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Imperial Regent of the State of Iran
11 July 1980
Monarch: Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (Exiled)
Prime Minister: Daryush Hosseinzadeh
Preceded by: Position Established
Chief of the General Staff of the Artesh
14 December 1980
Preceded by: General Gholam Ali Oveissi
12 September, 1925 (age 54)
Zahra Eskandari (m. 1951)
Sanaz Eskandari (b. 1962)
Saint-Cyr Military Academy
Imperial State of Iran (1945 - 1979)
Iranian Ground Force
"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."
"The Iranian people with great sorrow and fury have asked for so much in the Islamic Revolution yet have received so little in return."
~ Regent General Massoud Eskandari
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
The subsequent years is where Massoud Eskandari would ride the winds of change in Iran with great flexibility and rising through the ranks all the while remaining under radar from the Shah's attentions. In the 1960s, Massoud's unit was deployed in Khuzestan to eliminate and repress Ahwaz Arab separatists. As Lieutenant, the unit under him played a large part in mostly pacifying the troublesome region. After interviewing the locals, Massoud understood the Arab locals' main grievances. His unit actively fought the Ahwaz rebels and protecting settlements at the same time. Massoud took a great interest in learning the local Arabic customs and language. He submitted his theories to the top brass in regards to his vision for COIN (counter-insurgency) program. With greater priority being given to "winning the hearts and minds of the people".
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
In 1970, Lt. Col. Massoud Eskandari and his unit were deployed to Oman during the Dhofar Rebellion between the Omani monarchy under Qaboos and the Arab Marxist rebels of the PFLOAG. Both Iran and Britain supported the Omani monarchy while South Yemen, the USSR, and China supported the PFLOAG rebels. Massoud's unit was tasked with defeating the rebels using his own initiative. He believed that the rebels could not be defeated conventionally as they engaged in asymmetric warfare involving guerrilla tactics and Marxist ideological indoctrination. "Relocation camps" were set up in the Omani interior to house villagers and they were well-maintained and supplied to meet the basic needs of its inhabitants.
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
In 1977, Massoud and his unit were deployed to the neighboring State of Baluchistan in order to quell an insurgency that had raged in the unstable country which used to make up the former Dominion of India. Massoud was to help the Baluch State Army during the Baluch Emergency. Massoud sees an unstable Baluchistan in Iran's next door as potentially dangerous and could incite the Baluchs in Iran to rebel. Massoud used the locals in conducting military operations for the IIGF and the Baluch State Army. The Brigadier General employed Islamic sheikhs and local Baluchs for intelligence gathering as well as winning "hearts and minds" as they knew their people better than Iranians nor the British military advisers. He paid special attention to clan politics and appointed respected clan elders to represent their own people. With clan elders being equally as powerful as military governors.
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
In what would later be known as the Gwadar Massacre of 1977, IIGF units were transported from their Bell helicopters and began shelling the entire city without regards for civilian casualties. Massoud did not personally command this unit but rather his new second-in-command for him as a scapegoat. The port city was bombed to hell and back and forth further into the Middle Ages. IIGF troops dealt a decisive and swift blow to the Jundallah by going door to door in shooting inhabitants of the slum city. The men as well as the children were rounded up and shot by the fanatical IIGF troops which he commanded. Massoud had cold reasons in massacring the children as he believes that they would grow up to take up arms and avenge their fallen fathers and uncles. Even the grand mosque of the city was razed to the ground and to be turned into a parking lot in the future.
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.- -
The Nojeh Coup - The Plot to Overthrow Khomeini
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. -
The Imperial Regent of Iran
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"
Massoud is an Iranian nationalist foremost and maintains that his regime as well as the military's conduct would be apolitical in nature in addition to being practical in its governance. No doubt that Massoud had been inspired by the Shah's Westernization reforms and the White Revolution which brought about massive socio-economic change to Iran. The Shah monarchy instated women's rights, industrialization, and socialist-style land reforms which were all supported by Massoud.
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
General or Arteshbod Massoud Eskandari is the Regent of Iran and whichever sun touches upon the Persian lands would be his realm. He is the so-called "Regent of Regents". As Regent to the Shah Mohammad Pahlavi before the situation could be stabilized, he roughly has the same royal prerogatives as the previous Shah. However the new 1980 Iranian Constitution stripped the Shah/Regent's power of appointing governments and prime ministers in addition to removing premiers from power.
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
After the coup, the Pahlavi monarchy in Iran was restored and Massoud proclaimed himself as Regent of Iran without the Shah's approval. This new monarchy was a constitutional monarchy where the monarch would be a ceremonial figurehead as outlined in the 1980 Constitution. The Shah expressed pleasure in the restoration and initially hailed Massoud as a hero of the monarchy. However, Massoud held contempt for the Shah for abandoning Iran to the revolutionaries and has expressed his contempt by persuading the Shah to remain in exile in Egypt as the political situation was "unstable".
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
Under the Transitional Government of National Salvation; a new constitution was established called the Iranian Constitution of 1980 which replaced the previous Islamic Republic Constitution of 1979. The new government declared the previous referendum on the Islamic Republic to be illegitimate and filled with irregularities. The 1980 Constitution that the government proposed stressed the values of "Modernism, Populism, Nationalism, Laicism, Statism, and Reformism" in its opening. It proclaimed Iran to be a transitional state that would work towards the ideals of "democracy, freedom of expression, and plural political participation".
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 Iran of today is a hybrid regime where democratic institutions indeed exists yet there's a looming threat of the military intervening in the name of defending Iranian secularity and the "White Revolution". Freedom of expression, right to assembly, and universal suffrage are all enshrined in the constitution yet the reality is different. There's a moderately powerful legislature of elected representatives, an relatively powerful independent judiciary, and checks and balances which are fluid. The Iranian political arena is filled with polarization between secular nationalists with republican sympathies, Islamic moderates, and constitutional monarchists with great competition and cut-throatness.
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
Massoud largely continued the policies of the previous Shah when he initiated large-scale economic and social reforms known as the White Revolution. However, Massoud knew that the Shah failed in his reforms when he alienated much of the clergy and has thus tread lightly around the issue of religion. Reforms included: Land Reform for millions of Iran's landless peasants by purchasing land from the landed clergy as well as training them on new methods of agriculture and machinery provided by the state. Local Development by building schools, clinics, electricity and water plants, and mosques in villages. Massoud used jobless young Iranians with degrees to train and assist villagers. Free and Compulsory Education for Iranian children and adults in order to combat a 50% illiteracy.
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
Since the 80s, Iran has been rocked with insurgencies and acts of terrorism from the Shia Islamist Quds Brigade led by Mostafa Chamran and Abdolhassan Banisadr, and the Islamo-Marxist Mujahedin e-Khalq led by Massoud Rajavi in what was called the Persian Insurgency where rebels fought from the mountains in hit and run attacks as well as political assassinations and terror bombings being rife in this asymmetric warfare. To understand how the Iranian state deals with insurgents, we must understand Massoud's background as a counter-insurgent general. Massoud as a counter-insurgent general had been a proponent of "winning hearts and mind" strategy by pursuing local development and building trusts between governmental soldiers and locals.
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.
Massoud hobbies included collecting models of ships and tanks, tennis, horse riding, and hiking. To maintain a "macho strongman" identity revolving him; he regularly practiced his marksman skills and has wrestled bigger Iranian strongmen than him.
Massoud, contrary to his ultra-secular ideals, is a devout Muslim who regularly prayed seven times a day and observed Ramadan as well as Muharram. He had a portrait of Husayn ibn Ali on top of his desk.
It was said that Massoud truly began plans for the Nojeh coup plot after learning that his daughter was cat-called and harassed by young Basij teenagers for not wearing the hijab. If true then it was an over-proportionate retribution by toppling the entire Islamic Republic.