Shapour Bakhtiar the Last Democrat


Darius Kadivar
by Darius Kadivar

Shapour Bakhtiar was a True Democrat, an Intellectual and ultimately a Martyr who died in the name struggling in the name of his beliefs.

He was unfortunately also an often clumsy politician for leading and opposition in exile, not because he lacked credentials but because he would say exactly what he believed in to the dismay of many professional and often cynical and coldminded politicians. He was driven by a passion for Freedom and Democracy for his homeland and fellow compatriots which put him at odds with some of his closest advisors as well as political companions.

He wrote an autobiography in French entitled Ma Fidelité which could be translated as My Beliefs:

// Published shortly after of before two assassination attempts against his life in the outskirts of Paris. It summed up his life in the context of his life long political struggles. Albeit mistakes sometimes due to a personal stubborness or the historical context of his time that left him little choice but understandable in the light of all the beliefs he had and tried to apply as coherantly possible to his actions, Bakhtiar's moral legacy remains strong nearly 17 years after his murder. Despite having been in Prison during the Shah's Era, and for his allegience to the Political and moral Legacy of Dr. Mossadeg he accepted the post of Prime Minister from the Man who had put him in Prison: the Shah himself. Named too lately, the goverment of Prime Minister Bakhtiar struggled to survive for 37 Days: // He was abandoned by his own Party the National Front which joined the Revolutionaries and the Mullahs certainly in the name of Real Politics than genuine conviction. The Forouhars: Dariush and Parvin alas proved to become victimes of their own momentarial pact with the Devil by confusing their own secular ideals with Religious Theocrats. As Much as the Forouhars Bakhtiar was a patriot but unlike the Forouhars he was without doubt a visionary far in advance for his time. In Exile Bakhtiar was caught between his personal convictions as a democrat and his responsabilities as an opposition leader who had to satisfy huge dilemma's including support for Iraq during the War with Iran (which unlike the MKO lasted for a very short period) and finding common ground between different opposition forces ranging from Monarchists ( radical or Constituional ), former leftists as well as secular Republicans. See actress and future Oscar Nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo introduce one of Shapour Bakhtiar's conferences in LA : // Bakhtiar was also to become a Role Model and close advisor for the former Crown Prince of Iran Reza Pahlavi and was also to visit the Shah's tomb in Cairo to pay respect to the former monarch shortly after his demise. Had he been nominated Prime Minister much earlier in the early days of the Crisis in Iran, his government would certainly have had greater chances of restoring calm and authority while avoiding bloodshed. Alas that was not to be the case and what appears with the passage of time is that Bakhtiar's shortlived government proved to serve as an example of what a moderate and pragmatic administration could have looked like had his ideas of secularism ( be it Constitutional or Republican) could have looked like in a peaceful Iran where Law and Justice would prevail over anarchy and religious or authocratic Rule. History will remember Bakhtiar as a genuine patriot and certainly a democrat in practice. Married to a French national during his student days in Paris, he was influenced by the French values of Democracy and Resistance and he was to join the French Resitance during WWII and fought the Fascists in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. In many ways he was also influenced by the Enlighting French Philosophers " Les Lumieres " such as Voltaire and Rousseau that shaped his political and moral convictions. This proved at times a handicap to the Politician he was enforced on becoming but certainly not on the genuine democrat he was. Bakhtiar years before the Forouhars, in the early 90's was executed along with his secretary by Islamic Republics Death Squads who cut their thoats. His Assassins are still on the Run ( partly thanks to the former French Governments indulgence). But Bakhtiar's moral and political legacy live on. Will Reza Pahlavi who in many ways has benefited from Bakhtiar's teachings prove to live up to the ideals of the former and last Prime Minister of Imperial Iran ? The answer to that question can only be answered with time and by the man who also happens by birth to be heir to Iran's Peacock Throne be it as a catalyst for change or future Constitutional King. What is certain is the Bakhtiar's Political thinking and struggle for which he gave his life in the process will remain as a reference not of Martyrism but of Death in the Struggle for a Secular and Democtatic Iran where Freedom cannot be achieved without an unconditional support for Human Rights. However the British are despised by Iranians, nevertheless maybe in a comparative study of Iran's contemporary history and that of Great Britian and of France, Shapour Bakhtiar will have his Statue Raised in Front of the Iranian Majlis as a Reminder of the Nation's Struggle for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity (France) as those of Cromwell or Winston Churchill in Front of Westminister. VIVE LA LIBERTE !

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by AnonymousMe55 (not verified) on

So what ever happen to the wife he left and his son?


To: Jamshid

by Naneh Soghra (not verified) on

You are a closed minded person. I guess you must be an the "mental" age of say 10-15 years old. You seem to be unaware of israeli/US attempts at deceiving iranians through fake news and attributions (went on even during the Shah). The whole goal of these two governments IS and WAS to keep iranians unaware of facts around them and make them live in an imaginary world; make them a consumer and user society so that they always depend on others. The result as we know it was IRI of course.
Shapoor Bahktiar' death was sad. However, as many have pointed out there is NO evidence that IRI had ordered it. On my part, if he helped the French during WWII, he desserved what happerned to him. But that is one person's opinion.


Re: Assasination. Period.

by jamshid on

Bakhtiar was assassinated by the IRI. Period. Only the IRI had motif to kill him.

This is not an issue to be discussed. I strongly suggest to my compatriots to ignore those ignorants who with "por rooyi va bi sharmieh har cheh tamaamtar" want to depict Bakhtiar's assasination as a common murder.

Once this regime is overthrown, those involved in his assasination must be found and brought to justice. 


Re: Names of assassins of Bakhtiar

by Anghaziee (not verified) on

Thanks for the info. However, this does not prove that IRI was involved in killing Bhkhtiar. Many foriegn nationals in US and Europe escape to their homeland after they commit a crime and they are bound to be arrested. That is the best protection they can expect, especially in the case of Iran. In his case, it was said that his assasin was a relative or friend of him. That is how the assassins got access to him while under heavy French protection. I say, he was either careless or stupid, or both.

Darius Kadivar

FYI/ Names of Assassins of Bakhtiar :

by Darius Kadivar on



Out of Paris, Shapour Bakhtiar led the National Resistance Movement of Iran, which fought the Islamic republic in his homeland. In July 1980 he escaped an assassination attempt in his home in the Parisian suburb, Suresnes, which killed a policeman and a neighbor. But on August 7, 1991, Bakhtiar was murdered along with his secretary, Soroush Katibeh, by three assassins in his home. The inquest found that he was stabbed by a knife matching a nearby blood stained bread knife. Bakhtiar's dead body was not found until at least 36 hours after his death, despite the fact that he had heavy police protection and that his killers had left ID (presumably faked) with a guard at his house.[1] Two of the assassins escaped to Iran, but the third, Ali Vakili Rad, was apprehended in Switzerland,[2] as well as an alleged accomplice, Zeyal Sarhadi, a great-nephew of the president of Iran,[3] and both were extradited to France for trial.[4] Vakili Rad was sentenced to life in prison in December 1994, although Sarhadi was acquitted.[5]

Hours after the assassination of Shapour Bakhtiar, a British hostage was released from Lebanon, presumably held by Hezbollah, but a French hostage was taken.[6] Although many in the Iranian exile community speculated of official French complicity in Bakhtiar's death,[7] the second kidnapping casts a shadow over such theories, since the French would seem unlikely to support an operation that included the kidnapping of another French hostage in Lebanon.[1]


Bhakhtiar's assasination?

by Mousa Bikhiabani (not verified) on

Do we know for a fact and evidence that Bhakhtiar was actually murdered by the IRI thugs, or is this allegation also one of those propagandas that Monarchists and MKO start and Isralei and US thugs join in trying to give it "credance"?


Funny enough ...

by Private Eye (not verified) on

in the midst of all the troubles surrounding his country Bakhtiar had enough time to "marry" a young Bakhtiari woman, more than 45 years his junior, and produce a child only months before his murder at the age of 78!! He may have been politically impotent in his dying years but sexually? certainly not!


Fair Judge

by Parham on

Thanks for your reply, but:
Again, please state your source(s).
And again, a "Google search will show unbiased coverage" doesn't do, sorry. That's the same as "it is commonly known".


Re: Parham

by Th Fair Judge (not verified) on

Bakhtiar left Iran in 1979 for Paris.
But after that he went to Baghdad to coordinate his opposition to the IRI. He was based in Baghdad during Nojeh and some of the funding for Bakhtiar came from Iraq. Unlike some others, he had not taken vast sums of money out of Iran.

His armed wing was headed by Oveissi and he too was based in Iraq for a while. They had however a number of officers loyal to them based in Turkey too and they would have gone to Iran from there as well.

If you do some google searches, you will be able to find unbiased coverages of these.

There are rumours that the Iraqis themselves tipped off IRI knowing full well what was going to happen. What is sure however is that after Nojeh, some of his military men broke up ranks citing that they could not rely on his organisation because of leaks and also that they did not trust the Iraqis who were monitoring their every move, even wiretapping them.

The americans had not closed their eyes to them and Berzcinski was in contact with Bakhtiar and Oveissi at all times. Berzcinski has said so in his writings himself.

Bakhtiar was no foriegn agent and he was a true patriot, but he was naiive to the workings of the regional international politics and the intelligence community. This was not his finest hour.

Bakhtiar was an idealist with great ideals and throughout his life, this helped him misjudge international politics. He joined the resistance out of his ideals, he was part of Mossadegh's group and they collectively did not see the international forces against them, he campainged against Shah at a time when during the cold war the international politics wanted Shah there, he went against the revolution at the time when it was clear to most that the Americans were not too keen on keeping shah there, he trusted the Americans and the Iraqis during Nojeh and he even trusted the French government that sold him out.

Bakhtiar was an idealist and not your typical politician in the molds of Clinton or Chirac.
I think he was a greater man than Mossadegh with greater ideals and totally true to his beliefs, but we would have seen his full potential had he become PM 15 years or so earlier.

May he rest in peace.


To "Fair Judge"

by Parham on

You still haven't said how Bakhtiar "let himself be played by foreigners". All you're saying in your long piece is that they must have been "aware" of Nojeh.

More, where did you get the part about Bakhtiar being "based in Iraq" before going to France? Could you state your source(s)? He himself states in his book, "Ma fidélité", that he went straight to Paris. Saying "it is common knowledge" is not going to cut it these days, you know?

Even more, what "military wing" based in Iraq and Turkey?? In 1980?


Re: Jamshid and the Army

by The Fair Judge (not verified) on

It is common belief that Fardoost, Gharebaghi and possibly a few other military men were at best not upto the job, and at worst, traitors.
I am not going to make a judgement here as it would need a proper investigation.

But the fact is that at the time of the revolution, the army could not even protect itself, let alone give time to Bakhtiar. The bulk of the army was made up of the same sort of people who had become revolutionary and followed Islamic guidance by the mullas. The minds of the conscripts had been poisoned by the Mullahs and the ranks of the officers had been infiltrated by the leftists as well as the Islamists.
Let's not forget that General Badrei and his entire command was gunned down inside an army barrack when they were meeting and it was done by the army ranks. Also the general commanding the army in Khorasan was gunned down by his own soldiers parading in front of him. He was badly injured, but a few others did die and this was about 4 months before the revolution.
There were numerous occasions like this in Iran at the time.
The Army was unable to even protect itself to the point that "Kalantaris" were being attacked and burned to the ground everyday in most cities in Iran. To protect them, the army would have had to kill huge numbers of people.

The conscripts could not be relied upon at that time and without them, the army was ineffective.


A true patriot

by sage (not verified) on

Bakhtiar IS one of Iran's noblest sons.
His memory shall live as long as Iran shall last.
In future years, his enduring monument will
inspire and be a beacon of light to future
This present vile darkness shall be swept away
by the Light and the Power of Truth!
Justice will be done!
Bakhtiar lives in Glory!


Re: The Fair Judge

by jamshid on

When I said the army betrayed Bakhtiar, I was more talking about the few top generals, eg, Gharehbaghi, who declared neutrality instead of siding with Bakhtiar.

Bakhtiar needed more time, and the army could have bought that time for him, and I don't mean by killing people, I mean by not disintegrating.


The Nojeh attempt and the Army

by The Fair Judge (not verified) on

Those who were executed for the Nojeh were indeed true patriots and very brave, including Mohagheghi et al. They did what they did because they wanted to free Iran of tyranny and bring in democracy. They did not do it for personal gains.
However, in their eagerness to do something and in their belief for secrecy, they did not scrutinise the details of the coup as much as they should have.
The plan was half baked and it was not going to succeed without a massive number of willing troops on the ground (and even this is debatable). They did not have that and even General Mohagheghi in his interogation said so. He says that they hoped forces from Ghazvin would join them. This was wishful thinking without concrete support from the Army.
Mohagheghi also said that "they were led to believe that the army was with them". But he did not have high level contacts with them. Nojeh was doomed from the start by bad planning if nothing else.

Also Nojeh was orchestrated when Bakhtiar was based in Iraq and his military wing were based in Iraq and Turkey.
It is common knowledge that Saddam and the Americans were aware of the plans and actually encouraged it. They would have stopped it if they had not approved.
The end result was the execution of a large number of pilots and Air force officers, some of whom had nothing to do with the coup but were thought to be possible future risk. At one stroke the Iranian Air Force which was relatively untouched, was made ineffective as now they had more planes than pilots. With the army already destroyed, this act removed the other obstacle to Iraq attacking Iran which it was planning to for a while and it did so only a few weeks later.
Soon after that Bakhtiar broke with the Iraqis and moved to France.
Unfortunately both Bakhtiar and the mullas were played by the Americans and the Iraqis for their own objectives.

This is by no means an attempt to disregard or defame those brave souls who lost their lives in Nojeh. They died trying to bring democracy to Iran and we should honor them.
But the above are facts and they are nothing new. You can read about them in many different publications over the past 27 years.

Also Jamshid believes that if Jebheh Melli, intellectuals and some leftist had gone to Bakhtiar, the Mullahs would have lost.
I suppose we can only give our opinions now and we shall never know. However I think if that had happened, Iran would have plunged into a civil war. The forces of the Islamists were far greater than anything Jebheh Melli could muster and the MKO were in reality nothing more than a number of terrorist groups. Once the Islamists started moving masses in the streets, and I am talking about starting with Tabriz even before the summer of 1357, they were just gathering momentum through the mosques and they were prepared to kill indiscriminately and die for their beliefs. Something that other groups (with the exception of the leftist and they were relatively few in numbers) were not prepared to do.
The vast majority of Iranians have always been very religious and superstitious . This included the middle and upper classes in Iran (as well as the shah himself). And as such they were and still are, easy prey for the mullas. The Bazaris and the Mullah were not interested in bringing democracy to Iran and they were not going to do what Jebheh Melli told them to. Their influence on the average Iranian was more than Jebheh Melli and they knew it.
So I believe if Jebheh Melli had backed Bakhtiar, it would only have made a difference in the long run if they could come to some sort of agreement with the mullas and we all know that Khomeini was no Kashani and he wouldn't cut a deal with anyone.

Also the claims that it was the army that lost it for Bakhtiar is absolutely non sense.
First of all it is not the job of the army to sort out the mess created by the politicians, the soverign, the opposition and the clerics. The army is not designed to do this kind of thing and they don't teach how to deal with rioting Iranians, the mullahs or a law breaking king in the military academy. The army is trained and designed to protect the country from attack by foreign forces, and even if they could use their forces on Iranian civilians voicing their political opinions in the streets, they would kill hundreds of thousands and flatten cities in a day. They are not given napalms, tanks, missiles, bomber aircrafts, heavy artilery etc, to put down protesting Iranians!!!! And for what???? The shah should not have put them and their tanks in the streets and to his credit he later on asked his top brass to make sure the army does not disintegrate. Which it could easily have done.
I was in Iran at the time and the problem with the armed forces during the revolution was that discipline had broken down and the conscripts who were the fighting force of the army were not taking orders any more and a lot of them were deserting and turning to the Islamists. Even parts of the professional army such as the "Homafars" had turned to the mullas. The army was not a strong force in those days and only certain parts of the Imperial Guards were in one piece and they were in the last days fighting other groups of the army and Homafars in the streets.
Therefore do not blame the army for the Iranians' shortcomings. You can blame Khomeini, the mullas, Shah, Jebheh Melli, the leftists, the intellectuals, the university students, the Bazaris, and the people in the streets. The army paid a heavy price because these guys could not sort out their political differences with dialogue.


Also see

by Parham on



by jamshid on

I noticed a poster writing that the Nojheh coup attempt was related to "foreigners".

It is so sad to see that an Iranian disregards the bravery and patriotism of all those involved in the Nojeh coup attempt. Most of them were executed by the mullahs. 

The Nojeh coup was an attempt by Iranians and with no foreign power support to free Iran from the Islamists and Khomeini. God rest their souls.



by jamshid on

Bakhtiar was a brave patriot. He loved Iran and respected the principles of democracy.

I never forget that during his short rule, he always refered to khomeini, not as "hazrate ayatollah", but as "aghaye khomeini". He continuously warned people of the outcome of khomeini ascending to power.

Many believe that it was too little too late for the shah when he appointed Bakhtiar as prime minister. I disagree. It was not too late. Bakhtiar could have succeeded and could have defeated khomeini.

I was there in the streets and I do remember the atmosphere and the "jave fekri" in the streets in those times. Had Jebheye Melli completely sided with Bakhtiar, and if one or two leftist groups had broken rank from Islamists and joined Bakhtiar, khomeini had NO chance of removing Bakhtiar from power. Today Iran would be a quite different country.

Also, let's not forget the Imperial Army who betrayed Bakhtiar by declaring neutratlity.

Unlike many in Jebheye Melli, Bakthiar was the true continuation of Mosadegh's principles, as Mosadegh, had he been alive during the revolution, would have NEVER, EVER, sided with Khomeini, just as Bakhtiar didn't.

I agree with the other poster. Once Iran is freed, we should build and place a statue of Bakhtiar in front of the parleament.

God bless his soul.


He sacrificed himself for his country

by an observer (not verified) on

Dr Bakhtiar was the last hope Iran had to stop the black reign of the barbaric mullahs.
He knew he was putting himself in a tough situation when he accepted the post of the prime minister. That took a strong man, deep love for the country and a hell of a courage.
He was the only one man brave enough to try to save Iran.
if only Shah loved Iran a fraction of what Dr Bakhtiar did.

He lived and died for democracy.
roohash shaad


To "The Fair Judge"

by Parham on

How was Nojeh related to "foreigners" now? Is this new?


Bakhtiar was a great man

by The Fair Judge (not verified) on

Bakhtiar was a great man and a ture visionary.
His beliefs although were correct and compatible with a modern world thinking, but they were probably too much for the general Iranian public which is religious, suprstitious and intolerant of criticism.
He showed a total dedication to human rights and democracy throughout his life and he was the main prominent opposition figure who saw the dangers of Mullas and tried to do something about it even though he was no fan of the Pahlavis. But he loved Iran. How many Mullas do you know who love Iran ??? None. Even Khomeini said that Iran was worth nothing and expendable for the cause of Islam.
In his speaches, he tried to show people the way forward. But Iranians were not ready for democracy and could not understand his words. Some may well argue that they still are not ready for democracy and cannot accept that everyone has the same right regardless of religion and beliefs !!!!
The greatest tribute to Bakhtiar is that some of his qualities can be compared to Nelson Mandella. Although maybe not quite in the same league, but not far from it.
However, he did make mistakes and none more obvious than Nojeh. He should not have let himself be played by foreigners for their objectives. Too many good people died there.
I would put his misjudgements to his relative lack of experience at the highest level plus the fact that his team as good as they may have been, they did not have vast experiences to advise him at such level and at such critical times.
Nevertheless he was a good democreat who did his best.
May he rest in peace and his memory and beliefs will live on longer than you and I.

Kaveh Nouraee

One Can Only Imagine....

by Kaveh Nouraee on

what our homeland might have been like in the present day, had he been given more time. Of course, this was a case of "too little, too late" in the classic sense, and we will never know if the situation would have been improved over time, but I would like to think that Iran and Iranians would have been better off had Bakhtiar been given a chance to succeed.


To Observer

by Parham on

Bakhtiar was a dissident during the reign of the Shah. He was imprisoned. It also says so in the article above.


Yes, but...

by Observer (not verified) on

He might have been a democrat and an intellectual, but what was his contribution to establishment of democracy in Iran IN PRACTICE? He had ample time (and support) to fight the dictatorship of the Shah. His neglect and inaction (and those of other dysfunctional intellectuals and democrats) led to the 1979 revolution.


wrong place at a wrong time

by MRX (not verified) on

A great man, a true patriot, but at the wrong place and the wrong time.

when you deal with hundreds of thousends of backward goosaleh's with a mntality of 9th century that are out of control burning, looting, killing and destorying everything, the only solution is iron fist policy, not liberalism democracy and so on. those things are icing on the cake that comes after cake is done.



by Parham on

And let's not forget Nojeh!