Shah of Iran. Born Mohammad Reza, with his twin sister, Ashraf, the children of Reza Shah Pahlavi and his second wife, Nimtaj Ayromlou (Tadj ol-Molouk). In 1925, his father deposed Ahmad Shah, the last ruler of the Qajar dynasty and was himself named Shah. Reza Shah had ambitious plans for modernizing Iran and as a result, sent hundreds of Iranians including his son to Europe for an education. Mohammad Reza was educated at Institut le Rosey, Switzerland and returned to Iran in 1935, and enrolled in the Military College, Tehran, from which he was graduated in 1938. During WWII, Reza Shah declared Iran a neutral country, but In August 1941, because of his refusal to expel German nationals, Britain and the USSR invaded Iran, and sent Reza Shah into exile, but permitted Mohammad Reza to succeed to the throne. In January 1942 Britain and the USSR signed an agreement with Mohammad Reza to respect Iran's independence and to withdraw their troops within six months of the war's end, and by May 1946, even the Soviets had complied. Mohammad Reza continued the reform policies of his father, and Iran's political system became increasingly open. Political parties developed, and in 1944, elections were the first genuinely competitive elections in more than 20 years. The Shah established himself as an ally of the West, and advocated reform policies, including the so-called White Revolution, which included land reform, the extension of voting rights to women, and the stated goal of the elimination of illiteracy. He had vowed to act as a constitutional monarch, who would defer to the power of the parliamentary government, but became increasingly involved in governmental affairs after a struggle for control of the Iranian government developed between the Shah and the professional politician and strident nationalist, Mohammad Mosaddeq. In April 1951, the Shah was forced to appoint Mosaddeq premier, and a two-year period of conflict followed. In August, 1953, the Shah tried to dismiss Mosaddeq but was himself forced to leave the country. Several days later, supporters with the covert assistance of the US, restored the Shah to power. He threw himself into planning the construction of an expanded road, rail, and air network, a number of dam and irrigation projects, the eradication of diseases such as malaria, the support of industrial growth, and land reform. These measures provoked religious leaders, who feared losing their traditional authority, to harsh criticism, which consequently led to some civil unrest. The Shah's response was to invoke his Savak (secret police) in suppressing dissent and opposition to his rule. The negative aspects of the shah’s rule became more noticeable after Iran began to increase revenues from its oil exports beginning in 1973. Widespread dissatisfaction among the Shiite clergy, the lower class, and among students in particular, led to Islamic leaders focusing this discontent with a populist ideology tied to Islamic principles, and calls for the overthrow of the Shah. The Shah's government collapsed following widespread uprisings throughout 1978. In January 16, 1979, the Shah left the country. He traveled to Egypt, Morocco, the Bahamas, and Mexico before entering the United States on October 22, 1979, for medical treatment of lymphatic cancer. His arrival in New York City provoked the Iranian takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran by radicals and the taking hostage of more than 50 Americans, as a demand for the extradition of the Shah in return for the hostages’ release was made. Extradition was refused. The Shah later left for Panama and then Cairo, where he was granted asylum. The Shah died the following year, never having officially abdicated his throne.
Bio by: Iola
Reza Shah Pahlavi