Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Second Iranian Shah of the Pahlavi dynasty
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavī was the Shah of Persia from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979. He was the second and last monarch of the House of Pahlavi of the Iranian monarchy. At present, he is regarded as the last King of Iran. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi held several titles: His Imperial Majesty, Shahanshah (King of Kings, Emperor), Aryamehr (Light of the Aryans) and Bozorg Arteshtārān .
Biography
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's personal information overview.
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NATIONAL BRIEFING | NEW ENGLAND; Massachusetts: Shah's Son Found Dead
NYTimes - about 6 years
The youngest son of the former shah of Iran was found dead Tuesday in his Boston apartment, according to his brother's Web site. Prince Alireza Pahlavi ''struggled for years to overcome his sorrow'' and ''in his Boston residence, took his own life, plunging his family and friends into great sorrow,'' said a note on the Web site of his brother Reza
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POLITICUS; Oil at Heart of Dispute Over Iran
NYTimes - about 7 years
PARIS -- Thirty-one years ago this week -- Jan. 16, 1979 -- the shah of Iran flew into exile, opening the way to the birth of an Islamic republic and, over time, a country whose leaders have shaken much of world with their apocalyptic threats and drive for nuclear weapons. For sure, demonstrations, shootings and massive repression brought a picture
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Ideas & Trends: Iran and Guatemala, 1953-54; Revisiting Cold War Coups and Finding Them Costly
NYTimes - about 13 years
SOON after the C.I.A. installed him as president of Guatemala in 1954, Col. Carlos Castillo Armas visited Washington. He was unusually forthright with Vice President Richard M. Nixon. ''Tell me what you want me to do,'' he said, ''and I will do it.'' What the United States wanted in Guatemala -- and in Iran, where the C.I.A. also deposed a
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Cars Seized After Iran's Revolt Find Home and Showroom
NYTimes - over 13 years
Museum guides like to say that the rare Mercedes-Benz 500 K carried Hitler to review his troops. They know that the Rolls-Royce Phantom IV was built to be bulletproof, ordered by a safety-minded Shah Reza Pahlavi after an assassination attempt against his son. These two automobiles are among about 40 classic cars seized after the Islamic revolution
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Iran's Failed Revolution
NYTimes - about 14 years
Few Iranians have been celebrating the 24th anniversary of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's Islamic revolution this month. It is easy to understand why. A movement that once brought millions into the streets demanding freedom from the shah's dictatorship has gone on to oppress its young, disillusion its middle-aged veterans and silence even grand
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Hard-Liners Put Iranian Journalist on Trial on Spying Charges
NYTimes - almost 15 years
A 73-year-old former journalist has gone on trial behind closed doors, charged with espionage and threatening national security in what is considered part of a new current of repression against intellectuals in Iran. The former journalist, Siamak Pourzand, director of the Artistic and Cultural Complex in Tehran, was arrested late last year by the
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A NATION CHALLENGED: AN INVESTIGATION; As Actor's Film Wins Raves, His Identity Attracts Scrutiny
NYTimes - about 15 years
A fugitive in the political assassination of an Iranian exile leader here has turned up 22 years later as an actor in ''Kandahar,'' a fictitious and highly praised new Iranian movie about Taliban oppression in Afghanistan, the Montgomery County state's attorney said today. ''It's him, there's no doubt,'' State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler said of
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Princess Soraya, 69, Shah's Wife Whom He Shed for Lack of Heir
NYTimes - over 15 years
Princess Soraya Esfandiari Bakhtiari, the second wife of the former shah of Iran, has died in Paris, a former Iranian official close to the family said today. She was 69. She died in her Paris apartment, according to a former minister of the shah, A. M. Madjidi. The cause and day of death were unclear. The princess was born on June 22, 1932, to a
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Persepolis Journal; Shah's Tent City, Fit for Kings, May Lodge Tourists
NYTimes - over 15 years
The place will probably not be called The Shah's Motel. But the extravagant tents that Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi erected here 30 years ago for a lavish -- some say unhinged -- celebration marking the 2,500th anniversary of the first Persian empire are to be restored, probably for tourists. The 50 tents, which once had marble bathrooms, the finest
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Leila Pahlavi Is Dead at 31; Youngest Daughter of Shah of Iran
NYTimes - over 15 years
Leila Pahlavi, a daughter of the Shah of Iran, died in her sleep Sunday night in London, her mother, Queen Farah, said today. She was 31. Queen Farah, who lives in Paris, did not make public the cause of death. ''For the past few years, Leila has been very depressed,'' she said. ''Time had not healed her wounds. Exiled at the age of 9, she never
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1980
    Age 60
    After that event, the Shah again sought the support of Egyptian president Anwar El-Sadat, who renewed his offer of permanent asylum in Egypt to the ailing monarch. He returned to Egypt in March 1980, where he received urgent medical treatment, including a splenectomy performed by Michael DeBakey. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi died from complications of Waldenström's macroglobulinemia (a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma) on 27 July 1980, aged 60.
    More Details Hide Details Egyptian President Sadat gave the Shah a state funeral. In addition to members of the Pahlavi family, Anwar Sadat, Richard Nixon and Constantine II of Greece attended the funeral ceremony in Cairo. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi is buried in the Al Rifa'i Mosque in Cairo, a mosque of great symbolic importance. The last royal rulers of two monarchies are buried there, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran and King Farouk of Egypt, his former brother-in-law. The tombs lie to the left of the entrance. Years earlier, his father and predecessor, Reza Shah had also initially been buried at the Al Rifa'i Mosque. In 1969, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi sent one of 73 Apollo 11 Goodwill Messages to NASA for the historic first lunar landing. The message still rests on the lunar surface today. He stated in part, "we pray the Almighty God to guide mankind towards ever increasing success in the establishment of culture, knowledge and human civilisation". The Apollo 11 crew visited Mohammad Reza Shah during a world tour.
  • FIFTIES
  • 1979
    Age 59
    On 17 October 1979, again in exile and perhaps knowing the gravity of his illness, he split up his wealth between his family members, giving 20% to Farah, 20% to his eldest son Reza, 15% to Farahnaz, 15% to Leila, 20% to his younger son, in addition to giving 8% to Shahnaz and 2% to his granddaughter Mahnaz Zahedi.
    More Details Hide Details
    He left the United States on 15 December 1979 and lived for a short time in the Isla Contadora in Panama.
    More Details Hide Details This caused riots by Panamanians who objected to the Shah being in their country. The new government in Iran still demanded his and his wife's immediate extradition to Tehran. A short time after Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's arrival in Panama, an Iranian ambassador was dispatched to the Central American nation carrying a 450-page extradition request. That official appeal alarmed both the Shah and his advisors. Whether the Panamanian government would have complied is a matter of speculation among historians.
    On 22 October 1979, President Jimmy Carter reluctantly allowed the Shah into the United States to undergo surgical treatment at the New York–Weill Cornell Medical Hospital.
    More Details Hide Details While in Cornell Medical Center, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi used the name "David D. Newsom", Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs at that time, as his temporary code name, without Newsom's knowledge. The Shah was taken later by U.S. Air Force jet to Kelly Air Force Base in Texas and from there to Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base. It was anticipated that his stay in the United States would be short; however, surgical complications ensued, which required six weeks of confinement in the hospital before he recovered. His prolonged stay in the United States was extremely unpopular with the revolutionary movement in Iran, which still resented the United States' overthrow of Prime Minister Mosaddegh and the years of support for the Shah's rule. The Iranian government demanded his return to Iran, but he stayed in the hospital.
    Richard Nixon, the former president, visited the Shah in summer 1979 in Mexico.
    More Details Hide Details The Shah suffered from gallstones that would require prompt surgery. He was offered treatment in Switzerland, but insisted on treatment in the United States.
    On 14 January 1979, an article titled "Little pain expected in exile for Shah" by The Spokesman Review newspaper found that the Pahlavi dynasty had amassed one of the largest private fortunes in the world; estimated then at well over $1 billion.
    More Details Hide Details A list submitted to the ministry of justice in protest of the royal family's penetration of every corner of the nation's economy detailed that the then Pahlavi dynasty dominated the economy of Iran. The list showed that the Pahlavi dynasty had interests in, amongst other things, 17 banks and insurance companies, including a 90 percent ownership in the nation's third-largest insurance company, 25 metal enterprises, 8 mining companies, 10 building materials companies, including 25 percent of the largest cement company, 45 construction companies, 43 food companies, and 26 enterprises in trade or commerce, including a share of ownership in almost every major hotel in Iran. According to another source, the Pahlavis owned 70 percent of the then hotel capacity in the country. Much of the Pahlavi dynasty fortune was required to be transferred to the "Pahlavi Foundation", a charitable organisation and the families' trust. The organisation refuses to give any value of its assets or an annual income but a published book in Iran by Robert Graham, a British journalist, calculates that on the basis of its known holdings, the then foundation assets totalled over $2.8 billion.
    On 16 January 1979, he made a contract with Farboud and left Iran at the behest of Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar (a longtime opposition leader himself), who sought to calm the situation.
    More Details Hide Details Spontaneous attacks by members of the public on statues of the Pahlavis followed, and "within hours, almost every sign of the Pahlavi dynasty" was destroyed. Bakhtiar dissolved SAVAK, freed all political prisoners, and allowed Ayatollah Khomeini to return to Iran after years in exile. He asked Khomeini to create a Vatican-like state in Qom, promised free elections, and called upon the opposition to help preserve the constitution, proposing a "national unity" government including Khomeini's followers. Khomeini rejected Bakhtiar's demands and appointed his own interim government, with Mehdi Bazargan as prime minister, stating that "I will appoint a state. I will act against this government. With the nation's support, I will appoint a state." In February, pro-Khomeini revolutionary guerrilla and rebel soldiers gained the upper hand in street fighting, and the military announced its neutrality. On the evening of 11 February, the dissolution of the monarchy was complete.
  • 1978
    Age 58
    On 2 October 1978, the Shah declared and granted an amnesty to dissidents living abroad, including Ayatollah Khomeini.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1977
    Age 57
    The overthrow of the Shah came as a surprise to almost all observers. The first militant anti-Shah demonstrations of a few hundred started in October 1977, after the death of Khomeini's son Mostafa.
    More Details Hide Details A year later strikes were paralysing the country, and in early December a "total of 6 to 9 million"—more than 10% of the country—marched against the Shah throughout Iran.
  • 1975
    Age 55
    Other actions that are thought to have contributed to his downfall include antagonising formerly apolitical Iranians — especially merchants of the bazaars — with the creation in 1975 of a single party political monopoly (the Rastakhiz Party), with compulsory membership and dues, and general aggressive interference in the political, economic, and religious concerns of people's lives; and the 1976 change from an Islamic calendar to an Imperial calendar, marking the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus as the first day, instead of the migration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina.
    More Details Hide Details This supposed date was designed that the year 2500 would fall on 1941, the year when his own reign started. Overnight, the year changed from 1355 to 2535. During the extravagant festivities to celebrate the 2500th anniversary, the Shah was quoted as saying at Cyrus's tomb: "Rest in peace, Cyrus, for we are awake". It has been argued that the White Revolution was "shoddily planned and haphazardly carried out", upsetting the wealthy while not going far enough to provide for the poor or offer greater political freedom. Some achievements of the Shah—such as broadened education—had unintended consequences. While school attendance rose (by 1966 the school attendance of urban seven- to fourteen-year-olds was estimated at 75.8%), Iran's labor market could not absorb a high number of educated youth. In 1966, high school graduates had "a higher rate of unemployment than did the illiterate", and educated unemployed often supported the revolution.
    However, by 1975 he had abolished the multi-party system of government in favour of a one-party state under the Rastakhiz (Resurrection) Party.
    More Details Hide Details The Shah justified his actions by declaring: "We must straighten out Iranians' ranks. To do so, we divide them into two categories: those who believe in Monarchy, the constitution and the Six Bahman Revolution and those who don't A person who does not enter the new political party and does not believe in the three cardinal principles will have only two choices. He is either an individual who belongs to an illegal organisation, or is related to the outlawed Tudeh Party, or in other words a traitor. Such an individual belongs to an Iranian prison, or if he desires he can leave the country tomorrow, without even paying exit fees; he can go anywhere he likes, because he is not Iranian, he has no nation, and his activities are illegal and punishable according to the law". In addition, the Shah had decreed that all Iranian citizens and the few remaining political parties become part of Rastakhiz.
  • 1973
    Age 53
    In December 1973, only two months after oil prices were raised by 70 percent, he urged OPEC nations to push oil prices even higher, which they agreed to and more than doubled the price.
    More Details Hide Details Oil prices increased 470 percent over a 12-month period, which also increased Iran's GDP by 50 percent. Upon personal pleas from President Richard Nixon, the Shah ignored any complaints, claimed the US was importing more oil than any time in the past, and proclaimed that "the industrial world will have to realise that the era of their terrific progress and even more terrific income and wealth based on cheap oil is finished." With Iran's great oil wealth, the Shah became the pre-eminent leader of the Middle East, and self-styled "Guardian" of the Persian Gulf. In 1961, he defended his style of rule, saying "When Iranians learn to behave like Swedes, I will behave like the King of Sweden." During the last years of his regime, Shah's government became more autocratic. In the words of a US Embassy dispatch, "The Shah's picture is everywhere. The beginning of all film showings in public theaters presents the Shah in various regal poses accompanied by the strains of the National anthem The monarch also actively extends his influence to all phases of social affairs there is hardly any activity or vocation which the Shah or members of his family or his closest friends do not have a direct or at least a symbolic involvement. In the past, he had claimed to take a two-party system seriously and declared, "If I were a dictator rather than a constitutional monarch, then I might be tempted to sponsor a single dominant party such as Hitler organised".
    The Shah also manipulated America's dependence of Middle Eastern oil; although Iran did not participate in the 1973 oil embargo, he purposely increased production in its aftermath to capitalise on the higher prices.
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  • 1972
    Age 52
    When Nixon's National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger visited Tehran in May 1972, the Shah convinced him to take a larger role in what had, up to then, been a mainly Israeli-Iranian operation to aid Iraqi Kurds in their struggles against Iraq, against the warnings of the CIA and State Department that the Shah would ultimately betray the Kurds.
    More Details Hide Details He did this in March 1975 with the signing of the Algiers Accord that settled Iraqi-Iranian border disputes, an action taken without prior consultation of the US, after which he cut off all aid to the Kurds and prevented the US and Israel from using Iranian territory to provide them assistance.
  • FORTIES
  • 1969
    Age 49
    In April 1969, he abrogated the 1937 Iranian-Iraqi treaty over control of the Shatt al-Arab, and as such, Iran ceased paying tolls to Iraq when its ships used the Shatt al-Arab.
    More Details Hide Details He justified his move by arguing that almost all river borders all over the world ran along the thalweg (deep channel mark), and by claiming that because most of the ships that used the Shatt al-Arab were Iranian, the 1937 treaty was unfair to Iran. Iraq threatened war over the Iranian move, but when on 24 April 1969 an Iranian tanker escorted by Iranian warships sailed down the Shatt al-Arab, Iraq being the militarily weaker state did nothing. The Iranian abrogation of the 1937 treaty marked the beginning of a period of acute Iraqi-Iranian tension that was to last until the Algiers Accords of 1975. He financed Kurdish separatist rebels, and to cover his tracks, armed them with Soviet weapons which Israel had seized from Soviet-backed Arab regimes, and then handed over to Iran at the Shah's behest. The initial operation was a disaster, but the Shah continued attempts to support the rebels and weaken Iraq. Then in 1975, the countries signed the Algiers Accord, which granted Iraq equal navigation rights in the Shatt al-Arab river, while Mohammad Reza Pahlavi agreed to end his support for Iraqi Kurdish rebels. The Shah also maintained close relations with King Hussein of Jordan, Anwar Sadat of Egypt, and King Hassan II of Morocco.
  • 1967
    Age 47
    On 26 October 1967, twenty-six years into his reign as Shah ("King"), he took the ancient title Shāhanshāh ("Emperor" or "King of Kings") in a lavish coronation ceremony held in Tehran.
    More Details Hide Details He said that he chose to wait until this moment to assume the title because in his own opinion he "did not deserve it" up until then; he is also recorded as saying that there was "no honour in being Emperor of a poor country" (which he viewed Iran as being until that time). The Pahlavi imperial family employed rich heraldry to symbolize their reign and ancient Persian heritage. The imperial crown image was included in every official state document and symbol—from the badges of the armed forces to paper money and coinage. The crown image was naturally the centerpiece of the imperial standard of the Shah (Shāhanshāh). The personal standards—for the Shāhanshāh, for his wife the Shahbānū (Shahbanu) and for the eldest son who was his designated successor (Crown Prince)—had a field of pale blue (the traditional colour of the Iranian Imperial Family) at the centre of which was placed the heraldic motif of the individual. The Imperial Iranian national flag was placed in the top left quadrant of each standard. The appropriate Imperial standard was flown beside the national flag when the individual was present.
  • 1965
    Age 45
    The second attempt on the Shah's life occurred on 10 April 1965.
    More Details Hide Details A soldier shot his way through the Marble Palace. The assassin was killed before he reached the royal quarters. Two civilian guards died protecting the Shah. According to Vladimir Kuzichkin – a former KGB officer who defected to the SIS – the Shah was also allegedly targeted by the Soviet Union, who tried to use a TV remote control to detonate a bomb-laden Volkswagen Beetle. The TV remote failed to function. A high-ranking Romanian defector Ion Mihai Pacepa also supported this claim, asserting that he had been the target of various assassination attempts by Soviet agents for many years.
  • 1964
    Age 44
    In July 1964, the Shah, Turkish President Cemal Gürsel and Pakistani President Ayub Khan announced in Istanbul the establishment of the Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) organisation to promote joint transportation and economic projects.
    More Details Hide Details It also envisioned Afghanistan's joining some time in the future. The Shah of Iran was the first regional leader to recognise the State of Israel as a de facto state, although when interviewed on 60 Minutes by reporter Mike Wallace, he criticised American Jews for their presumed control over US media and finance. Although the United States was responsible for putting the Shah in power, he did not always act as a close US ally. In the early 1960s, when a policy planning staff that included William R. Polk encouraged the Shah to spread around Iran's growing revenues more equitably, slow the rush toward militarisation, and open the government to political processes, he became furious and identified Polk as "the principal enemy of his regime." The US-Iran relationship grew more contentious when the US became dependent on him to be a stabilising force in the Middle East.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1959
    Age 39
    They were married in 1959, and Queen Farah was crowned Shahbanu, or Empress, a title created specially for her in 1967.
    More Details Hide Details Previous royal consorts had been known as "Malakeh" (Arabic: Malika), or Queen. The couple remained together for twenty one years, until the Shah's death. Farah Diba bore him four children: Mohammad Reza Pahlavi inherited the wealth built by his father Reza Shah who preceded him as king of Iran and became known as the richest person in Iran during his reign, with his wealth estimated to be higher than 600 million rials and including vast amounts of land and numerous large estates especially in the province of Mazandaran obtained usually at a fraction of its real price. Reza Shah, facing criticism for his wealth, decided to pass on all of his land and wealth to his eldest son Mohammad Reza in exchange for a sugar cube, known in Iran as habbe kardan. However shortly after obtaining the wealth Mohammad Reza was ordered by his father and then king to transfer a million tooman or 500,000 dollars to each of his siblings. By 1958 it was estimated that the companies possessed by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi had a value of $157 million (in 1958 USD) with an estimated additional 100 million saved outside Iran. The rumours and constant talk of his, and his family's corruption greatly damaged his reputation and led to the creation of the Pahlavi Foundation in the same year and the return to the people of some 2,000 villages inherited by his father, often at very low and discount prices.
  • 1958
    Age 38
    The Shah and Soraya's controversial marriage ended in 1958 when it became apparent that, even through help from medical doctors, she could not bear children.
    More Details Hide Details Soraya later told the New York Times that the Shah had no choice but to divorce her, and that he was heavy-hearted about the decision. However, even after the marriage, it is reported that the Shah still had great love for Soraya, and it is reported that they met several times after their divorce and that she lived her post-divorce life comfortably as a wealthy lady, even though she never remarried; being paid a monthly salary of about $7,000 from Iran. Following her death in 2001 at the age of 69 in Paris, an auction of the possessions included a three-million-dollar Paris estate, a 22.37 carat diamond ring and a 1958 Rolls-Royce. Pahlavi subsequently indicated his interest in marrying Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy, a daughter of the deposed Italian king, Umberto II. Pope John XXIII reportedly vetoed the suggestion. In an editorial about the rumors surrounding the marriage of a "Muslim sovereign and a Catholic princess", the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, considered the match "a grave danger", especially considering that under the 1917 Code of Canon Law a Roman Catholic who married a divorced person would be automatically, and could be formally, excommunicated.
  • 1953
    Age 33
    On 19 August 1953, pro-Shah partisans – bribed with $100,000 in CIA funds – finally appeared and marched out of south Tehran into the city centre, where others joined in.
    More Details Hide Details Gangs with clubs, knives, and rocks controlled the streets, overturning Tudeh trucks and beating up anti-Shah activists. As Roosevelt was congratulating Zahedi in the basement of his hiding place, the new Prime Minister's mobs burst in and carried him upstairs on their shoulders. That evening, Henderson suggested to Ardashir that Mosaddegh be not harmed. Roosevelt gave Zahedi US$900,000 left from Operation Ajax funds. US actions further solidified sentiments that the West was a meddlesome influence in Iranian politics. In the year 2000, reflecting on this notion, US Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright stated: "In 1953 the United States played a significant role in orchestrating the overthrow of Iran's popular Prime Minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh. The Eisenhower Administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons; but the coup was clearly a setback for Iran's political development. And it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal affairs."
    On 18 August 1953, Mosaddegh defended the government against this new attack.
    More Details Hide Details Tudeh partisans were clubbed and dispersed. The Tudeh party had no choice but to accept defeat. In the meantime, according to the CIA plot, Zahedi appealed to the military, and claimed to be the legitimate prime minister and charged Mosaddegh with staging a coup by ignoring the Shah's decree. Zahedi's son Ardeshir acted as the contact between the CIA and his father.
    The Communists staged massive demonstrations to hijack Mosaddegh's initiatives. The United States actively plotted against him. On 16 August 1953, the right wing of the Army attacked.
    More Details Hide Details Armed with an order by the Shah, it appointed General Fazlollah Zahedi as prime minister. A coalition of mobs and retired officers close to the Palace executed this coup d'état. They failed dismally and the Shah fled the country in humiliating haste. Even Ettelaat, the nation's largest daily newspaper, and its pro-Shah publisher, Abbas Masudi, were against him. During the following two days, the Communists turned against Mosaddegh. Opposition against him grew tremendously. They roamed Tehran, raising red flags and pulling down statues of Reza Shah. This was rejected by conservative clerics like Kashani and National Front leaders like Hossein Makki, who sided with the king.
    Kermit Roosevelt returned to Iran on 13 July 1953, and again on 1 August 1953, in his first meeting with the king.
    More Details Hide Details A car picked him up at midnight and drove him to the palace. He lay down on the seat and covered himself with a blanket as guards waved his driver through the gates. The Shah got into the car and Roosevelt explained the mission. The CIA bribed him with $1 million in Iranian currency, which Roosevelt had stored in a large safe – a bulky cache, given the then exchange rate of 1,000 rial to 15 dollars.
  • 1952
    Age 32
    Shortly prior to the 1952 presidential election in the United States, the British government invited CIA officer Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., to London to propose collaboration on a secret plan to force Mosaddegh from office.
    More Details Hide Details This would be the first of three "regime change" operations led by Allen Dulles (the other two being the successful CIA-instigated 1954 Guatemalan coup d'état and the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba). Under the direction of Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., a senior Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer and grandson of former US President Theodore Roosevelt, the American CIA and British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) funded and led a covert operation to depose Mosaddegh with the help of military forces disloyal to the democratically elected government. Referred to as Operation Ajax, the plot hinged on orders signed by Mohammad Reza to dismiss Mosaddegh 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, causing the Shah to flee to Baghdad, and then to Rome. After a brief exile in Italy, he returned to Iran, this time through a successful second attempt at a coup. A deposed Mosaddegh was arrested and tried. The king intervened and commuted the sentence to three years, to be followed by life in internal exile. Zahedi was installed to succeed Mosaddegh.
  • 1951
    Age 31
    They married on 12 February 1951, when Soraya was 18 according to the official announcement; however, it was rumoured that she was actually 16, the Shah being 32.
    More Details Hide Details As a child she was tutored and brought up by Frau Mantel, and hence lacked proper knowledge of Iran, as she herself admits in her personal memoirs, stating, "I was a dunce—I knew next to nothing of the geography, the legends of my country, nothing of its history, nothing of Muslim religion."
    In 1951, Mohammad Mosaddegh was elected Prime Minister and committed to nationalising the Iranian petroleum industry controlled by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) (as Anglo-Persian Oil Company or APOC had become).
    More Details Hide Details Under the leadership of Mosaddegh's democratically elected nationalist movement, the Iranian parliament unanimously voted to nationalise the oil industry—thus shutting out the immensely profitable AIOC, which was a pillar of Britain's economy and provided it political clout in the region. At the start of the confrontation, American political sympathy was forthcoming from the Truman Administration. In particular, Mosaddegh was buoyed by the advice and counsel he was receiving from American Ambassador in Tehran, Henry F. Grady. However, eventually American decision-makers lost their patience, and by the time a Republican Administration came to office fears that communists were poised to overthrow the government became an all-consuming concern (these concerns were later dismissed as "paranoid" in retrospective commentary on the coup from US government officials).
  • TWENTIES
  • 1949
    Age 29
    Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was the target of at least two unsuccessful assassination attempts. On 4 February 1949, he attended an annual ceremony to commemorate the founding of Tehran University.
    More Details Hide Details At the ceremony, Fakhr-Arai fired five shots at him at a range of c. three meters. Only one of the shots hit the king, grazing his cheek. Fakhr-Arai was instantly shot by nearby officers. After an investigation, it was thought that Fakhr-Arai was a member of the Tudeh Party, which was subsequently banned. However, there is evidence that the would-be assassin was not a Tudeh member but a religious fundamentalist member of Fada'iyan-e Islam. The Tudeh was nonetheless blamed and persecuted.
  • 1941
    Age 21
    A general amnesty was issued two days after Mohammad Reza Shah's accession to the throne on 19 September 1941.
    More Details Hide Details All political personalities who had suffered disgrace during his father's reign were rehabilitated, and the forced unveiling policy inaugurated by his father in 1935 was overturned. Despite the young king's enlightened decisions, the British Minister in Tehran reported to London that "the young Shah received a fairly spontaneous welcome on his first public experience, possibly rather due to relief at the disappearance of his father than to public affection for himself". Despite his public professions of admiration in later years, Mohammad Reza had serious misgivings about not only the coarse and roughshod political means adopted by his father, but also his unsophisticated approach to the affairs of the state. The young Shah possessed a decidedly more refined temperament, and among the unsavory developments that "would haunt him when he was king" were the political disgrace brought by his father on Teymourtash; the dismissal of Foroughi by the mid-1930s; and Ali Akbar Davar's decision to commit suicide in 1937. An even more significant decision that cast a long shadow was the disastrous and one-sided agreement his father had negotiated with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) in 1933, one which compromised the country's ability to receive more favourable returns from oil extracted from the country.
    Much of the credit for orchestrating a smooth transition of power from the King to the Crown Prince was due to the efforts of Mohammad Ali Foroughi. Suffering from angina, a frail Foroughi was summoned to the Palace and appointed Prime Minister when Reza Shah feared the end of the Pahlavi dynasty once the Allies invaded Iran in 1941.
    More Details Hide Details When Reza Shah sought his assistance to ensure that the Allies would not put an end to the Pahlavi dynasty, Foroughi put aside his adverse personal sentiments for having been politically sidelined since 1935. The Crown Prince confided in amazement to the British Minister that Foroughi "hardly expected any son of Reza Shah to be a civilized human being", but Foroughi successfully derailed thoughts by the Allies to undertake a more drastic change in the political infrastructure of Iran.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1939
    Age 19
    They married on 15 March 1939 in the Abdeen Palace in Cairo. Reza Shah did not participate in the ceremony. They were divorced in 1945 (Egyptian divorce) and in 1948 (Iranian divorce).
    More Details Hide Details Together they had one child, a daughter, HIH Princess Shahnaz Pahlavi (born 27 October 1940). His second wife was Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari (22 June 1932 – 26 October 2001), a half-German half-Iranian woman and the only daughter of Khalil Esfandiary, Iranian Ambassador to West Germany, and his wife, the former Eva Karl.
  • 1938
    Age 18
    After returning to the country, the Crown Prince was registered at the local military academy in Tehran where he remained enrolled until 1938.
    More Details Hide Details He was a qualified pilot. In the midst of World War II in 1941, Nazi Germany began Operation Barbarossa and invaded the Soviet Union, breaking the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. This had a major impact on Iran, which had declared neutrality in the conflict. Later that year British and Soviet forces occupied Iran in a military invasion, forcing Reza Shah to abdicate. Mohammad Reza replaced him on the throne on 16 September 1941. Subsequent to his succession as king, 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.
  • 1936
    Age 16
    He would be the first Iranian prince in line for the throne to be sent abroad to attain a foreign education and remained there for the next four years before returning to obtain his high school diploma in Iran in 1936.
    More Details Hide Details
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1919
    Born
    Nevertheless, Reza Shah was always convinced that his sudden quirk of good fortune had commenced in 1919 with the birth of his son who was dubbed khoshghadam (bird of good omen).
    More Details Hide Details By the time Mohammad Reza turned 11, his father deferred to the recommendation of Abdolhossein Teymourtash, the Minister of Court, to dispatch his son to Institut Le Rosey, a Swiss boarding school, for further studies.
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