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Persia / Pahlavi Dynasty /
Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi

Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi.
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Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi.

Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi with Queen Farah.
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With Queen Farah.

Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi receiving US president, Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950's.
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Receiving US president, Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950's.

Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi in 1941, shortly after becoming shah.
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In 1941, shortly after becoming shah.

(1919-1980) Shah-en-shah (emperor) of Iran 1941-1979.
Mohammad Reza Shah was a much weaker ruler than his father, Reza Shah Pahlavi, and where Reza Shah worked effectively towards independence from foreign powers, Muhammad Reza Shah used foreign aid to stay in power. In 1953 he got assistance from the USA to return from a 3-day exile.
In the 1960's and 1970's Muhammad Reza tried to tie closer relations with the Soviet Union and the communist states in eastern Europe. But this never replaced the close connections with the USA.
Mohammad Reza Shah was removed by the Islamic revolution of 1979, and was to a large degree responsible for it coming. His 5-year plans of the mid-1970's had failed.
At the same time his autocratic rule and secret police, Savak, was both deeply unpopular, yet not proficient enough to control the country. An apparently effective political alternative came to be defined by Muslim leaders, who had lived in the shadow of the secular society since the effective actions of his father in the 1930's.

1919 October 26: Born in Teheran, Iran as son of the commander of the Cossack Brigade.
1925: His father becomes shah-en-shah of Iran.
1941 September: Succeeds his father as shah-en-shah, with the aim of keeping Soviet troops out of the country.
— Pahlavi lets British and American troops use Iran for transporting supplies to the Soviet Union fighting the German invasion.
1946: Soviet troops that had been stationed in Iran during World War 2, withdraws.
1947 February: The Kurdish Republic of Mahabad which had been established in December 1945, falls. Mohammad Reza is now in full control over all of Iran.
1949 February: Assassination attempt on Pahlavi. He imposes martial law, and bans the Tudeh Party.
1951 March: Mohammad Mosaddeq manages to pass a bill in the Majles (the parliament) to nationalize the British petroleum interests in Iran.
April: As Mosaddeq's popularity grows quickly, Mohammad Reza is forced to appoint him prime minister. 2 years of tension and conflict follows.
1953 August 16: After Mohammad Reza tries to remove Mosaddeq from power, he himself is forced to flee the country, following a power struggle with the prime minister.
August 19: With the help of US' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and royalist military officers, Mohammad Reza can return to the country. From this time on, USA became the most important Western ally of his. Mosaddeq is removed from power.
1955: Mohammad Reza takes Iran into the Western alliance Baghdad Pact.
1957: Mohammad Reza subscribes to the Eisenhower Doctrine, which aimed at damming up communism in the Middle East.
— Establishes a security police, with the assistance of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the USA and Mossad of Israel.
1960 October: Muhammad Reza becomes a father for the first time, with his third wife.
1961: A land reform programme is started.
— Dissolves the parliament and rules by decree.
1963: A 5-year plan aims at economic development in agriculture and the industrial sector.
January: Launches the White Revolution which involved an expansion of the road, rail and air network, many new of dams and irrigation projects, aid to industrial growth and land reform. There were also educational and health projects. Campaigns against diseases such as malaria was started, and literacy corps and a health corps were sent out to the many remove villages around the country.
June A conflict with the religious leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini reaches a climax, resulting in nationwide protests against Mohammad Reza. Mohammad Reza crushed this, leaving thousands of dead. Khomeini is imprisoned.
1964 November: Khomeini is expelled from Iran, as he resumed opposition after being freed from prison 7 months earlier.
1971: 2,500 years of unbroken monarchy is celebrated in Persepolis.
1972: Following the success of the 5-year plan of 1963, a new 5-year plan is defined and put into action — with further development as the aim. This plan would however overheat the economy, leading to depopulation of the countryside, heavy corruption and difficult times for the average Iranian.
Late 1970's: The opposition lead by Khomeini continues and gains momentum. When the liberal president Jimmy Carter takes office in USA in 1977, he forces Mohammad Reza to moderate the control and oppression of the opposition.
1979 January 16: Mohammad Reza leaves officially for holidays in Aswan, Egypt, but it is clear that he can never return. Khomeini would return from his exile the following month, and introduce a strict Islamic regime in Iran.
November: Iranian militants take 50 US citizens as hostages, demanding for the extradition of the shah in return for their release. The USA, which was the host of shah at this point, refused.
1980 July 27: Dies in Cairo from lymphatic cancer.

By Tore Kjeilen