The State of Iran
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Imperial Regent Massoud Eskandari
Monarch: Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (Exiled)
Prime Minister: Daryush Hosseinzadeh
Preceded by: Position Established
Preceded by: General Gholam Ali Oveissi
"Iran is a nation that has faced so much adversity throughout the century by having the merit of being one of the oldest civilizations on Earth. Yet I have not faced such adversity as the rise of the Islamic Republic and the Reign of Terror that Khomeini has brought upon Iran. You call this Islam? This is not Islam! This is not any coup but a national revolution of the sane-minded to restore order. We will not return to the era of the Shah but to forge a new path. A revolutionary path without revolutionary consequences."
General Massoud Eskandari is the self-appointed Imperial Regent of the State of Iran after the NEQAB coup of July 1980. Massoud also serves as the Chief of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces or Artesh. Before becoming Regent, Massoud served in both the Imperial Iranian Ground Force (IIGF) and the Islamic Republic of Iran Army (AJA). He rose to become Lieutenant General in the IIGF before being demoted to Major General in the AJA. However he was spared from the massive officer purge that engulfed the Iranian military under Khomeini after the Islamic Revolution. His colleagues described him to be an Iranian patriot as well as an opportunist who would take advantage of the post-revolutionary chaos in 1979 to his advantage. Together with like-minded officers in the Artesh, Shah-era officials in exile, and Khomeini's former political allies in the National Front and the Freedom Movement; they formed a cohesive opposition to the Islamic Republic under Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini. At its core, the opposition was led by the so-called Gang of Four which consisted of NF politician Daryush Hosseinzadeh, Iranian diplomat Parviz Zahedi, and former SAVAK officer Gholan Khosravi.
General Massoud and the Gang of Four masterminded the NEQAB coup on July 1980, also known as the "Save Greater Iran Uprising", which involved elements of the disgruntled Artesh, the demobilized Imperial Guards, the Air Force, and Kurdish as well as Baloch rebels in toppling the Islamic government. It was a coup which was met with popular support in the cities and when they faced stiff resistance from the Pasdaran (IRGC); the coup forces won at the end. Now as self-appointed Regent, the General has found himself having power at his palm. Iran embarked on a slow process of democratization albeit under military political tutelage where every governmental policy must be approved by the military itself. The Iranian government saw itself being divided into two factions: the civilian representatives and the military. The military, Massoud believes, has a moral duty to defend Iranian secularity from future Islamic uprisings. And Massoud believes that Iran isn't truly prepared for democracy.
A Young Massoud in the Late 40s
Massoud Eskandari was born in Tehran on 12 September 1925 to a family of four children with a distinguished military background. His father was a military officer in the Persian Cossack Brigade. His father, Colonel Alireza Eskandari, served in the same unit as Reza Khan. His mother, Shahrzad Eskandari, was a housewife of the Colonel and she had a noble background. During his childhood, Massoud liked to play with his siblings or his friends in the streets of Tehran. However out of the four siblings, two died from diseases such as TBC with child mortality rates in Qajari Iran being abysmal. Massoud's family was relatively well-off in comparison to other landless peasants in Qajar Iran. They were a very traditionalist family and devout Muslims who were hesitant of the change they saw from the new Western-educated Iranian intelligentsia. Massoud was too young to understand the grave danger that Iran was facing during the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.
His father had fought the Soviets in 1920 when the Soviet army marched into northern Iran and established the Gilan Soviet Republic after the attempted British invasion from Iran in 1917. Then in 1921, his father conspired with Reza Khan to put Reza Khan on the position of Ministry of Warfare. His father led the Persian Cossack Brigade and captured key cities throughout Iran. When in 1925, Reza Khan pressured the Majelis to formally depose Ahmad Shah Qajar and coronate him as Shah due to clerical opposition; his father Alireza heavily objected to his former colleague's decision to form the monarchy instead of following the Turkish model of republicanism. For his father's opposition, Reza Shah had him stripped of his position and kicked out of the army instead of executing him as a show of mercy. Since then, the Eskandari family had laid low and went out of the spotlight as Reza Shah ruled the country. Massoud Eskandari remarked "my father looked so pale and there was bitterness in his eyes ever since he was "betrayed" by his old friend, the Shah".
Massoud and Zahra in a Hiking Trip
Massoud bear witness to the joint Anglo - Soviet invasion of Iran in 1941 which saw his Iranian homeland overrun by the Red Army in the north and the Royal Army from the south. As a teenager in Iran, he could only feel nothing but anger at the sight of his homeland being trampled by both armies. He saw the Iranian army surrendering their posts to the encroaching British to be disgraceful and he cited that the invasion was one of the reasons he joined the military. Massoud remarked "Reza Shah's declaration of surrender to both the Russians and British was a great source of shame for the Iranian people and nationhood. I was young when I was vulnerable and filled with great emotions. I said to myself how could I save Iran and prevent this from ever happening again". That same year was also when his father died due to an illness and he was deeply saddened by it.
In 1945, Massoud joined the Imperial Iranian Armed Forces motivated by a desire to "regain honor to the Eskandari's family name" and to "get back at the Pahlavis". He attended the Saint-Cyr Military Academy in France on 1947 after WWII. He stated that he held negative views of the French due to the French viewing the Iranians being beneath them before changing their tune in the 70s. In 1949, Massoud graduated as a cadet with a military degree in Military Science. He left with the rank of Lieutenant and joined the Imperial Iranian Ground Force to serve as a platoon leader in a military regiment.
1950 was the year where he met his to-be-wed Zahra Bakhtiar of the relatively powerful Bakhtiar family. Massoud met her during a military officers' graduation party and he fell in love with her because of how "natural she acted". When Massoud played golf with her brother, she carried their sticks around. The two remained in close contacts and dated throughout the year when Massoud went home from military duties. In 1951, Massoud finally popped the question and confessed his love to her parents. It took a lot of convincing as her parents did not think highly of Massoud as he was a mere Lieutenant. But he gained their trust when he told her father who his father was and her father told him that he once served with "Alireza Eskandari". By November of 1951, both of their parents gave them their blessing and he married her the next day. He told her that it was his "most luckiest day in his life" out of sheer coincidence.
Massoud During the Khuzestan Rebellion
The Counter-Guerrilla Lieutenant
It called for differentiating between a combat and non-combatant, separating civilians from the rebels by relocating them in camps, called for swift action against rebels, and promoting local development in the region. All of his visions were compiled in the so-called "The Iranian Book of Counter-Insurgency Operations" published in 1965 and given to top Iranian commanders. For this, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel from being a Captain. Following the COIN program; it saw guerrilla activity dropping by 50%. This was nothing new as the Americans had attempted such things in South Vietnam but it was game-changing in Iran where the standard doctrine was to simply flush out insurgents like a whack-a-mole.
The Dhofar Rebellion and Massoud's Formulative Years
Imperial Soldiers in the Dhofar Rebellion, 1973
Massoud trained the Royal Omani Army in counter-guerrilla tactics and he was directly involved in some of the IIGF raids against PFLOAG encampments. Massoud welcomed the recent political development in Oman with Sultan Qaboos' rise to power and has asked for more medical assistance instead of arms. IIGF units under him appealed to the Islamic sentiments of the locals and they were more well received than the British "foreigners". This has led to Massoud receiving the nickname "The Humanitarian LT". By 1976, the PFLOAG political legitimacy was eroded and the war was effectively won by the Royalists. For this, he was given the double promotion of becoming the rank of Brigadier General.
In spite of his speedy promotion; the Shah and his inner circle of military confidantes didn't took notice of Massoud. The Shah was indeed aware of Massoud and had heard his name before but he didn't realize that their fathers had something of a grudge. Which could've been used to demote him if Massoud the outsider became too much of a threat to the Shah. Few knew Massoud's intention in acting as the so-called "Humanitarian LT" and many regarded his military tactics as "unorthodox".
The Local Baloch Militia Recruited by Massoud
The Baluch Emergency
However Massoud did not take into account what type of enemy they were facing. They weren't facing Marxist groups with little support base but rather ultrareligious groups whose message resonated with the populace. Their opponent known as the "Baloch Jundallah" was heavily decentralized and headless. Attempting to win the hearts and minds of Sunni religious zealots would prove to be futile as more IIGF men were being killed by hit-and-runs as well as one of the world's first instances of IEDs. And it was those IEDs which killed his second-in-command. Upon reading an action report of his death; Massoud understood that terrorists could not be won over nor the people who genuinely believed in their ideals could have their minds changed. The IIGF planned to destroy the focal point of the Jundallah which was centered in the port city of Gwadar which had high amounts of Jundallah sympathizers as well as a manpower pool for the Jundallah to draw rebels from.
The Gwadar Massacre and the Duality of Man
The Remains of Gwadar After the Shelling
The Jundallah was shocked to the core that their enemy could have done such a thing in effectively wiping Gwadar off the map. For the rebels only dealt in guerrilla attacks and IED bombings for such a disproportionate response. They effectively surrendered en masse to Baloch authorities and the IIGF were kicked out of the country for the massacre. Massoud noted that he was on the ground when the massacre happened. He stated "I walked through the field of bodies which filled every corner of this ancient city. I stumbled across a man who is barely alive and I gave him one last cigarette out of pity as we watched onto the setting sun. Afterwards, I shot him in the head as an act of mercy". The Gwadar Massacre became a textbook example on how decisive, swift brute force was effective in dealing with insurgencies. It was his way of telling "continued resistance will only bring further destruction to you and your people".
For his part in effectively destroying Jundallah, Massoud was given a promotion into the rank of Lieutenant General and that was the end of it. For General Abbas Gharabaghi expressed his firm distaste of the massacre and said in private: "The LT isn't very humanitarian after all..." with a smirk. The SAVAK clamped down on news of the massacre in Baluchistan in the press (Ettala'at and Kayhan). Massoud became a very peculiar man after that point. To go from a master counter-insurgent as well as a humanitarian commander into a cold-blooded killer who wiped a city off a map. Massoud expressed little regrets deep in his heart and on the outside, he claimed it to be "collateral damage" yet maintained that the massacre was necessary.
Yet this was reflective of Massoud's flexibility and "human duality". Being able to change identities of a loving father to his family and men into a calculating, ruthless military commander. Massoud argued that the Massacre was a change in tactics in order to reflect the everso-changing landscape of asymmetric warfare. He believes that Middle Eastern Marxists in the mold of the PFLOAG are materialistic and could be won with material concessions. And that ultrareligious rebels such as the Jundallah more dangerous due to their firm commitment to their religious dogma.
The Black Friday Massacre of 1978
Massive protests and general strikes erupted in November 1978 against the Shah of Iran in reaction to widening economic inequality and an economic recession brought about by the oil glut. The Army was sent by the Shah in order to quell the protest. Massoud's unit was one of them when they descended upon the streets of Tehran from trucks complete with G3 rifles and M17 gas masks. At the forefront of the revolution, Massoud observed the protesters' movements and actions. He ordered his men not to provoke the protesters any further yet forbade them from fraternizing lest they would have sympathies for the revolutionaries. The Shah was reluctant to shoot the protesters even though many hardline conservative generals around his circle implored him to shoot. Shah Pahlavi stated that he didn't want to see any blood in the street under him and believed that it was a communist conspiracy as well as the protesters were duped. For Massoud, he believed in shooting yet was reluctant to give such orders on the field. Instead, Massoud passed a memo to his superior General Gholam Reza Azhari to "assassinate" Ayatollah Khomeini while he was in France. Yet this was ignored and he was given disciplinary warning for it.
Protests Continues in Tehran
Day by day the government was crumbling apart as the Shah cannot make decisions for himself in a government that was centralized and focused on a sole leader. Massoud noted that "the county was falling apart fasts as the Shah was indecisive during moments when the military needed the leadership most. We were given conflicting orders: "don't shoot but act decisively when provoked". Naturally it could only come to one conclusion...". On 8 September 1978, units of the Imperial Ground Force open fired at a crowd of protesters who did not disperse. 88 were dead and thousands injured. The revolutionaries dubbed it as "murder" perpetrated by "Zionist Israeli agents" among the soldiers. Massoud's unit was not involved but he was angered by this turn of events. He believed that there's no turning back now. Massoud lamented that the army weren't given counter-riot training nor were they equipped with rubber bullets. Around this time, Massoud made overtures to the moderate revolutionaries represented by Sanjabi and Bazargan while fraternizing with the protesters in addition to listening to their complaints.
A Revolution Secured?
Mounting protests and general strikes caused the entire country's economy and institutions to paralyze. The Shah and the entire royal court was sitting on a sinking ship at this point with their days numbered. By January, the Shah expressed his intentions to leave Iran in order to prevent needless bloodshed after the massacre and left day-to-day governance to the Regency Council. Shapour Bakhtiar of the National Front was appointed PM on the same month. A tearful Shah bid goodbye to his royal court and generals with Massoud attending. As the Shah shook his hands; Massoud recalled that the "Shah looked into my eyes and told me that he felt as if we had a connection when I bowed to him". When the Shah left Iran on January 1979, the military was left to fend for its own as the revolutionaries grew more bold. The Bakhtiar government lacked support from the military and Massoud fiercely opposed his attempts to bring Khomeini into Iran. In reaction, Massoud and a group of army majors devised a conspiracy to assassinate Khomeini and overthrow the Bakhtiar government and proclaim a junta in Iran as early as January 1979. Massoud sought American support from men such as General Huyser for this but his contacts in the Embassy and the CIA discouraged him from taking such a rash act which he backed down sensing no other way.
A Suspected Maid of the Shah
Being Arrested by the Komitehs
After a coup would not materialize, Bakhtiar became one of the first generals to secretly collaborate with Khomeini when he returned to Iran on February. He refused to leave Iran even when the Khomeinists threatened to execute the generals as he stated that Iran had been his home. This has become a point of contention between his supporters and detractors. His detractors deride him for collaborating with Khomeini and stated that he was a traitor. While his supporters claimed that he was only collaborating as he has the foresight of what the Khomeinists would do to generals like him and that he was deceptively taking advantage of their trusts. Whatever it is, it was a testament to Massoud's nature as a flexible and cunning commander. During a critical moment in 10 February, Massoud immediately declared his forces to be neutral and withdrew to the barracks. Giving greenlight for the Khomeinists to take over Niavaran palace and toppling the monarchy that had been in power for thousands of years.- -
NUPA Officers Pledging Allegiance to Iran
Not the Shah nor Khomeini
Massoud secured a cozy position in the new Islamic Republic's Army (VAJA) as he was merely demoted to Major General and was spared from the immediate armed forces purge which swept the military. He was involved in revolutionary military tribunals and even chaired tribunal sessions in dealing with Shah-era officers. However, since day one, he had deceptively took advantage of the Khomeinists trusts for him and had conspired to overthrow the Islamic regime. In military tribunal sessions which he chaired; he managed to commute the sentences of military and SAVAK officers to life in imprisonment in Evin Prison. Massoud believed that they would be useful for the upcoming coup and potential war against Iraq. Through this political maneuver, he was able to save thousands of military officials and personnel. He had forged contacts with potential like-minded officers in March and April. His contacts included Western-trained Air Force pilots, disgruntled Sepah officers, and the demobilized Imperial Guards. Thus the NUPA (Iranian Patriotic Officers) was formed as an alliance of apolitical officers who sought to "save Iran" from the clutches of Islamism and most importantly wrestle back the monopoly of military power from the Sepah/Pasdaran (IRGC).
May was the month where everything changed. Massoud had been in Mehrabad International Airport where he met three interesting individuals as he was picking up his daughter who had been in France. The three people he met were: Gholam Khosravi the former SAVAK officer, Daryush Hosseinzadeh the National Front politician, and Parviz Zahedi the Iranian diplomat. Massoud talked on and on with the three of them on what their opinions of the current state of Iran. They grew to like each other and had kept in touch for future purposes. Effectively forming some sort of network of connections with the three men's expertise for a future operation. In the middle of the night of June 30th, Massoud phoned Gholam to meet him at the 1st Tactical Fighter Base in Mehrabad and relay it to the rest to come to the air base on the next day. In the 1st Tactical Fighter Base, the stage was set for a future Iranian putsch which they were thought was unthinkable. Daryush thought it would it fail while Gholam believed it would incite a civil war in Iran. However Massoud reminded them that Khomeini had planned to purge them which somewhat compelled them to join into his conspiracy. Thus the Gang of Four was established which would coordinate this intricate coup plot between all sectors of civilian, logistics, military, counter-intelligence, finance, and much more.
Troops and Officers Outside of Nojeh Air Base
SAVAMA officer Brig Gen. Gholam Khosravi was responsible for maintaining the coup as a secret and prevent it from leaking to the revolutionaries especially the Pasdaran or the Komiteh. Daryush Hosseinzadeh as a former regime official and revolutionary insider was responsible for getting into contact with foreign Iranian dissidents (Shapour Bakhtiar) as well as revolutionary moderates (including Medhi Bazargan and Karim Sanjabi) who were alienated by Ayatollah Khomeini into their side. Parviz Zahedi as Iranian diplomat was responsible for attempting to gain foreign support for the putsch. His liaison was Manoucher Ghobanifar who was a gun runner and had contacts with the CIA. Ghobanifar failed in acquiring American support for the coup as they did not want to endanger the lives of American hostages in the embassy and he relayed this information to Zahedi for a change of plans. Intriguingly, Iraq under President Qasim caught wind of the coup and offered the Gang of Four assistance by bombing key sites throughout western Iran if they provided the names of the Iranian pilots that would be involved. Massoud refused but Gholam gave the names anyway in order to gain Iraqi support for the putsch.
Of the military units that Massoud could count on; he could only count on the loyalty and support of the personnel from the Nojeh Air Base, the 23rd Commando Division (NOHED Brigade), 1st Infantry Division (the Imperial Guards), 92nd Armored Division in Khuzestan, 1st Marine Battalion, and the Shahrbani as well as the Gendarmerie. Daryush and Massoud also recruited the help of Kurdish rebels (Komallah and the KDPI) as well as several Baloch rebel groups to rise up and rebel against the Islamic Republic. Massoud expected that there would be popular demonstrations against the Islamic Republic to throw the Pasdaran into disarray. From Hamadan Airbase on July 1980; the coup was officially set in motion when a coup loyalist within Radio Tehran station played "Vatanam" to signal the coup plotters to mobilize out of their base. Khuzestan was quickly captured by the 92nd Armored Division and the oil fields secured. Concurrent with this, the Iraqi Air Force did bombing runs in western Iran while the KDPI-Komalah rose up to disarm the local IRI garrison. So did the Baloch rebels in Baluchistan and Sistan. The Pasdaran and regime loyalists within the Artesh were caught off-guard with this sudden turn of events and struggled to adapt accordingly as they were spread thin between fighting the Kurdish and Baloch rebels.
Pro-NEQAB Tanks Rolling Into Tehran
The light-infantry 1st Marine Battalion and the NOHED Brigade quickly captured cities of Isfahan, Mashhad, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad, Khuzestan and Sistan and Baluchestan where they faced little resistance and some even supported them in a popular revolt against the IRI regime. Capturing local governors and replacing them with military governors. F-4 fighter-bombers mobilized to bomb Khomeini's home, then the Mehrabad International Airport runaway, and then military HQs throughout Tehran. However they did not realize that Khomeini had secretly moved to Qom and is in hiding. In Tehran, coup soldiers rushed to the streets in Pasdaran clothing wearing red bandanas with the word "Vatan" (homeland) inscribed on them to throw the actual Pasdaran into confusion. The demobilized Imperial Guards quickly captured the Prime Minister's residence and the parliamentary building where they escorted officials of the Khomeini regime into safety under coup-plotter hands. However PM Banisadr was nowhere to be seen. Radio Tehran was also captured. What ensued was light fighting and gun exchange in the streets between Artesh pro-coup soldiers and the Pasdaran. However the Pasdaran quickly faced popular resistance from the people of Tehran and they were disarmed by the people before more damage could be done. On the streets of Tehran, the military fraternized with the people as they handed out flowers to the soldiers in a show of support for their "liberators". Women quickly tossed their hijab away as Khomeini's reign of terror was over while the men posed for photographs with the soldiers. While the American hostages in the embassy were freed by the Artesh and were told thay were free to leave Iran by their own choice.
Troops Greeted With Flowers and
Jubilant Celebrations Throughout Iran
However the city of Qom, the traditional Shia stronghold of Iran, was where the heaviest of fighting took place during the coup between the Artesh supported by the Shahrbani and the Pasdaran who all zealously defended the city and still maintained their allegiance to Khomeini and the "rightful" IRI government. Fighting took place outside of the traditional parts of the city and the gun fight was intense as tanks had to be called in to provide support as they were engaged in tight-spaced, urban warfare. It lasted until night when the Pasdaran was overwhelmed and retreated to the mountains of Elburz. The Artesh flushed out remaining resistance pockets and cells in the city before stopping for a prayer at dusk. Khomeini was discovered in a sewer and was apprehended by the authorities. Public reception the coup was highly mixed. The middle-class as well as upper-class Iranians who were secular liberals were supportive of the coup after seeing their rights taken away by the new Khomeinist regime. Marxist university students decried the coup and joined the MEK/OIPFG en masse while rural and lower-class Iranians were either apathetic or weary of the new regime. In 11 July when the Gang of Four revealed themselves and held a public press conference; Maj. Gen Massoud reassured the nation that Iran would take steps in establishing a true Iranian democracy and that the Artesh would perform its duties of "protecting the Iranian people" from the "Khomeinist" threat. Daryush then added that they would bring forth a new Iran which would be untainted by both the Pahlavis and the Khomeinists as the Gang of Four promised a new plebiscite which would decide Iran's future.
When Massoud rolled into Tehran after the success of the coup in an M113, he noted the peculiar faces of the Iranian people who came to greet him and the Artesh. He recounted "there was these different faces who greeted us when we entered the city. There were the faces of joy from the women and men who greeted us like liberators. The average Baazari merchant and downtrodden poor Iranian who lived in the slums only had the face of sorrow as if they were witnessing a return to the Pahlavi era. We Iranians have sacrificed so much yet achieved so little in the Constitutional Revolution and the Islamic Revolution. It has become apparent that we have a duty to restore the Iranian people's trust in their government and uplift the downtrodden masses as we enter into a new era".
Bazargan and Sahabi, the Moderate Opposition, Arrested
Months Later They Were Released by Massoud's Orders
The Gang of Four and the NUPA quickly secured all organs of the state after the Nojeh/NEQAB coup. This 10 July coup was primarily triggered by what the military saw as the "post-revolutionary Reign of Terror chaos" of the Khomeinist regime in addition to the massive armed forces purge. After the coup, Massoud quickly set out to bring some sense of stability into Iran once more after the Revolution. He had revolutionary institutions such as the IRGC, the Revolutionary Committees, and the Council Assembly of Experts disbanded with the Islamic Republican Party forcefully banned. The military was granted the extraordinary power to arrest people without warrants. Hundreds of thousands of suspected Islamists in the Komitehs and Sepahs were rounded up and arrested by the new military authorities who ruled Iran. Often the arrests were made under dubious allegations. The people of Iran who cheered for the military takeover became even more worried as the military were granted sweeping powers in getting arrest and search warrants. The streets of Tehran are tranquil after the coup with civilian life continuing at a steady pace and breeze while the military has an omnipotent presence throughout all sectors of Iranian life. All in the name of preventing a "worst case scenario".
After the coup, nearly all revolutionary politicians of the previous Interim Government as well as the Islamic Republic were captured and given trial in military tribunals. Bazargan, Sanjabi, Ghotbzadeh, Taleghani, Shariatmadari, and others stood trials. Surprisingly Ayatollah Khomeini showed up as well after his capture in Qom. Against everybody's expectations and even hardliners in the military; Islamic moderates and secular figures were given light sentences of 5 years in prison for their role in the Revolution. The liberals weren't pleased that they were jailed while the military demanded life sentences for them. However for Massoud, he wanted to keep the moderate opposition in order to pave the way for Iranian democracy as a counter-balance to the political Islamists. As for Khomeini, this trial gripped the nation as millions tune to their telivision and radios to observe the trials. Khomeini defended himself stating that he had a struggle to save Iran from the clutches of capitalism, communism, and Zionism. However the jury showed evidence of Khomeini's crimes which included the massacre of military officers, political opponents in the Tudeh and MEK, and the abduction of women who violated dress codes. Public opinions sharply turned against him as the IRI's crimes went to light. As a result he was given a life sentence in solitary confinement which left a bad taste on the Iranian people's mouth. For he was a Marja and was already old at that point yet admittedly was more merciful than execution.
Ayatollah Khomeini Attempting
to Defend Himself in Trial
Foreign reaction to this sudden turn of events was unprecedented. The Americans under the Carter administration, who realized they committed a mistake in not supporting the coup, refrained from talking any further about the situation in Iran and Carter only commented that he "was glad that the hostages were freed" and that "stability has returned to the Middle East". Afterwards, American financial and military support heightened for Iran with NIOC (National Iranian Oil Company) now having a larger share over its own oil resources in a 80-20% deal. The Soviet Union under Andropov saw the Iranian junta as a threat until the newly-appointed Foreign Minister Parviz Zahedi reassured the Kremlin that they would be neutral in the Afghan conflict. As for her neighbors, this only made Iraq all the more confident in invading Iran after two consequent regime changes and secretive relations between Tehran and Tel-Aviv resumed. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi welcomed the coup and told Massoud on the phone that he was willing to serve Iran as its Shah again. Shapour Bakhtiar remained silent and only stated the new regime if they restored democracy or else he will continue the fight abroad. For now, the new regime's external stability is secured for now and they would have to focus on making internal reforms if it wants to survive the turn of the century. Political analysts worry about the Iranian coup. Fearing that it would set a dangerous precedent for the secular Iranian Artesh and the political establishment to dispose any government that they deemed to be politically unreliable. -
Rule of the Generals and Political Tutelage in Iran
On July 11 of 1980, Major General Massoud Eskandari immediately appointed himself as Imperial Regent of the renamed-State of Iran. This is in spite of the Shah's wishes that his wife, Empress Farah Pahlavi, would be the regent for Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi. On the same day, he promoted himself into General and Iran declared the restoration of the Pahlavi monarchy albeit as a constitutional monarchy where the position of the Emperor was strip of its power and would act as a ceremonial figurehead. The government declared that the previous Islamic Republic was illegitimate and therefore most of its laws passed by the Islamic Revolutionary Council would be rendered void and null.
The Gang of Four quickly set up an unity government composed of Shah-era officials and politicians from different parts of the political spectrum. Ironically, the moderate revolutionaries that were imprisoned were given an "early leave" on August 1980. Which was on Massoud's imperial decree and against the military hardliners expectations. Releasing the political prisoners of moderate convictions proved to be popular amongst the country's intelligentsia.
This unity government was known as the Transitional Government of National Salvation (TGNS) which is composed of the secular nationalist National Front, the Islamic democratic Freedom Movement of Iran, the constitutional monarchistic Rastakhiz Party, and against everybody's expectations the Tudeh Party (their moderate democratic socialist faction won the power struggle and they aligned themselves with the TGNS). The Parliament or Majelis was re-established comprised of politicians of all governmental-approved political parties while Iran is declared as a secular state once more.
Daryush Hosseinzadeh of the National Front of Iran was given the post of Prime Minister, Parviz Zahedi became Foreign Minister, and Lieutenant General Gholan Khosravi was quietly appointed as the Director of the reorganized SAVAMA after the execution of its previous director, the turncoat Hossein Fardoust. However, the so-called Gang of Four partnership was never meant to last and the four men vied for political control of Iran. With Daryush, Gholan, and Massoud all having different visions for the future of Iran. However they would co-operate together for now as they have a greater threat ahead in the form of the Iraqis and the MEK/Quds insurgents.
Massoud in His First Days in Office
Massoud knew that being Regent of Iran was not enough and he had himself appointed as Chief of the General Staff of the Artesh (Iranian Armed Forces). Effectively, he wields two powerful positions in government between the civilian government and the military institution. He appointed military and intelligence officers into key governmental positions. Generals loyal to Massoud were appointed as Minister of Defense and Minister of Specialized Warfare while the SAVAMA earned positions in the Ministry of the Interior and the "Ministry of National Enlightenment" (the propaganda arm of the state).
As Regent; he has the power to dissolve Parliament and pass imperial decrees to enact laws into effect without majority support. The Iranian people as well as the Majelis decried his powers as being subversive of democracy as well as a clear sign that the military wouldn't return to be barracks after the coup. For this, he was dubbed the "Third Shah". However, Massoud defends this by stating that Iran is being subverted by communist and Islamist elements, and that it's the military's duty to oversee Iran's transition into a secular democracy under "political tutelage".
The Iran of today is effectively a hybrid regime where both the civilian government and the military rule where they're supposed to "harmoniously co-exist and co-operate in a symbiotic relationship". Massoud promised that the process would take five years and, has even pledged free and fair elections in 1986. The transitional government maintains a semblance of civilian and parliamentary rule in a multi-party democracy but that system is being held hostage by the military which seeks to insert itself in Iranian politics and society.
Prime Minister Daryush Hosseinzadeh's cabinet had been reshuffled many times as political instability continues under military pressure in a critical situation where decisive action is needed the most. As the military and intelligence apparatus are the only centralized institution that could enact change and influence the parliamentary government into its liking. Both the National Front and the Rastakhiz Party supports the military establishment as they entrust them to maintain Iran's secularity at the face of political instability and an Islamist insurgence from the Quds.
Massoud and the Generals Inspecting Banned
"The Prince of Persia"
For Massoud, the White Revolution and the Shah's ideals of a modern Iran (by European standards) to be his template for his regime's way of rule. During an exclusive interview with the BBC, Massoud stated that "Communism, socialism, fascism, liberalism, and conservatism. Pure ideologies which only seek to fragment society and filled with -isms that delude people's perception of the world. What ever sounds good from these -isms I will incorporate into our state ideology". Which means that Massoud is a flexible pragmatist who is willing to listen to all sides of the spectrum and make decisions based on a case by case basis.
His brand of ideology "Massoudism" is far from being a political thought but rather an expression of his way of rule. A hard iron fist with a velvet glove. Massoud understood very well the root cause of the Islamic Revolution as being the alienation of the clergy from Iranian society, the alienation of the workers and peasants from the political decision process, and the rampant economic inequality that put the Iranian lower-class at a disadvantage. Learning from the Shah's mistakes and wishing to prevent another revolution. Massoud has tread lightly around the matters of religion in public and has ingratiated himself in front of the Islamic clergy.
In addition to using populist rhetoric and policy to appeal to the lower-class Iranians which had a tremendous effect in bolstering the regime's support base. His Islamist opponents deride him as a takfiri and the liberal opposition denounced him as a demagogue who opportunistically used populist rhetoric to reinforce the military's prestige in Iranian politics. However, with the lower-class Iranians and the nationalist segment of the populace behind him, Massoud feels his position is secured and would have to lead Iran through its darkest years as a threat of war with Iraq looms and the Persian Insurgency intensifies.
Regent Massoud Working in His Office
He Sought to Live an Austere Life as a Leader
The Martial Regent and Extralegal Authority
This has put him at roughly equal footing with the Majelis/Parliament and elected politicians. Massoud is unsatisfied with this present course and has called for centralization in Iran as well as a stronger executive legal authority. However, Massoud draws from informal sources of power to get what he wants and to stay in power as a work around the Constitution. Utilizing both hard and soft power. This has put him at odds with the Iranian political establishment and Iran's Prime Minister, Daryush Hosseinzadeh.
Massoud's support base surprisingly comes from the rural Iranian farmers, lower-class workers, and the traditional Iranian clergy. Massoud secured the support of the farmers and workers by using populist policies aiming to better their lives ranging from increased welfare spending, local construction projects, and land reforms for the landless peasants. Massoud maintained support from the clergy by allowing them to build madrasahs (Islamic schools) throughout Iran as a part of an educational reform programme and allowed the Mullahs to appoint their own Friday prayer imams. In addition to appearing on state television in order to celebrate Ramadan publicly and leading a prayer in Tehran's central mosque. The Regent views the religious rural and working-class of Iran as the silent majority of the country and has used populist rhetoric in drawing their support for the new regime. For this, he has mixed relationships with the urban elites in Tehran and the middle-class Iranian intelligentsia.
Massoud Sought to Court the Clergy Into
Supporting His Regime
Regent Massoud used imperial decrees to enact his will in the Iranian government which would come into effect without majority support in Parliament during many critical moments in Iran's history. 13 imperial decrees were passed under him. During the onset of the Iran - Iraq War, Massoud passed a decree that would allow for the 150,000 IRGC prisoners to fight in the frontlines against Iraq as a part of the Basij penal militia. On August just months after the coup; Massoud passed a decree which released politically moderate opposition to the regime in a bid to integrate them into the Iranian Parliament. He passed a decree that curtailed freedom of the press and assembly during the Persian Insurgency. Massoud declared martial law in Tehran after a string of bombings of governmental offices perpetrated by the Islamo-Marxist MEK (Mujahedin e-Khalq) on 1983 amidst the war as well as passing a decree known as the "Mujahideen Order" which orders that captured MEK rebels in the Iraqi Armed Forces be executed without trial during the Iran-Iraq War.
However, for the most part, Massoud has at times endorsed and approved several legislations which banned backward traditions in Iran. Ranging from female genital mutilation, marital rape, public executions, honor killings, and much more. Massoud used his influence in the military to influence governmental laws into their liking and chiefly relied on propaganda to influence the Iranian people into endorsing his initiatives. Massoud used charismatic authority, propagated by sociologist Max Weber, to get the Iranian masses to support him. He was the Iranian equivalent to Colonel Gaddafi and Marshal Pilsudski. Massoud derives his charisma from being an underdog in the Pahlavi establishment, a war hero in Oman and Pakistani Baluchistan, implementing populist economic reforms which harmed the power of British Petroleum and the rich 1%, and his nationalistic rhetoric infused with Islam.
The Shah's Crown
A Shahdom Without a Shah
Institutions of the Monarchy
At this point, Iran had been a Shahdom without a Shah and Massoud reigned as Regent by imperial decrees. Many monarchical institutions such as the many private charities set up by the Empress had been put under the state and Massoud himself stayed in Sa'dabad Complex; the former residence of the Pahlavis. The Shah's crown was removed from state symbols. Iranian propaganda focused more on the Shah's father, Reza Shah, as a modernizer and hero of Iran with coins and banknotes minted with his face. Replacing Shah Mohammad Pahlavi. Much of these measures had been criticized by the Shah in exile and accused Massoud of treason as well as taking advantage of the monarchy's power.
However, Massoud has expressed interest in Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi and has allowed for him, his relatives, and Empress Farah Pahlavi to visit Iran. During the Iran-Iraq War, Massoud allowed the Crown Prince to pilot the Tomcat and has honored him with Iran's highest honor. At this moment, the Regent is grooming the young Crown Prince to become his successor by implanting his own ideals onto the young man much like Francisco Franco and Juan Carlos. Yet everything may change in 1987 with the plebiscite that would decide the future of Iran...
Foreign Minister Parviz Zahedi Holding a Speech
on the First Senate Session
The 1980 Iranian Constitution
Notable changes in the constitution included a weakened executive position (the monarch), increased powers for the legislative branch, the establishment of political parties (only social democrats, Islamic moderates, and secular nationalists were allowed), repealing the Sharia Law from the legal code, a respect for private property, the introduction of social welfare, putting an emphasis on separation between mosque and state, the creation of a bicameral legislative between the Senate and National Consultative Assembly, and much more. In a show of public support and to legitimize the new order, a public referendum was established in 30th July of 1980 on whether they approve the constitution or not. Around 70% approved while 30% did not in a referendum that was declared to be "free and fair" by international observers.
In theory, the Iranian Constitution of 1980 may be one of the most democratic constitutions in the Middle East in a region filled with repressive dictatorships and political turmoil. However the present reality is far from being rosy in this new Iran. Political instability and corruption is rife within Iranian government with cabinet reshuffling being frequent in every few years. Terrorism is commonplace in Iran as the Quds (made out of remnants of the IR) and the MEK wage an insurgency against the government they deem to be a "puppet of the United States" and "illegitimate". The elected representatives in the Majelis are indecisive in dealing in much of Iran's problems as the politically moderate opposition of the previous revolution and the Shah-era establishment struggle to form any consensus.
Soldiers in the Streets of Tehran Deployed
as a Show of Force Against the Majelis
With weak democratic institutions and political turmoil, this has left the military to intervene in Iranian politics more often than not. Forcing Prime Minister Hosseinzadeh to reshuffle his cabinet with loyalists and revising laws to suit the military establishment's self-interests. Constant military intervention as well as an insurgency by the Quds/MEK has eroded Iranian democracy and the public's faith in its democratic institutions. In fact, "secularism at gunpoint" breeds more Islamist sympathies especially when Iran faces an economic recession at the moment.
The Iranian Hybrid Regime
The Artesh as the Defenders of
the Constitution and White Revolution
When parliament passed laws to transform Iran into a federal state on 1985; the military threatened to intervene by sending soldiers into the Majelis. However they were forced to retreat to the barracks for now after popular protests and a show of deviance by Iranian MPs led by the Prime Minister. However the secular military and political elites' influence on Iranian politics is pervasive and has led to the rise of a counter-culture. A counter-culture of Islamic modernism and left-wing socialist thought in Iranian universities.
The Massoud regime has been accused of keeping Islamists in prison as political prisoners. Many figures of the Islamic Republic were subjected with psychological torture to "change their political faith" and hard labor for years. There were 250,000 political prisoners in Iran as of 1981 with 2,500 dead due to "suicides". However, the regime under Massoud seldom executed or physically tortured political prisoners as memories of the previous SAVAK and Islamic Republic were fresh on Iranian minds. As a patriot and religious man; Massoud believed that he would be dealt with in judgement day and did not want to kill any Iranian except for Sunni terrorists though. Many criticized the military for these repressions as well as social engineering for banning the hijab in universities and silencing the clergy that once had a revered position in Iran.
Ironically, Massoud is a moderate voice in the military. He has voiced his support for democratization and liberalization at a steady pace yet has shown disappointment with the current state of Iranian politics. With that said, Massoud supports the military's role as a moral example for Iranian youths and as protectors of the constitution. The military is far from being a cohesive force and the more radical elements of the military has voiced for the disbandment of democracracy, doing away with constitutionalism, and leading Iran towards a full-blown "orthodox" junta while Massoud attempts to maintain balance between the Majelis and the Artesh.
The Education Corps of the White Revolution
The Second White Revolution and Iranian Dirigisme
Anti-Corruption Measures by increasing governmental transparency in tax allocation and civil servant wages, enforcing anti-corruption laws, and giving more power to anti-corruption committees for search warrants. Workers' Self-Management by legalizing the trade unions and gradually turning state-owned enterprises into publicly-owned ones. Didactic Reforms which both emphasized state values of nationalism, history, and diversifying the curriculum in order to adapt to the necessities of life in the modern world. Women's Rights by increasing female participation in the work force and academia. The success of these reforms have yet to be seen and much of it was built on capital generated by petrol.
Tehran in the 1980s
Massoud pursued dirigist economic measures in Iran after the Coup. Initially, he pursued a Western-style capitalist economy by listening to the IMF. He instated economic austerity, relaxing foreign trade laws, loosening price controls, adopting a fluctuating currency rate, and increasing the value of the Rial. For the first few months, it had the effect of increasing stagnant economic growth, increasing the supply of consumer goods, and eliminating hyperinflation. Yet at a grave cost of rising unemployment rates and widening economic inequality. By 1981, the government changed course and began intervening in the Iranian economy. 60% of the state-owned enterprise became publicly-owned to generate more capital. The state began expanding state-owned weapons manufacturing industry and steel mills.
Massoud sought to diversify Iran's economy away from reliance on oil and has given subsidies to small and medium businesses in other sectors, especially service. The state enacted protectionist trade laws to protect Iran's bazaars and encouraged foreign investment by building infrastructure such as roads, airports, hotels, cultural centers, and much more in deficit spending through public work programs that reduced unemployment. Oil remained in state hands through the NIOC yet 20% of the share was given to British Petroleum and a condominium of foreign oil producers. By 1989; Iran's inflation rates dropped to 15%, unemployment was at 12%, and economic growth was 4.5% with a stronger Iranian rial.
Soldiers Being Deployed During the Years of Terror
This had worked in Oman during the Dhofar Rebellion. The Iranian state's strategy in dealing with insurgents was to erode their political support. In rebel-infested areas; the Iranian military appealed to the Islamic values of the locals and appointed respected village elders as well as sheikhs as collaborators. Local development and education programs were pursued and villagers were relocated into well-supplied camps to remove the locals from rebel incursions. This had worked in the north dominated by the communists and Qud territories in the south. By then, the Iranian military had been engaged in military operations against the Quds and MEK as well as offering assistance to Lebanon in dealing with the Hezbollah.
The Only Thing an Al-Quds
Insurgent Ever Needs
The Iranian state used mass media in portraying the crimes of the insurgents and newspapers were put under the state to control the narrative of the war. The government used economic measures to prevent aimless youths from drifting into extremism and Shia clerics led by Ayatollah Taleghani and Shariatmadari denounced the political violence of the Quds as "un-Islamic". Shia insurgents differed from Sunni extremists in that they preferred political assassinations and kidnapping innocents for ransom instead of indiscriminate terror bombings.
From 1985 until 1988, the Iranian media began to report on a string of murders of Iranian intellectuals and car bombings outside party headquarters in what was known as "The Years of Terror". An unknown lieutenant associated with the Quds claimed responsibility for the attack. Analysts were skeptical if they had been done by the Quds for conducting such a counter-productive act and noted that most of the victims had been regime opponents. They believed that the organization had been infiltrated by the SAVAMA or were false-flag attacks. Nonetheless, it had the effects of rallying public opinion against the group and many feared that another Gwadar-style Massacre may happen in Iran once again with the state desiring to put a decisive end to the Quds menace once and for all.
Sa'dabad Complex, the Residence of the Regent
Massoud Eskandari lives an austere lifestyle in spite of having the luxury to stay in the Sa'dabad Complex together with his family. His wife is Zahra Eskandari whom he married in 1951 who is a daughter born to the influential Bakhtiari family as well as working as an accountant. She gave birth to Sanaz Eskandari in 1961 after he finally settled down in Tehran. He has a loving relationship with his wife and daughter which is based on love and compassion. They are a progressive household and in a country where arranged marriage as well as women having weaker bargaining positions over men in the family; the Eskandari family is a model family for future Iranian generations. However it is not to say that the family situation is perfect. Massoud has two battles to fight in: at the battlefield of politics and in family. He stated to his confidante that he was "worried" that his work may be in the way of spending quality time with Zahra and Sanaz. Voicing his fears that his daughter may fall into the "wrong crowd" and wondered if he was overbearing of her. Massoud aims to spare enough time for her to connect and attempt to relate with his daughter more as she grows up.
Massoud's Wife, Zahra Eskandari
He has a very simple philosophy when it comes to living his life "Work smart and not harder" and this has shown during his time in office. As a military commander, Massoud has a "sheepdog" mentality when it comes to his people and people who are dear to him. He is paternalistic and is determined to protect those around him which is Iran itself as leader. Echoing Emperor Franz Jozef the First's statement: "I will save the people from their politicians". It is not to say that Massoud opposes democratic rule by the people but he is firmly against career politicians who would dupe the people into voting against their best interest. Case in point, Pinochet from Ancap Chile. As a military commander, Massoud is respected and loved by his subordinates.
He knew how to have a good time with his men more than his wife. Away from public eye; Massoud and his men enjoyed alcohol, partying, and gambling juxtaposing his life of being a devout Muslim practitioner. His men recalled Massoud being piss drunk and threw around slurs about the Shah which would have charged him with lese majeste. To his men, Massoud had a lax way of ruling and he uplifted his subordinates in the same position as him as salutes and rank-calling were not required. "He was a natural born leader who wasn't prone to nepotism and had a good eye for promising candidates" a military adjutant once said. Massoud regularly frequented the Nojeh Air Base which was the base of the coup together with his colleagues: Parviz Zahedi, Gholan Khosravi, and Daryush Hosseinzadeh who all reminisced about their time planning the coup years after taking power.
Massoud and His Military Comrades
in Some Bar in Tehran; Noticeably Drunk
Contrary to public perception that Regent Massoud and Prime Minister Daryush, one representing the military and the other the civilian government, had a falling out and did not see eye-to-eye anymore; it was quite far from the truth. In spite of the country's political turmoil, Massoud had excellent working and personal relationship with his friend Daryush. After all, he had been on his side since the Nojeh coup and were trying to work together in establishing a stable democratic institution in Iran in spite of their clashing views. Massoud always gave Daryush a ride home at night and had chats with him in the tea shop which they regularly frequented in Tehran. Massoud, Daryush, and all of the politicians prayed at the same central mosque and shared the same water from which they used to cleanse themselves for praying. On the outside they may be political rivals but at a personal level, they truly respected each other.
His confidante always stated that Massoud had a "duality of man" nature pertaining him. As a family man, Massoud is a caring father to his family. However in the battlefield, Massoud favored "the end justifies the means" approach and was personally detached from the further bloodshed that comes with war as consequences of his action. He could switch between a loving father and a ruthless killer like a light switch with ease. This was the man who emphasized "winning the hearts and mind" in other fronts and being an instigator of the Gwadar Massacre. He personally believes that everything he had done so far had been "for Iran" and stated that he had little regrets as Regent. When asked if he could sleep well after ordering the Gwadar Massacre, Massoud with a stone face told the reporter: "Yes". If he hadn't done what he did, the Jundallah threat would persist in Baluchistan.
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Imperial Regent Massoud Eskandari
The State of Iran
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Prime Minister Daryush Hosseinzadeh
Monarch: Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (Exiled)
Regent: General Massoud Eskandari
Preceded by: Abdolhassan Banisadr
Constituency: Tehran, Rey, and Shemiranat
Majority: 1,447,316 (67.8%)
"The task of safeguarding Iranian democracy is not for one person like me to undertake. No, it is the duty of all parliamentarians and citizens of Iran to protect it from both the military and al-Quds. I am just a simple politician - I do what is needed to maintain my power so that Iran will live."
Daryush Hosseinzadeh is an Iranian politican and Senate MP who serves as the Prime Minister of Iran since July 10th 1980 after the NEQAB coup. Before he became Prime Minister, Daryush was a Senator who represented Tehran on 1971 until 1978. He was a little-known politician in pre-revolutionary Iran before the Revolution and his rise to power coincided with the NEQAB Coup which toppled Khomeini's Islamic Republic on 1980. Daryush was able to survive both the regimes of Shah Pahlavi and Ayatollah Khomeini by keeping his head down and issuing political statements endorsing social conservatism that were deemed "inoffensive" by both the Shah and Khomeini. However, putting trust in Daryush proved to be both of them's undoing as it was Daryush who helped orchestrate the NEQAB Coup that overthrew Khomeini and becoming the vocal voice of barring the Shah from returning to Iran after the coup. He quickly gained the trust of General Massoud Eskandari and would later become one of the principal figures of the Iranian Gang of Four: General Massoud Eskandari the Regent, Parviz Zahedi the Foreign Minister, Lt. General Gholam Khosravi the SAVAMA Director, and finally Daryush as Premier.
Daryush was appointed as Prime Minister of Iran by the Council of the TGNS (Transitional Government of National Salvation) by virtue of being a compromise candidate which all major parties including the Freedom Movement of Iran, Iranian National Front, Rastakhiz Party, and Tudeh could agree on. Daryush as Prime Minister embarked on a policy of democratization which included lifting restriction on voting rights, allowed political parties to be formed, expanded press and civil rights, as well as allowing unions to operate. Daryush personally advocates for an "Islamic Democracy" modeled after German Christian democracy - combining social conservatism with ordoliberal economics. He fashioned himself as the "Disciple of Mossadegh". Lauded as a pro-democracy figure and a politician with courage to stand up against the military; he is popular among students, the middle-class and intellectuals. However he earned something of a reputation as a "chameleon politician" with his cut-throat, two-faced, and calculatingly reserved nature. With some viewing his "Yes" vote campaign for a republican system on Iran's referendum as a bid to expand his influence and form some kind of political dynasty in Iran.
Daryush Hosseinzadeh was born on 7 July, 1932 in the city of Rasht to a lower-class family. His father was Alireza Hosseinzadeh while his mother is Jasmin. His father worked as a shoe maker while his mother is a housewife. Conditions in the countryside of 1930s Iran was abysmal with constant electric outage, access to clean water being hard, and infant mortality high in the village. Daryush came from a completely unremarkable family and his childhood was spent in playing with friends and studying in a makeshift school in the 40s.
But his father got his big break when he was given the request of making as well as tailoring shoes for Reza Shah. With enough money accumulated from his father's business ventures as well as from the Shah's generous donations; Daryush was able to enroll into high school with good grades and earned the chance to study in the University of Tehran on 1951. While studying, he was a witness to the Mordad Coup of 1953 which overthrew Mossadegh and he was exposed to Mossadeghist political teachings early on. He passed in 1956 with a master's degree in Political Science.
Using his father's connections, Daryush worked as Shah Pahlavi's butler and chauffeur in the late to early 60s. He met the Shah's first daughter, Shahnaz Pahlavi, while working for the Shah. Their relationship blossomed to a love relationship and he often eloped with Shahnaz away from the Shah's eyes on dates in the weekends. The relationship between the two was often a topic of gossip in the Shah's royal court and Shah Pahlavi did not take kindly to his sister fraternizing with a lowly commoner. But perhaps out of the Shah's respect for the Hosseinzadeh family's service to the Shah as well as Daryush's servile disposition, their relationship continued with little to no fuss. Daryush would later marry Shahnaz in a low-profile marriage on 1957 and Shahnaz gave birth to Zahra on 1959.
Daryush used his position as chauffeur and head of the Shah's servants to get to know the man better and increase his influence over him. Their relationship in the mid 60s grew fairly well and Daryush became something of a confidante as well as a Swiss skiing partner to the Shah. Daryush would later earn the nickname among the people in the Shah's royal court as the "Iranian Rasputin" with one of the Shah's relatives adding "He is Rasputin but well-groomed, well-spoken, and seemingly harmless". When he was asked on what he thought about the Shah, he stated that their friendship was going very well and was built on mutual respect years before the Revolution.
Before he became a darling figure and symbol of the pro-democracy movement in Iran, Daryush was in all respects a syncopathic Shah loyalist and opportunist who used any means necessary to gain power. Power and prestige perhaps driven him at an early age to engage in politics. He held an unhealthily amount of power over the Shah by influencing his decisions on which figures to appoint as ministers. Politicians at the time stated that to be admitted to the higher echelons of power, one had to be close to Daryush or have good relations with him. He earned a reputation as the "Chamoleon Politician" by his peers for his double-faced nature, fluctuating allegiances, as well as using deception or flattery to get what he wants. But Daryush was close to the Shah and had a good track record of bureaucratic honesty and did not indulge in corruption like all the other Shah's ministers.
He was responsible for the dismissal of several Jewish civil servants on the basis of their "questionable loyalty to the state" in order to further his career and advised the Shah to murder Khomeini when he had the chance during the 1963 protests. Perhaps a great boost to his career, Daryush held a speech endorsing the Shah's "White Revolution" reforms in modernizing Iran. As a result, he was tasked by the Shah to oversee land reforms efforts in central Iran and delegated duties to him such as purchasing lands owned by mullah landlords. He effectively became a Minister without a Portofolio on 1965. His proficiency at his duties in the White Revolution was received well by the Shah and he accumulated enough political capital to formally enter the fray of politics.
On November 1966, he was elected to the Iranian Parliament as a representative and Senator of Tehran with 54% of the vote. Daryush did well for a senator in that era by constantly engaging with his electors' and noting the worries as well as wants of his constituents. He often made unannounced and disguised visits to workplaces in order to get a better picture of the situation at the ground. Daryush disguising himself and making covert visits often became a topic of jokes in satirical newspapers with him being propped up as a boogeyman for underperforming civil servants and rule-breaking bazaaris.
His initiatives as Senator from Tehran included urban reforms, expanding electricity and clean water to the slum neighborhoods, and curbing rural migration to urban Tehran by using "citizenship identification". It was speculated among the public that Senator Daryush was the grey eminence behind Tehran Mayor Javad Shahrestani. Daryush supported the creation of a so-called "City Association" on 1968 which functions was to elect a Mayor for Tehran. The City Association is Pahlavi Iran's experimentation with liberal democracy at a local level. His tenure as Senator would end in 1970.
Under Abbas Amir Hoveyda's tenureship as Prime Minister from 1965 until 1977, Daryush was one of Hoveyda's "advisors" in the matters of social policies. He supported the Shah's "White Revolution" modernization program but expressed caution as well as moderation in the Shah's social policies of Westernization/progressivism in order to keep both the clergy as well as the common people satiated. He expressed his concern to Hoveyda on the practical outcomes as well as the Islamic clergy's reaction to the Shah granting voting rights to women. Daryush was also vocal in his convictions of assassinating Khomeini in Iraq as he sincerely believed that he posed a much more dangerous threat than the Marxist Tudeh, MEK, or OIPFG. Something that would later proven to be correct in 1979...
Daryush was dismissive or acquiescent in regards to the actions of the Shah's SAVAK in detaining as well as torturing political dissidents. After the revolution, he later claimed to be opposed to the SAVAK but it is acknowledged that Daryush protected several family friends and students using his connections to the Shah. His relationship with Prime Minister Hoveyda was less than stellar on the grounds of his membership in the Freemasons as well as being a hindrance to Daryush and Daryush had wrote disparaging letters in regards to Hoveyda's Freemansory in correspondence with the Shah.
In 1975, Daryush endorsed the establishment of the "Rastakhiz Party" which effectively turned Iran into an one-party state and he joined the party on 1977. He approved vague security anti-communist legislations which functioned in repressing political rights as well as making Rastakhiz Party membership a requirement for position of government. He enjoyed the Shah's support and protection in the 70s on the backdrop of booming oil industry in Iran. There had been murmurs among the Shah's royal court on 1978 to arrange an "early retirement" for him as he grew his political influence unabated but the next year changed everything for Daryush...
The Iranian Revolution surprised everyone in the royal court with the sheer size of the popular protests waged against the Shah as it was so unexpected. The first trigger of the revolution was due to the economic recession brought about by falling oil prices which Iran was so reliant on and the second was an incident in Cinema Rex where the Shah's SAVAK supposedly burned down an theater filled with Iranians. It was speculated to this day on who burnt down Cinema Rex. Daryush attempted to reassure the Shah that the situation was under control and that the Imperial Army could contain it.
Daryush again told the Shah to assassinate Khomeini in Iraq before it was too late. But the SAVAK director by the name of Nasser Moghadam rejected the move as he stated that it would uplift Khomeini as a martyr. Lt. General Nasser Moghadam and Daryush argued again and again over the fate of Khomeini while the Shah saw his country falling into chaos around him while his ministers bickered. But by 1978, Khomeini moved to France and his reach with his followers expanded where he could distribute audio records of his speech to the masses. Daryush then changed his tune about Khomeini and advocated for the Shah to hold a dialogue with the Ayatollah and make concessions for the public.
He was appointed by the Shah to meet with Khomeini in his chauteu in France but he was rejected by the Ayatollah's cohorts. But later, Daryush opened contacts with the "moderate opposition" which consisted of the FMI's religious conservatives led by Mehdi Bazargan and the secular liberals led by Shapour Bakhtiar who are open for a constitutional monarchy in Iran. Daryush placed his confidence in Shapour Bakhtiar and managed to convince the Shah to gradually open up the country's political and civil rights as well as releasing thousands of prisoners from Evin prison. Political tensions within the country seemingly died down until the infamous Black Friday Massacre occurred and the Ashua marches that followed.
By December, Daryush could see the writing on the wall that the Shah's reign is about to collapse. No more were the days of drinking champagne and skiing with the Shah which he fondly remembered looking back. December was it, the current situation and the thousand year old Iranian monarchy was untenable. It seemed like the revolutionaries under Khomeini was winning and thus he was compelled to make secret overtures to their side. He met with moderates like Bazargan and Sanjabi of both the FMI and NF to discuss the future of Iran under them. He was willing to endorse a republican form of system and claimed to have passively resisted the Shah since day one which the latter was false.
When the Shah left on November, Daryush was the first to bid him goodbye in the palace and escorted him to the airport for his departure to Egypt. Daryush put out a good show to the Shah by emotionally weeping and kissing his feet as he is about to leave. Yet it was all just an act and since November, he had tried to thought about ways to save himself from the ensuing revolutionary chaos and work under the Khomeini regime. Shapour Bakhtiar was appointed on November of 1979 and he didn't receive the support from the military or politicians like Daryush who all quietly defected to the revolutionaries - not realizing what they're signing up for. He met Khomeini on the 10th days after he returned to Iran. The meeting was amiable between the two.
Bakhtiar's government quickly collapsed as it came on 11 November when the revolutionaries stormed Niavaran Palace and the entire government fled to France in exile. Under the Bazargan interim government, Daryush was given "protection" by the komitehs and revolutionaries. With Khomeini swearing that not a single hair would be ruffled on Daryush's hair. Daryush was expected by Khomeini to appear in trials and testify against Shah officials in revolutionary trials. In public, Daryush denounced the Shah and was all too happy to serve Khomeini for the moment instead of ending up dead like the rest of his colleagues.
Work in Progress...
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Prime Minister Daryush Hosseinzadeh