A review of
“The Shah’s Story"
by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
“[Mosaddeq] was certainly a completely irrational being, but since, in politics, everything must make sense, I finally reached the conclusion that underneath this diehard nationalist here lurked a man who was closely tied to the British.”
-- Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
I had compiled this article just before the death of my father Nosratollah Amini and now in his memory and on the occasion of 29th of Ordibehesht (18th of May), Mohammad Mosaddeq’s birthday, I am posting it. My father was an honest, kind and caring human being who was not just the attorney to Mosaddeq, but to many others, including Gholam Reza Takhti and Shamshiri. May his memory live in the hearts and minds of those who knew him.
The following are excerpts from the Shah’s last book translated from the original French by Teresa Waugh and published in Great Britain by Michael Joseph Ltd in 1980. As I was reading this interesting text, I came across these few passages. His majesty did not stand by his own Prime Ministers in both cases and the rest is more distortions of history. The book is a must read for those who would like to learn Iranian history from a delusional perspective.
On oil nationalization
“On May 20, 1951, the nationalization of the oil industry was ratified. It is easy to imagine that I was the most convinced partisan of this nationalization. I have, however, already said that it should have been followed or preceded by negotiations. It was suddenly enforced, and despite my efforts, followed by a cut-throat diplomacy.”
On the coup and Mosaddeq
“In August 1953, strongly supported by the United States and England, who had finally adopted a common policy, and after I had discussed the matter with my friend Kermit Roosevelt, the C.I.A.’s special envoy, I decided to call it a halt.
“The awakening of the Iranian people [!]
"It was only on reaching the edge of the abyss that the Iranian people awoke to the immensity of the danger which threatened them, but first there were three days of rioting in Teheran. The first two days were organized by the partisans of Mosaddeq and the Toudeh. It was not until the morning of the third day, August 19, 1953, that with extraordinary courage, workers and artisans, students and professional men, soldiers and policemen, even women and children confronted the guns, machine guns and even tanks of the raving dictator and reversed the situation. A single warning shot fired from a loyal tank at the house of the ex-Prime Minister put an end to three years of demented politics. Dressed in pyjamas, the President [!] climbed the wall into neighboring garden and took refuge in a cellar belonging to the director of postal services. He had had twenty-seven gallows erected in Sepah Square where he meant publicly to hang his enemies some of whom were former members of his own party [!]
"I returned to Teheran where I was greeted with popular enthusiasm. Throughout Iran the voice of the people called irresistibly. Before, I had been no more than a hereditary sovereign, but now I had the right to claim that I had really been elected by the people[!]
"In front of his judges, Mosaddeq continued to play his part, he was at times pitiable, he fabricated stories and behaved extravagantly. He continued to make a spectacle of himself in front of the international press. Since his mother was a descendant of the Qajars he may have hated our dynasty[!] I do not know. But I knew that he would certainly be condemned to death. He was convicted of treason.
"I told the court not to take into account his actions against me. Freed after three years in prison, he went into retirement on his large estate at Ahmad-Abad to the west of Teheran and died there in 1967.”
"It took nearly thirty months for the Iranian people to see Mosaddeq as the prototype sorcerer’s apprentice, incapable of controlling or dominating the forces of destruction which he himself had unleashed. Although by the end of August the rabble no longer ruled and honest citizens could once more live and work in peace, the country was nonetheless ruined and indebted. The damages suffered by our economy amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars and we had wasted three years.”
On Tudeh Party
“The communist plan consisted firstly in using Mosaddeq to topple me. According to some papers discovered, belonging to the Toudeh, Mosaddeq was to be eliminated two weeks after my departure. I have seen postage stamps printed in the name of the People’s Iranian Republic which was then to be proclaimed. The uprising of the masses in my favour took the conspirators by surprise [!]”
“There being no doubt about the political and financial support given by the Russians to the Toudeh, Great Britain and, more especially, the United States were said to have financed the overthrow of the Mosaddeq. But the most accurate documentation proves that at the time of these events the CIA had spent no more than 60,000 dollars. I really do not think that such a sum is enough to make a whole country rise up in a few days.”
On Amir Abbas Hoveyda
“On March 17, Bazargan asked for the trial of Amir Abbas Hoveyda, my Prime Minister for thirteen years, to be suspended. This highly deserving man had but one fault: his extreme courage led him to recklessness, and here I must make some explanations.
"In the Autumn of 1978, many different methods were used to discredit the imperial administration. Amir Abbas Hoveyda was made a scapegoat. His administration of public affairs was to be attacked as a means of attacking the regime. A very cleverly organized cabal was set up and it seemed to me that Hoveyda, whose open and loyal character was known to me, was not aware of the dangers that threatened him personally. There was to be a trial with all the constitutional and legal guarantees which would doubtless have justified Hoveyda and others who had long been part of this government. He had nothing to fear from a just trial [!]”
[On April 7, 1979 Amir Abbas Hoveyda was shot to death by the henchmen of the Islamic Republic.]
“Savak was instituted in Iran to combat communist subversion after the disastrous Mossadeq episode…. It is not for me to judge the attitude adopted by Western countries towards their communists. Savak was created, then, to put an end to subversive activities which constitute, for outside and inside, a serious danger to Iran. The organization was entrusted to General Bakhtiar, in 1953, and he called in the CIA to advise him. Subsequently many Savak officials went to be trained by the CIA at Langley. They also went ot other Western countries to observe the methods used there. “
“I cannot defend Savak’s every action. It is possible that people arrested were roughly handled. However, precise instructions were given in order that no abuse might take place. When, a year later, the Red Cross wished to investigate, the prisons were opened to their representatives. Attention was paid to their recommendations and, from that moment, we heard no more complaints...
"With regard to those who were arrested for political reasons-I cannot include arsonists and saboteurs in this category-I affirm that they were properly treated and they were never molested in any way. No one can tell me the name of a single politician who has been 'liquidated’ by Savak.”
On the role of the British
“According to Mosaddeq, so many setbacks to our economy had been inflicted on us as a means to free our oil from British domination. Now, not only were the English still in possession of our oil, but their possession of it no longer brought us any rent: it remained uselessly stored, whilst Great Britain was simply buying more oil from Iraq and, particularly from Kuwait where it cost them less. I think it was nine cents compared to thirteen. Great Britain was gaining on both sides. Everything was happening as though Mosaddeq’s real aim was the contrary to what he said. (it must be added that Mosaddeq was abandoned by his English ‘friends’ as soon as he ceased to be of any use, which was as soon as a world oil cartel seemed possible without him.)”
“The British hand has lain heavily on Iran for most of this century. This did not really change after the American entry. Western support of my rule had always been tempered by a need to exercise a sufficient amount of control. True, the definition of ‘sufficient’ varied with changes in the international scene, but western efforts to ‘clip my wings’ go back to Mossadegh’s day. They were revived whenever I struck out on my own [!]”
On American leaders
“I made it my duty, and it was in fact an honour for me to attend the funeral of this glorious soldier [Eisenhower] and great citizen. I have not forgotten him. It was under his administration that the United States supported me against the policies of Mosaddeq, which were thought to be disastrous for the free world and likely to head Iran to her downfall. It must be acknowledged that America’s foreign policy, directed at the time by Foster Dulles, was very powerful and unarguably efficient.
"Since 1953, I have been tied by solid links of friendship to Richard Nixon. He was then Eisenhower’s vice-president. Under his presidency our relations with the United States became excellent ... I must say that I have always found him [Henry Kissinger] to be true to himself. He stands by his principles and serves his country in the full knowledge of the power wielded by the United States and of America’s responsibility in the balance of power and the maintenance of an honourable world peace. I might add that his geo-political ideas coincided perfectly with mine. Henry Kissinger is possessed of a truly superior intelligence.”
“As for television, the most powerful of all instruments of propaganda, I was very late in having proof that it had been infiltrated, particularly by communists. In January 1979 only a hundred out of a thousand executives and technicians stayed at their job. But the former communists who had sincerely rallied to the Revolution of theShah and the people, and who worked in television, were loyal to the end. This is why Reds and Blacks insisted that, along with many others, they should be shot.”
On past mistakes
“Undoubtedly I was wrong to have looked so far ahead, to have tried to move too fast. But is it not obvious that certain foreign agents intervened and that I stood up to powerful forces more easily than I resolved certain problems? One last comment. Although Iran existed before Islam, let us not forget that the Prophet praised his contemporary Iranians whom he called ‘searchers after truth.’ I have sincerely tried to seek the truth by recognizing my mistakes and trying to make amends. During my reign Iranians did not seek for lies…”
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