PARIS: Iran’s final shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who fled his nation 40 years in the past underneath stress from large road protests, was the “King of Kings” who got here to be damned by his personal folks.

His exile together with his third spouse Farah Diba on January 16, 1979 ended not solely his 37-year reign but in addition 2,500 years of monarchy in Iran, changed by an Islamic system that continues to be in cost as we speak.

Pahlavi would die from most cancers simply 18 months later on the age of 60, damaged and stateless, having been refused asylum by his former ally, america.

Tyrannical, conceited, extravagant but in addition modernising, the playboy king began out as a darling of the US which groomed him to behave as sentry within the Center East in opposition to the Soviet Union.

The “nice management of the shah” had made Iran “an island of stability in one of many extra troubled areas of the world,” US president Jimmy Carter declared only a yr earlier than the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Pahlavi loved all the trimmings of his royal standing, believing his escape from two assassination makes an attempt was proof of his divine calling.

However progressively his Western-style leanings and reforms, in addition to his more and more autocratic behaviour and lavish life-style, contributed to his alienation amongst Iranians and angered the conservative clerics who would assist drive the revolution that despatched him fleeing.

Pahlavi was simply 21 when he ascended to the throne on September 16, 1941 to exchange his father, Reza Khan, who had been pressured to abdicate following an invasion by Britain and the Soviet Union which had been sad at his neutrality of their stand in opposition to Germany throughout World War II.

Born on October 26, 1919 and educated in Switzerland, Pahlavi was at first seen as solely a pale copy of his navy strongman father.

It was solely 12 years later, following a CIA-backed coup in opposition to his widespread prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh, who had nationalised the oil trade, that Pahlavi started to amass actual energy.

Decided to tug Iran quickly into the fashionable age, he launched wide-ranging schooling and healthcare programmes, whereas internet hosting leaders from around the globe in his Napoleonic uniform.

He helped drive up world oil costs within the early 1970s, and poured the ensuing billions into nuclear energy initiatives and new navy {hardware}. As a pilot himself, a lot of the cash went into the airforce.

By then, the king was married to the glamorous Soraya Esfandiary Bakhtiary, having divorced his Egyptian first spouse Fawzieh — sister of King Farouq of Egypt — after she had given delivery to a daughter however no sons.

They too divorced in 1958 when Princess Soraya failed to supply an inheritor. Farah Diba, whom he married in 1959, bore him two sons and two daughters.

Many hint the start of the shah’s downfall to 1963 when he applied the “White Revolution”, a large-scale reform programme centred on agriculture that alienated the standard land-owning elite and their clerical allies, who additionally fiercely opposed the choice to grant ladies the vote.

The next yr he exiled Shiite spiritual chief Ruhollah Khomeini, who railed in opposition to the shah’s perceived kowtowing to the West.

Khomeini’s star grew in exile and he would ultimately develop into the figurehead of the Islamic revolution that ended Pahlavi’s reign.

Main financial powers queued up in Tehran to benefit from the oil growth whereas closing their eyes to the authoritarian drift, because the shah outlawed opposition events and relied ever-more closely on his feared secret police, the SAVAK.

Indignant over US criticism of his human rights report, Pahlavi grew nearer to the Soviet Union and China, whereas additionally launching an financial partnership with Europe and particularly France.

At dwelling the billionaire shah’s extravagance and the wealth lavished on these within the royal circle drew rising criticism.

He took on the standard title of “King of Kings” in a lavish coronation ceremony in 1967, having already adopted the specifically chosen moniker of “Mild of the Aryans” two years earlier.

The unprecedented luxurious of his celebration to mark the legendary 2,500th anniversary of the Persian monarchy in 1971 was additionally vilified by his left-wing and clerical opponents. The shah’s energy started to crumble in January 1978 after a each day newspaper was pressured to publish an article essential of Khomeini.

It sparked demonstrations by theology college students that had been violently crushed, the memorials to victims resulting in a cycle of protests that grew via the yr.

Unable to understand why his folks had been ungrateful for his modernising efforts, the shah grew more and more paranoid and reclusive.

A remaining bid to arrest the rebellion, by apologising for his errors and lifting many repressive measures, got here too late and solely fuelled the protests.

After months of rolling unrest, the shah was prodded into exile by america, selecting to fly out to Egypt, by no means to return.


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