 contained a preamble and six Articles. In Article I, Britain reiterated the policies which she had repeatedly pretended to follow in the past regarding the "independence and integrity" of Persia. The remaining Articles provided that Britain would (1) supply, at Iran's expense, advisers for the Iranians administration; (2) equip, at the expense of Iran, the reorganisation of the Iranian army; (3) furnish a substantial loan of 200,000 pounds to Iran to be repaid by the Iranian administration at the rate of seven percent per annum; (4) co-operate with the Iranian government to improve the system of communication; and (5) sponsor the appointment of a committee of experts to study a revision of existing tariff regulations .
For further details, see Sephr Zabih, The Communist Movement in Iran. Berkeley; University of California, 1966, pp. 2-4.
For a detailed account of these divergent views on national and colonial questions presented in the Second Congress of the Communist International, see The Second Congress of the Communist International, Proceedings of the Petrograd session of 17 July and Moscow Sessions of 19 July to 7 August 1920 (America: 1921): Also see The Second Congress of the Communist International as Reported and Interpreted by the Official newspapers of Soviet Russia, Petrograd-Moscow 19 July-17 August 1920. Washington DC : Government printing office, 1920.
VI Lenin, "Preliminary Draft of Thesis on the national and Colonial Questions", in On Politics and Revolution, ed. James E. Conner. New York: Western Publishing Co. 1968, p. 319.
M. N. Roy, "Disagreement with Lenin over the Colonial Question", Radical Humanist. Calcutta: January 22, 1954, p. 43. For a better understanding of Roy's views on nationalism and colonial questions, see Robert C. North and Xenia Eudin, "M. N. Roy and the Theory of Decolonisation", Radical Humanist (July 12, 1959): also, see Robert C. North, "Revolution in Asia", in L. Labedz, ed., Revisionism, Essays on the History of Marxist Ideas. New York: Praeger, 1962.
For a complete text of Sultanzadeh's speech in Persia, see Assnad-i Tarikhi (Historical Documents; Working Class, Social Democratic, and communist Movements in Iran), Berlin: Mazdak 1970 pp. 70-71
The most important of these amendments was the replacing of the phrase "bourgeois-democratic" by "national-revolutionary". For details see Walter Z. Laqueur, The Soviet Union and the Middle East. New York: Praeger, 1959, p. 18.
Joseph Stalin, "Marxism and the National Questio", In The Essential Stalin, ed. by B. Franklin. Garden City, N Y: Doubleday and Company, Inc.,1972, pp. 65-72.
V I Lenin, "Report of the commission on the national and Colonial Questions" Selected Works. Moscow: Cospoliterzdat, 1964 ,Vol. 3, p 500.
Ibid. ,PP. 500-1.
Lenczowski, Russia and the Western Iran, P. 10.
For the text of this appeal, see and Fischer, The Bolshevik Revolution 1917-1918; Documents and Materials, pp. 467-69.
For the text of this invitation in English, see I. Spector, The Soviet Union and the Muslim World. Seattle: University of Washington, 1959, pp. 21-23.
Ramazani, The Foreign Policy of Iran, P. 140.
Iran December 30, 1917.
Kaveh, Vol, III, No. 24 (February 15, 1918), pp. 1 and 4.
For reference, see J. Degras, The Communist International, 1919-1943. London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1956, Vol. L p. 106.
See Kapur, Soviet Russia and the Asia, P. 153; and Eudin and North, Soviet Russia and the East pp 92-93.
Sepahr, Iran in The Great War, pp 447-48 and North, Soviet Russia and the East, pp 92-93.
Curzon's effort to keep Persia under British and free of any trace of Bolshevik revolutionary ideas and influence, see Leshem, Soviet in the Middle East, Middle East Affairs Vol. IV, No. 1 (January, 1953), p 2.