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RevolutionMemory lane
Looking back at the road to revolution

Compiled by Payman Arabshahi
Updated February 11, 2001
The Iranian

Chronology of events leading to the fall of the monarchy selected from the Iranian media on the eve of the anniversary of the Iranian revolution of 1978/79. The quotes are translations from Persian. Some of the text is from Masoud Behnoud book "275 Rooz-e Bazargan" (275 days of the Bazargan Government), Tehran, Elm Publishers, 1377/1988.

3 Aban 1355 (24 October 1976)

"An important part of the energy resources of the free world is under Iran's control. The free world cannot tolerate the loss of Iran, and there is no power in the world which can impose the smallest thing against Iran's national interests on our country." -- Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, Tehran press conference

24 Dey 1355 (13 January 1977)

"The United States is counting on Iran. Iran, today, is a stabilizing factor in the middle east." -- Henry Kissinger, former US secretary of state, banquet at Iranian embassy in Washington DC

9 Bahman 1355 (28 January 1977)

"In 10-12 years we shall reach the quality of life enjoyed by you Europeans." -- The Shah, in roundtable discussion with French TV

24 Esfand 1355 (14 April 1977)

"Our army must act in ways much stronger than a nuclear army. Interests of Iran mean that the armed forces must even make sacrifices outside our borders to safeguard the country's political and national interests." -- The Shah, in Rastaakhiz, Tehran

6 Khordad 1356 (27 May 1977)

"Iran in itself is the largest market for US goods in the region." -- Ardeshir Zahedi, Iran's Ambassador to the US, Dallas reception

20 Shahrivar 1356 (10 September 1977)

"To those who are asking only for freedom, we ask, you want the freedom to do what?" -- The Shah, interview with Kayhan, Tehran

23 Shahrivar 1356 (13 September 1977)

It was announced in Tehran today that Iran's oil exports passed the 5.2 million barrels per day mark -- Kayhan, Tehran.

26 Shahrivar 1356 (16 September 1977)

Iran is importing goods from 129 countries in the world -- Kayhan, Tehran.

23 Mehr 1356 (14 October 1977)

"Black reactionaries wish to take the nation back 2000 years." -- Shah, speaking to parliamentary leaders, in reference to recent student demonstrations

20 Aban 1356 (10 November 1977)

"Iran condemns torture." -- Ashraf Pahlavi, the Shah's twin sister, at the UN, Rastaakhiz, Tehran.

27 Aban 1356 (17 November 1977)

"Demonstrations in the US had no effect on our talks with Carter." -- The Shah, press conference in Washington DC, referring to anti-Shah demonstrations in front of the White house during his visit.

14 Azar 1356 (4 December 1977)

Rastaakhiz party opens seminar on "Analysis of Academic Tendencies" following large scale student disturbances and student closure of some universities.

15 Azar 1356 (5 December 1977)

"Iran has done its share in implementing the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man." -- Shah, in ceremonies marking World Human Rights day.

22 Azar 1356 (12 December 1977)

The opposition is aiming at the heart of the Imperial Regime -- Rastaakhiz, Tehran.

8 Day 1356 (28 December 1977)

Bomb explodes in the Iran-America Institute causing damage -- leftist guerillas take responsibility.

15 Day 1356 (4 January 1978)

Three-day student closure of universities in protest to Carter's visit to Tehran.

17 Day 1356 (6 January 1978)

Ettelaat publishes editorial on "Black and red reactionism in Iran" attacking Ayatollah Khomeini as a foreign agent and a corrupt man.

19 Day 1356 (8 January 1978)

Widespread clashes in Qom in protest to the Ettelaat editorial -- scores killed and wounded by security forces.

25 Day 1356 (14 January 1978)

Tens of thousands of people condemn foreign agitation in Qom -- Rastaakhiz, Tehran.

Bahman 1356 - Bahman 1357 (Jan/Feb 1978-1979)

Massive disturbances in Tabriz, nation in turmoil, demonstrations spread ... governments change, massacres in Tehran and elsewhere, Shah leaves, Ayatollah Khomeini returns, and then ...

14 Bahman 1357 (February 3, 1979)

"I am deeply committed to religion, and have been a religious person since my youth". -- Shah, in interview with Le Figaro, Paris.

"Any change in the form of government of Iran should be through free elections and not through demonstrations by an emotional crowd in the streets." -- Shahpour Bakhtiar, last prime minister of the imperial regime

"We have lost our most important provider of oil." -- Israeli Minister of Justice

"Only an understanding between the religious leaders and the army can solve this crisis." -- General Fereidoun Jam, Iranian armed forces high command.

15 Bahman 1357 (4 February 1979)

"[This] 'Islamic Republic' is an unknown for me ... Iran has one government. More than this is intolerable, either for me or for you or for any other Iranian ... As a Muslim, I had not heard that Jihad refers to one Muslim against other Muslims ... Those fermenting a civil war will be put in front of the firing squad ... I will compromise neither with Shah nor with Khomeini. I will not give permission to Ayatollah Khomeini to form an interim government ... I will implement all of Ayatollah Khomeini's views in law ... I shall reply to molotov cocktails by molotov cocktails ... An Islamic government limited to Qom is permissible, and we shall then have a Vatican too ..." -- Shahpour Bakhtiar, prime minister, Tehran radio interview.

"What we had not predicted was that a 78 year old man, an Ayatollah who had spent 14 years in exile, could forge together these forces and turn all of these volcanos into one immense volcano, into a national and real revolution." -- Stansfield Turner, Director of the CIA

Following the disappearance of a number of air force cadets, Ayatollah Taleghani demands a public explanation from the commanders of air bases.

Ayatollah Khomeini meets with a group of parliament deputies who had resigned from their seat.

16 Bahman 1357 (5 February 1979)

Ayatollah Khomeini appoints Mehdi Bazargan as prime minister of the revolution's provisional government.

"Naturally considering my weak physique and all my faults and problems I should not have accepted this responsibility." -- Mehdi Bazargan, prime minister of the interim government in a message of thanks to the Iranian nation and the revolution's leadership

"I request the Iranian nation to express their views regarding the government of of Mr. Bazargan, which is an Islamic government, both through the newspapers and media and also through peaceful demonstrations in cities and villages ..." -- Ayatollah Khomeini, following the formation of the Bazargan government

"My cabinet is not a shadow or a fantasy - it is quite serious."-- Mehdi Bazargan speaking at Alavi school following his appointment as prime minister

"We are not afraid of this threat. If they want to threaten us, let them threaten us with something else. This is a very small thing, and if it is actually implemented, I for one will be very thankful and in complete peace of mind." -- Mehdi Bazargan, commenting on prime minister Bakhtiar's threat to arrest him and his cabinet

"The Iranian nation and Iranian state are indivisible entities: one country, one government, one constitution, or nothing else ...We will tolerate this thing about anybody forming its own government until it is a joke and in words only, but if they take actions in this regard, we shall reply with our own actions ... If blood is spilled and if aggression is committed against the people, I will expose the aggressors without regard to their name or position right here [in parliament]... I shall remain in the position of the legitimate prime minister of this country until future free elections are held ... Whoever enjoys a majority, shall then govern." -- Shahpour Bakhtiar, in address to Parliament

"We, the Islamic leaders, do not have a claim on government." -- Ayatollah Taleghani

"I am confident of the cohesion of the Iranian armed forces at these extraordinarily difficult times". -- General David C. Jones, Chairman, U.S. Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff

A group of military personnel, in a show of support for the revolution, march in front of Alavi school, residence of the leader of revolution.

A communique is issued by the Iranian armed forces high command, in which it is stressed that "whoever embarks on threatening or weakening the morale of military personnel, shall be prosecuted according to the law". The statement is in response to a speech by Hojatoleslam Seyyed Ali Khamenei, as representative of the leadership, in front of the personnel of the army geographic organization, on 14th of Bahman.

Henry Kissinger blames the Iranian events on America's "hollow pursuit of the defense of human rights."

Spokesman for the US state department declines to answer whether the US government is still supportive of Bakhtiar or not.

Bakhtiar's cabinet orders arrest of some 200 former government ministers, industrialists, and bank managers.

General Robert Huyser, US special envoy to Iran, left Tehran today after a month long stay.

17 Bahman 1357 (6 February 1979)

Army opens fire in pro-Bazargan demonstration in Zahedan.

"I am still the reigning monarch and commander in chief of the Iranian armed forces ... I myself am not immune from criticism, but how can one imagine that I should have worked 37 years, 10 hours a day for helping my country, only to see myself return to where I had started?" -- The Shah, in interview with London's Daily Mail.

'Siaahkal' memorial ceremonies to be held on the campus of Tehran University on 19th of Bahman -- People's Fedayyeen Announcement

Personnel of the prime minister's office embark on a walkout in front of the building, in support of Bazargan.

"Zahedi's mission in the US has been terminated ... Iran will leave CENTO." -- Ahmad Mirfendereski, Foreign Minister, commenting on the Iranian Ambassador to the US and Iran's membership in the US backed regional organization, CENTO.

"I am a military man and will not interfere in politics." -- General Amir Hossein Rabiei, Commander, Imperial Iranian Air Force

"The information in the hands of the Americans was wrong - the religious uprising in Iran has much deeper roots than first imagined." -- Bruno Kreisky, Austrian Chancellor

Majority of members of parliament reject a no confidence motion for prime minister Bakhtiar, and his ouster.

Air maneuvers with helicopters and phantom jets held over Tehran.

18 Bahman 1357 (7 February 1979)

"The Shah must be tried in absentia." -- Ayatollah Khomeini, in meeting with judges of the judiciary

22 members of parliament resign.

Major Shakoori of the 64th Division of Rezaieh assassinated on his way to the barracks.

Military governor of Tehran reduces the curfew hours.

Millions demonstrate in Tehran and the provinces to express their support for the Bazargan government.

Personnel of 11 ministries and many other government agencies announce that they will take orders only from the Bazargan government.

"Western diplomats close to the armed forces believe that the generals have reached the conclusion that they are not powerful enough to take power through a military coup." -- Associated Press, Dispatch from Tehran

"I am willing to cooperate with supporters of Ayatollah Khomeini." -- Shahpour Bakhtiar, BBC interview

"We support the implementation of the constitution in Iran ... We have been in touch with all groups, including Mehdi Bazargan, through diplomatic channels, although we have not made any contacts with him after his election to the position of prime minister ... The United States cannot ignore the great street referendum of the Iranian nation in favor of Ayatollah Khomeini in Paris and after his return to Iran." -- Hudding Carter, U.S. State Department Spokesman

"The armed forces must not interfere in politics. They must be supportive of the constitution, and the legal government." -- General Abbas Gharabaghi, chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, speaking in graduation ceremonies at the Officer's College, which was conducted under heavy security and without a single photo or mention of the Shah.

Andrew Young, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, predicted that relations between the US and Iran will be on good grounds 2 years from now.

19 Bahman 1357 (8 February 1979)

Kayhan publishes the photo of a mass military salute by the personnel and officers of the Iranian Air Force to Ayatollah Khomeini during their visit to his headquarters at Alavi School earlier today. General Badiei, who had prior knowledge of the planned visit, and had in a way cooperated with its organization, tells Bakhtiar -- in response to Bakhtiar's accusation against him -- that the photo is a fake.

"On page 1 of Kayhan Newspaper, dated Thursday, 19th of Bahman 1357, a large, doctored, and fake photo was published with the title "march of thousands of military personnel". The fakeness of this photo is completely obvious to anybody who is aware of the most basic rules of photography and montage. Also clear is the evil intents of those who sow the seeds of division and who wish to penetrate the unbreakable structure of our armed forces, so that they reach their own wishes and goals." -- Communique of the High Command of the Iranian Armed Forces regarding the Kayhan photo.

Millions demonstrate in Tehran and the provinces to express their support for the Bazargan government.

"The armed forces must return to the people, just as many people and many groups have returned, and we have welcomed them with open arms." -- Ayatollah Khomeini in his message of thanks to the Iranian nation for their support of the interim government

Bazargan is reported to have entered into negotiations with high ranking officers of the armed forces.

Clashes between the army and demonstrators continue in Gorgan, Gonbad, and Arak. Scores killed and wounded.

Commander in charge of Jondi-Shahpour University military guard assassinated in Ahvaz.

Personnel of 11 ministries and other government agencies pledge their allegiance to the Bazargan government. These include the ministries of health, economics and finance, foreign affairs, justice, housing and urban development, energy, and information.

'Siaahkal' demonstration postponed; George Habash's (PFLP) message is read at the commemoration ceremonies. Posters of Khosro Rouzbeh, Samad Behrangi, Gole-sorkhi and other guerillas killed by the Shah regime are distributed among the thousands attending.

"Reza Shah and the Shah stood in resistance against Hitler, and the Shah will do the same in front of Ayatollah Khomeini and Bazargan ... Bazargan is a reasonable and faithful man and we can reach agreements with him in many areas." -- Shahpour Bakhtiar, Tehran press conference

"Civil war is inevitable if Khomeini and Bakhtiar do not reach a compromise." -- U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Spokespersons of the White House and the State department announced today that the US government will support any government which has the support of the Iranian nation.

During night time Ayatollah Khomeini and two or three of his companions, travel to Shahr-e Rey by car for a pilgrimage to Hazrat-e Abdol-azim shrine.

20 Bahman 1357 (9 February 1979)

A communique by the 'Iranian Communist party' is read at radio/TV news broadcasts which are being produced by a handful of strike breakers and military personnel. The communique claims that the party is in contact with Bazargan.

Head of the US military mission to Iran immediately reports renewal of activities by the Tudeh party to Washington DC. Meanwhile the US ambassador to Iran, William Sullivan demands an explanation of this news through one of his intermediaries, from a member of the Iran Freedom Movement.

A reported 30,000 strong group of people engage in demonstrations in support of the constitution in Amjadieh stadium in Tehran. Slogans in support of the Shah and Bakhtiar are chanted, and clashes occur between them and revolutionaries outside the complex grounds. News agencies report on extensive participation in the gathering by army officers and their families. Army buses parked outside the stadium come under a hail of stones by those opposing the demonstrators.

The five member strong group of armed forces generals who had been meeting daily with General Robert Huyser and head of the US military mission to Iran, visit Bakhtiar to inform him of low morale among the soldiers and problems with soldiers escaping from barracks. Generals Abbas Gharabaghi (chief of staff), Badrei, Ami Hossein Rabiei, and Habibollahi (commanders of army, air force, and navy respectively), as well as Hassan Toufanian (Deputy to the War minister) are in attendance. In the middle of the meeting General Nasser Moghadam, head of the secret police, SAVAK, joins the group as well. According to Huyser, this was the first time that the Iranian generals had taken the initiative on an issue without the participation of an American officer. The main topic of the meeting was Kayhan's photo of air force officers saluting Ayatollah Khomeini the day before.

Bazargan announces that he has had no contacts whatsoever with any 'Iranian communist party', or the Tudeh party, or any other similarly named group.

"I am a sensitive and fragile automobile who has to travel over flat and paved roads - you have to pave this road for me ... The people must now work 48 hours a day in support of the new government". -- Mehdi Bazargan, in his first public speech after appointment to the post of prime minister, Tehran University

"The people should declare a republic in a normal fashion, through an Assembly of Experts, or through a freely elected parliament." -- Shahpour Bakhtiar

Bakhtiar denies rumors of a military coup in the works.

A Los Angeles Times reporter was shot to death today in Farah Abad-e Jaleh during street demonstrations in which the army opened fire on the people.

Around 9:00 pm, at the same time that curfew hours begin in Tehran, and following a brief evening news, Iranian TV (most of whose employees were on strike), broadcasts a collage program made out of scenes of Ayatollah Khomeini in France, his flight to Iran, and speech at Behesht-e Zahra cemetery. This was meant as a gesture of reconciliation by the Bakhtiar government toward revolutionary forces.

However, minutes after start of this broadcast, an event occurs in the air force Farahabad barracks. A group of air force cadets chant a 'salavaat' (salute to the prophet and his descendents) after seeing Ayatollah Khomeini on television. Following insults by some attending officers, this leads to a verbal fight and shooting. The night guard in charge then requests backup support from Imperial guard units.

At the same time, and before the arrival of the guards, news of the fighting is announced by a cleric, loudly, in the streets and the curfew is effectively broken. The people, who now have the impression that a massacre of the cadets is on the way, rush to the streets. During these moments, doors of the armory in the barracks are taken down, and an event whose arrival had been expected for months, materializes: people gain access to arms. Meanwhile, heavily armed guard units enter the streets and directly open fire on the people. Fighting continues until 2:00 am, until finally the air force commander, General Rabiei, arrives on the scene and orders evacuation of the dozens of killed and wounded.

Meanwhile, in an emergency message Ayatollah Taleghani asks all military personnel to return to their barracks and to stop fighting.

The situation remains very tense in the early hours of 21 Bahman ...

21 Bahman 1357 (10 February 1979)

Various press reports and newspaper headlines:

The streets of Tehran have been sandbagged, turning the city into a virtual war zone. Having heard the news from the night before, people are now driving around on motorcycles with captured guns. They are approaching army soldiers, throwing flowers around them, and asking them to join the uprising. Military trucks and armored personnel
carriers are safe from attack only when they carry a poster of Ayatollah Khomeini.

Street battles have begun in some provinces. One million demonstrate in Tabriz in support of Bazargan. Clashes reported in Gorgan, Rasht, and Mashhad.

Tehran university is under the control of guerrillas and armed groups of people who are in turn training others to use weapons and make molotov cocktails. Mosques have turned into weapon repositories. Several SAVAK safe houses in Tehran have come under attack by the the people. Army units are converging on Ayatollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Taleghani's residences for surrender. A large number of armed soldiers are wandering confused in the streets. Traffic is at a standstill due to burning tires and road blocks erected by the people.

Rumors are floating in Tehran about an impending army coup.

"The danger of a treacherous coup d'etat should not be discounted". -- Dr. Noureddin Kianouri, first secretary of the Tudeh party, in interview in Budapest, as broadcast on Iranian TV

Generals Badrei and Habibollahi, army and navy commanders of the Imperial regime, with support from General Toufanian and agreement of General Huyser, have formed a group to circumvent Bakhtiar and Gharabaghi and initiate a coup. After the Shah's departure, this group has been in touch with Ardeshir Zahedi, who has been trying to convince them of a U.S. green light for a coup.

This group has left Generals Amir Hossein Rabiei (air force), Manouchehr Khosrodad (army aviation), and Nasser Moghadam (SAVAK), in the dark about their plans. Instead they have included in their workgroup, General Naji, former military governor of Esfahan, and General Biglari, deputy Imperial Guards commander.

During this past week, Badrei's repeated attempts at contacting the Shah in Morroco have been unsuccessful. Only once, while talking to Farah on the phone, General Biglari has been able to ascertain that Zahedi's views are the same as hers. The plan had originally called for Zahedi and one member of the Imperial family to return to Iran over the past couple of days, remove Gharabaghi from power, and ...

However, following last night's events at the air force barracks in Farahabad, Badrei, who is worried about losing time, has been feverishly planning a military takeover of Tehran in his office at the Lavizan barracks, using mechanized divisions of the army.

The proposal to bring up the curfew hours came out of the meeting of this workgroup and was approved by Bakhtiar and Gharabaghi, having been conveyed to them by General Rahimi, military governor of Tehran.

"Considering its duties and heavy responsibilities, and the fact that it cannot remain indifferent to barbaric and unhumanitarian acts of subversive elements, the military governorship of Tehran and the suburbs hereby extends the curfew hours of 16:30-5:00 am [declared earlier in the day] till noon Sunday, 22nd of Bahman 1357." -- Excerpt from Communique no. 41 of Tehran military governorship

"... the communique of the military authorities is against the principles of Islam and the people should not pay any attention to it ... I condemn this unhumanitarian aggression by the Guard division. These people wish to keep the hands of foreigners open in Iran by engaging in fratricide ... Although I have not ordered a holy Jihad and would like to keep the peace and have the affairs taken care off in accordance with the law and the wishes of the people, at the same time I cannot tolerate such barbarism, and warn that if these acts of fratricide are not stopped, and the guard units do not return to their barracks and the army commanders do not step in to stop such aggressions, I shall take my final decision God willing, and then the responsibility will be with those committing the aggression and those transgressing." -- Ayatollah Khomeini, in a decisive and critical move for the revolution, asking the people to ignore the curfew hours (against the advice of Bazargan and Ayatollah Taleghani who feared a massacre).

"We shall follow our legal duties if the provisional government attempts to take over the ministries by force." -- Shahpour Bakhtiar, on his last day as prime minister of the Imperial Government of Iran

"The constitution has allowed any type of change, including the declaration of a republic, but the people must go about this legally through an assembly of experts or a freely elected parliament. The law permits this." -- Shahpour Bakhtiar in interview with Kayhan International, Tehran

"I am ready for talks!" -- Prime minister Bakhtiar, speaking in the Senate before being interrupted by a phone call from General Gharabaghi demanding an urgent solution to the crisis in the streets.

Negotiations between General Gharabaghi and revolutionary forces continue through mediation of Ayatollah Shariatmadari. At the same time, colleagues of Bazargan are in touch with Bakhtiar. All are hoping for a peaceful transition of power and removal of the armed forces and Bakhtiar from the path of the revolution.

4:30 pm Tehran: people are in the streets, ignoring the shortening of the curfew hours by the military governor's office.

General Badrei organizes his command headquarters at Lavizan and goes to the prime minister's office. Gharabaghi and others arrive by helicopter, witnessing with their own eyes the lack of any indication that the people are conforming to the curfew hours.

The National Security Council meeting is opened by Bakhtiar who asks for reports from the attending generals. He finally states that he has waited long enough and that "it is now time for attack." However he elicits little trust among the generals, especially Badrei and Habibollahi who are planning a coup. Bakhtiar orders aerial bombardment of the 'aslahesaazi' defense and ammunitions factory, and orders Moghadam, head of SAVAK, to arrest an additional 200 people. The list this time includes Ayatollah Khomeini, his comrades at Alavi school, and scores of journalists and national front and leftist activists. At 7:00 pm, Bakhtiar leaves the group to attend a cabinet meeting. The commanders are left to themselves to consult and decide. Badrei and Rahimi leave for Lavizan. Rabiei, piloting a helicopter himself, drops off Gharabaghi at the army high command headquarters.

Thanks to supporters of the revolution who have by now penetrated all rank and file of the army and government, the revolution's command headquarters at Alavi school is fully aware of the events in Lavizan, Badrei's coup plans and telephone calls, as well as Bakhtiar and Gharabaghi's movements and actions.

The coup workgroup headed by Badrei has by now lost all hope of Tehran and is concentrating on the provinces. There is relative calm in other cities, following pro-Bazargan demonstrations. Commanders in the provinces give assurances to the workgroup that they will act according to the coup plan tomorrow. However, they are unaware of the fact that their communications are monitored by revolutionary forces. A major in General Badrei's office, who has finally been given permission to leave at midnight, manages to take copies of all the plans and operational maps with himself. Using a public phone, he immediately contacts one of the morning newspapers, saying that he wishes to perform his duty and expose plans for a coup d'etat which will result in the deaths of thousands. Even this information was not unknown to the revolution camp; however its publication deals the fatal blow to it.

Bloody battles between the Guard divisions and the air force continues in Tehran:

Farahabad up to Tehran-No under air force control.

Ghazvin mechanized battalion ambushed by the people on its way to Toopkhaaneh square from Sepah Avenue.

Guard helicopter crashes in Tehran.

People block Hamadan-Saveh road to prevent dispatch of military units from Kermanshah to Tehran, following news of impending coup orchestrated by provincial army units.

Defenders of the Air Force Academy disable 5 tanks and capture 3, disarming several guards officers.

Police stations in districts 14, 16, 21, 9, 10, 11, Narmak, and Tehran-No fall to people's hands.

A number of tanks and armored personnel carriers are disabled by molotov cocktails on their way to Fowzieh square.

General Rahimi, military governor of Tehran, makes repeated attempts during the night to contact Bakhtiar, waking him up several times. However he does not receive a firm order to resist the attacks by forces loyal to the revolution.

Until noon-time, some 63 corpses have been taken to Tehran's Jorjani and Bu-Ali hospitals.

All police stations fall to the people by 5:00 pm, and a group starts advancing on the Police Academy. At the Academy, Major Nosrati surrenders to the people with a white flag. At the same time a message arrives at Alavi School from General Neshat, commander of the Imperial Guards, requesting a meeting with a representative of Ayatollah Khomeini, and stating that the Guards will not take part in any action against the people. Neshat was the last hope of Bakhtiar and the coup workgroup.

In a report to Washington DC, Ambassador Sullivan reports that tomorrow morning will be an opportune time to reconcile Bakhtiar and Bazargan. He is hopeful that tomorrow, prior to complete destruction of the armed forces, activities regarding transfer of power can be undertaken, so as to preserve the cohesion of the Iranian military.

At midnight the coup workgroup cancels its previous directive regarding positioning of tanks of the Imperial Guard and the army at critical junctures around the city. Army commanders at the provinces are ordered to remain on alert. The south of the country is seen as the best location to initiate the coup.

During this day, apart from Bakhtiar, Moghadam, and Gharabaghi, who were in touch with the revolution camp and were engaged in sensitive talks, General Rabiei, air force commander, General Molavi, Tehran chief of police, Major Nosrati, police command headquarters of Tehran, Admiral Madjidi, deputy commander of the navy, and General Neshat, commander of the Imperial Guards, were each, in their own way, in touch with elements of the revolutionary forces, even though each kept his contacts secret and hidden from the others.

Among the chaos of street fights and backdoor negotiations, the discussion between Gharabaghi and General Hassan Fardoust in the afternoon, was critical. Gharabaghi asks Fardoust about his opinion about Bazargan's proposal regarding declaration of neutrality of the armed forces. He is met with Fardoust's positive reply, and in turn tells him the he will raise this issue in the meeting of the army commanders tomorrow.

By the end of 21 Bahman, except for Badrei, Naji, and the coup workgroup, nobody else was thinking of saving the Imperial regime ...

"126 deaths and 634 injured as off 11 pm tonight." -- Spokesperson for the Emergency Medical Response Center of Tehran

22 Bahman 1357 (11 February 1979)

Various press reports and newspaper headlines:


Army units converging on Tehran from the provinces.

Tanks battle the people in the streets of Tehran - hundreds killed and thousands wounded.

"We hereby request that you declare your opinion and edict on the issue of forsaking this oath [to defend the Shah and the Imperial regime] and joining the Islamic movement." -- Letter to Ayatollah Khomeini by a group of army officers

"Those who have taken such an oath, should act contrary to it." -- Ayatollah Khomeini, in response

"At the present time, Ayatollah Khomeini has lost control of affairs." -- Shahpour Bakhtiar

All of east of Tehran comes under control of people and air force cadets.

6:00 am: Bakhtiar requests to see Gharabaghi in his office at 9:30 am. Gharehbaghi says that he has a meeting with force commanders in an hour to receive a report on the overall situation in the country, and that he will go to the prime minister's office following this meeting.

8:30 am: Eng. Jafroudi arranges a joint meeting between Bakhtiar, Gharabaghi, Bazargan, and Ayatollah Mottahari, in his house, at 4:00 in the afternoon.

9:00 am: Bakhtiar makes a phone call to Alavi school. He talks with Amir Entezam, stressing that he is going to hand in his resignation to Bazargan the same afternoon.

10:00 am: Bakhtiar meets with US ambassador Sullivan in his office and requests his help. He leaves afterward to appear before the Senate.

10:30 am: Meeting of the High Council of the Armed Forces in the War Room of the Army High Command HQ. This is the only place in Tehran which appears calm now. Tanks have blocked the old Shemiran road and do not permit people to approach the headquarters. 27 military commanders form the largest meeting ever in the history of the Imperial Armed Forces of Iran. They had never gathered around each other under one roof before. The list reads as a Who's Who of the Iranian military:

  • Three 4-star Generals [arteshbod]: Gharabaghi, Shafeghat, and Fardoust.
  • 18 Generals [sepahbod]: Hatam, Moghadam, Najimi-Naini, Mohagheghi, Badrei, Rabiei, Masoumi-Naini, Sanei, Jahanbani, Kazemi, Bakhshi-Azar, Khajehnouri, Khalatbari, Pejman, Firouzmand, Rahimi- Larijani, Rahimi-Abkenari, Tabatabaie-Vakili.
  • Four Division Commanders [sarlashkar]: Kabir, Amini-Afshar, Farzam, Khosrodad.
  • Two Admirals [daryasalar]: Habibollahi and Mohsenzadeh.

Only Toufanian and Mehdi Rahimi are absent. Rahimi is in Bakhtiar's office to deliver a report, and Toufanian is following the events from his own office. General Naji is following through with plans of the coup workgroup in Badrei's office.

The meeting begins ...

"Since SAVAK has been disbanded and its offices torched, I have nothing to report". -- General Nasser Moghadam, head of SAVAK

"The ground forces, which essentially were not in a good position to begin with, are now incapable of any action as of last night." -- General Badrei, army commander

"Our forces are under fire - I was a virtual prisoner myself and crawled my way to the rooftop to reach the helicopter to get here." -- General Rabiei, air force commander

"It's a few days now that I go to the office in civilian cloths and have been unable to provide food for the barracks and the soldiers guarding it." -- General Mohagheghi, gendarmerie commander

The first words of discord in the meeting are spoken by General Houshang Hatam, deputy to the chief of staff:

"His majesty has left, and according to the prime minister, is not going to return. Mr. Bakhtiar wishes to declare a Republic. Ayatollah Khomeini is after an Islamic Republic and the whole nation is supportive of him. I propose that the armed forces should pull away from this political fighting and do not interfere."

Everybody's eyes are now directed at General Fardoust who has appeared for the first time in such meetings, and all consider him the person closest to the Shah and his de facto voice:

"The law has specified the duty of the armed forces, which entails safeguarding the territorial integrity of Iran against a foreign army -- that is it."

Without waiting for Gharabaghi's reaction, Fardoust now turns to General Hatam who had fired the first verbal salvo in the meeting, and tells him to "draft the text".

Hatam writes the text. Gharabaghi reads and signs it and gives it to Shafeghat. Fardoust takes it as well and promptly signs it, and the others follow. As the signing is taking place, Gharabaghi leaves the War Room saying that he is going to convey the report of the meeting to Bakhtiar. General Hatam uses the opportunity to fire a second volley:

"I have not been received by General Gharabaghi during the past month even though I am his deputy; however he has daily meetings with [General Robert] Huyser. Even now as we speak, that American general (head of the US military mission to Iran) is in the room next door!"

The only change in the text written by Hatam is made by General Nasser Moghadam. In the last sentence "... and supports the demands of the noble people of Iran", he proposes to write "... supports with all its might", which is accepted.

The only reservation about the text is made by General Shafeghat, who crosses out his signature after hearing Gharabaghi say that "with this text then, Bakhtiar has to go"; Shafeghat's excuse being that he is the minister of war and member of Bakhtiar's cabinet.

1:00 pm: The text of the final Communique of the High Council of the Iranian Armed Forces is read, having been announced earlier, on the radio news:

"The armed forces of Iran have had the duty of defending the independence and territorial integrity of our dear Iran, and up to now have attempted to fulfill this responsibility in the best manner possible, vis a vis the internal disturbances, by supporting the legal governments in charge.

Considering the recent events, the High Council of the Armed Forces met at 10:30 am today, 22 Bahman 1357, and unanimously decided to declare its neutrality in the present political conflicts with the aim of preventing further chaos and bloodshed. Military units have been ordered to return to their barracks.

The armed forces of Iran have always been and will always be the guardian and source of support for the noble and patriotic nation of Iran, and support, with all their might, the demands of this noble nation."

Broadcast of this communique results in a peaceful transition of power in some provinces, and prevents further clashes between the military and the people there. In many places, army commanders, in consulation with local clerics and councils that had been set up during the past few days, manage to arrange for their own departure from the scene, and maintain closure of barracks and armories.

However, in the major cities, even repeated broadcasts of this communique do nothing to dampen the revolutionary fervor of those attacking virtually any place which was guarded by the military. The situation is worse in Tehran with the large concentration of guerilla groups who view the situation as before, and continue their assaults.

Some of the commanders leaving the High Council meeting change their military uniforms to civilian cloths before leaving, or in their car, let their driver go, and drive themselves to a safe hiding place. However most of them attempt to go back to their offices. In their view, there is no longer any reason to worry, or for fighting to continue.

However the people are being urged by journalists and politicians to continue fighting to the last bullet. In fact seeds of the first division between the coalition of nationalists and the religious forces are sowed at this time: for a few hours it appears as if nobody is really in charge.

Ayatollah Taleghani's office receives a message from the group of Iranian Radio/TV workers who are on strike, stating that military personnel and the few Radio/TV employees who were still working, are in the process of leaving the studios. He writes a message to the striking workers, asking them to return to work immediately. Masoud Fayyaz, radio announcer, reads Taleghani's message on the air, and becomes the last person to leave the Jame Jam building.

At the same time, the striking workers, some of them armed, are in the process of entering the main building. Film crews are now busy filming tanks who had positioned themselves around the building for 154 days and are now leaving.

The tanks had just arrived at Shemiran Avenue (which is no longer called Pahlavi by anyone) when, after a few seconds of silence in broadcasts, the voice of Jamshid Adili comes on the air:

"This is the voice of the revolution of the Iranian people!"

[in sedaay-e enghelaab-e mardom-e Iran ast!]

And he repeats this, almost in tears ...

Following this, the anthem "Ey Iran" is broadcast with Banan's voice. This voice and this song, traveled across the globe on that faithful night ...

In Morroco, in the Janan-al-Kabir palace, the Shah, who has had his radio tuned to "Radio Iran" for days now, increases the volume as he hears "the voice of the revolution of the Iranian people". Farah, who is passing by the Shah's room, for a moment thinks that the voice is referring to victory of the Shah's White Revolution!

In every corner of Tehran a real revolution is now in process. In other major cities too, people wish to capture the main strongholds of the government by fighting and heroism and not by negotiations and talks. Tens of thousands of weapons are being distributed among the people. Secret documents are flying in the air. Doors to rooms that have always been closed to ordinary people are now suddenly open. In one day of fighting more bullets are fired than in months of a major war -- and all this happens at a time when, at least since 11:00 am, there is no real enemy in sight.

The doors to all prisons have also been opened. Evin prison, SAVAK office of Saltanatabad, Senate and Majles buildings, and headquarters of police and gendarmerie are now under people's control in operations carried out with participation of Mojahedin and Fadaaiyan units. Deadly dungeons of Komiteh (-e zed-e kharaabkaari) prison are also captured. Qasr prison, Baaghshah and Heshmatieh barracks fall.

Brigadier general Rahimi, military governor of Tehran is captured during fall of police headquarters.

Eshratabad and Abbasabad barracks are also captured.

Once General Gharabaghi leaves the High Council meeting, he is met with distressed looks of Badrei and Badiei. He orders them back to their posts, while he himself starts contacting intermediaries who can put him in touch with Bazargan and Ayatollah Shariatmadari. He is no longer answering his phone calls, although he talks with Bakhtiar twice on his special phone -- Bakhtiar on both occasions is requesting a helicopter to take him from the Prime Minister's office.

Around Pasteur Avenue people are now attacking Abdol-Reza Pahlavi's palace (former office of Reza Shah). There is no interruption in the hail of bullets flying. Bakhtiar who is leaving the Senate building has difficulty navigating that 200 meters to get to his office.

In his office everything shows signs of chaos and disintegration. Provincial governors and foreign ambassadors are all on the line waiting to talk to him. Bakhtiar orders Javad Khadem and Mohammad Moshiri-Yazdi, his cabinet members and assistants who were in the office with him, to stop routing phone calls for him to his office. Parviz Marzban, his advisor who had traveled to France and returned to Tehran, and is now a liaison with Alavi school, is now alone with Bakhtiar in his office and is drafting Bakhtiar's resignation letter. He leaves with two drafts of the letter when he is done.

Bakhtiar now sits at his desk in front of a late and cold lunch. He has barely eaten a spoonful, when his special guard comes to him and whispers in his ear that "it is better for the prime minister to leave now without losing more time". Javad Khadem also tells him that as of half hour ago Gharabaghi is no longer in his office and everybody is looking for him.

As he is going down the stairs he takes his winter coat from a servant. In front of the doors of the prime minister's building bullets are now landing in the sand bags -- they leave from the back door.

When Gharabaghi is leaving the High Command HQ there is no longer a chance for him to use a helicopter. He sees from the windows that the people are turning the tank turrets towards the building housing the US military mission. Gharabaghi also leaves through the back door, in civilian cloths and a regular car. Members of the US military mission are taking refuge in the basement of the building after hearing the sound of broken glass, and are asking Sullivan for help.

As the day begins in the US, Carter is in Camp David with his Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance. Upon hearing the news of the previous night (US time) in Iran, he orders an emergency meeting of the crisis committee. In this meeting Warren Christopher, undersecretary of state, head of the CIA, deputies of the defense secretary and some other military personnel are present.

The discussion is over choosing one of three solutions proposed in writing by Brzezinski, asking Iranian military leaders to either

  1. Reach a compromise with Bazargan instead of Bakhtiar, or
  2. Declare their neutrality in the transfer of power,
  3. Initiate a coup.

Brzezinski is in favor of option (3), not knowing that all is finished in Iran.

In Tehran, Gharabaghi finally arrives at Eng. Jafroudi's house. There, Dr. Siasi, Bazargan, Dr. Sahabi, Hagh-shenas, Hasibi, and Amir Entezam are present. Bazargan announces that "it is better for army commanders to cooperate with the revolutionary provisional government." Gharabaghi who has just been informed a few moments ago about Bakhtiar's resignation, asks Bazargan: "Haven't you heard the communique? - the armed forces have declared neutrality".

While Gharabaghi is still in Jafroudi's house, people manage to arrest some of the commanders present in the High Council meeting and take them to Alavi school. And these were not the only ones on the way to Alavi -- with the fall of Jamshidabad barracks, Nassiri, butcher of SAVAK, and former prime minister Hoveyda, have also been captured and are on their way in cars to Alavi school.

Sullivan is feverishly trying to find an escape route for the US military mission personnel who are now surrounded. Head of the mission tells him on the phone that armed groups of people have now entered the building. Things are not any better around the US embassy and the guards are using tear gas and threats to keep away people who had scaled the embassy walls.

Emergency meeting of the crisis committee in Washington is abruptly adjourned after hearing news of General Rahimi's arrest and fall of Radio/TV and army barracks. Brzezinski manages to convince White House aide Captain Gary Sick to report back to him if the Iranian army is ready for a coup or not, after Sick talks on the phone with head of the military mission in Tehran, and General Huyser in Washington.

Brzezinski is ready to obtain Carter's green light for a coup, against the advice of Vance and the department of state. He already has Carter's tacit approval, having contacted him in Camp David's chapel, where Carter had gone for prayers minutes before.

The group in the US department of defense, who have now prepared the text of a telex giving permission for a coup, are trying to contact the military mission in Tehran, but nobody is answering the phone. Only once, an unknown person answers the phone, in Persian. They decide to seek's Sullivan's advice.

Sullivan, worried about security for the embassy, has finally managed to talk to a member of the Revolution Council and is trying to convince him to send a group to save the lives of US officers in the military mission. A voice interrupts his conversation: "Mr. Ambassador, urgent call, White House".

Sullivan can only hear that somebody is telling him "Mr. Brzezinski would like to ask the head of the military mission, through you, whether the Iranian army can initiate a coup!".

Sullivan who is trying to maintain his calm reports that the lives of US officers in the mission are now in danger and their building has been occupied.

Minutes later he is on the phone with Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi, when he is interrupted again by a White House call. The veteran American diplomat finally looses his patience and yells at the phone: "Tell Mr. Brzezinski to cut it out -- I don't know how to say this in Polish!".

In Tehran the only people ready to hear Brzezinski's proposal are those in General Badrei's office in Lavizan. Badrei, along with Naji, Biglari, and two majors, are analyzing details of a coup whose plans have been ready for some time now. Now Badrei reports to the group that the High Command's communique and departure of Bakhtiar and Gharabaghi will work to their advantage. They have to regain contact with provincial commanders. Their attempts in contacting Rahimi are unsuccessful, however they manage to locate Khosrodad. Badrei calls on him to come to Tehran immediately. Khosrodad, who has taken refuge in Army Aviation Command HQ in Shiraz, boards a helicopter for Tehran, not paying attention why two other officers have volunteered to come with him on board.

Members of the US military mission and some senior High Command officers who had taken refuge with them in the mission building, are finally rescued with the arrival of representatives of Dr. Yazdi and Ayatollah Beheshti. When the news of their rescue reaches Sullivan, he breaths a sigh of relief and starts preparing a report on that day to convey to the White House situation room.

At the White House, Brzezinski is finally able to hear Huyser's viewpoint on the possibility of a coup: "only with direct support of the US military". Brzezinski asks him if he is ready to lead the coup and go to Iran. Huyser's answer is calculated: "Yes, with some conditions: I need unlimited funds at my disposal; 10-12 US generals are to be handpicked and must accompany me; I need 10,000 elite US servicemen; and full authority and comprehensive national support."

Huyser had no idea that at that very moment, one of his key hopes, General Rabiei (air force commander) was sitting handcuffed on a bench in Alavi school.

Different political groups now have their eyes on the television which has started broadcasting news reports of the day. The supervisory council of the TV do their best to show their neutrality. They therefore broadcast communiques from Alavi school along with messages and communiques from other groups. Those guarding the Jame Jam building refuse entry to Sadegh Ghotbzadeh who had arrived to read Ayatollah Khomeini's message in front of the cameras. The second emissary, the father of the Rezai brothers (executed by the Shah), gains entry, and sits in front of the cameras.

At Alavi school, Mehdi Araghi who is effectively acting supervisor, declares at the front door that "we only accept leaders of the regime." Hundreds of people who have been arrested are not let in by officials and set free. It appears as if the people wish to fit the entire collapsed regime in that one building! The same building that now contains the entire political structure of the future government. Dr. Yazdi finally manages to find a quiet place so that a TV crew can film his interview with Hoveyda, Nassiri, and other well known faces of the ancien regime -- a program that all of Iran is waiting for.

In the middle of these TV and radio programs, sometimes phone calls from people are broadcast too. One of these is the voice of General Biglari from the room of the coup d'etat workgroup in Lavizan: "Why do you say repeatedly that the army surrendered? The Iranian army joined the people, it remained neutral. Now the people have to evacuate the barracks and their surroundings. The Iranian army must remain strong and maintain its cohesion to defend this land."

These remarks are broadcast many times on TV. Nobody knows however, that Biglari is calling from a place which is the only location in Iran which still has hopes for keeping the regime in power.

Nightfall in Tehran: Television programming ends with the "Ey Iran" anthem. This is the first night when programming does not end with the Imperial anthem and photo of the Shah. However nobody is ready to go to bed. In all major cities people remain in the streets till the morning, keeping an eye on every movement.

In three small bunkers atop the mountains of northern Tehran, three long range precision-guided artillery pieces are stationed, along with an officer and a soldier in each shelter. One of the guns is targeting the Alavi school. The secret key for firing is with Gharabaghi and Badrei. One of the soldiers and his commanding officer have left their post yesterday and gone to the city. However, the other two are still there, ready to fire at the Alavi school and the Radio/TV complex which can be viewed through their scopes.

Was this the winning card that was keeping Badrei in his room at Lavizan, while most of his fellow officers were either in hiding or in handcuffs? Did he contact Huyser, Zahedi, or others that night once more? Did Huyser really think he could lead a coup with this support and 10,000 US soldiers to be stationed in the southern borders of the country?

During the attack on Qasr prison some 3,000 prisoners are set free. Among those fighting the prison guards, there is an Iranian-American group as well, paid by the American millionaire, Ross Perot (1992 presidential candidate) to free two of Perot's American employees kept in the prison.

At nightfall, only Saltanatabad and Lavizan barracks were holding out with protection from elite unites of the Imperial Guards and even some US forces. Fighting continues in and around these locations throughout the night. General Vali Gharani who is a candidate for the position of chief of staff by the Bazargan government, tries twice by phone to get Badrei out of that building. He even manages to talk to Khosrodad once. Following this Gharani calls Fardoust, requesting his help on behalf of Bazargan, to prevent Badrei, Khosrodad, and Biglari from the madness of initiating a coup.

"229 confirmed deaths and 878 wounded so far." -- Spokesperson, Tehran Emergency Medical Response Center

End of 2500 years of imperial dictatorship. -- Kayhan, Tehran

Regime demolished! -- Ettelaat, Tehran

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Modern Iran
Roots and Results of Revolution
By Nikki R. Keddie

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