The Paper Tiger
Pahlavi military situation after Shah's escape

IRDC.IR: With Shah's escape on 16 January 1979, the crisis increased to the top. Shah and his associates knew that there was no coming back. And US totally knew that Pahlavi regime was done. But the military situation was interesting. The dependent military with no authority, always taking orders from foreign advisors, was feeling a huge vacancy.

Cyrus Vance (US foreign minister during Carter's presidency) notes in his diaries about Iran's military after Shah's escape: "Shah left Iran on January 16th, not to US, but to Egypt. Apparently wanted to be as close as close as possible to Iran, so he could return right after the military restored order.

This decision reduced Bakhtiar's chances to convince moderate adversaries that he wasn't taking orders from Shah and he could act independently.

I tried to take Sullivan's advise, and make an agreement between [Imam] Khomeini and the military. Back then [Imam] Khomeini's deputies were in touch with militaries in Tehran.

The president agreed to my idea. On January 16th we contacted one of [Imam] Khomeini's associates through an unofficial channel.

Warren Zimmerman, our political chief in Paris embassy met Ibrahim Yazdi, a secular politician with close relations with Islamic clergy, [Imam] Khomeini's deputy in negotiations with the West and also a US citizen. As we had ordered, Zimmerman insisted that [Imam] Khomeini's sudden return could cause conflict with military. The deduction of what Yazdi said, was that [Imam] Khomeini wanted to avoid struggle with the military. He implied that although [Imam] Khomeini will confront the military for its endeavors to save the dynasty, but he wouldn't oppose its measures to protect its own integrity.

In the meanwhile, Sullivan's reports showed that the military supreme commander had lost spirit, he had no applied realistic plan and he couldn't protect the integrity of the military for more than several weeks if he had raised to power.

Huyser had no problem persuading Generals to support Bakhtiar and the legal process. He cautiously was optimistic about the commanding abilities of Generals, but he couldn't deny their exhaust. After all, the military was a "Paper Tiger" according to Sullivan's explicit evaluations.

Translated by: Roya Jalali