In cold blood

Roots of Islamist and Communist movements in modern Iran


In cold blood
by Arash Monzavi-Kia

In 1941, after the forceful abdication of Reza Shah, the angry British government, who saw Reza as a former ally turned into a treacherous enemy, seriously considered the restoration of Qajar dynasty. However, the lead Iranian intellectuals (like Foroughi) could only foresee a major political upheaval, with the return of arrogant Qajars. Although Foroughi was persecuted by Reza Shah, he reasoned that the country had truly democratic laws (constitution) and if the Pahlavi crown prince was ready to respect them, there was no reason for a regime change. That way, Mohammad Reza Shah came to be the new constitutional monarch of Iran, who for nearly a decade respected the democratic institutions of the country.

With the fall of Reza Shah, his surviving political victims were freed from the prison, and angrily started various political parties, secessionist movements and Islamist revivals. Most significantly, the freed communists founded the Tudeh Party, and the Azerbaijan leftists restarted the Democrat Party and its bid for separation. The Tudeh Party soon grew to become the most well organized political entity in Iran, and the Democrat party’s collaboration with the Russian occupation granted them the de-facto governance of Azerbaijan and Kurdistan. In Tehran, many powerless prime ministers came and went, with the real power in the hands of the three foreign embassies (Russian, British and American) whose military forces were occupying Iran. The young Shah’s main contributions were to revive the collapsed Iranian army, and to win the formal agreement of all three powers to evacuate Iran within six months after the end of WWII.

The war ended in summer of 1945, with Germany and Japan devastated and turned into occupied territories; Britain and France wounded and demoted to second rate powers; while the United States and the Soviet Russia rose to the level of New Superpowers. Sadly, the repressive communist regime of Stalin could not cooperate with the capitalist block, and the second half of the twentieth century turned into an all encompassing East-West power struggle (the Cold War). As both superpowers quickly acquired vast nuclear arsenals, their struggle became “Cold” and indirect, with almost all the hot and bloody fighting happening in the third-world countries of Africa, South America and Asia.

In Iran, the struggles started immediately after the end of WWII. As the British and American forces prepared to leave by the six month deadline, but the Russians decided to stay and protect their puppet governments of the Democrat Party in Azerbaijan and Kurdistan. To deal with that treat, Shah and his western allies resorted to a stick-and-carrot policy. US firmly pressed Stalin on the issue, with a threat of retaliatory action; while the reinstated veteran prime minister in Tehran (Ahmad Qavam) awarded three cabinet positions to the Tudeh party and promised a concession of the North Oil resources to Russia. Stalin swallowed the bait and his Red Army evacuated the Northern provinces in the autumn of 1946. Swiftly, the Shah’s resurrected army moved into Azerbaijan and Kurdistan, and finished the secessionist movements with minimum resistance and bloodshed. This victory established the Shah as a national hero, whereas the Tudeh party leftists were tainted with the stigma of being ‘Russian-puppets’.

The Tudeh-Shah struggles came to a climax when in early 1949 an Islamist newspaper’s reporter, who was apparently an undercover Tudeh agent, tried to assassinate the Shah during a ceremony in the TehranUniversity. Miraculously, the five bullets fired by the assassin from close range, only bruised Shah’s face and body! The government declared the Tudeh party illegal; their offices were promptly closed, some of their leaders were arrested; but most of the organization quickly went underground. The Islamists group (Fedaiyan Islam) was also banned and their suspected clerical leader (Ayatollah Kashani) was briefly jailed. Recovery from such a callous terror attempt further increased Shah’s esteem among the general populace, but at the same time made him more paranoid and wary of all opposition!

Suspicious of all the opposition political parties, Shah rigged the 1949 Majles elections through direct influence peddling and vote rigging by the court minister (Hajir) and the various local police and army chiefs. This was done in such an obvious and blatant fashion that some of the opposition candidates did not win a single vote in their own home riding! The moderate opposition leaders were completely outraged by that fiasco and joined in a newly organized union (the National Front) to confront and shame the government into cancelling the rigged vote. The underground Islamists again took to terror and assassinated the court minister (Hajir) in cold blood. The combination of liberal protests and Islamist terror forced the Shah to cancel the elections. The new vote still maintained the rightwing monarchists’ majority, but brought a vibrant nationalist minority to the parliament.

Next year (in 1950) a hardworking and highly decorated military man became prime minister. General Razmara was a top France-educated general with many years of honest and dedicated service to the country. Unfortunately, all those qualifications put him at odds with almost every player in the wretched Iranian politics! He was too honest and too direct for the taste of the corrupt Pahlavi court; too Western minded for the leftists and Islamists; and too strong willed for the liberals who still trembled at the memories of another forceful general (Reza Khan).

Therefore, the liberal National Front joined with the Kashani Islamists to condemn the new prime minister, from day one. The sentimental nationalist leader Mosaddeg screamed during Razmara’s presentation and fainted in the Majles, while the Islamists leader Kashani led demonstrations outside the parliament. Politically, the opposition used the issue of oil contract renewal with the British company (AIOC), as the Achilles heal of the new government.

Razmara was hard at work to obtain more favourable terms from AIOC, perhaps in line with the new American contracts in Saudi Arabia (50/50 profit sharing). But the opposition proposed an outright nationalization of the oil industry, in order to steer the general populace and throw the government into an impossible impasse. During heated debates in the parliament, Mosaddeg and Kashani tried to portray Razmara as a weak and unpatriotic prime minister, who was too scared to nationalize the ‘god-given’ oil treasure. Attempts by Razmara to sway the public opinion based on the factual inability of the government to run the sophisticated oil industry, played into the opposition’s hand to depict him as a non-believer in the ‘incredible Persian capability’! All debates ended with the terror of prime minister by another Islamist murderer in spring of 1951.

Reference: The Persian Puzzle, by Kenneth Pollack.


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more from Arash Monzavi-Kia

Mrs. Sherry Safari

by Fatollah (not verified) on

Why would the book "All the Shah's Men" be accurate?
General Razmara was a true Iranian, a Great soldier and He was not a politician by trade! He certainly was a well read and an educated soldier and servant of Iranian Nation!

Most other Iranian politicians back then were merely charades compared to this son of Iran, General Razmara!

May his assassins rot in hell for ever if there would be one!


is the guy in the picture

by Anonymous123 (not verified) on

is the guy in the picture from mashhad? he looks so much like mamud mashhadi


what a sad shamful history

by Arash Kamangir (not verified) on

I don't think anywhere in the world the religeon has done more damage to the democracy and freedom of a country than in Iran. Does anyone know any country in which a priest( navab safavi) picks up gun and murders some of the best sons that country has raised? The idealogy behind that priest could only be full of hate and power possesion. This idealogy has certainly had a great performance to reduce one of the most respected countries on Earth to what it is today.

Arash Monzavi-Kia

Ebi jaan - some credit goes to JJ with the amazing choice of Pic

by Arash Monzavi-Kia on

When I first saw the cover page, I was shocked with the Navab's murderous look. My original had a picture of him being arrested, but this one was most amazing, almost hypnotic. First, I thought that the pic was from some anti-islamist brochure, till I opened the article and behold, it is an IRI stamp!

Thanks JJ.



by sickofiri (not verified) on



""I first ran across this book referenced in a footnote about three years ago and tried to track it down. First I tried to purchase it, but found that it was out of print and used copies were going for $100.00+ on the internet. I found this curious since it was relatively recent (1993) and, given its topic, was certainly of tremendous interest to US readers, even before the events of 9/11 and the subsequent Gulf War II. I was fortunate to find it in my university library and have since read it several times.
I am tempted to go 'on and on' about this book, especially since it is not easily available for people to read. Nor does anyone seem to feel that they can (or are able to?) republish what should be a 'best seller' in the current geopolitical climate and circumstances. Engdahl, whose personal background includes engineering and law (Princeton), working in Texas oil industry, and international economics (University of Stockholm), does a penetrating and eloquent job of sorting out the complex web that connects the controlling interests of international politics with the goals and objectives of global oil and financial interests, these having merged in the last century into the powerful and dominant hegemony of an Anglo-American consortium.

There are so many revelations that are so well documented that one has to slow down and completely reorientate his or her conception of and attitude toward recent history. His tone is neither particularly vindictive nor is it conspiratorial. It looks at people and events and provides plausible motives and methods that are not part of the conventional awareness. For example, (fact) the British navy decided in the late 19th century to change their primary fuel source from coal to oil, thereby (objective) needing to secure access to oil reserves, basically in perpetuity. (result) British agreements for oil resources with the Sheikh of Kuwait date from 1899. (fact) Oil then comes to supplant coal as the primary energy source for all of the industrializing world, and a decade later Germany threatens to become the leading industrialized nation in Europe and (objective) needs a secure source of oil, so they begin construction on the Berlin to Baghdad railway intending to capitalize on agreements to import Iraqi oil. (question) How does Britain meet this emerging geopolitical threat. (objective) Block Germany's access to Middle East oil. (result) Curiously WWI begins with an out-of-the-way assassination in Croatia that just happens to occur near the route of that railway. War ensues and not only is the B-to-B railway cut off, but Germany loses all colonial power in the Middle East.

Shortly after WWI the leaders of the seven major western oil companies meet and agree to not compete with each other but to cooperate, and in 1928 drew up the Red Line agreement that gave virtually control of virtually all Middle East oil to the Anglo-American cartel. Even France's portion was minimalized to Turkish reserves. The Anglo-American consortium came to be known as the Seven Sisters and over the course of the ensuing decades become more and more infused with global banking and financial interestes, i.e., Rockefeller, J.P.Morgan, the Warburgs, the Rotheschilds, Brown Harriman, etc., coming to dominate the world economy by controlling the primary energy source. It is "all about oil" and has been since the turn of the century.

Engdahl's references are extensive and substantiate his disturbing interpretation of history, like the intentional suppression of the German Mark after WWI and the intentional manipulation of the OPEC oil embargo of the 1970s as a premise to artificially inflate global energy costs (a Bilderberg target objective), thereby making BritPetr North Sea oil exploration efforts solvent and bankrupting the debt burdened Third World.

Another Review

"'This is the only accurate account I have seen of what really happened with the price of oil in 1973. I strongly recommend reading it.' Sheikh Zaki Yamani, former Oil Minister of Saudi Arabia 'I recommend this book to all who wish to know how the world is really run, what are the systems behind the sub-systems we perceive in the daily media, and what are the antecedents of the present global political dilemmas.' Dr Frederick Wills, former Foreign Minister, Guyana 'For those truly interested about how the world economy functions, this book will be greatly useful. The book treats especially well the political goals of Britain, a thread in modern history all too often overlooked.' Stephen J. Lewis, economist, City of London '... one of the most readable books I have ever seen. It will shock people, but it is needed. William Engdahl has found a common thread that ties hundreds of events which, at first glance, appear to be unassociated.' Leon D. Richardson, Far East Financial columnist, industrialist, advisory board, Sloan School of Management, Massachussetts Institute of Technology"

ebi amirhosseini

Arash jaan

by ebi amirhosseini on

Sepaas for sharing.

Ebi aka Haaji


History lesson

by Sherry Safari (not verified) on

I suggest that you read " All the Shah's Men" too. That will give you a better insight of the oil crisis of 1950's and General Razmara's true character.