It is the summer of 1975 and the Shah of Iran is at the peak of his power. However, his American doctors had already told him about his illness and his life expectancy. President Nixon who was about to be impeached a year earlier had resigned saying; “I am not a crook!” Arab armies were defeated and humiliated in October 1973 in Yum Kippur war against Israel. King Faisal of Saudi Arabia was assassinated by one of his nephews after he imposed an oil embargo on the US. Iraqi strongman Saddam had been making a lot of noise about Arvand Rood (Shat-al-Arab) and how the deeper parts of the river belongs to Iraq, depriving Iran from navigation rights. But he had to sign the Algiers Accord and accept Iran’s rights.
Shah woke up in the middle of the night horrified and soaked in sweat!
Farah: “What’s the matter honey? Did you have a bad dream?”
Shah: “Yeah, Hazrat-e-Abbas was in my dream again warning me about the black clouds on the horizon! He warned me of men in black turbans that will take Iran back to the dark ages; war, devastation, women in chador and backwardness! He said that in a short few years I’ll be gone. He thought that you or Reza are not strong enough to step in for me.”
Farah: “But I thought that the Marxists and the communists are the biggest threat. You are a religious person yourself. You have been taking care of the clergy for many years. You even went to Mecca. Are you sure? Did he offer any advice on how to save the country?”
Shah: “Oh, plenty of advice! He said that I had to do three things now that I am in a position of power. He really emphasized that I should do them now, because if I do them when things are going bad, people will perceive them as a sign of weakness and will not accept them.
He said that the first thing that I need to do is to put a distance between myself and the military. He said that I should take my uniform off, put one of those strong generals in charge and let him build a bond with the people. He even said that Iranian military should do a small skirmish with Saddam and put him in his place. That would make the military look strong, independent and popular with the people.”
Farah: “But aren’t you afraid of a coup by the generals at some point?”
Shah: “Of course. But that’s the chance that I have to take to save the country. Secondly, he said that I should free the nationalist political prisoners and put one of them in charge of the judiciary and let him build an independent system that the people can trust.”
Farah: “But, they are going to come after you, your relatives and many of our friends for corruption, mistreatment of political prisoners and other crimes.”
Shah: “I’ll will issue a general amnesty and also force some of our friends and relatives to leave the country. But some will end up in prison, no doubt. Hazrat-e-Abbas said that’s the price we have to pay to save the country and the monarchy.”
Farah: “I don’t know about this advice from Hazrat-e-Abbas! But the man saved you from falling from the horse once. So he should have your best interest in mind!”
Shah: “The third thing that I need to do is to put a strong person in charge of the government and let him put in place the foundations of a democracy, starting with the free press and political parties. Hoveyda is a nice and intelligent man, but not the right person for the job.”
Farah: “But aren’t you afraid of another Mossadegh episode? Also, with all these changes, what are you going to do and be responsible for?”
Shah: “Honey, I want to spend more time with you and the kids. They are growing up so fast and need me all the time. We can spend the summers in Mallorca and winters in Saint Moritz like other Royal Families!”
Farah: “I like it. Now it is time for your medicine dear. Let me get you some water!”