Looking back at the road to revolution
Compiled by Payman Arabshahi
Updated February 11, 2001
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
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,
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
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,
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,
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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
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
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." --
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
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
carriers are safe from attack only when they carry a poster of Ayatollah
Street battles have begun in some provinces. One million demonstrate
in Tabriz in support of Bazargan. Clashes reported in Gorgan, Rasht,
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,
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
"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
"... 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
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:
TEHRAN: SCENE OF BLOODY ARMED CONFLICT.
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
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
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,
- 18 Generals [sepahbod]: Hatam, Moghadam, Najimi-Naini, Mohagheghi,
Badrei, Rabiei, Masoumi-Naini, Sanei, Jahanbani, Kazemi,
Bakhshi-Azar, Khajehnouri, Khalatbari, Pejman, Firouzmand, Rahimi-
- Four Division Commanders [sarlashkar]: Kabir, Amini-Afshar,
- 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
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
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
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
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
[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
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
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
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
- Reach a compromise with Bazargan instead of Bakhtiar, or
- Declare their neutrality in the transfer of power,
- 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 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
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
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
"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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