In our earlier piece, we examined how Reza Shah destroyed Iran. On this piece, we put his son Mohammad Reza Shah below the microscope. We accomplish that as a result of, to grasp the Iran of 2022, we’ve to make sense of its tortured previous.

Presently, Iran is dominated by mullahs. Iran’s theocratic regime is disliked, if not despised, by the US and its allies. Many, together with distinguished Iranians, blame the mullahs for all of Iran’s ills. Nonetheless, few are conscious of an inconvenient fact. It was the British who paved the trail to energy for the mullahs with the Individuals establishing the mile.

Through the years, the mullahs have confronted many protests. Within the present wave, protesters have attacked authorities officers such because the police, ambulance attendants  and financial institution officers. They’ve additionally focused mosques, clerics and spiritual folks. Many protesters chant “marq bar dictaator,” a phrase that actually interprets as “dying to the dictator.” A few of them have a smooth spot for Mohammad Reza Shah whom we are going to subsequently confer with because the Shah.

Sadly, the Shah so beloved by some Iranians was an oppressive dictator. His secret police SAVAK stored an eye fixed on the folks. Therefore, a well-known proverb was born: divar mush dare, musham gush dare — the wall has a mouse, the mouse has ears. Below the Shah, Iran was a surveillance state very similar to the Soviet Union and East Germany. If you happen to stated the flawed factor to the flawed folks, SAVAK would throw you into prisons like Evin and Qasr. You additionally confronted the danger of torture and homicide. In any case, the US had taught SAVAK the methods of the commerce.

Younger girls who want for a return to the halcyon days of absolute monarchical rule have no idea that the Shah was deeply sexist. He believed that ladies had been much less clever than males. In his interview with Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, the Shah remarked, “It’s possible you’ll be equal within the eyes of the regulation, however not, I urge your pardon for saying so, in potential.” Therefore, it’s unsurprising that the Shah objectified girls and noticed them purely by way of the lens of sexual pleasure.

A Traditional Comprador

When the Portuguese pioneered European colonization of the coloured peoples, a time period got here into being. A comprador or compradore got here to suggest a “one who acts as an agent for international organizations engaged in funding, commerce, or financial or political exploitation.” The Shah was a comprador who dominated Iran first as a British vassal after which as an American one.

The circumstances of the Shah’s accession to the throne are most instructive. The British deposed Reza Shah for cozying up with the Germans in 1941. After sending the daddy packing, they positioned the weak, callow 22-year-old son on the throne. They selected the younger Shah exactly as a result of they had been satisfied that he would do their bidding.

The Shah proved to be a very good decide. The British and the Soviets occupied Iran. The British used Iran’s north-south railroad to produce the Soviets in opposition to Germany. In 1942, each promised that they’d withdraw their forces inside six months of the tip of the warfare. This promise was meant to appease Iranian nationalists. In 1943, American troops arrived in Iran too. When the warfare ended, the Soviets troops failed to depart the nation as per their promise. Solely American strain made them depart by Might 1946. Iranians had been appreciative of American dedication to the integrity of Iran and its proper to self-determination.

International occupation fuelled nationwide pleasure and democratic discourse in Iran. As soon as international troops left, this continued. Whereas international troops left, international affect didn’t cease. The British continued to extract and export oil from Iran for a pittance. They handled Iran as a de facto colony and the Shah acted as their comprador.

Naturally, dissent emerged. Mohammad Mosaddegh emerged as the important thing chief. Reza Shah had put him below home arrest. As soon as the bloodthirsty ruler was deposed in 1941, Mosaddegh returned to public life and was elected to parliament. Protests in 1949 in opposition to pretend elections led to the founding of Jebhe Melli, which accurately interprets as Nationwide Entrance. As its chief, Mosaddegh promised to finish the British management of Iran’s oil business. He demanded that the British share earnings equally with Iran. On the time, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Firm (AIOC) was paying more cash to Britain as taxes than to Iran as a share of the proceeds.

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The British opposed Mosaddegh tooth and nail. They refused to share earnings equally with the Iranians, claiming it could be a breach of contract. The very British concept of duress invalidating a contract didn’t apply to Iran. The Iranians had signed a deal that gave them 17.5% of AIOC’s earnings when the British held a gun to their head. The AIOC cooked its books and Iran by no means actually obtained the promised 17.5% both.

The Soiled Secrets and techniques About How Reza Shah Destroyed Iran


In late December 1950, the American-owned Arabian American Oil Firm (Aramco) agreed to share earnings with Saudi Arabia on a 50-50 foundation. The British rejected the concept of any comparable settlement for AIOC with Iran. This left the Iranian parliament with no selection however to move a invoice nationalizing the oil business in March 1951. The Shah didn’t signal the invoice. Mosaddegh was elected prime minister in April and the Shah was now compelled to signal the nationalization invoice.

The British responded by manipulating the Individuals to conduct a army coup in 1953. The Chilly Battle was on and the Individuals had been turning paranoid about communism. Nationalization allowed the British to color Mosaddegh as a possible Soviet ally. Like a wily previous uncle manipulating a sinewy nephew, the British obtained the Individuals to do their soiled work for them. Mosaddegh was packed off to jail and the Shah emerged as an absolute ruler similar to his father.

Till the 1953 coup, the Shah had one grasp: the British. Any longer, he had two masters: the British and the US. Because the American star rose, they got here to dominate Iran. The British debacle within the 1956 Suez Disaster strengthened the American hand. As a part of the Chilly Battle, the US started beefing up the Shah’s regime. Washington supplied the regime with army advisers, intelligence brokers, and arms and ammunition price thousands and thousands of {dollars}. The Iranian taxpayer paid for such assist most generously. American oil firms obtained a share of the Iranian oil pie.

The Shah’s Oppressive Police State

After 1953, life in Iran deteriorated. For Washington, the Shah was a key Chilly Battle ally. Iran was a frontline state in opposition to the Soviet Union. So, in 1957, CIA and FBI helped the Shah’s regime to arrange the dreaded Sazman-e Etelaat Va Amniat Keshvar (SAVAK), a secret police to cow his folks into submission. The US and, later, Israel coached Iranian army, police and intelligence officers within the arts of surveillance, coercion and torture.

By 1960, the Shah had a vise-like grip on the nation. He had eradicated, imprisoned, and silenced the opposition. No person dared to protest. SAVAK routinely scrutinized college students, civil service staff and industrial staff. It censored and managed all types of media {and professional} associations. SAVAK additionally monitored Iranian communities overseas. It had over 5,000 full-time staff and lots of part-time brokers world wide.  SAVAK used all types of torture essential to extract to extract data and punish dissenters. No person felt protected in Iran.

Such was the brutality of SAVAK that American public opinion started to show. The US put strain on the Shah to reform. In 1963, the Shah introduced a plebiscite for an formidable program of social, political and financial reform that has come to be often known as the White Revolution. Crucial aspect of this revolution was land reform. He broke down massive land holdings to offer away land to poor cultivators. In principle, this appears like a very good egalitarian measure. In actuality, it led to catastrophe.

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Poor cultivators didn’t have cash to run their small farms. The federal government gave them land however didn’t give them farming implements, seeds, fertilizers, irrigation and funds. Unsurprisingly, they deserted their farms to develop into landless laborers in cities, significantly Tehran. The city inhabitants exploded and, in the end, so did discontent.

It was in 1963 that the then comparatively obscure Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini spoke out in opposition to the White Revolution. Khomeini was educating on the prestigious Fayẕiyyeh Madrasah in Qom. He was already a distinguished ayatollah. The Shah arrested Khomeini and killed many college students at Fayẕiyyeh. Fortunately for Khomeini, the Shah didn’t kill him or confine him to an Iranian jail. In 1964, Khomeini publicly criticized the Shah for awarding the US capitulation and referred to as him a lackey of US and Israel. The Shah first arrested Khomeini however, after 19 days in Qasr and a one other few days in a army base, packed off the ayatollah into exile who ended up residing in Turkey, Iraq, and, ultimately, France.

Extravagant Opulence by International Lackey

When the Shah was not oppressing his folks, torturing dissidents or locking up his opponents, he was lavishly blowing up Iranian tax cash on obscenely extravagant occasions. In 1967, the Shah topped himself in an event that also lives on in Iranian reminiscence. This American lackey assumed the resonant however meaningless title, “His Imperial Majesty The Shāhanshāh of Iran,” and wore a crown that was studded with a mere 3,380 diamonds. He gave his spouse Farah the title, “the Empress of Iran,” an unprecedented act in Iranian 2,500-year historical past. 

3510999 Coronation of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Iran, 1967 (picture); ( The coronation ceremony of the final Persian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Teheran, twenty third October 1967); Mondadori Portfolio/Archivio Angelo Cozzi/Angelo Cozzi.

In most monarchies, coronation is held quickly after the king or queen ascends to the throne, because the coronation of Charles II within the UK demonstrates. Within the case of Iran, the coronation ceremony was a mirrored image of the Shah’s perverted narcissism. He wished the world to see him as a secular reformer, an excellent modernizer, a savior of an historic civilization, the resuscitator of historic Persia and a historic emperor beloved by his folks. 4 years later, he threw what has come to be often known as “the world’s best occasion” to have fun 2,500 years of Iranian monarchy.

In 1971, the Shah held this occasion within the historic ruins of Persepolis, which now lies in the midst of a desert. An airport, a freeway and a complete tent metropolis had been constructed for the event. This “billion-dollar occasion” has come to be often known as “the Satan’s Feast.” As his folks toiled in poverty, the Shah and his international visitors had been quaffing the fanciest of champagnes and gorging on caviar. 

Many kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers had been impressed by this ostentatious desert occasion. Nonetheless, canny observers weren’t fully satisfied. Probably the most memorable of those was US diplomat George Ball who attended this occasion and noticed the spectacle of the crowning of the “Solar of the Aryans.” His phrases sum up this 1971 incongruous large bash: 

“What an absurd, bathetic spectacle! The son of a colonel in a Persian Cossack regiment play-acting because the emperor of a rustic with a median per capita revenue of $250 per 12 months, proclaiming his achievements in modernizing his nation whereas accoutred within the raiment and symbols of historic despotism.”

Whereas the Shah was good at throwing lavish events, he was not as savvy at retaining Iranian territory. Bahrain had been overwhelmingly Shia and was below Iranian suzerainty earlier than the British took over. The British had been speculated to return this island to Iran. As a substitute, the British pressured the Shah to let Bahrain develop into an unbiased state in 1970. That they had put in a comprador Wahhabi Sunni dynasty simply as they’d put in the Pahlavis in Iran. This Wahhabi dynasty nonetheless guidelines over Bahraini Shias with an iron hand.

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Whereas the Shah projected himself as a mighty emperor, in actuality, he was the gendarme of the Persian Gulf for Uncle Sam. The US relied on Iran as its main safety companion within the Gulf. Iranian oil revenues had been spent to guard American pursuits within the area. The Shah additionally supported the US within the Vietnam Battle.

A Sordid and Dissolute Despot

As we speak, many Iranians see the Shah as a liberator of ladies. Throughout his time, glamorous girls in elegant attire sashayed down his pink carpets. That is in stark distinction to the present regime of mullahs that imposes draconian gown codes on girls. The nostalgia for the extra permissive pre-1979 period obscures the truth that the Shah didn’t actually see girls as equals. He made his spouse regent however didn’t suppose she would be capable to rule in addition to him.

The Shah led a famously dissolute life, visiting nightclubs throughout Europe and chasing lovely actresses. One in all them was Grace Kelly who grew to become the Princess Grace of Monaco in 1956. The Shah spent thousands and thousands on Kelly. He gifted her “three items of Van Cleef & Arpels jewellery: a gold birdcage housing a diamond and sapphire hen, all long-established into an ideal pin; a gold self-importance case with a clasp set with thirty-two diamonds; and a gold bracelet with an intricate pearl and diamond face.” He gifted others historic jewellery from the treasury. Tragically, the poor, toiling Iranian taxpayers funded this libertine way of life. Additionally they paid for the Shah’s playing habit. This magnificent emperor usually misplaced about 50 million tomans ($42 million) in a single evening as peasants went hungry in his homeland.

Extra importantly, the Shah was the Harvey Weinstein of his day. In actual fact, he was a lot worse than Weinstein. Not solely pimps but in addition authorities officers had been supposed to obtain lovely girls for the Shah. A few of these girls had been underaged. The Shah was a serial sexual offender who preyed on susceptible girls and obtained away with it.

Given the Shah’s lack of loyalty to his nation, his extreme ostentation, brutal oppression and ethical turpitude, a revolution was inevitable. Monarchs can not eat truffles eternally when their folks battle for bread. Despite the fact that SAVAK had imprisoned, tortured or killed opposition leaders like Mosaddegh, the Iranian folks had been seething in rage in opposition to their “Playboy Shah.” Iranians revolted in 1979, precisely 190 years after the 1789 French Revolution. As soon as the mud settled, the mullahs led by Khomeini took cost.

As we speak, the Shah’s eldest son Reza lives within the US and continues the household custom. Reza desires of the restoration of the Pahlavi dynasty and a return to good instances for his household. He has been financed not solely by the CIA but in addition the Saudis. Like his grandfather and father, Reza can be a lackey. The apple has not fallen removed from the tree.

As we speak, persons are out on the streets protesting in opposition to the mullahs who run a theological state. Most of them are very younger with some barely 15. A few of them are susceptible to myths a few wonderful previous and look favorably upon the Shah. Even in 2022, there are Iranians who glorify and glamorize the Shah. They need to keep in mind that he was a corrupt tyrant who stole from his folks, gave territories away, helped foreigners destroy Iranian democracy, killed innocents and sexually abused innumerable girls. The Shah belongs to the dustbin of historical past. Iran’s future needs to be about liberty, equality, human rights, freedom and democracy.

[The authors corrected and updated this article on November 9, 2022.]

The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Honest Observer’s editorial coverage.