The Role of foreigners in the Elections of Representatives of the Pahlavi Era

Irdc.ir: The Pahlavi regime was highly dependent on foreigners; On the one hand, the regime was seeking to fulfill their intentions, and on the other hand, it needed their experiences to eliminate the traditional-religious structures of the country.

Reza Khan, with the help of Britain, abolished the Qajar dynasty and established the Pahlavi dynasty. During his reign, in addition to pursuing the colonial goals and plans of foreigners, such as the enforced unveiling known as Kashf-e-hijab and the disruption of religious and national structures, he turned the national assembly into a weak institution that did not play the slightest role in the country's developments. He was overthrown in September 1941, as he had been enthroned by the will of foreigners.


The role of England in the continuation of Mohammad Reza's reign after September 1941 was so prominent that he always considered himself intimidated and weak in front of their powers. This feeling was so internalized in Mohammad Reza Pahlavi that he considered his survive and annihilation dependent on the will of foreigners.

In the memories of the US and British ambassadors Sullivan and Parsons, we see that at the very height of the Iranian people's revolutionary movement, Mohammad Reza considered himself in need of foreigners to escape the storm of the revolution and always was asking them for help and guidance, this issue was so ingrained in his mind and conscience and those around him that the BBC radio was considered to be the main culprit of the Islamic revolution in Iran and during General Huyser's meetings with the army chiefs, he was asked to shut down this news network. With such a mood, certainly during the Pahlavi dynasty, those who had close ties with foreign governments could approach the circle of power and wealth. We see in the documents that being close to foreigners is not only an ugly and anti-national act, but also a kind of pride and even a tool to intimidate competitors. Hussein Fardoust writes about this:
((During this period, American influence increased enormously among the officers, and only a few, such as Mohsen Mobasser, Nasiri, and Mutazid, were serious supporters of British policy (while they were in favor of maintaining the relations with America). Among the officers, a new disposition emerged that was completely pro-American and no longer affiliated with Britain, such as: Khosrodad (Major General), Rabii (Lieutenant General), Habibollahi (Vice Admiral), Azhari (General), Yar Mohammad Saleh (Lieutenant General), Susiyans (Lieutenant General, was a Zoroastrian). It was the manner of these new American characters: Maximum cooperation with Americans, especially military advisers and inviting them to their homes and reciprocal invitations from these individuals to their homes or clubs, they also were meeting regularly during the day. The way they were acting had become normal and had no ugliness and they had all accepted as a natural state)). (the rise and fall of the Pahlavi dynasty, vol1, p288).


The strong and special position of foreign governments, especially united states and Britain, in Iran, necessitated such a luck on their side as well; because it was easier and faster to reach the top of the power through them. In the SAVAK documents, we see that the power struggle between the supporters of the American and British policies in Iran in the puppet parties of the regime was also very intense, and each of them was trying to eliminate the other and empower its supporters. The ''people's party'' and ''nationalists' party'' that were founded in the mid-1950s by two British affiliated figures, ''Assadollah Alam'' and ''Manouchehr Iqbal'', on the advice of the Americans, were not only the result of foreigners' intentions to calm the political space after the coup d'état of August 19, 1953, but also they were the manifestation of the British and American will in the political developments in Iran. 

In the early 1960s, as Kennedy came to the power in the united states, democrats seeking to protect their allies from the communism threat gradually supported a group of young technocrats with a history of dependence on Britain and Implemented their policies in Iran through them. The foundation of '' progressive party'' was resulted from this change in the political process of Iran. Persons like ''Hassan Ali Mansur'', '' Amir –Abbas Hoveyda'', '' Jamshid Amouzegar'' and… were among those affiliated persons with the United States who were gradually became able to seize power in the country. 

The progressive party later joined the Iran Novin Party, which was one of the centers of American influence. The transfer of British power to the United States in Iran took place in a planned and calm process, and for a long time it was a great challenge for those who were unaware of the issues behind the scenes. In SAVAK documents, we see that in the ''Iran Novin Party'' there has been intense competition between British and American fans for power in the party. Although this transfer of power had been agreed upon among the main figures, the issue had been remained for the body of the party, that is why we see that old British-affiliated figures have long sought to restore Britain's weakened power in the face of America's growing power in Iran. 

In SAVAK documents the emergence of American fans has been expressed many times. A document states:((… the U.S ambassador arrived with new instructions and was honored to be in the presence of the Shahanshah, and immediately the Progressive group of Mansur was formed, all of them were young and old, pro-American, and it was immediately announced that this office and this group belong to the exclusive office of the ''Shahanshah'' . Anyway, an election was held and Iran Novin Party was formed. Now this professor Pope [CIA member] will come to Iran soon and his trip can’t be considered insignificant)). (Iran Novin Party, vol2, p45, the Center of Historical Documents Survey).

Hossein Fardoust, one of the powerful figures of the Pahlavi regime, writes in a logical analysis of the transfer of British power to the United States in the region:

((it can be concluded that during the reign of Mohammad Reza (after the coup d'état) a number of Britain fans remained and actually worked for the United States, some were pushed by Britain to the United States without any work experience for the British. Therefore, in this period, Britain is no longer the absolute ruler of Iran, but it is better to say that it is on one side of the deal and is one of the America's allies which is in the interest of consolidating American positions, because it alone does not have the power to maintain security in the region. Thus, although the United States and Britain have differences of interest, which are, of course, forgivable and resolvable, the principle of their relation is full unity in the Middle East…)). (Fardoust, previous, pp 288, 289).

According to the available documents, the great powers in the Pahlavi period used every opportunity to humiliate the shah and show him their own power. Reza Khan’s pleading requests to British agents in September 1941 and behavior of "Mr. Trott”, an experienced British spy, with Mohammad Reza in turbulent days after Reza Khan’s departure from Iran, or even "Huyser’s” aggression in front of the shah to leave Iran in January 1979, all indicate the regime’s absolute dependence on foreigners. It is frequently seen in SAVAK documents that men who are affiliated with the west, especially the United Kingdom, are trying to threaten the shah and other figures of the regime by emphasizing this affiliation. Fardoust narrates a story that clearly shows the power of Britain in Iran. He writes in his memoirs:

((Mesbahzadeh was a greedy person; he came to me once again and asked me to become a member of the parliament from Bandar Abbas (for the fourteenth period). I told Mohammad Reza and he told me to give the necessary order to the commander of the Bandar Abbas Gendarmerie. Mesbahzadeh went and brought the commander of the Gendarmerie, who was a colonel, to me.   Apparently he had seen him before and they had a good relationship. I told the colonel that it is his majesty’s order to help him vote. The colonel said,” obedience!’’ but apparently at the same time the British embassy had nominated someone else [Abdullah Goldar] and Mesbahzadeh did not succeed. But in later periods, with the order of Mohammad Reza, he was able to reach the parliament)).

This story shows that the British government pursued two goals: first, to remind Mohammad Reza and the court that they have much more power than the court and the Shah. Second, to make people like Messbahzadeh, Fardoust and others… to understand that the only way to achieve power and wealth is through their channels. Definitely, this event and similar events gradually made the Pahlavi rulers to believe that the only way to progress is to fit into the standards and frameworks defined by foreigners.

Karim Sanjabi tells a similar story in his memoirs. In such a system, of course, independent, religious, and patriotic individuals were never able to progress and were quickly eliminated. One of the most important sources of violence and manifestation of foreign power in the Pahlavi era was elections, regardless of the empty nature of the elections, there was an opportunity in the field for the centers of power to show off their power to each other. Undoubtedly the foreign powers had the most weight and power in this area, and their representatives could more easily enter the ceremonial assemblies of the Pahlavi regime.