Iran Modernization under Resa Shah

After a coup d’état (February 22, 1921), Resa (actually Resa Khan) took power in Tehran with the help of a Cossack brigade. As Minister of War, he subjugated the almost independent rulers in the provinces at the head of newly formed army units from 1921-23. As Prime Minister (1923-25) he strengthened the central authority. On October 31, 1925 he deposed Shah Ahmed and was elected as Resa Pahlewi by Parliament on December 12, 1925. He was crowned on April 24th, 1926.

Based on the army and bureaucracy, influenced by the ideas of Kemal Ataturk, Resa Shah reorganized the army, financial and judicial systems. He laid the foundations for legislation based on European models (1926 passage of a criminal code, 1928 of a civil code); he promoted industrialization and mechanization (including the construction of the Trans-Iranian railway). In the socio-political area he began a land reform, set up uniform secular elementary schools, abolished the obligation to veil for women and introduced clothing for men based on the European model.

Striving for the independence of his state externally, he forced a. 1932/33 more favorable terms of contract with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. In 1935 “Iran” replaced the previous state name Persia as the official name. In 1937 Iran concluded a non-aggression pact (“Sadabad Pact”) with neighboring countries. Since Resa had strongly promoted German influence (industrialization and public construction activity with German help), he was considered a friend of the Axis Powers during World War II and, after British (and later American) and Soviet troops had occupied Iran since 1941, had to do so on September 16, 1941 renounce the throne in favor of his son Mohammed Resa.

The rule of Resa Shah revolutionized the social and intellectual structure of Iran. His efforts at secularization weakened the traditional Islamic forces at times and promoted a European-oriented bourgeoisie. His increasingly despotic rule contributed to the fact that the military, the civil servants and the large landowners in particular benefited from the reforms sought.

Shah Mohammed Resa Pahlavi

When Mohammed Resa ascended the throne in 1941 (coronation as emperor on October 26, 1967), Iran became de facto dependent on the occupying powers. While the British and American troops were evacuating their positions in Iran after the end of the Second World War in 1945, the USSR, based militarily on its troops and politically on the (communist) Tudeh party, tried to detach the Iranian parts of Azerbaijan from the state association of Iran. After failing to do this, she also withdrew from Iran. In 1949 the Tudeh party was banned.

In 1950, under the leadership of M. Mossadegh, a strong political movement against British influence in Iran emerged. a. demanded the expropriation of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company; at the same time she turned increasingly against the Shah. Elected Prime Minister in late April 1951, Mossadegh nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company; He thus triggered a foreign policy conflict with Great Britain, under whose leadership a blockade of the Iranian oil industry v. a. started by the western buyer countries. When Mossadegh tried to restrict the Shah’s rights as part of a constitutional reform, the army overthrew him in August 1953. His successor, M. F. Sahedi called back the Shah, who fled abroad at the height of the constitutional crisis. With the signing of an oil agreement (1954), the nationalization of oil production was recognized, but actual control was transferred to a consortium of companies from the USA, France and the Netherlands.

Under the influence of ongoing strike movements, v. a. in the oil industry (1956–61), Mohammed Resa introduced reforms under the slogan “white revolution” from around 1960: land reform, formation of agricultural cooperatives, partial participation of workers in operating profits, granting of political rights for women and expansion of the health system. Nevertheless, there were riots (1963), which were suppressed by force of arms (over 4,000 deaths).

With the help of the United States, the Shah equipped the army. Economic life was characterized by the growth of foreign corporations. The state borrowed heavily. Most of the population suffered from the rising cost of living. As a result of the suppression of all opposition, the gap between social groups has widened.

In his foreign policy, Mohammed Resa leaned towards the Western powers. In 1955, according to Payhelpcenter, Iran joined the Baghdad Pact (later CENTO), concluded a defense agreement with the USA in 1959 and intensified its economic and political relations with the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Great Britain and the USA. In order to avoid a one-sided tie to the Western powers, a good relationship with the USSR and the other Eastern bloc states was sought (1970 realization of a gas agreement with the USSR; establishment of diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China). After Iran terminated the 1937 border treaty in 1969, it concluded a new border agreement with Iraq in 1975 over the mutual border on the Shatt al-Arab and renounced the support of the Kurds in Iraq.

The displeasure against corruption, westernization and neglect of religious values ​​of Islam, particularly borne by the Shiite clergy, was suppressed by the police and the state secret service (SAVAK). Amnesty International named between 25,000 and 100,000 political prisoners in Iran in 1977. Between August 1978 and February 1979, the resistance grew to a revolutionary movement led especially by Ayatollah Khomeini, who lived in exile in Paris, which led to the overthrow of the Shah and his system of government. In January 1979 Mohammed Resa emigrated with his family.

Iran Modernization under Resa Shah