|Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi
محمدرضا شاه پهلوی
|Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi|
|Reign||26 September 1941 – 11 February 1979|
|Coronation||26 October 1967|
|Successor||Monarchy exiled; Islamic republic declared|
|Spouse||Fawzia of Egypt (1941–1948)
Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari (1951–1958)
Farah Diba (1959–1980 (his death))
|Shahnaz, Reza Cyrus, Farahnaz, Ali Reza, Leila Pahlavi|
|Born||26 October 1919
Tehran, Iran (Persia)
|Died||27 July 1980 (aged 60)
Mohammad-Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, (Persian: محمدرضا شاه پهلوی, pronounced [mohæmmæd rezɒː ʃɒːhe pæhlæviː]) (26 October 1919 – 27 July 1980), was the emperor of Iran from 16 September 1941, until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979. He was the second and last monarch of the House of Pahlavi of the Iranian monarchy. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi held several titles: His Imperial Majesty, Shahanshah (King of Kings, Emperor), Aryamehr (Light of the Aryans) and Bozorg Arteshtārān (Head of the Warriors, Persian: بزرگ ارتشتاران).
The Shah came to power during World War II after an Anglo-Soviet invasion forced the abdication of his father, Reza Shah. Mohammad Reza Shah's rule oversaw the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry under the prime ministership of Mohammad Mosaddeq. During the Shah's reign, Iran marked the anniversary of 2,500 years of continuous monarchy since the founding of the Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great. His White Revolution, a series of economic and social reforms intended to transform Iran into a global power, succeeded in modernizing the nation, nationalizing many natural resources and extending suffrage to women, among other things. However, the decline of the traditional power of the Shi'a clergy due to parts of the reforms increased opposition.
Although a Muslim himself, the Shah gradually lost support from the Shi'a clergy of Iran, particularly due to his strong policy of modernization, secularization and conflict with the traditional class of merchants known as bazaari, and recognition of Israel. Clashes with the Islamists, increased communist activity and a 1953 period of political disagreements with Mohammad Mosaddeq, eventually leading to Mosaddeq's ousting, caused an increasingly autocratic rule. In 2000, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright stated:
"In 1953 the United States played a significant role in orchestrating the overthrow of Iran's popular Prime Minister, Mohammed Massadegh. The Eisenhower Administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons; but the coup was clearly a setback for Iran's political development. And it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal affairs."
Various controversial policies were enacted, including the banning of the Tudeh Party and a general suppression of political dissent by Iran's intelligence agency, SAVAK. Amnesty International reported that Iran had as many as 2,200 political prisoners in 1978. By 1979, political unrest had transformed into a revolution which, on 16 January forced the Shah to leave Iran. Soon thereafter, the revolutionary forces transformed the government into an Islamic republic.
Born in Tehran to Reza Pahlavi and his second wife, Tadj ol-Molouk, Mohammad Reza was the eldest son of the first Shah of the Pahlavi dynasty, and the third of his eleven children. He was born with a twin sister, Ashraf Pahlavi. However, Mohammad Reza, Ashraf, Ali Reza, and their older half-sister, Fatemeh, were born as non-royals, as their father did not become Shah until 1925. Yet Reza Shah was always convinced that his sudden quirk of good fortune had commenced with the birth of his son in 1919 who was dubbed khoshghadam (bird of good omen)
On 21 February 1921, Reza Shah together with Seyyed Zia'eddin Tabatabaee staged a successful coup d'état against the reigning Qajar dynasty of Persia. Years later, on 12 December 1925, Reza Shah was declared Shah by the country's National Assembly, the Majlis of Iran. He was crowned in a ceremony on 25 April 1926; at the same time, his son Mohammad Reza was proclaimed Crown Prince of Iran. After the coronation ceremony a new private school was established on the grounds of the Royal Palace to instruct the Crown Prince and several children selected by the Monarch. The Crown Prince's first close friendhips were developed with children permitted to enroll at the school and would consist of Majid A'lam, Mehrpour Teymourtash and Hossein Fardoust. In addition, a Governess by the name of Madam Arfa was hired to provide the Crown Prince private french lessons.
By the time the Crown Prince had attained the age of 11, his father deferred to the recommendation of Abdolhossein Teymourtash to dispatch his son to Institut Le Rosey, a Swiss boarding school for further studies. Mohammad Reza Shah would be the first Iranian prince to be sent abroad to attain a foreign education and remained there for the next four years before returning to Iran to obtain his high school diploma in 1936. After turning to the country, the Crown Prince was enrolled in the local military academy in Tehran where he remained enrolled until 1938.
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.
That year British and Soviet forces invaded and occupied Iran, forcing Reza Shah to abdicate. His son, Prince Mohammad Reza Pahlavi replaced his father on the throne on 16 September 1941. Subsequent to his succession as Shah, 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,an involvement that would continue to grow until the successful revolution against the Iranian monarchy in 1979.
Much of the credit for orchestrating a smooth transition from Reza Shah to his son were due to the efforts of Mohammad Ali Foroughi. Suffering from angina pectoris, 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 Shah's accession to the throne on September 19, 1941. All political personalities that 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 Shah'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.” Reza Shah's years of terror, from the start, would mar the new Shah's prospects of success.
Despite his public professions of admiration in later years, the young Shah had serious misgivings about the coarse and roughshod political means adopted by his father, and his unsophisticated approach to the affairs of the state. As one of Mohammad Reza Shah’s more discerning biographers has recently noted, the young Shah possessed a decidedly more refined temperament and among the unsavoury developments that “would haunt him when he was king” were the fates visited on Teymourtash, the dismissal of Foroughi by the mid-1930s, and Ali Akbar Davar’s decision to commit suicide in 1937. An even more significant decision that cast a long shadow was the disastrous and one sided agreement his father had negotiated with APOC in 1933 which compromised the country's ability to receive more favourable returns from oil extracted from the country.
By the early 1950s, a political crisis was brewing in Iran that commanded the attention of British and American policy leaders. In 1951 Dr. Mosaddeq was appointed Prime Minister and committed to nationalizing the Iranian petroleum industry, which was controlled by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. Under the leadership of the nationalist movement of Dr. Mohammed Mosaddeq, the Iranian parliament unanimously voted to nationalize the oil industry. This shut out the immensely profitable Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), which was a pillar of Britain's economy and provided it political clout in the region.
At the start of the confrontation, American political sympathy was fortcoming from the Truman Administration. In particular, Mossadegh was buoyed by the advice and counsel he was receiving from American Ambassador in Tehran, Henry Grady. However, eventually American decision-makers lost their patience, and by the time a Republican Administration came to office fears that the Communists were poised to overthrow the government became an all consuming concern. Shortly prior to the 1952 presidential elections in the US, the British government invited Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., of the CIA to London to propose collaboration on a secret code named "Operation Ajax" to force Mosaddeq from office. Under the direction of Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., a senior Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer and grandson of former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, the American CIA and British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) funded and led a covert operation to depose Mosaddeq with the help of military forces loyal to the Shah. Referred to as Operation Ajax. The plot hinged on orders signed by the Shah to dismiss Mosaddeq as prime minister and replace him with General Fazlollah Zahedi, a choice agreed on by the British and Americans.
Despite the high-level coordination and planning, the coup initially failed, causing the Shah to flee to Baghdad, then Rome. As was his inclination in his later political life, the Shah was riddled with indecision when confronted by a political crisis. After a brief exile in Italy, the Shah returned to Iran, this time through a successful second attempt at a coup. A deposed Mosaddeq was arrested, subjected to a show trial, and sentenced to solitary confinement for three years in a military prison, followed by house arrest for life. Zahedi was installed to succeed Prime Minister Mosaddeq.
Before the first attempted coup the American Embassy in Tehran reported that Mosaddeq's popular support remained robust. The Prime Minister requested direct control of the army from the Majlis to give him direct control of the army. Given the situation, alongside the strong personal support of Eden and Churchill 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, Ambassador 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 Shah. 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 provided $1 million in Iranian currency, which Roosevelt had stored in a large safe, a bulky cache given the exchange rate at the time of 1000 rial to 15 dollars.
The Communists staged massive demonstrations to hijack the Prime Minister’s initiatives. The United States had announced its total lack of confidence in him; and his followers were drifting into indifference. On 16 August 1953, the right wing of the Army reacted. 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, attempted what could be described as a coup d’etat. They failed dismally. The Shah fled the country in humiliating haste. Even Ettelaat, the nation’s largest daily newspaper, and its pro-Shah publisher, Abbas Masudi, published negative commentaries on him.
During the following two days, the Communists turned against Mosaddeq. They roamed Tehran raising red flags and pulling down statues of Reza Shah. This frightened the conservative clergies like Kashani and National Front leaders like Makki, who sided with the Shah. On 18 August 1953, Mosaddeq hit back. Tudeh Partisans were clubbed and dispersed.
Tudeh had no choice but to accept defeat. In the meantime, according to the CIA plot, Zahedi appealed to the military, and claimed to be the legitimate prime minister and charged Mosaddeq 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 -organized with $100,000 in CIA funds-finally appeared and marched out of south Tehran into the city center, 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, Ambassador Henderson suggested to Ardashir that Mosaddeq not be harmed. Roosevelt gave Zahedi US$900,000 left from Operation Ajax funds.
The Shah returned to power, but never extended the elite status of the court to the technocrats and intellectuals who emerged from Iranian and Western universities. Indeed, his system irritated the new classes, for they were barred from partaking in real power.
The Shah was a strong supporter and patron of the Iran Scout Organization. A stamp showing the Shah in Scout's uniform was issued in 1956. In 1960 during a state visit the Shah was awarded the highest award of Pfadfinder Österreichs (Silberner Steinbock am rot-weiß-rotten Band), the National Scout Organisation of Austria.
The Shah was the target of two unsuccessful assassination attempts. On 4 February 1949, the Shah attended an annual ceremony to commemorate the founding of Tehran University. At the ceremony, Fakhr-Arai fired five shots at the Shah at a range of ten feet. Only one of the shots hit the Shah and his cheek was grazed. Fakhr-Arai was instantly shot by nearby officers. After an investigation, it was determined that Fakhr-Arai was a member of the Tudeh Party, which was subsequently banned. However, there is evidence that the would-be assassin was not a Tudeh member but a religious fundamentalist member of Fada'iyan-e Islam. The Tudeh was nonetheless blamed and persecuted.
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 Shah's quarters. Two civilian guards died protecting the Shah.
According to Vladimir Kuzichkin, a former KGB officer who defected to the SIS, the Shah was also allegedly targeted by the Soviet Union, who tried to use a TV remote control to detonate a bomb laden Volkswagen Beetle. The TV remote failed to function. A high-ranking Romanian defector Ion Mihai Pacepa also supported this claim, asserting that he was the target of various assassination attempts by Soviet agents for many years.
The Shah 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). 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, three strategically sensitive islands in the Strait of Hormuz 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. Relations with Iraq, however, were often difficult due to political instability in the latter country. The Shah was distrustful of both the Socialist government of Abd al-Karim Qasim and the Arab nationalist Baath party. He financed Kurdish separatist rebels, and to cover his tracks, armed them with Soviet weapons which Israel had seized from Soviet-backed Arab regimes, and then handed over to Iran at the Shah's behest. The initial operation was a disaster, but the Shah continued attempts to support the rebels and weaken Iraq. Then in 1975, the countries signed the Algiers Accord, which granted Iraq equal navigation rights in the Shatt al-Arab river, while the Shah agreed to end his support for Iraqi Kurdish rebels.
On July 1964, Shah Pahlavi, Turkish President Cemal Gürsel and Pakistani President Ayub Khan announced in Istanbul the establishment of the Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) organization to promote joint transportation and economic projects. It also envisioned Afghanistan joining some time in the future.
The Shah also maintained close relations with Pakistan. During the 1965 war between Pakistan and India, the Shah provided free fuel to the Pakistani planes, which landed on Iranian soil, refueled and then took flight.
The Shah of Iran was the first Muslim leader to recognize the State of Israel, although when interviewed on CBS 60 Minutes by reporter Mike Wallace, he criticized American Jews for their presumed control over US media and finance.
In 1982 however the New York Times reported that during the Shah's reign half of the arms supplied to Iran were "being supplied or arranged by Israel".
With Iran's great oil wealth, Mohammad Reza Shah became the pre-eminent leader of the Middle East, and self-styled "Guardian" of the Persian Gulf. He became increasingly despotic during the last years of his regime. In the words of a US Embassy dispatch, “The Shah’s picture is everywhere. The beginning of all film showings in public theaters presents the Shah in various regal poses accompanied by the strains of the National anthem... The monarch also actively extends his influence to all phases of social affairs...there is hardly any activity or vocation which the Shah or members of his family or his closest friends do not have a direct or at least a symbolic involvement. In the past, he had claimed to take a two party-system seriously and declared “If I were a dictator rather than a constitutional monarch, then I might be tempted to sponsor a single dominant party such as Hitler organized”.
However, by 1975, he abolished the multi-party system of government so that he could rule through a one-party state under the Rastakhiz (Resurrection) Party in autocratic fashion. All Iranians were pressured to join in. The Shah’s own words on its justification was; “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 organization, 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 must become part of Rastakhiz.
The Shah made major changes to curb the power of certain ancient elite factions by expropriating large and medium-sized estates for the benefit of more than four million small farmers. In the White Revolution, he took a number of major modernization measures, including extending suffrage to women, much to the discontent and opposition of the Islamic clergy, the participation of workers in factories through shares and other measures, the improvement of the educational system through new elementary schools and literacy courses set up in remote villages by the Imperial Iranian Armed Forces. The latter step was called "Sepāh e Dānesh", "Army of Knowledge". As part of the White Revolution, the Armed Forces were engaged in infrastructural and other educational projects throughout the country ("Sepāh e Tarvij va Âbādāni") as well as in health education and promotion ("Sepāh e Behdāsht"). Moreover, he instituted exams for Islamic theologians to become established clerics. As a further step, in the seventies the governmental program of a free of charge nourishment for children at school ("Taghzieh e Rāigān") was implemented. Under the Shah's reign, the national Iranian income showed an unprecedented rise.
In the field of diplomacy, Iran realized and maintained friendly relations with Western and East European countries as well as the state of Israel and China and became, especially through the close friendship with the United States, more and more a hegemonial power in the Persian Gulf region and the Middle East. The suppression of the communist guerilla movement in the region of Dhofar in Oman with the help of the Iranian army after a formal request by Sultan Qaboos was widely regarded in this context. As to infrastructural and technological progress, the Shah continued and developed further the policies introduced by his father. As part of his programs, projects in several technologies, such as steel, telecommunications, petrochemical facilities, power plants, dams and the automobile industry may be named.
In terms of cultural activities, international cooperations were encouraged and organized, such as the Shiraz Arts Festival. Many Iranian students were sent to and supported in foreign, especially Western countries and the Indian subcontinent. The Aryamehr University of Technology was established as a major new academic institution.
In 1978 the deepening opposition to the Shah erupted in widespread demonstrations and rioting. Recognizing that even this level of violence had failed to crush the rebellion, the Shah abdicated the Peacock Throne and departed Iran on 16 January 1979. Despite decades of pervasive surveillance by SAVAK, working closely with CIA, the extent of public opposition to the Shah, and his sudden departure, came as a considerable surprise to the US intelligence community and national leadership. As late as 28 September 1978 the US Defense Intelligence Agency reported that the shah "is expected to remain actively in power over the next ten years."
Explanations for why the Shah was overthrown include that he was beholden to — if not a puppet of — a non-Muslim Western power, (the United States), whose alien culture was seen as contaminating that of Iran. Additional contributing factors included perceptions of oppression, brutality, corruption, and extravagance. Basic functional failures of the regime have also been blamed — economic bottlenecks, shortages and inflation; the regime's overly-ambitious economic program; the failure of its security forces to deal with protest and demonstration; the overly centralized royal power structure.
In October 1971, the Shah celebrated the twenty-five-hundredth anniversary of the Iranian monarchy. The New York Times reported that $100 million was spent. Next to the ruins of Persepolis, the Shah gave orders to build a tent city covering 160 acres (0.65 km2), 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 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 china and drank from Baccarat crystal glasses. This became a major scandal as the contrast between the dazzling elegance of celebration and the misery of the nearby villages was so dramatic that no one could ignore it. Months before the festivities, university students struck in protest. Indeed, the cost was so sufficiently impressive that the Shah forbade his associates to discuss the actual figures.
However the Shah and the supporters of the Shah argue 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. Other actions that are thought to have contributed to his downfall include antagonizing 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 birth of Cyrus as the first day, instead of the flight of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina. Overnight, the year changed from 1355 to 2535.
Some achievements of the shah — such as broadened education — had unintended consequences. While school attendance rose (by 1966 the school attendance of urban seven to fourteen year olds was estimated at 75.8%), Iran's labor market could not absorb a high number of educated youth. In 1966 high school graduates had "a higher rate of unemployment than did the illiterate," and educated unemployed often supported the revolution.
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. A year later strikes were paralyzing 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.
On 16 January 1979, he and his wife left Iran at the behest of Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar (a long time opposition leader himself), who sought to calm the situation. 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 the 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 fiercely rejected Dr. Bakhtiar's demands and appointed his own interim government, with Mehdi Bazargan as prime minister, demanding "since I have appointed him he must be obeyed." In February, pro-Khomeini Revolutionary guerrilla and rebel soldiers gained the upper hand in street fighting and the military announced their neutrality. On the evening of 11 February the dissolution of the monarchy was complete.
During his second exile, the Shah traveled from country to country seeking what he hoped would be temporary residence. initially, he stayed in Egypt, where he received a warm and gracious welcome from President Anwar El-Sadat. He later lived in Morocco as a guest of King Hassan II, as well as in the Bahamas, and in Cuernavaca in Mexico near Mexico City, but he suffered from stones in his gallbladder and common bile duct that would require prompt surgery. He was offered treatment in Switzerland but insisted on treatment in the United States.
On 22 October 1979, at the request of David Rockefeller, President Jimmy Carter reluctantly allowed the Shah into the United States to undergo surgical treatment at the New York Hospital. It was anticipated that his stay in the U.S. would be short; however, surgical complications ensued which required six weeks of confinement in the hospital before he recovered. His prolonged stay in the U.S. was extremely unpopular with the revolutionary movement in Iran, which still resented the United States' overthrow of Prime Minister Mosaddeq and the years of support for the Shah's rule. The Iranian government demanded his return to Iran to stand trial but Shah had to leave U.S. before he would get turned over.
There are claims that this resulted in the storming of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, and the kidnapping of American diplomats, military personnel and intelligence officers, which soon became known as the Iran hostage crisis. According to the Shah's book, Answer to History, in the end the USA never provided the Shah any kind of health care and asked him to leave the country.
He left the United States on 15 December 1979, and lived for a short time in the Isla Contadora in Panama. The new government in Iran still demanded his and his wife's immediate extradition to Tehran. A short time after the Shah's arrival, an Iranian ambassador was dispatched to the Central American nation carrying a 450 page extradition request. That official appeal greatly alarmed both the Shah and his advisors. Whether the Panamanian government would have complied is a matter of speculation among historians.
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. The Shah returned to Egypt in March 1980, where he received urgent medical treatment but nevertheless died from complications of non-Hodgkin lymphoma on 27 July 1980, aged 60. Egyptian President Sadat gave the Shah a state funeral.
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi is buried in the Al Rifa'i Mosque in Cairo, a mosque of great symbolic importance. The last royal rulers of two monarchies are buried there, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran and King Farouk of Egypt, his former brother-in-law. The tombs lie off to the left of the entrance. Years earlier, his father and predecessor, Reza Shah Pahlavi had also initially been buried at the Al Rifa'i Mosque.
In 1969, the Shah 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 civilization." The Apollo 11 crew visited the Shah during a world tour.
Shortly after his overthrow, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi wrote an autobiographical memoir Réponse à l'histoire (Answer to History). It was translated from the original French into English, Persian (Pasokh be Tarikh), and other languages. However, by the time of its publication, the Shah had already died. The book is his personal account of his reign and accomplishments, as well as his perspective on issues related to the Iranian Revolution and Western foreign policy toward Iran. The Shah places some of the blame for the wrongdoings of SAVAK and the failures of various democratic and social reforms (particularly through the White Revolution) upon Amir Abbas Hoveyda and his administration.
In the 1990s and the decade following 2000, the Shah's reputation has staged something of a revival, with many Iranians looking back on his era as a time when Iran was more prosperous and the government less oppressive. Journalist Afshin Molavi reports even members of the uneducated poor - traditionally core supporters of the revolution that overthrew the Shah - making remarks such as 'God bless the Shah's soul, the economy was better then;' and finds that "books about the former Shah (even censored ones) sell briskly," while "books of the Rightly Guided Path sit idle."
In 2009, 7th Art Releasing produced the film "LIBERATION", which depicts the Shah during his final year in exile.
Under Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's father, the government supported advancements by women against child marriage, polygamy, exclusion from public society, and education segregation. However, independent feminist political groups were shut down and forcibly integrated into one state-created institution, which maintained many paternalistic views. Despite substantial opposition from Shiite religious jurists, the Iranian feminist movement, led by activists such as Fatemah Sayyeh, achieved further advancement under Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. His regime's changes focused on the civil sphere, and private-oriented family law remained restrictive, although the 1967 and 1975 Family Protection Laws attempted to reform this trend. Specifically, women gained the right to become ministers such as Farrokhroo Parsa and judges such as Shirin Ebadi, as well as any other profession regardless of their gender.
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was married three times.
His first wife was Princess Fawzia of Egypt (born 5 November 1921), a daughter of King Fuad I of Egypt and Nazli Sabri; she also was a sister of King Farouk I of Egypt. They married in 1939 and were divorced in 1945 (Egyptian divorce) and 1948 (Iranian divorce). They had one daughter, Princess Shahnaz Pahlavi (born 27 October 1940).
His second wife was Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari ( 22 June 1932 – 26 October 2001), the only daughter of Khalil Esfandiary, Iranian Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, and his wife, the former Eva Karl. They married in 1951, but divorced in 1958 when it became apparent that 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.
He subsequently indicated his interest in marrying Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy, a daughter of the deposed Italian king, Umberto II. Pope John XXIII reportedly vetoed the suggestion. In an editorial about the rumors surrounding the marriage of "a Muslim sovereign and a Catholic princess", the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, considered the match "a grave danger," especially considering that under the 1917 Code of Canon Law a Roman Catholic who married a divorced person would be automatically, and could be formally, excommunicated.
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi married his third and final wife, Farah Diba (born 14 October 1938), the only child of Sohrab Diba, Captain in the Imperial Iranian Army, and his wife, the former Farideh Ghotbi. They were married in 1959, and Queen Farah was crowned Shahbanu, or Empress, a title created especially for her in 1967. Previous royal consorts had been known as "Malakeh" (Arabic: Malika), or Queen. The couple remained together for twenty years, until the Shah's death. Farah Diba bore him four children:
Mohammad Reza PahlaviBorn: 16 October 1919 Died: 27 July 1980
|Shah of Iran
16 September 1941 – 11 February 1979
as Shah of Iran
|Iranian Head of State
16 September 1941 – 11 February 1979
as Supreme Leader of Iran
|Titles in pretence|
|Loss of title
||— TITULAR —
Shah of Iran
11 February 1979 – 27 July 1980
Reason for succession failure: