A talk with historian Abbas Milani on Shapour Bakhtiar’s Premiership amidst attempts by his rival Gholam Hossein Sadighi to convince the Shah to remain in Iran whilst full executive powers to be entrusted in the premier’s cabinet.
Dr. Gholam Hossein Sadighi was the Iranian Minister of Interior in the government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953. After a CIA-backed coup d’etat overthrew Mossadegh, Sadighi was arrested and later testified in defense of Mossadegh at the latter’s trial. Despite the loss of power, Sadighi continued to be politically active. He helped to found the Second National Front in 1960 and, along with other pro-Mossadegh politicians, advocated a democratic system and a Shah that reigns but does not rule.
By 1978, Iran was gripped by mass turmoil and there was a significant danger that Mohammad Reza Shah would be toppled by a mass rebellion led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Because of this threat, the Shah appointed Sadighi as the prime minister in order to rally the moderates behind the government and neutralize the religious opposition. However, the plan collapsed over Sadighi’s insistence that the Shah remain in the country and that full executive powers be entrusted in the premier’s cabinet, two things that the Shah refused to grant. Because of this, Sadighi left the scene and the Shah instead appointed Dr. Shapour Bakhtiar (one of the leaders of the National Front ) as Prime Minister of Iran. On February 11, 1979 the regime was toppled and Sadighi left the country. He died in 1987.
Shah in last Official Speech to the Nation acknowledges Voice of the Revolution but refuses to abdicate and promises to Respect the Constitution once Calm and Order are Restored (1978/79):
French Journalist asks the Shah if he thinks that by abdicating it would help solve the “problems” in Iran:
To which the Persian Monarch sardonically Responds “Do you know what would happen in Iran if I did that ?”. “No I don’t” admits the Journalist. “Think a little then about the consenquences” replies the Shah. (circa 1978)
Pro Bakhtiar Demonstrations In Support of the Constitution of 1906 and Bakhtiar meets the Foreign Press-1979:
Shah of Iran and Shahbanou Leave the country as Newly named Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar and cabinet members bid him farewell at Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport: