In our earlier piece, we examined how Reza Shah destroyed Iran. On this piece, we put his son Mohammad Reza Shah beneath the microscope. We achieve this as a result of, to grasp the Iran of 2022, we have now to make sense of its tortured previous.

At the moment, Iran is dominated by mullahs. Iran’s theocratic regime is disliked, if not despised, by the US and its allies. Many, together with outstanding Iranians, blame the mullahs for all of Iran’s ills. Nonetheless, few are conscious of an inconvenient reality. It was the British who paved the trail to energy for the mullahs with the People setting up 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 delicate spot for Mohammad Reza Shah whom we are going to subsequently discuss 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. Underneath the Shah, Iran was a surveillance state very like the Soviet Union and East Germany. Should you mentioned the fallacious factor to the fallacious folks, SAVAK would throw you into prisons like Evin and Qasr. You additionally confronted the danger of torture and homicide. In spite of everything, the US had taught SAVAK the methods of the commerce.

Younger ladies 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, “You might be equal within the eyes of the regulation, however not, I urge your pardon for saying so, in means.” Therefore, it’s unsurprising that the Shah objectified ladies and noticed them purely by 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 superb 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 top of the struggle. This promise was meant to appease Iranian nationalists. In 1943, American troops arrived in Iran too. When the struggle ended, the Soviets troops failed to depart the nation as per their promise. Solely American stress made them go away by Could 1946. Iranians had been appreciative of American dedication to the integrity of Iran and its proper to self-determination.

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Overseas occupation fuelled nationwide delight 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 beneath 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 faux 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.

The British opposed Mosaddegh tooth and nail. They refused to share earnings equally with the Iranians, claiming it might 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 acquired the promised 17.5% both.


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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 thought of any comparable settlement for AIOC with Iran. This left the Iranian parliament with no selection however to cross 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 pressured to signal the nationalization invoice.

The British responded by manipulating the People to conduct a navy coup in 1953. The Chilly Conflict was on and the People 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 acquired the People 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 more, 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 Conflict, the US started beefing up the Shah’s regime. Washington offered the regime with navy advisers, intelligence brokers, and arms and ammunition value hundreds of thousands of {dollars}. The Iranian taxpayer paid for such assist most generously. American oil firms acquired 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 Conflict 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 navy, 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 one dared to protest. SAVAK routinely scrutinized college students, civil service staff and industrial employees. 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 plenty of part-time brokers all over the world.  SAVAK used all types of torture essential to extract to extract data and punish dissenters. No one felt protected in Iran.

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Such was the brutality of SAVAK that American public opinion started to show. The US put stress on the Shah to reform. In 1963, the Shah introduced a plebiscite for an bold program of social, political and financial reform that has come to be often known as the White Revolution. A very powerful component of this revolution was land reform. He broke down massive land holdings to provide away land to poor cultivators. In concept, this feels like a superb egalitarian measure. In actuality, it led to catastrophe.

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 grow to be landless laborers in cities, notably Tehran. The city inhabitants exploded and, sooner or later, 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 instructing on the prestigious Fayẕiyyeh Madrasah in Qom. He was already a outstanding 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 when Khomeini publicly criticized the Shah for awarding the US capitulation and known 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 navy base, packed off the ayatollah into exile who ended up dwelling in Turkey, Iraq, and, finally, France.

Extravagant Opulence by Overseas 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); (add.information.: 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 needed the world to see him as a secular reformer, an amazing modernizer, a savior of an historical civilization, the resuscitator of historical 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 social gathering” to rejoice 2,500 years of Iranian monarchy.

In 1971, the Shah held this social gathering within the historical ruins of Persepolis, which now lies in the midst of a desert. An airport, a freeway and a whole tent metropolis had been constructed for the event. This “billion-dollar social gathering” 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 social gathering. Nonetheless, canny observers weren’t totally satisfied. Probably the most memorable of those was US diplomat George Ball who attended this social gathering 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 mean per capita earnings of $250 per yr, proclaiming his achievements in modernizing his nation whereas accoutred within the raiment and symbols of historical despotism.”

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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 beneath Iranian suzerainty earlier than the British took over. The British had been imagined to return this island to Iran. As a substitute, the British pressured the Shah to let Bahrain grow to be 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.

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 associate 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 Conflict.

A Sordid and Dissolute Despot

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

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

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

Right this moment, 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 also be a lackey. The apple has not fallen removed from the tree.

Right this moment, individuals 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 weak 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 ladies. The Shah belongs to the dustbin of historical past. Iran’s future must be about liberty, equality, human rights, freedom and democracy.

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