reza shahs

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The palace of the last king of Iran, Reza Pahlavi Shah. Reza Pahlavi Shah was a puppet dictator who was overthrown by Iranian citizens due to his greed and corruption, but since he was favored by western countries, he was reinstated as the leader of Iran in a staged coup called Operation Ajax.

In this coup, the democratically elected and highly favored prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh, was overthrown due to his desire of nationalizing Iran’s oil industry, which would cause Great Britain to lose money.

Once reinstated, Reza Pahlavi Shah was overthrown once more, which led to the rise of the new regime and the Islamic Revolution of 1979, creating the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Moral of the story: western intervention due to oil greed and installation of puppet dictators in Iran caused the creation of Iran’s new, and very unfavorable theocratic regime. Many people don’t know even know who Mohammad Mossadegh is or what Operation Ajax was.

A common theme in almost every country in the Middle East that western media love to dehumanize is western intervention, and these interventions fueled by oil greed are the cause of almost everything currently going on in the Middle East.

Tehran, Iran

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December 3rd 1979: Ayatollah Khomeini comes to power

On this day in 1979, Ruhollah Khomeini became Supreme Leader of Iran. Born to a Shi’ite family in the village of Khomein in 1902, his father was murdered when he was five months old, and he lost his mother and aunt to cholera in 1918. Khomeini and his brother were both ardent religious scholars, and the former excelled at religious study, eventually moving to Arak to study with a famed Islamic scholar. Khomeini’s teachers supported the Shah and believed that religion should not be involved in government. Khomeini, however, was alarmed by what he saw as Iran’s secularisation and abandonment of its Islamic roots. In 1962, he began actively protesting the pro-Western rule of Reza Shah, which resulted in his arrest and exile in Iraq in 1964. Khomeini spent fifteen years in exile, during which time he developed a comprehensive theory for a reformed Iranian state, based on Islamic principles and led by the clergy. His ideas were popular in Iran, making Khomeini - now known as an Ayatollah (major religious leader) - the de facto leader of the opposition to the Shah, whose forces violently suppressed dissenters. Tensions came to a head in 1979, when popular protests forced the Shah to flee the country, and Khomeini triumphantly returned from exile. In the following months, plans for an authoritarian theocracy based on Islamic law were put into place. In November, Iran dramatically demonstrated their defiance of Western powers when several Iranians took sixty hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, sparking the Iranian Hostage Crisis. A December referendum created the world’s first Islamic republic in Iran, and named Khomeini as Supreme Leader for life. His regime was fiercely repressive of dissent in all forms, executing political opponents, requiring women to wear a veil, banning symbols of Western culture, and introducing punishments based on Islamic law. In 1980, a surprise invasion of Iran by Iraq began a long war which ultimately claimed roughly one million lives. The Ayatollah’s radical regime greatly concerned Western powers, especially when, soon before his death in 1989, the Ayatollah issued a fatwa calling for the death of author Salman Rushdie for criticising Islam. Ruhollah Khomeini forever changed the face of Iranian politics, and helped turn it into the country we know now, which remains in constant tension with Western powers.

Soraya Esfandiari-Bakhtiari  (1932-2001)

         Soraya Esfandiary, second wife of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, played in two films: an Italian film cut in three parts directed by Michelangelo Antonioni called I tre volti (1965) (“Three Faces of a Woman”), and She (1965) Both films were shot a few years after Soraya (who couldn’t have children) and the Shah had divorced. Despite a promising debut, she did not pursue an acting career. She wrote her memoirs published in French under the title “Le Palais des solitudes” in the 90’s available on which was a rendition of her first biography and a recent novel “Princesse d'argile”. 

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The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art has a new exhibition and the lineup of artists is stunning: Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg, just to name a few.

The art, now worth billions, was bought in the 1970s under Shah Reza Pahlavi, whose coffers were overflowing with oil revenue at the time. The shah sought to modernize and Westernize the country in general, and put his wife, Empress Farah Pahlavi, in charge of acquiring the art.

The result was considered by some to be the greatest collection of contemporary Western masterpieces outside of Europe and North America. The trove includes works by Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Vincent Van Gogh and roughly 30 by Pablo Picasso.

“The latest things that were available in Western galleries, they were bought for the collection here. All the big names from the beginning of the 20th century until the ‘70s, you know, we have them,” Faryar Javaherian, one of the curators of the exhibition

Hidden For Decades, Pollocks, Rothkos And More Go On Display In Iran

Photos: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images