Mohammad Reza Pahlavi

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Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Image:Mohammadreza Shah.jpg
Reign 16 September 194111 February 1979
Predecessor Reza Pahlavi
Successor Islamic Republic declared
Spouse Farah Pahlavi
Father Reza Shah Pahlavi
Mother Tadj ol-Molouk
Born October 16, 1919
Died July 27, 1980

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran (Persian: محمد رضا پهلوی‎) (October 16, 1919, TehranJuly 27, 1980, Cairo), styled His Imperial Majesty, and holding the imperial titles of Shāhanshāh (King of Kings) and Aryamehr (Light of the Aryans), was the the monarchial ruler of Iran from September 16, 1941 until the Iranian Revolution on February 11, 1979. He was the second monarch of the Pahlavi dynasty and the last Shah of the Iranian monarchy.


[edit] Early life

Born in the Sadabad Palace complex in northern Tehran to Reza Pahlavi and his second wife, Tadj ol-Molouk, Mohammad Reza was the eldest son of the first Shah of the Pahlavi dynasty.

As a child, he attended Institut Le Rosey, a Swiss boarding school, which he completed in 1935. Upon his return to Iran, he enrolled in the local military academy in Tehran, until 1938.

[edit] Early reign

[edit] Deposition of his father

In the midst of World War II in 1941, Nazi Germany had begun Operation Barbarossa and invaded the Soviet Union, which broke the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact. The act had a huge impact on Iran, as the country had technically declared neutrality. However, Iran had maintained good relations with Nazi Germany and was seen as a potential member of the Axis. Thus a preventive invasion was staged by Great Britain and the Soviet Union.

During the subsequent military occupation, the Allies forced Reza Shah to abdicate in favour of his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. He replaced his father on the throne on September 16, 1941. It was hoped that the younger prince would be more open to influence from the pro-Allied West, which later proved to be the case.

Subsequent to his succession as Shah, Iran became a major conduit for British, and later, American aid to the USSR during the war. This massive supply effort became known as the Persian Corridor, and marked the first large-scale American and Western involvement in Iran, an involvement that would continue to grow until the successful revolution against the Iranian monarchy in 1979.

[edit] Oil nationalization and 1953 coup

Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh

In the early 1950s, there was a political crisis centered in Iran that commanded the focused attention of British and American intelligence outfits. In 1951, the Iranian parliament, under the leadership of the nationalist movement of Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, voted unanimously to nationalize the oil industry. This shut out the immensely profitable Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), which was a pillar of Britain's economy and political clout. A month after that vote, Mossadegh was named Prime Minister of Iran.

In response to nationalization, Britain placed a massive embargo on Iranian oil exports, which only worsened the already fragile economy. Neither the AIOC nor Mossadegh was open to compromise in this period, with Britain insisting on a restoration of the AIOC and Mossadegh only willing to negotiate on the terms of its compensation for lost assets. The U.S. president at the time, Harry S. Truman, was categorically unwilling to join Britain in planning a coup against Mossadegh, and Britain felt unable to act without American cooperation, particularly since Mossadegh had shut down their embassy in 1952. Truman's successor, Dwight Eisenhower, was finally persuaded by arguments that were anti-Communist rather than primarily economic, and focused on the potential for Iran's Communist Tudeh Party to capitalize on political instability and assume power, aligning Iran and its immense oil resources with the Soviet bloc. Though Mossadegh never had a close political alliance with Tudeh, he also failed to act decisively against them in any way, which hardened U.S. policy against him. Coup plans which had stalled under Truman were immediately revived by an eager intelligence corps, with powerful aid from the brothers John Foster Dulles (Secretary of State) and Allen Welsh Dulles (CIA director), after Eisenhower's inauguration in 1953.

Under the direction of Kermit Roosevelt Jr.'s (a senior CIA officer and grandson of the former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt), the CIA and British intelligence funded and led a coup d'etat to overthrow the democratically elected prime minister with the help of military forces loyal to the Shah through Operation Ajax. [1] The plot hinged on orders signed by the Shah to dismiss Mossadegh as prime minister and replace him with General Fazlollah Zahedi, a choice agreed on by the British and Americans. Despite the high-level coordination and planning, the coup initially failed and the Shah fled Iran. After a brief exile in Italy, however, the Shah was brought back again, this time through a second coup, which was successful. The deposed Mossadegh was arrested, given a show trial, and placed in solitary confinement for three years in a military prison, followed by house arrest for life. Zahedi was installed to succeed Prime Minister Mossadegh.

[edit] Coup

There is disagreement among scholars and political analysts as to whether it is correct to call the 1953 plot a coup. The term is commonly used in media and popular culture, though technically the overthrow of Mossadegh neither was purely military in nature nor did it lead to a change in the form of government or the constitution in the country. Technically, in fact, it led to the preservation of the constitution, which Mossadegh had been repeatedly neglecting during his term in office. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

On April 28, 1951, Mossadegh, on the Shah's suggestion, had been named as Prime Minister of Iran by a vote of 79-12 by the democratically elected legislative Iranian body known as the Majlis ,and the parliament's vote had been accepted by the Shah as legitimate at that time. However, in August of 1953 Mossadegh attempted to persuade the Shah to leave the country. The Shah refused and, using his constitutional authority, formally dismissed the prime minister.

Mossadegh refused to resign, however, and when it became apparent that he was going to fight, the Shah, as a precautionary measure foreseen by the British/American plan, flew to Baghdad and on from there to Rome. Once again, massive protests broke out across the nation. Anti- and pro-monarchy protesters violently clashed in the streets, leaving almost 300 dead. The military intervened as the pro-Shah tank regiments stormed the capital and bombarded the prime minister's official residence. Mossadegh surrendered and was arrested on August 20, 1953. Mossadegh was tried for treason, and sentenced to three years in prison.

One view is that the forceful ousting of Prime Minister Mossadegh was a counter coup after Mossadegh's dismissal. The other view is that Mossadegh had acted under emergency powers to preserve the sovereignty of Iran against the intervention of the CIA and British Intelligence acting on behalf of western oil companies.

See Further reading and external links for more information.

[edit] Later years

[edit] Foreign relations

The Shah supported the Yemeni royalists against republican forces in the Yemen Civil War (1962-70) and assisted the sultan of Oman in putting down a rebellion in Dhofar (1971). Concerning the fate of Bahrain (which Britain had controlled since the 19th century, but which Iran claimed as its own territory) and three small Persian Gulf islands, the Shah negotiated an agreement with the British, which, by means of a public consensus, ultimately led to the independence of Bahrain (against the wishes of Iranian nationalists). Iran still lays claim to the three (strategically sensitive) islands in the Strait of Hormuz, however, which are claimed by the United Arab Emirates [citation needed].

During this period, the Shah maintained cordial relations with the Persian Gulf states and established closer diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia. Relations with Iraq, however, were often difficult until 1975 when both countries signed the Algiers Accord, which granted Iraq equal navigation rights in the Arvand/Shatt al-Arab river, with the Shah also agreeing to end his support for Iraqi Kurdish rebels. [9]

The Shah also maintained close relations with King Hussein of Jordan, Anwar Sadat of Egypt, and King Hassan II of Morocco. [10]

The Shah of Iran was the first and only one of two Muslim leaders (other being Turkey) to recognize the State of Israel. The relations would deteriate after the creation of the Islamic Republic.

[edit] Modernization and autocracy

Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, crowning Farah Pahlavi as Empress of Iran.

With Iran's great oil wealth, Mohammad Reza Shah became the pre-eminent leader of the Middle East, and self-styled "Guardian" of the Persian Gulf. In 1975, he abolished the multi-party system of government so that he could rule through a one-party state under the Rastakhiz (Resurrection) Party in autocratic fashion, which he claimed was a response, among other things, to the Soviet Union's support of Iranian Communist militias and parties, particularly the Tudeh Party. In addition, the Shah had decreed that all Iranian citizens and the few remaining political parties must become part of Rastakhiz. [11] The Shah also authorized the creation of the secret police force, SAVAK (National Organization for Information and Security).

He made major changes to curb the power of certain ancient elite factions by expropriating large and medium-sized estates for the benefit of more than four million small farmers. In the White Revolution, he took a number of major modernization measures, including extending suffrage to women, much to the discontent and opposition of the Islamic clergy. He instituted exams for Islamic theologians to become established clerics, which were widely unpopular and broke centuries-old religious traditions.

[edit] Revolution

Main article: Iranian revolution

His policies led to strong economic growth during the 1960s and 1970s but at the same time, opposition to his autocratic pro-Western rule increased. His good relations with Israel and the United States and his active support for women's rights were moreover a reason for Islamic fundamentalist groups to attack his policies. On January 16, 1979 he and his wife left Iran at the behest of Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar (a long time opposition leader himself), who sought to calm down the situation. Bakhtiar dissolved SAVAK and freed all political prisoners, and allowed Ayatollah Khomeini to return to Iran after years in exile, asking him to create a Vatican-like state in Qom and called upon the opposition to help preserve the constitution, promising free elections. Khomeini rejected Dr. Bakhtiar's demands fiercely and appointed an interim government on his own. Shortly after, with the military announcing their neutrality in the conflict, the dissolution of the monarchy was completed at the hands of the revolutionaries led by Khomeini.

[edit] Exile and death

The exiled monarch had become unpopular in much of the world, especially in the liberal West, ironically his original backers and those who had most to lose from his downfall. He travelled from country to country in his second exile seeking what he hoped would be a temporary residence.

First he went to Egypt, and got an invitation and warm welcome from president Anwar el-Sadat. He later lived in Morocco, the Bahamas, and Mexico. But his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma began to grow worse, and required immediate and sophisticated treatment.

Reluctantly, on 22 October 1979 President Jimmy Carter allowed the Shah to make a brief stopover in the United States to undergo medical treatment. The compromise was extremely unpopular with the revolutionary movement, which were against the United States' years of support of the Shah's rule, and demanded his return to Iran to stand trial.

This resulted in the kidnapping of a number of American diplomats, military personnel and intelligence officers in what became known as the Iran hostage crisis. Once the Shah's course of treatment had finished, the American government, eager to avoid further controversy, pressed the former monarch to leave the country.

He left the United States on 15 December 1979 and lived for a short time in Panama. Finally he went back to Egypt where he died on July 27, 1980, aged 60.

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi is buried in the Al Rifa'i Mosque in Cairo, a mosque of great symbolic value. The last royal rulers of two great ancient empires are buried here, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran and King Farouk of Egypt, his former brother-in-law. The royals tombs lie off to the left of the entrance.

Shortly after his overthrow, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi wrote an autobiographical memoir entitled Answer to History (ISBN 0-8128-2755-4), which was translated from the original French (Réponse à l'histoire) into both English and Persian (Pasukh bih Tarikh) as well as other languages, and was later published posthumously in 1980. The book is his personal account of his reign and accomplishments, as well as his perspective on issues related to the Iranian Revolution and Western foreign policy toward Iran. In the book, the Shah also places blame for the wrongdoings of SAVAK and the failures of various democratic and social reforms (particularly through the White Revolution) upon Amir Abbas Hoveyda and his administration.

[edit] Wives and children

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was married three times. His first wife was Princess Fawzia of Egypt (born November 5, 1921), a daughter of King Fuad I of Egypt and his second wife, the former Nazli Sabri; she also was a sister of King Farouk I of Egypt. They married in 1939 and were divorced in 1945 (Egyptian divorce) and 1948 (Iranian divorce), after her failure to produce an heir to the throne. They had one daughter, Princess Shahnaz Pahlavi (born October 27, 1940).

His second wife was Soraya Esfandiary (June 22, 1932-October 26, 2001), the only daughter of Khalil Esfandiary, Ambassador of Iran to the Federal Republic of Germany, and his wife, the former Eva Karl. They married in 1951 and divorced in 1958 when it became apparent that she could not bear children.

The Shah's third wife was Farah Diba (born October 14, 1938), the only child of Sohrab Diba, Captain in the Imperial Iranian Army, and his wife, the former Faredeh Ghotbi. They were married in 1959, and Queen Farah was crowned Shahbanu, or Empress, a title created especially for her, in 1967. Previous royal consorts had been known as "Malakeh" (Arabic: Malika), or Queen. Farah Diba bore him four children:

  1. Reza Cyrus Pahlavi, the Crown Prince (born October 31, 1960)
  2. Farahnaz Pahlavi (born March 12, 1963)
  3. Ali Reza Pahlavi (born April 28, 1966)
  4. Leila Pahlavi (March 27, 1970June 10, 2001)

[edit] Quotes

  • On the role of the U.S. in the revolution: I did not know it then – perhaps I did not want to know – but it is clear to me now that the Americans wanted me out. Clearly this is what the human rights advocates in the State Department wanted … What was I to make of the Administration's sudden decision to call former Under Secretary of State George Ball to the White House as an adviser on Iran? … Ball was among those Americans who wanted to abandon me and ultimately my country.<ref>What Really Happed to the Shah of Iran - [12]</ref>
  • On role of women: Women are important in a man’s life only if they’re beautiful and charming and keep their femininity and ... this business of feminism, for instance. What do these feminists want? What do you want? You say equality. Oh! I don’t want to seem rude, but.. you’re equal in the eyes of the law but not, excuse my saying so, in ability ... You've never produced a Michelangelo or a Bach. You've never even produced a great chef. And if you talk to me about opportunity, all I can say is, Are you joking? Have you ever lacked the opportunity to give history a great chef? You've produced nothing great, nothing! … You're schemers, you are evil. All of you.<ref>Oriana Fallaci, Interview with History. New York; Liveright Publishing, 1976. pp. 270-272.</ref>

[edit] See also

[edit] Further reading

[edit] References


[edit] External links

Preceded by:
Reza Shah
Shah of Iran
1941 – 1979
Succeeded by:
Islamic Republic declared
Head of the House of Pahlavi
1941 – 1980
Succeeded by:
Reza Cyrus Pahlavi
Iranian Head of State
1941 – 1979
Succeeded by:
Supreme Leader
Ruhollah Khomeini
ar:محمد رضا بهلوي

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Mohammad Reza Pahlavi

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