|Name:||Mohammad Reza Shah|
|Height:||163 cm (5' 5'')|
|Birth Day:||October 26, 1919|
|Death Date:||Jul 27, 1980 (age 60)|
|Birth Place:||Fatehpur Sikri, Iran|
|Height:||163 cm (5' 5'')|
|Eye Color:||Dark Brown|
As per our current Database, Mohammad Reza Shah died on Jul 27, 1980 (age 60).
The Shah and Soraya's marriage ended in 1958 when it became apparent that, even with help from medical doctors, she could not bear children. 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.
He studied at the Institut Le Rosey in Switzerland and he came to power during World War II after an Anglo-Soviet invasion forced the abdication of his father Reza Shah.
Mohammad Reza was born along with his twin sister, Ashraf. However, Shams, Mohammad Reza, Ashraf, Ali Reza, and their older half-sister, Fatimeh, were not royalty by birth, as their father did not become Shah until 1925. Nevertheless, Reza Khan 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). Like most Iranians at the time, Reza Khan did not have a surname and after the 1921 Persian coup d'état which deposed Ahmad Shah Qajar, he was informed that he would need a name for his house. This led Reza Khan to pass a law ordering all Iranians to take a surname; he chose for himself the surname Pahlavi, which is the name for the Middle Persian language, itself derived from Old Persian. At his father's coronation on 24 April 1926, Mohammad Reza was proclaimed Crown Prince.
In the aftermath of the 1953 coup d'état, Mohammad Reza was widely viewed as a figurehead monarch, and General Fazlollah Zahedi, the Prime Minister, saw himself and was viewed by others as the "strong man" of Iran. Mohammad Reza feared that history would repeat itself, remembering how his father was a general who had seized power in a coup d'état in 1921 and deposed the last Qajar shah in 1925, and his major concern in the years 1953–55 was to neutralise Zahedi. American and British diplomats in their reports back to Washington and London in the 1950s were openly contemptuous of Mohammad Reza's ability to lead, calling the Shah a weak-willed and cowardly man who was incapable of making a decision. The contempt in which the Shah was held by Iranian elites led to a period in the mid-1950s where the elite displayed fissiparous tendencies, feuding amongst themselves now that Mossadegh had been overthrown, which ultimately allowed Mohammad Reza to play off various factions in the elite to assert himself as the nation's leader.
Because the House of Pahlavi were a parvenu house as Reza Khan had begun his career as a private in the Persian Army, rising up to the rank of general, taking power in a coup d'état in 1921, and making himself Shah in 1925, Mohammad Reza was keen to gain the approval of the older royal families of the world, and was prepared to spend large sums of money to gain that social acceptance.
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. Mohammad Reza left Iran for Switzerland on 7 September 1931. On his first day as a student at Le Rosey in September 1931, the Crown Prince antagonised a group of his fellow students who were sitting on a bench in a park outside Le Rosey with his demand that they all stand to attention as he walked past, just as everybody did back in Iran, which led to an American student beating up Mohammad Reza, who swiftly learned to accept that no one would stand to attention wherever he went in Switzerland. As a student, Mohammad Reza played competitive football, but the school records indicate that his principal problem as a football player was his "timidity" as the Crown Prince was afraid to take risks. The Crown Prince was educated in French at Le Rosey, and his time there left Mohammad Reza with a lifelong love of all things French. In articles he wrote in French for the student newspaper in 1935 and 1936, Mohammad Reza praised Le Rosey for broadening his mind and introducing him to European civilisation. Mohammad Reza lost his virginity to a maid who worked at Le Rosey in 1935.
Mohammad Reza was 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. After returning to the country, the Crown Prince was registered at the local military academy in Tehran where he remained enrolled until 1938, graduating as a Second Lieutenant. Upon graduating, Mohammad Reza was quickly promoted to the rank of Captain, a rank which he kept until he became Shah. During college, the young prince was appointed Inspector of the Army and spent three years travelling across the country, examining both civil and military installations.
During his time in Switzerland, Mohammad Reza befriended Ernest Perron introducing Mohammad Reza to French poetry and under his influence Chateaubriand and Rabelais became his "favorite French authors". The Crown Prince liked Perron so much that when he returned to Iran in 1936, he brought Perron back with him, installing his best friend in the Marble Palace. Perron lived in Iran until his death in 1961 and as the best friend of Mohammad Reza was a man of considerable behind-the-scenes power. After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, a best-selling book was published by the new regime, Ernest Perron, the Husband of the Shah of Iran by Mohammad Pourkian, alleging a homosexual relationship between the Shah and Perron, which has remained the official interpretation in the Islamic Republic to the present day. Zonis described the book as long on assertions and short on evidence of a homosexual relationship between the two, noted that all of the Shah's courtiers rejected the claim that Perron was the Shah's lover, and argued that strong-willed Reza Khan, who was very homophobic, would not have allowed Perron to move into the Marble Palace in 1936 if he believed Perron was his son's lover.
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 affairs of state. The young Shah possessed a decidedly more refined temperament, and amongst 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 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.
One of the main initiatives of Iranian and Turkish foreign policy had been the Saadabad pact of 1937, an alliance bringing together Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, with the intent of creating a Muslim bloc that, it was hoped, would deter any aggressors. President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk of Turkey suggested to his friend Reza Khan during the latter's visit to Turkey that a marriage between the Iranian and Egyptian courts would be beneficial for the two countries and their dynasties, as it might lead to Egypt joining the Saadabad pact. In line with this suggestion, Mohammad Reza and Princess Fawzia married. Dilawar Princess Fawzia of Egypt (5 November 1921 – 2 July 2013), a daughter of King Fuad I of Egypt and Nazli Sabri, was a sister of King Farouk I of Egypt. They married on 15 March 1939 in the Abdeen Palace in Cairo. Reza Shah did not participate in the ceremony. During his visit to Egypt, Mohammad Reza was greatly impressed with the grandeur of the Egyptian court as he visited the various palaces built by the Isma'il Pasha, aka "Isma'il the Magnificent", the famously free-spending Khedive of Egypt, and resolved that Iran needed palaces to match those built by Isma'il.
Reza Khan believed if fathers showed love for their sons, it caused homosexuality later in life, and to ensure his favourite son was heterosexual, denied him any love and affection when he was young, though he later become more affectionate towards the Crown Prince when he was a teenager. Reza Khan always addressed his son as shoma ("sir") and refused to use more informal tow ("you"), and in turn was addressed by his son using the same word. The Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuściński observed in his book Shah of Shahs that looking at old photographs of Reza Khan and his son, he was struck by how self-confident and assured Reza Khan appeared in his uniform while Mohammad Reza appeared nervous and jittery in his uniform standing next to his father. In the 1930s, Reza Khan was an outspoken admirer of Adolf Hitler, though this was less because of any racism and anti-Semitism on his part, but rather because Reza Khan saw Hitler as someone much like himself, namely a man who had risen from an undistinguished background to become a notable leader of the 20th century. Reza Khan often impressed on his son his belief that history was made by great men such as himself, and that a real leader is an autocrat. Reza Khan was a huge barrel-chested and muscular man towering at over 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m), leading his son to liken him to a mountain, and throughout his life, Mohammad Reza was obsessed with height and stature, for example wearing elevator shoes to make himself look taller than he really was, often boasting that Iran's highest mountain Mount Damavand was higher than any peak in Europe or Japan, and he was always most attracted to tall women. As Shah, Mohammad Reza constantly disparaged his father in private, calling him a thuggish Cossack who achieved nothing as Shah, and most notably the son almost airbrushed his father out of history during his reign, to the point that the impression was given the House of Pahlavi began its rule in 1941 rather than 1925.
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. In the summer of 1941, Soviet and British diplomats passed on numerous messages warning that they regarded the presence of a number of Germans administering the Iranian state railroads as a threat, implying war if the Germans were not dismissed. Britain wished to ship arms to the Soviet Union via Iranian railroads, and statements from the German managers of the Iranian railroads that they would not cooperate made both Moscow and London insistent that the Germans Reza Khan had hired to run his railroads had to be sacked at once. As his father's closest advisor, the Crown Prince Mohammad Reza did not see fit to raise the issue of a possible Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran, blithely assuring his father that nothing would happen.
The Iranian-American historian Abbas Milani wrote about the relationship between the Reza Khan and the Crown Prince: "As his father's now constant companion, the two men consulted on virtually every decision". Later that year British and Soviet forces occupied Iran in a military invasion, forcing Reza Shah to abdicate. On 25 August 1941, British and Australian naval forces attacked the Persian Gulf while the Soviet Union conducted a land invasion from the north. On the second day of the invasion with the Soviet air force bombing Tehran, Mohammad Reza was shocked to see the Iranian military simply collapse, with thousands of terrified officers and men all over Tehran taking off their uniforms in order to desert and run away despite the fact they had not seen combat yet. Reflecting the panic, a group of senior Iranian generals called the Crown Prince to receive his blessing to hold a meeting to discuss how best to surrender. When Reza Khan learned of the meeting, he flew into a rage and attacked one of his generals, Ahmad Nakhjavan, striking him with his riding crop, tearing off his medals and was about to personally execute him when his son persuaded him to have the general court-martialed instead. The collapse of the Iranian military in the summer of 1941 that his father had worked so hard to build up humiliated his son, who vowed that he would never see Iran defeated like that again, which explained Mohammad Reza's later obsession with military spending.
On 16 September 1941, Prime Minister Forughi and Foreign Minister Ali Soheili attended a special session of parliament to announce the resignation of Reza Shah and that Mohammad Reza was to replace him. The next day, at 4:30 pm, Mohammad Reza took the oath of office and was received warmly by parliamentarians. On his way back to the palace, the streets filled with people welcoming the new Shah jubilantly, seemingly more enthusiastic than the Allies would have liked. The British would have liked to put a Qajar back on the throne, but the principal Qajar claimant to the throne was Prince Hamid Mirza, an officer in the Royal Navy who did not speak Persian, so the British had to accept Mohammad Reza as Shah. The main Soviet interest in 1941 was to ensure political stability to ensure Allied supplies, which meant accepting the throne. 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.
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. 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.
A general amnesty was issued two days after Mohammad Reza's accession to the throne on 19 September 1941. 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". During his early days as Shah, Mohammad Reza lacked self-confidence and spent most of his time with Perron writing poetry in French.
In 1942, Mohammad Reza met Wendell Willkie, the Republican candidate for the U.S. presidency in the 1940 election who was now on a world tour for President Roosevelt to promote his "one world" policy; Willkie took him flying for the first time. The prime minister Ahmad Qavam had advised the Shah against flying with Wilkie, saying he had never met a man with a worse flatulence problem, but the Shah took his chances. Mohammed Reza told Willkie that when he was flying he "wanted to stay up indefinitely". Enjoying flight, Mohammad Reza hired the American pilot Dick Collbarn to teach him how to fly. Upon arriving at the Marble Palace, Collbarn noted that "the Shah must have twenty-five custom-built cars...Buicks, Cadillacs, six Rolls-Royces, a Mercedes". During the Tehran conference in 1943, the Shah was humiliated when he met Joseph Stalin, who visited him in the Marble Palace and did not allow the Shah's bodyguards to be present, with the Red Army alone guarding the Marble Palace during Stalin's visit.
In 1945–46, the main issue in Iranian politics were the Soviet-sponsored separatist government in Iranian Azerbaijan and Kurdistan, which greatly alarmed the Shah. He repeatedly clashed with his prime minister Ahmad Qavam, whom he viewed as too pro-Soviet. At the same time, the growing popularity of the Tudeh Party also worried Mohammad Reza, who felt there was a serious possibility of a coup by the Tudeh. In June 1946, Mohammad Reza was relieved when the Red Army pulled out of Iran. In a letter to the Azerbaijani Communist leader Ja'far Pishevari, Stalin stated that he had to pull out of Iran as otherwise the Americans would not pull out of China, and he wanted to assist the Chinese Communists in their civil war against the Kuomintang. However, the Pishevari regime remained in power in Tabriz, and Mohammad Reza sought to undercut Qavam's attempts to make an agreement with Pishevari as way of getting rid of both. On 11 December 1946, the Iranian Army led by the Shah in person entered Iranian Azerbaijan and the Pishevari regime collapsed with little resistance, with most of the fighting occurring between ordinary people who attacked functionaries of the Pishevari regime who had behaved brutally. In his statements at the time and later, Mohammad Reza credited his easy success in Azerbaijan to his "mystical power". Knowing Qavam's penchant for corruption, the Shah used that issue as a reason to sack him. By this time, Fawzia had returned to Egypt, and despite efforts to have King Farouk persuade her to return to Iran she refused to go, which led Mohammad Reza to divorce her on 17 November 1947.
At least two unsuccessful assassination attempts were made against the young Shah. On 4 February 1949, he attended an annual ceremony to commemorate the founding of Tehran University. At the ceremony, Fakhr-Arai fired five shots at him at a range of c. three metres. 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 were nonetheless blamed and persecuted.
The Shah's second wife was Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari, 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. She was introduced to the Shah by Forough Zafar Bakhtiary, a close relative of Soraya's, via a photograph taken by Goodarz Bakhtiary, in London, per Forough Zafar's request. 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. 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."
By the early 1950s, the political crisis brewing in Iran commanded the attention of British and American policy leaders. In 1951, Mohammad Mosaddegh was appointed prime minister. He was committed to nationalising the Iranian petroleum industry controlled by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) (as Anglo-Persian Oil Company, or APOC, had become). Under the leadership of Mosaddegh and his 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.
Despite the high-level coordination and planning, the coup initially failed, causing the Shah to flee to Baghdad, and then to Rome. During his time in Rome, a British diplomat reported about a monarch who spent most of his time in nightclubs with Queen Soraya or his latest mistress: "He hates taking decisions and cannot be relied on to stick to them when taken. He has no moral courage and succumbs easily to fear". To get him to support the coup, his twin sister Princess Ashraf, who was much tougher than him and publicly questioned his manhood several times, visited him on 29 July 1953 to berate him into signing a decree dismissing Mossaddegh. 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.
Before the first attempted coup, the American Embassy in Tehran reported that Mosaddegh's popular support remained robust. The Prime Minister requested direct control of the army from the Majlis. Given the situation, alongside the strong personal support of Conservative Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden for covert action, the American government gave the go-ahead to a committee, attended by the Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles, Kermit Roosevelt, Henderson, and Secretary of Defense Charles Erwin Wilson. Kermit Roosevelt returned to Iran on 13 July 1953, and again on 1 August 1953, in his first meeting with the king. 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.
The Communists staged massive demonstrations to hijack Mosaddegh's initiatives, and the United States actively plotted against him. On 16 August 1953, the right wing of the Army attacked. 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 decided to leave the country. Ettelaat, the nation's largest daily newspaper, and its pro-Shah publisher, Abbas Masudi, were against him, calling the defeat "humiliating".
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. On 18 August 1953, Mosaddegh defended the government against this new attack. 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, 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. 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. 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 not be harmed. Roosevelt gave Zahedi US$900,000 left from Operation Ajax funds.
The very fact that Mohammad Reza was considered a coward and insubstantial turned out be an advantage as the Shah proved to be an adroit politician, playing off the factions in the elite and the Americans against the British with the aim of being an autocrat in practice as well in theory. Supporters of the banned National Front were persecuted, but in his first important decision as leader, Mohammad Reza intervened to ensure most of the members of the National Front brought to trial, such as Mosaddegh himself, were not executed as many had expected. Many in the Iranian elite were openly disappointed that Mohammad Reza did not conduct the expected bloody purge and hang Mosaddegh and his followers as they had wanted and expected. In 1954, when twelve university professors issued a public statement criticising the 1953 coup, all were dismissed from their jobs, but in the first of his many acts of "magnanimity" towards the National Front, Mohammad Reza intervened to have them reinstated. Mohammad Reza tried very hard to co-opt the supporters of the National Front by adopting some of their rhetoric and addressing their concerns, for example declaring in several speeches his concerns about the Third World economic conditions and poverty which prevailed in Iran, a matter that had not much interested him before.
Mohammad Reza was determined to copy Mosaddegh, who had won popularity by promising broad socio-economic reforms, and wanted to create a mass powerbase as he did not wish to depend upon the traditional elites, who only wanted him as a legitimising figurehead. In 1955, Mohammad Reza dismissed General Zahedi from his position as prime minister and appointed his archenemy, the technocrat Hossein Ala' as prime minister, whom he in turn dismissed in 1957. Starting in 1955, Mohammad Reza began to quietly cultivate left-wing intellectuals, many of whom had supported the National Front and some of whom were associated with the banned Tudeh party, asking them for advice about how best to reform Iran. It was during this period that Mohammad Reza began to embrace the image of a "progressive" Shah, a reformer who would modernise Iran, who attacked in his speeches the "reactionary" and "feudal" social system that was retarding progress, bring about land reform and give women equal rights.
Determined to rule as well as reign, it was during the mid 1950s that Mohammad Reza started to promote a state cult around Cyrus the Great, portrayed as a great Shah who had reformed the country and built an empire with obvious parallels to himself. Alongside this change in image, Mohammad Reza started to speak of his desire to "save" Iran, a duty that he claimed he had been given by God, and promised that under his leadership Iran would reach a Western standard of living in the near future. During this period, Mohammad Reza sought the support of the ulema, and resumed the traditional policy of persecuting those Iranians who belonged to the Baháʼí Faith, allowing the chief Baháʼí temple in Tehran to be razed in 1955 and bringing in a law banning the Baháʼí from gathering together in groups. A British diplomat reported in 1954 that Reza Khan "must have been spinning in his grave at Rey. To see the arrogance and effrontery of the mullahs once again rampant in the holy city! How the old tyrant must despise the weakness of his son, who allowed these turbulent priests to regain so much of their reactionary influence!" By this time, the Shah's marriage was under strain as Queen Soraya complained about the power of Mohammad Reza's best friend Ernest Perron, whom she called a "shetun" and a "limping devil". Perron was a man much resented for his influence on Mohammad Reza and was often described by enemies as a "diabolical" and "mysterious" character, whose position was that of a private secretary, but who was one of the Shah's closest advisors, holding far more power than his job title suggested.
In a 1957 study compiled by the U.S. State Department, Mohammad Reza was praised for his "growing maturity" and no longer needing "to seek advice at every turn" as the previous 1951 study had concluded. On 27 February 1958, a military coup to depose the Shah led by General Valiollah Gharani was thwarted, which led to a major crisis in Iranian-American relations when evidence emerged that associates of Gharani had met American diplomats in Athens, which the Shah used to demand that henceforward no American officials could meet with his opponents. Another issue in Iranian-American relations was Mohammad Reza's suspicion that the United States was insufficiently committed to Iran's defence, observing that the Americans refused to join the Baghdad Pact, and military studies had indicated that Iran could only hold out for a few days in the event of a Soviet invasion.
The Shah and Soraya's marriage ended in 1958 when it became apparent that, even with help from medical doctors, she could not bear children. 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.
Mohammad Reza 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 their 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 toman ($500,000) to each of his siblings. By 1958, it was estimated that the companies possessed by Mohammad Reza had a value of $157 million (in 1958 USD) with an estimated additional $100 million saved outside Iran. Rumours of his and his family's corruption began to surface which greatly damaged his reputation. This formed one of the reasons for the creation of the Pahlavi Foundation and the distribution of additional land to the people of some 2,000 villages inherited by his father, often at very low and discounted prices. In 1958, using funds from inherited crown estates, Mohammad Reza established the Pahlavi Foundation which functioned as a tax-exempt charity and held all his assets, including 830 villages spanning a total area of 2.5 million hectares. According to Business Insider, Mohammad Reza had set up the organisation "to pursue Iran's charitable interests in the U.S." At its height, the organisation was estimated to be worth $3 billion; however, on numerous occasions, the Pahlavi Foundation was accused of corruption. Despite these charges, in his book Answer to History, Pahlavi affirms that he "never made the slightest profit" out of the Foundation.
In January 1959, the Shah began negotiations on a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union, which he claimed to have been driven to by a lack of American support. After receiving a mildly threatening letter from President Eisenhower warning him against signing the treaty, Mohammad Reza chose not to sign, which led to a major Soviet propaganda effort calling for his overthrow. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev ordered Mohammad Reza assassinated. A sign of Mohammad Reza's power came in 1959 when a British company won a contract with the Iranian government that was suddenly cancelled and given to Siemens instead. An investigation by the British embassy soon uncovered the reason why: Mohammad Reza wanted to bed the wife of the Siemens sales agent for Iran, and the Siemens agent had consented to allowing his wife to sleep with the Shah in exchange for winning back the contract that he had just lost. On 24 July 1959, Mohammad Reza gave Israel de facto recognition by allowing an Israeli trade office to be opened in Tehran that functioned as a de facto embassy, a move that offended many in the Islamic world. When Eisenhower visited Iran on 14 December 1959, Mohammad Reza told him that Iran faced two main external threats: the Soviet Union to the north and the new pro-Soviet revolutionary government in Iraq to the west. This led him to ask for vastly increased American military aid, saying his country was a front-line state in the Cold War that needed as much military power as possible.
Mohammad Reza 's third and final wife was Farah Diba (born 14 October 1938), the only child of Sohrab Diba, a captain in the Imperial Iranian Army (son of an Iranian ambassador to the Romanov Court in St. Petersburg, Russia), and his wife, the former Farideh Ghotbi. They were married in 1959, and Queen Farah was crowned Shahbanu, or Empress, a title created specially for her in 1967. 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. They had four children together:
In the 1960 U.S. presidential election, the Shah had favoured the Republican candidate, incumbent Vice President Richard Nixon, whom he had first met in 1953 and rather liked, and according to the diary of his best friend Asadollah Alam, Mohammad Reza contributed money to the 1960 Nixon campaign. Relations with the victor of the 1960 election, the Democrat John F. Kennedy, were not friendly. In an attempt to mend relations after Nixon's defeat, Mohammad Reza sent General Teymur Bakhtiar of SAVAK to meet Kennedy in Washington on 1 March 1961. From Kermit Roosevelt, Mohammad Reza learned that Bakhtiar, during his trip to Washington, had asked the Americans to support a coup he was planning, which greatly increased the Shah's fears about Kennedy. On 2 May 1961, a teacher's strike involving 50,000 people began in Iran, which Mohammad Reza believed was the work of the CIA. Mohammad Reza had to sack his prime minister Jafar Sharif-Emami and give in to the teachers after learning that the Army probably would not fire on the demonstrators. In 1961, Bakhtiar was dismissed as chief of SAVAK and expelled from Iran in 1962 following a clash between demonstrating university students and the army on 21 January 1962 that left three dead. In April 1962, when Mohammad Reza visited Washington, he was met with demonstrations by Iranian students at American universities, which he believed were organised by U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the President's brother and the leading anti-Pahlavi voice in the Kennedy administration. Afterwards, Mohammad Reza visited London. In a sign of the changed dynamics in Anglo-Iranian relations, the Shah took offence when he was informed he could join Queen Elizabeth II for a dinner at Buckingham Palace that was given in somebody else's honour, insisting successfully he would have dinner with the Queen only when given in his own honour.
Mohammad Reza's marriage to Fawzia produced one child, a daughter, Princess Shahnaz Pahlavi (born 27 October 1940). Their marriage was not a happy one as the Crown Prince was openly unfaithful, often being seen driving around Tehran in one of his expensive cars with one of his girlfriends. Mohammad Reza's dominating and extremely possessive mother saw her daughter-in-law as a rival to her son's love, and took to humiliating Princess Fawzia, whose husband sided with his mother. A quiet, shy woman, Fawzia described her marriage as miserable, feeling very much unwanted and unloved by the Pahlavi family and longing to go back to Egypt. In his 1961 book Mission For My Country, Mohammad Reza wrote the "only happy light moment" of his entire marriage to Fawzia was the birth of his daughter.
In 1961, the Francophile Mohammad Reza visited Paris to meet his favourite leader, General Charles de Gaulle of France. Mohammad Reza saw height as the measure of a man and a woman (the Shah had a marked preference for tall women) and the 6'5" de Gaulle was his most admired leader. Mohammad Reza loved to be compared to his "ego ideal" of General de Gaulle, and his courtiers constantly flattered him by calling him Iran's de Gaulle. During the French trip, Queen Farah, who shared her husband's love of French culture and language, befriended the culture minister André Malraux, who arranged for the exchange of cultural artifacts between French and Iranian museums and art galleries, a policy that remained a key component of Iran's cultural diplomacy until 1979. Many of the legitimising devices of the regime such as the constant use of referendums were modelled after de Gaulle's regime. Intense Francophiles, Mohammad Reza and Farah preferred to speak French rather than Persian to their children. Mohammad Reza built the Niavaran Palace which took up 9, 000 square feet and whose style was a blend of Persian and French architecture.
With Iran's great oil wealth, the Shah became the preeminent 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."
Mohamed Reza often spoke in public and in private from childhood onward of his belief that God had chosen him for a "divine mission" to transform Iran, as he believed that dreams he had as a child of the Twelve Imams of Shia Islam were all messages from God. In his 1961 book Mission for My Country, Mohammad Reza wrote:
Mohammad Reza's first major clash with Ayatollah Khomeini occurred in 1962, when the Shah changed the local laws to allow Iranian Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, and Baha'i to take the oath of office for municipal councils using their holy books instead of the Koran. Khomeini wrote to the Shah to say this was unacceptable and that only the Koran could be used to swear in members of the municipal councils regardless of what their religion was, writing that he heard "Islam is not indicated as a precondition for standing for office and women are being granted the right to vote...Please order all laws inimical to the sacred and official faith of the country to be eliminated from government policies." The Shah wrote back, addressing Khomeini as Hojat-al Islam rather than as Ayatollah, declining his request. Feeling pressure from demonstrations organised by the clergy, the Shah withdrew the offending law, but it was reinstated with the White Revolution of 1963.
In 1963, Mohammad Reza launched the White Revolution, a series of far-reaching reforms, which caused much opposition from the religious scholars. They were enraged that the referendum approving of the White Revolution in 1963 allowed women to vote, with the Ayatollah Khomeini saying in his sermons that the fate of Iran should never be allowed to be decided by women. In 1963 and 1964, nationwide demonstrations against Mohammad Reza's rule took place all over Iran, with the centre of the unrest being the holy city of Qom. Students studying to be imams at Qom were most active in the protests, and Ayatollah Khomeini emerged as one of the leaders, giving sermons calling for the Shah's overthrow. At least 200 people were killed, with the police throwing some students to their deaths from high buildings, and Khomeini was exiled to Iraq in August 1964.
Although the U.S. was responsible for putting the Shah in power, he did not always act as a close American ally. In the early 1960s, when the State Department's Policy Planning Staff that included William R. Polk encouraged the Shah to distribute 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." 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. It also envisioned Afghanistan's joining at some time in the future. The Shah 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 U.S. media and finance, those remarks were intended to pacify Arab critics, and bilateral relations between Iran and Israel were not adversely affected. In a 1967 memo to President Lyndon B. Johnson, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara wrote that "our sales [to Iran] have created about 1.4 million man-years of employment in the U.S. and over $1 billion in profits to American industry over the last five years," leading him to conclude that Iran was an arms market the United States could not do without. In June 1965, after the Americans proved reluctant to sell Mohammad Reza some of the weapons he asked for, the Shah visited Moscow, where the Soviets agreed to sell some $110 million worth of weaponry; the threat of Iran pursuing the "Soviet option" caused the Americans to resume selling Iran weapons. Additionally, British, French, and Italian arms firms were willing to sell Iran weapons, thus giving Mohammad Reza considerable leverage in his talks with the Americans, who sometimes worried that the Shah was buying more weapons than Iran needed or could handle.
The second attempt on the Shah's life occurred on 10 April 1965. A soldier shot his way through the Marble Palace. The assassin was killed before he reached the royal quarters, but two civilian guards died protecting the Shah.
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 labour 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 the educated unemployed often supported the revolution.
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. 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).
Between 1967 and 1977, the number of universities increased in number from 7 to 22, the number of institutions of advanced learning rose from 47 to 200, and the number of students in higher education soared from 36,742 to 100,000. Iran's literacy programs were among the most innovative and effective anywhere in the world, so that by 1977 the number of Iranians able to read and write had climbed from just 17 percent to more than 50 percent.
Mohammad Reza was Sovereign of many orders in Iran, and received honours and decorations from around the world. Mohammad Reza used the style His Majesty until his imperial coronation in 1967, ascending to the title of Shahanshah, when he adopted the style His Imperial Majesty. Mohammad Reza also held many supplementary titles such as Bozorg Artestaran, a military rank superseding his prior position as captain. On 15 September 1965, Mohammad Reza was granted the title of Aryamehr ('Light of the Aryans') by an extraordinary session of the joint Houses of Parliament.
Iran's relations with Iraq, however, were often difficult due to political instability in the latter country. Mohammad Reza was distrustful of both the Socialist government of Abd al-Karim Qasim and the Arab nationalist Baath party. He resented the internationally recognised Iran-Iraq border on the Shatt al-Arab river, which a 1937 treaty fixed on the low watermark on the Iranian side, giving Iraq control of most of the Shatt al-Arab. On 19 April 1969, the Shah abrogated the treaty, and as a result Iran ceased paying tolls to Iraq when its ships used the Shatt al-Arab, ending Iraq's lucrative source of income. 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 without paying tolls, 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. The fact that Iraq had welcomed the former SAVAK chief General Teymur Bakhtiar to Baghdad, where he regularly met with representatives of the Tudeh Party and the Confederation of Iranian Students, added to the difficult relations between Iran and Iraq. On 7 August 1970, Bakhtiar was badly wounded by a SAVAK assassin who shot him five times, and he died five days later; Alam wrote in his diary that Mohammad Reza rejoiced at the news.
In 1969, Mohammad Reza 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 during a world tour.
As part of his efforts to modernise Iran and give the Iranian people a non-Islamic identity, Mohammad Reza quite consciously started to celebrate Iranian history before the Arab conquest with a special focus on the Achaemenid period. At the celebration at Persepolis in 1971, the Shah had an elaborate fireworks show put on together with a sound and light show transmitted by hundreds of hidden loudspeakers and projectors intended to send a dual message; that Iran was still faithful to its ancient traditions and that Iran had transcended its past to become a modern nation, that Iran was not "stuck in the past", but as a nation that embraced modernity had chosen to be faithful to its past. The message was further reinforced the next day when the "Parade of Persian History" was performed at Persepolis when 6,000 soldiers dressed in the uniforms of every dynasty from the Achaemenids to the Pahlavis marched past Mohammad Reza in a grand parade that many contemporaries remarked "surpassed in sheer spectacle the most florid celluloid imaginations of Hollywood epics". To complete the message, Mohammad Reza finished off the celebrations by opening a brand new museum in Tehran, the Shahyad Aryamehr, that was housed in a very modernistic building and attended another parade in the newly opened Aryamehr Stadium, intended to give a message of "compressed time" between antiquity and modernity. A brochure put up by the Celebration Committee explicitly stated the message: "Only when change is extremely rapid, and the past ten years have proved to be so, does the past attain new and unsuspected values worth cultivating", going on to say the celebrations were held because "Iran has began to feel confident of its modernization". Milani noted it was sign of the liberalization of the middle years of Mohammad Reza's reign that Hussein Amanat, the architect who designed the Shahyad was a young Baha'i from a middle-class family who did not belong to the "thousand families" that traditionally dominated Iran, writing that it only in this moment in Iranian history that this was possible.
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). In return, Iran took full control of Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa in the Strait of Hormuz, three strategically sensitive islands which were claimed by the United Arab Emirates. During this period, the Shah maintained cordial relations with the Persian Gulf states and established close diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia. Mohammad Reza saw Iran as the natural dominant power in the Persian Gulf region, and tolerated no challenges to Iranian hegemony, a claim that was supported by a gargantuan arms-buying spree that started in the early 1960s. Mohammad Reza 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). In 1971, Mohammad Reza told a journalist: "World events were such that we were compelled to accept the fact that sea adjoining the Oman Sea—I mean the Indian Ocean—does not recognise borders. As for Iran's security limits—I will not state how many kilometers we have in mind, but anyone who is acquainted with geography and the strategic situation, and especially with the potential air and sea forces, know what distances from Chah Bahar this limit can reach".
Amongst the royalty that came to Tehran looking for the Shah's generosity were King Hussein of Jordan, the former King Constantine II of Greece, King Hassan II of Morocco, the princes and princesses of the Dutch House of Orange, and the Italian Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy, whom the Shah had once courted in the 1950s. He coveted the British Order of the Garter, and had, prior to courting Maria Gabriella, inquired about marrying Princess Alexandra of Kent, granddaughter of King George V, but in both cases he was rebuffed in no uncertain terms. As an Iranian, Mohammad Reza greatly enjoyed supporting the Greek branch of the House of Glücksburg, knowing the Greeks still celebrated their victories over the Persians in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. He enjoyed close relations with Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, as demonstrated by the fact that he was the guest of honour at the Persepolis celebrations in 1971. Ethiopia and Iran, along with Turkey and Israel, were envisioned as an "alliance of the periphery" that would constrain Arab power in the greater Middle East.
In October 1971, Mohammad Reza celebrated the twenty-five-hundredth anniversary of the Iranian monarchy; The New York Times reported that $100 million was spent on the celebration. Next to the ancient ruins of Persepolis, the Shah gave orders to build a tent city covering 160 acres (0.65 km), studded with three huge royal tents and fifty-nine lesser ones arranged in a star-shaped design. French chefs from Maxim's of Paris prepared breast of peacock for royalty and dignitaries from around the world, the buildings were decorated by Maison Jansen (the same firm that helped Jacqueline Kennedy redecorate the White House), the guests ate off Limoges porcelain and drank from Baccarat crystal glasses. This became a major scandal, as the contrast between the dazzling elegance of the celebration and the misery of the nearby villages was so dramatic that no one could ignore it. Months before the festivities, university students went on strike in protest. Indeed, the cost was so sufficiently impressive that the Shah forbade his associates to discuss the actual figures. However, he and his supporters argued that the celebrations opened new investments in Iran, improved relationships with the other leaders and nations of the world, and provided greater recognition of Iran.
The personal standards consisted of 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. In 1971, new designs were adopted.
On 7 May 1972, Mohammad Reza told a visiting President Richard Nixon that the Soviet Union was attempting to dominate the Middle East via its close ally Iraq, and that to check Iraqi ambitions would also be to check Soviet ambitions. Nixon agreed to support Iranian claims to have the thalweg in the Shatt al-Arab recognised as the border and to generally back Iran in its confrontation with Iraq. Mohammad Reza financed Kurdish separatist rebels in Iraq, and to cover his tracks, armed them with Soviet weapons which Israel had seized from Soviet-backed Arab regimes, 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 Iran equal navigation rights in the Shatt al-Arab as the thalweg was now the new border, while Mohammad Reza agreed to end his support for Iraqi Kurdish rebels. The Shah also maintained close relations with King Hussein of Jordan, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, and King Hassan II of Morocco. Beginning in 1970, Mohammad Reza formed an unlikely alliance with the militantly left-wing regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, as both leaders wanted higher oil prices for their nations, leading Iran and Libya joining forces to press for the "leapfrogging" of oil prices.
The Americans initially rejected Mohammad Reza's suggestion that they join him in supporting the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighting for independence on the grounds that an independent Kurdistan would inspire the Turkish Kurds to rebel, and they had no interest in antagonising the NATO member Turkey. Some of the Shah's advisers also felt it was unwise to support the peshmerga, saying that if the Iraqi Kurds won independence, then the Iranian Kurds would want to join them. When Nixon and Kissinger visited Tehran in May 1972, the Shah convinced them 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. 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 with the U.S., after which he cut off all aid to the Kurds and prevented the U.S. and Israel from using Iranian territory to provide them assistance.
One of Mohammad Reza's favourite activities was watching films and his favourites were light French comedies and Hollywood action films, much to the disappointment of Farah who tried hard to interest him in more serious films. Mohammad Reza was frequently unfaithful towards Farah, and his right-hand man Asadollah Alam regularly imported tall European women for "outings" with the Shah, though Alam's diary also mentions that if women from the "blue-eyed world" were not available, he would bring the Shah "local product". Mohammad Reza had an insatiable appetite for sex, and Alam's diary has the Shah constantly telling him he needed to have sex several times a day, every day, or otherwise he would fall into depression. When Farah found out about his affairs in 1973, Alam blamed the prime minister Amir Abbas Hoveyda while the Shah thought it was the KGB. Milani noted that neither admitted it was the Shah's "crass infidelities" that caused this issue. Milani further wrote that "Alam, in his most destructive moments of sycophancy, reassured the Shah—or his "master" as he calls him—that country was prosperous and no one begrudged the King a bit of fun". He also had a passion for automobiles and aeroplanes, and by the middle 1970s, the Shah had amassed one of the world's largest collection of luxury cars and planes. His visits to the West were invariably the occasions for major protests by the Confederation of Iranian Students, an umbrella group of left-wing Iranian university students studying abroad, and Mohammad Reza had one of the world's largest security details as he lived in constant fear of assassination.
The Shah also used America's dependence on Middle Eastern oil as leverage; although Iran did not participate in the 1973 oil embargo, he purposely increased production in its aftermath to capitalise on the higher prices. In December 1973, only two months after oil prices were raised by 70 per cent, he urged OPEC nations to push prices even higher, which they agreed to do, more than doubling the price. Oil prices increased 470 per cent over a 12-month period, which also increased Iran's GDP by 50 per cent. Despite personal pleas from President Nixon, the Shah ignored any complaints, claimed the U.S. 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."
From 1973 onward, Mohammad Reza had proclaimed his aim as that of the tamaddon-e-bozorg, the "Great Civilisation," a turning point not only in Iran's history, but also the history of the entire world, a claim that was taken seriously for a time in the West. On 2 December 1974, The New Yorker published an article by Paul Erdman that was a conjectural future history entitled "The Oil War of 1976: How The Shah Won the World: The World as We Knew It Came to an End When the Shah Of Iran Decided to Restore The Glory of Ancient Persia with Western Arms". In 1975, U.S. Vice President Nelson Rockefeller declared in a speech: "We must take His Imperial Majesty to the United States for a couple of years so that he can teach us how to run a country." In 1976, a pulp novel by Alan Williams was published in the United States under the title A Bullet for the Shah: All They Had To Do Was Kill the World's Most Powerful Man, whose sub-title reveals much about how the American people viewed the Shah at the time (the original British title was the more prosaic Shah-Mak).
Courtiers at the Imperial court were devoted to stroking the Shah's ego, competing to be the most sycophantic, with Mohammad Reza being regularly assured he was a greater leader than his much admired General de Gaulle, that democracy was doomed, and that based on Rockefeller's speech, that the American people wanted Mohammad Reza to be their leader, as well as doing such a great job as Shah of Iran. All of this praise boosted Mohammad Reza's ego, and he went from being a merely narcissistic man to a megalomaniac, believing himself a man chosen by Allah Himself to transform Iran and create the "Great Civilisation." When one of the Shah's courtiers suggested launching a campaign to award him the Nobel Peace Prize, he wrote on the margin: "If they beg us, we might accept. They give the Nobel to kaka siah ["any black face"] these days. Why should we belittle ourselves with this?" Befitting all this attention and praise, Mohammad Reza started to make increasingly outlandish claims for the "Great Civilisation", telling the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci in a 1973 interview:
From his mother, Mohammad Reza inherited an almost messianic belief in his own greatness and that God was working in his favour, which explained the often passive and fatalistic attitudes that he displayed as an adult. In 1973, Mohammad Reza told the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci:
As a way of increasing pressure on Baghdad, the peshmerga had been encouraged by Iran and the U.S. to abandon guerrilla war for conventional war in April 1974, so the years 1974–75 saw the heaviest fighting between the Iraqi Army and the peshmerga. The sudden cut-off of Iranian support in March 1975 left the Kurds very exposed, causing them to be crushed by Iraq. The British journalist Patrick Brogan wrote that "...the Iraqis celebrated their victory in the usual manner, by executing as many of the rebels as they could lay their hands on." Kissinger later wrote in his memoirs that it was never the intention of the U.S. or Iran to see the peshmerga actually win, as an independent Kurdistan would have created too many problems for both Turkey and Iran; rather, the intention was to "irritate" Iraq enough to force the Iraqis to change their foreign policy.
In an interview with Der Spiegel published on 3 February 1974, Mohammad Reza declared: "I would like you to know that in our case, our actions are not just to take vengeance on the West. As I said, we are going to be a member of your club". In a press conference on 31 March 1974, Mohammad Reza predicted what Iran would be like in 1984, saying:
Mohammad Reza was diagnosed with cancer in 1974. As it worsened, from the spring of 1978, he stopped appearing in public, with the official explanation being that he was suffering from a "persistent cold." In May 1978, the Shah suddenly cancelled a long planned trip to Hungary and Bulgaria and disappeared from view. He spent the entire summer of 1978 at his Caspian Sea resort, where two of France's most prominent doctors, Jean Bernard and Georges Flandrin, treated his cancer. To try to stop his cancer, Bernard and Flandrin had Mohammad Reza take prednisone, a drug that can cause depression and impair thinking.
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. In 1974, Mohammad Reza learned from his French doctors that he was suffering from the cancer that was to kill him six years later. Though this was such a carefully guarded secret that not even the Americans were aware of it (as late as 1977 the CIA submitted a report to President Carter describing the Shah as being in "robust health"), the knowledge of his impending death left Mohammad Reza depressed and passive in his last years, a man no longer capable of acting.
In 1974 the Shah's doctor, Dr. Ayadi, diagnosed the Shah with splenomegaly after he complained of a swollen abdomen. On 1 May 1974, French Professor Georges Flandrin flew into Tehran to treat the Shah. Upon the first visit, Georges was able to diagnose the Shah with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The Shah's diagnosis of cancer would not be revealed to him until 1978. Medical reports given to the Shah were falsified and altered in order to state that the Shah was in good health to conceal his cancer from him. The Shah later met with French physicians in 1976 in Zurich who were disturbed by the Shah's abnormal blood count. They discovered he was being treated with a wrong medication worsening his condition.
In a 1974 interview which was shown in a documentary titled Crisis in Iran, Mohammad Reza told Mike Wallace that the rumours of corruption were "the most unjust thing that I have heard," calling them a "cheap accusation" whilst arguing the allegations were not as serious as those regarding other governments, including that of the United States. In November 1978, after Pahlavi dismissed Prime Minister Jafar Sharif-Emami and appointed a military government, he pledged in a televised address "not to repeat the past mistakes and illegalities, the cruelty and corruption." Despite this, the royal family's wealth can be seen as one of the factors behind the Iranian revolution. This was due to the oil crises of the 1970s which increased inflation resulting in economic austerity measures which made lower class workers more inclined to protest.
However, by 1975, Mohammad Reza had abolished the two-party system of government in favour of a one-party state under the Rastakhiz (Resurrection) Party. This was the merger of the New Iran Party, a centre-right party, and the People's Party, a liberal party. 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.
In an era of high oil prices, Iran's economy boomed while the economies of the Western nations were trapped in stagflation (economic stagnation and inflation) after the 1973–74 oil shocks, which seemed to prove the greatness of Mohammad Reza both to himself and to the rest of the world. In 1975, both the British Prime Minister Harold Wilson and the French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing made pleading phone calls to Mohammad Reza asking him for loans, which ultimately led the Shah to give a US$1 billion loan to the United Kingdom and another US$1 billion to France. In a televised speech in January 1975 explaining why he was lending Britain a sum equal to US$1 billion, Mohammad Reza declared in his usual grandiose style: "I have known the most dark hours when our country was obliged to pass under the tutelage of foreign powers, amongst them England. Now I find that England has not only become our friend, our equal, but also the nation to which, should we be able, we will render assistance with pleasure," going on to say that since he "belonged to this [European] world," he did not want Europe to collapse economically. As Britain had often dominated Iran in the past, the change in roles was greatly gratifying to Mohammad Reza.
Reflecting his need to have Iran seen as "part of the world" (by which Mohammad Reza meant the western world), all through the 1970s he sponsored conferences in Iran at his expense, with for example in one week in September 1975 the International Literacy Symposium meeting in Persepolis, the International Congress of Philosophy meeting in Mashhad and the International Congress of Mithraic Studies meeting in Tehran. He also sought to hold the 1984 Summer Olympics in Tehran. For most ordinary Iranians, struggling with inflation, poverty, air pollution (Iranian cities in the 1970s were amongst the most polluted in the world), having to pay extortion payments to the police who demanded money from even those performing legal jobs such as selling fruits on the street, and daily traffic jams, the Shah's sponsorship of international conferences were just a waste of money and time. Furthermore, conferences on pre-Islamic practices such as the cult of Mithra fuelled religious anxieties. Though Mohammad Reza envisioned the "Great Civilisation" of a modernised Iran whose standard of living would be higher than those of the United States and at the forefront of modern technology, he did not envision any political change, making it clear that Iran would remain an autocracy.
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. This supposed date was designed so 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".
In 1976, Mohammad Reza told the Egyptian journalist Mohamed Hassanein Heikal in an interview: "I want the standard of living in Iran in ten years' time to be exactly on a level with that in Europe today. In twenty years' time we shall be ahead of the United States".
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. On 7 January 1978, an article Iran and Red and Black Colonization was published in the newspaper Ettela'at attacking Ruhollah Khomeini, who was in exile in Iraq at the time; it referred to him as a homosexual, a drug addict, a British spy and claimed he was an Indian, not an Iranian. Khomeini's supporters had brought in audio tapes of his sermons, and Mohammad Reza was angry with one sermon, alleging corruption on his part, and decided to hit back with the article, despite the feeling at the court, SAVAK and Ettela'at editors that the article was an unnecessary provocation that was going to cause trouble. The next day, protests against the article began in the holy city of Qom, a traditional centre of opposition to the House of Pahlavi.
In June 1978, Mohammad Reza's French doctors first revealed to the French government how serious his cancer was, and in September the French government informed the American government that the Shah was dying of cancer; until then, U.S. officials had no idea that Mohammad Reza had even been diagnosed with cancer four years earlier. The Shah had created a very centralised system in which he was the key decision-maker on all issues, and as the Iranian-American historian Abbas Milani noted, he was mentally crippled in the summer of 1978 owing to his tendency to be indecisive when faced with a crisis which, combined with his cancer and the effects of the anti-cancer drugs, made his mood "increasingly volatile and unpredictable. One day, he was full of verve and optimism and the next day or hour he fell into a catatonic stupor," bringing the entire government to a halt. Milani wrote that the Shah was in 1978 "beset with depression, indecision and paralysis, and his indecision led to the immobilisation of the entire system." Empress Farah grew so frustrated with her husband that she suggested numerous times that he leave Iran for medical treatment and appoint her regent, saying she would handle the crisis and save the House of Pahlavi. The very masculine Mohammad Reza vetoed this idea, saying he did not want Farah to be "Joan of Arc," and it would be too humiliating for him as a man to flee Iran and leave a woman in charge.
The Shah-centred command structure of the Iranian military, and the lack of training to confront civil unrest, was marked by disaster and bloodshed. There were several instances where army units had opened fire, the most significant being the events on 8 September 1978. The day, which later became known as "Black Friday", thousands of people had gathered in Tehran's Jaleh Square for a religious demonstration. With the population generally refusing to recognise martial law, the soldiers opened fire, killing and seriously injuring a large number of people. Black Friday played a crucial role in further radicalising the protest movement. The massacre so reduced the chance for reconciliation that Black Friday is referred to as "the point of no return" for the revolution. On 2 October 1978, the Shah declared and granted an amnesty to dissidents living abroad, including Ayatollah Khomeini.
By October 1978, 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. In October 1978, after flying over a huge demonstration in Tehran in his helicopter, Mohammad Reza accused the British ambassador Sir Anthony Parsons and the American ambassador William H. Sullivan of organising the demonstrations, screaming that he was being "betrayed" by the United Kingdom and the United States. The fact that the BBC's journalists tended to be very sympathetic towards the revolution was viewed by most Iranians, including Mohammad Reza, as a sign that Britain was supporting the revolution. This impression turned out to be crucial, as the Iranian people had a very exaggerated idea about Britain's capacity to "direct events" in Iran. In a subsequent internal inquiry, the BBC found many of its more left-wing journalists disliked Mohammad Reza as a "reactionary" force, and sympathised with a revolution seen as "progressive". Mohammad Reza spent much of his time working out various conspiracy theories about who was behind the revolution, with his favourite candidates being some combination of Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union. Milani wrote that Mohamad Reza's view of the revolution as a gigantic conspiracy organised by foreign powers suggested that there was nothing wrong with Iran, and the millions of people demonstrating against him were just dupes being used by foreigners, a viewpoint that did not encourage concessions and reforms until it was too late. For much of 1978, Mohammad Reza saw his enemies as "Marxist" revolutionaries rather than Islamists. The Shah had exaggerated ideas about the power of the KGB, which he thought of as omnipotent, and often expressed the view that all of the demonstrations against him had been organised in Moscow, saying only the KGB had the power to bring out thousands of ordinary people to demonstrate. In October 1978, the oil workers went on strike, shutting down the oil industry and with it, Mohammad Reza's principal source of revenue. The Iranian military had no plans in place to deal with such an event, and the strike pushed the regime to the economic brink.
The revolution had attracted support from a broad coalition ranging from secular, left-wing nationalists to Islamists on the right, and Khomeini, who was temporarily based in Paris after being expelled from Iraq, chose to present himself as a moderate able to bring together all the different factions leading the revolution. On 3 November, a SAVAK plan to arrest about 1,500 people considered to be leaders of the revolution was submitted to Mohammad Reza, who at first tentatively agreed, but then changed his mind, disregarding not the only plan, but also dismissing its author, Parviz Sabeti. On 5 November 1978, Mohammad Reza went on Iranian television to say "I have heard the voice of your revolution" and promise major reforms. In a major concession to the opposition, on 7 November 1978, Mohammad Reza freed all political prisoners while ordering the arrest of the former prime minister Amir-Abbas Hoveyda and several senior officials of his regime, a move that both emboldened his opponents and demoralised his supporters. On 21 November 1978, the Treasury Secretary of the United States Michael Blumenthal visited Tehran to meet Mohammad Reza and reported back to President Jimmy Carter, "This man is a ghost", as by now the ravages of his cancer could not longer be concealed. In late December 1978, the Shah learned that many of his generals were making overtures to the revolutionary leaders and the loyalty of the military could not longer be counted upon. In a sign of desperation, the following month Mohammad Reza reached out to the National Front, asking if one of their leaders would be willing to become prime minister.
The Shah was especially interested in having the National Front's Gholam Hossein Sadighi as prime minister. Sadighi had served as interior minister under Mosaddegh, had been imprisoned after the 1953 coup, and had pardoned by Mohammad Reza on the grounds that he was a "patriot". Sadighi remained active in the National Front and had often been harassed by SAVAK, but was willing to serve as prime minister under Mohammad Reza in order to "save" Iran, saying he feared what might come after if the Shah was overthrown. Despite the opposition of the other National Front leaders, Sadighi visited the Niavaran palace several times in December 1978 to discuss the terms under which he might become prime minister, with the main sticking point being that he wanted the Shah not to leave Iran, saying he needed to remain in order to ensure the loyalty of the military. On 7 December 1978, it was announced that President Carter of the U.S., President Giscard d'Estaing of France, Chancellor Helmut Schmidt of West Germany and Prime Minister James Callaghan of the United Kingdom would meet in Guadeloupe on 5 January 1979 to discuss the crisis in Iran. For Mohammad Reza this announcement was the final blow, and he was convinced that the Western leaders were holding the meeting to discuss how best to abandon him.
On 16 January 1979, Mohammad Reza 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. As Mohammad Reza boarded the plane to take him out of Iran, many of the Imperial Guardsmen wept while Bakhtiar did little to hide his disdain and dislike for the Shah. 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.
During his second exile, Mohammad Reza travelled from country to country seeking what he hoped would be temporary residence. First he flew to Aswan, Egypt, where he received a warm and gracious welcome from President Anwar El-Sadat. He later lived in Marrakesh, Morocco as a guest of King Hassan II. Mohammad Reza loved to support royalty during his time as Shah and one of those who benefitted had been Hassan, who received an interest-free loan of US$110 million from his friend. Mohammad Reza expected Hassan to return the favour, but he soon learned Hassan had other motives. Richard Parker, the American ambassador to Morocco reported "The Moroccans believed the Shah was worth about $2 billion, and they wanted to take their share of the loot". After leaving Morocco, Mohammad Reza lived in Paradise Island, in the Bahamas, and in Cuernavaca, Mexico, near Mexico City, as a guest of José López Portillo. Richard Nixon, the former president, visited the Shah in summer 1979 in Mexico. An American doctor, Benjamin Kean who examined Mohammad Reza in Cuernavaca later wrote:
The Shah suffered from gallstones that would require prompt surgery. He was offered treatment in Switzerland, but insisted on treatment in the United States. President Carter did not wish to admit Mohammad Reza to the U.S. but came under pressure from many quarters, with Henry Kissinger phoning Carter to say he would not endorse the SALT II treaty that Carter had just signed with the Soviet Union unless the former Shah was allowed into the United States, reportedly prompting Carter more than once to hang up his phone in rage in the Oval Office and shout "Fuck the Shah!". As many Republicans were attacking the SALT II treaty as an American give-away to the Soviet Union, Carter was anxious to have the endorsement of a Republican elder statesman like Kissinger to fend off this criticism. Mohammad Reza had decided not to tell his Mexican doctors he had cancer, and the Mexican doctors had misdiagnosed his illness as malaria, giving him a regime of anti-malarial drugs that did nothing to treat his cancer, which caused his health to go into rapid decline as he lost 30 pounds (14 kg). In September 1979, a doctor sent by David Rockefeller reported to the State Department that Mohammad Reza needed to come to the United States for medical treatment, an assessment not shared by Kean, who stated that the proper medical equipment for treating Mohammad Reza's cancer could be found in Mexico and the only problem was the former Shah's unwillingness to tell the Mexicans he had cancer. The State Department warned Carter not to admit the former Shah into the U.S., saying it was likely that the Iranian regime would seize the American embassy in Tehran if that occurred. Milani suggested there was a possible conflict of interest on the part of Rockefeller, noting that his Chase Manhattan Bank had given Iran a $500 million loan under questionable conditions in 1978 (several lawyers had refused to endorse the loan) which placed the money in an account with Chase Manhattan, that the new Islamic republic had been making "substantial withdrawals" from its account with Chase Manhattan, and that Rockefeller wanted Mohammad Reza in the US, knowing full well it was likely to cause the Iranians to storm the U.S. embassy, which in turn would cause the U.S. government to freeze Iranian financial assets in America—such as the Iranian account at Chase Manhattan.
On 22 October 1979, President Jimmy Carter reluctantly allowed the Shah into the United States to undergo surgical treatment at the New York Hospital–Cornell Medical Center. While there, Mohammad Reza used the name of "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. Mohammad Reza's time in New York was highly uncomfortable; he was under a heavy security detail as every day, Iranian students studying in the United States gathered outside his hospital to shout "Death to the Shah!", a chorus that Mohammad Reza heard. The former Shah was obsessed with watching news from Iran, and was greatly upset at the new order being imposed by the Islamic Republic. Mohammad Reza could no longer walk by this time, and for security reasons had to be moved in his wheelchair under the cover of darkness when he went to the hospital while covered in a blanket, as the chances of his assassination were too great.
He left the United States on 15 December 1979 and lived for a short time in the Isla Contadora in Panama. This caused riots by Panamanians who objected to the Shah being in their country. General Omar Torrijos, the dictator of Panama kept Mohammad Reza as a virtual prisoner at the Paitilla Medical Center, a hospital condemned by the former Shah's American doctors as "an inadequate and poorly staffed hospital", and in order to hasten his death allowed only Panamanian doctors to treat his cancer. General Torrijos, a populist left-winger had only taken in Mohammad Reza under heavy American pressure, and he made no secret of his dislike of Mohammad Reza, whom he called after meeting him "the saddest man he had ever met". When he first met Mohammad Reza, Torrijos taunted him by telling him "it must be hard to fall off the Peacock Throne into Contadora" and called him a "chupon", a Spanish term meaning an orange that has all the juice squeezed out of it, which is slang for someone who is finished.
In 1979, the Shah left Iran. First, the Shah found refuge in the Bahamas but was later forced to leave. He then sought treatment in Mexico. Multiple recommendations urged the Shah to seek treatment in the United States. In response, the Shah stated:
Mohammad Reza's wealth remained considerable during his time in exile. While staying in the Bahamas he offered to purchase the island that he was staying on for $425 million (in 1979 USD); however, his offer was rejected by the Bahamas which claimed that the island was worth far more. On 17 October 1979, again in exile and perhaps knowing the gravity of his illness, he split up his wealth amongst 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.
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. It also stated that a document submitted to the ministry of justice, in protest of the royal family's activity in many sectors of the nation's economy, detailed the Pahlavis dominating role in 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 per cent ownership in the nation's third-largest insurance company, 25 metal enterprises, 8 mining companies, 10 building materials companies, including 25 per cent 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; the Pahlavis also had major interests in real estate. Mohammad Reza was also known for his interest in cars and had a personal collection of 140 classic and sports cars including a Mercedes-Benz 500K Autobahn cruiser, one of only six ever made. The first Maserati 5000 GT was named the Shah of Persia, it was built for Mohammad Reza, who had been impressed by the Maserati 3500 and requested Giulio Alfieri, Maserati's chief engineer, to use a modified 5-litre engine from the Maserati 450S on the 3500GT's chassis.
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. On 28 March 1980, Mohammad Reza's French and American doctors finally performed an operation meant to have been performed in the fall of 1979. Kean recalled:
In his hospital bed, the Shah was asked to describe his feelings for Iran and its people and to define the country. The Shah, a fervent nationalist, responded "Iran is Iran." After pausing for a minutes, he said "Its land, people, and history," and "Every Iranian has to love it." He continued on to repeat "Iran is Iran" over and over. Shortly after, the Shah slipped into a coma and died on 27 July 1980 at age 60. He kept a bag of Iranian soil under his death bed.
Under Nixon, the United States finally agreed to sever all contact with any Iranians opposed to the Shah's regime, a concession that Mohammad Reza had been seeking since 1958. The often very anti-American tone of the Iranian press was ignored because Mohammad Reza supported the U.S. in the Vietnam War and likewise the Americans ignored the Shah's efforts to raise oil prices, despite the fact it cost many American consumers more. After 1969, a process of "reverse leverage" set in, when Mohammad Reza began to dictate to the United States as the Americans needed him more than he needed the Americans. The American National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger wrote in 1982 that because of the Vietnam War, it was not politically possible in the 1970s for the United States to fight a major war: "There was no possibility of assigning any American forces to the Indian Ocean in the midst of the Vietnam War and its attendant trauma. Congress would have tolerated no such commitment; the public would not have supported it. Fortunately, Iran was willing to play this role." Consequently, the Americans badly needed Iran as an ally, which allowed Mohammad Reza to dictate to them. This experience greatly boosted the Shah's ego, as he felt he was able to impose his will on the world's most powerful nation.
Hussein-Ali Montazeri, who was once the designated successor to Ruhollah Khomeini, said that the Shah did not kill even 10 per cent of what Ruhollah Khomeini's regime had killed. Recently, the Shah's reputation has experienced something of a revival in Iran, with some people looking back on his era as a time when Iran was more prosperous and the government less oppressive. Journalist Afshin Molavi reported that some members of the uneducated poor—traditionally core supporters of the revolution that overthrew the Shah—were making remarks such as, "God bless the Shah's soul, the economy was better then", and found that "books about the former Shah (even censored ones) sell briskly", while "books of the Rightly Guided Path sit idle". On 28 October 2016, thousands of people in Iran celebrating Cyrus Day at the Tomb of Cyrus, chanted slogans in support of him, and against the current Islamic regime of Iran and Arabs, and many were subsequently arrested.
Mohammad married his third wife, Farah Diba, in 1959.
Currently, Mohammad Reza Shah is 101 years, 10 months and 25 days old. Mohammad Reza Shah will celebrate 102nd birthday on a Tuesday 26th of October 2021. Below we countdown to Mohammad Reza Shah upcoming birthday.
It’s Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi’s 100 Birthday.
Today, Oct 26th 2019, marks Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi’s, 100th birthday. A king who truly cared for his country and Persian/Iranian culture. To date, many Iranian and even non-Iranian fashio…