A king who does not need to account to anyone for what he says and does is unavoidably doomed to loneliness. However, I am not entirely alone, because a force others can't perceive accompanies me. My mystical force. Moreover, I receive messages. I have lived with God besides me since I was 5 years old. Since, that is, God sent me those visions
Pahlavi subsequently indicated his interest in marrying Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy, a daughter of the deposed Italian king, Umberto II. Pope John XXIII reportedly vetoed the suggestion. In an editorial about the rumours surrounding the marriage of a "Muslim sovereign and a Catholic princess", the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, considered the match "a grave danger", especially considering that under the 1917 Code of Canon Law a Roman Catholic who married a divorced person would be automatically, and could be formally, excommunicated.
Because the House of Pahlavi were a parvenu house as Reza Khan had begun his career as a private in the Persian Army, rising up to the rank of general, taking power in a coup d'état in 1921, and making himself Shah in 1925, Mohammad Reza was keen to gain the approval of the older royal families of the world, and was prepared to spend large sums of money to gain that social acceptance.
From 24 April 1926 until his accession, Mohammad Reza's arms notably consisted of two Shahbaz birds in the centre, a Common symbol during the Achaemenid period, with the Pahlavi Crown placed above them. Upon his accession, he adopted his father's coat of arms which included a shield composed of the Lion and the Sun symbol in first quarter, the Faravahar in the second quarter, the two-pointed sword of Ali (Zulfiqar) in third quarter and the Simurgh in the fourth quarter. Overall in the centre is a circle depicting Mount Damavand with a rising sun, the symbol of the Pahlavi dynasty. The shield is crowned by the Pahlavi crown and surrounded by the chain of the Order of Pahlavi. Two lions rampant regardant, holding scimitars supports the coat of arms on either side. Under the whole device is the motto: "Mara dad farmud va Khod Davar Ast" ("Justice He bids me do, as He will judge me" or, alternatively, "He gave me power to command, and He is the judge").
Despite his public professions of admiration in later years, Mohammad Reza had serious misgivings about not only the coarse and roughshod political means adopted by his father, but also his unsophisticated approach to affairs of state. The young Shah possessed a decidedly more refined temperament, and amongst the unsavory developments that "would haunt him when he was king" were the political disgrace brought by his father on Teymourtash; the dismissal of Foroughi by the mid-1930s; and Ali Akbar Davar's suicide in 1937. An even more significant decision that cast a long Shadow was the disastrous and one-sided agreement his father had negotiated with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) in 1933, one which compromised the country's ability to receive more favourable returns from oil extracted from the country.
By the time Mohammad Reza turned 11, his father deferred to the recommendation of Abdolhossein Teymourtash, the Minister of Court, to dispatch his son to Institut Le Rosey, a Swiss boarding school, for further studies. Mohammad Reza left Iran for Switzerland on September 7, 1931. On his first day as a student at Le Rosey in September 1931, the Crown Prince antagonised a group of his fellow students who were sitting on a bench in a park outside Le Rosey with his demand that they all stand to attention as he walked past, just as everybody did back in Iran, which led to an American student beating up Mohammad Reza, who swiftly learned to accept that no one would stand to attention wherever he went in Switzerland. As a student, Mohammad Reza played competitive football, but the school records indicate that his principal Problem as a football player was his "timidity" as the Crown Prince was afraid to take risks. The Crown Prince was educated in French at Le Rosey, and his time there left Mohammad Reza with a lifelong love of all things French. In articles he wrote in French for the student newspaper in 1935 and 1936, Mohammad Reza praised Le Rosey for broadening his mind and introducing him to European civilisation. Mohammad Reza lost his virginity to a maid who worked at Le Rosey in 1935.
The Crown Prince liked Perron so much that when he returned to Iran in 1936, he brought Perron back with him, installing his best friend in the Marble Palace. Perron lived in Iran until his death in 1961 and as the best friend of Mohammad Reza was a man of considerable behind-the-scenes power. After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, a best-selling book was published by the new regime, Ernest Perron, the Husband of the Shah of Iran by Mohammad Pourkian, alleging a homosexual relationship between the Shah and Perron, which remains the official interpretation in the Islamic Republic to the present day. Zonis described the book as long on assertions and short on evidence of a homosexual relationship between the two, noted that all of the Shah's courtiers denied that Perron was the Shah's lover, and argued that strong-willed Reza Khan, who was very homophobic, would not have allowed Perron to move into the Marble Palace in 1936 if he believed Perron was his son's lover.
Mohammad Reza 's third and final wife was Farah Diba (born 14 October 1938), the only child of Sohrab Diba, a captain in the Imperial Iranian Army (son of an Iranian ambassador to the Romanov Court in St. Petersburg, Russia), and his wife, the former Farideh Ghotbi. They were married in 1959, and Queen Farah was crowned Shahbanu, or Empress, a title created specially for her in 1967. Previous royal consorts had been known as "Malakeh" (Arabic: Malika), or Queen. The couple remained together for twenty one years, until the Shah's death. Farah Diba bore him four children:
Mohammad Reza's marriage to Fawzia produced one child, a daughter, Princess Shahnaz Pahlavi (born 27 October 1940). Their marriage was not a happy one as the Crown Prince was openly unfaithful, often being seen driving around Tehran in one of his expensive cars with one of his girlfriends. Mohammad Reza's dominating and extremely possessive mother saw her daughter-in-law as a rival to her son's love, and took to humiliating Princess Fawzia, whose husband sided with his mother. A quiet, shy woman, Fawzia described her marriage as miserable, feeling very much unwanted and unloved by the Pahlavi family and longing to go back to Egypt. In his 1961 book Mission For My Country, Mohammad Reza wrote the "only happy light moment" of his entire marriage to Fawzia was the birth of his daughter.
A general amnesty was issued two days after Mohammad Reza's accession to the throne on 19 September 1941. All political personalities who had suffered disgrace during his father's reign were rehabilitated, and the forced unveiling policy inaugurated by his father in 1935 was overturned. Despite the young king's enlightened decisions, the British Minister in Tehran reported to London that "the young Shah received a fairly spontaneous welcome on his first public experience, possibly rather [due] to relief at the disappearance of his father than to public affection for himself". During his early days as Shah, Mohammad Reza lacked self-confidence and spent most of his time with Perron writing poetry in French.
In 1942, Mohammad Reza met Wendell Wilkie, the Republican candidate for the U.S. presidency in the 1940 election who was now on a world tour for President Roosevelt to promote his "one world" policy; Wilkie took him flying for the first time. The prime minister Ahmad Qavam had advised the Shah against flying with Wilkie, saying he had never met a man with a worse flatulence Problem, but the Shah took his chances. Mohammed Reza told Wilkie that when he was flying he "wanted to stay up indefinitely". Enjoying FLIGHT, Mohammad Reza hired the American pilot Dick Collbarn to teach him how to fly. Upon arriving at the Marble Palace, Collbarn noted that "the Shah must have twenty-five custom-built cars...Buicks, Cadillacs, six Rolls-Royces, a Mercedes". During the Tehran conference in 1943, the Shah was humiliated when he met Joseph Stalin, who visited him in the Marble Palace and did not allow the Shah's Bodyguards to be present, with the Red Army alone guarding the Marble Palace during Stalin's visit.
In 1945-46, the main issue in Iranian politics were the Soviet-sponsored separatist government in Iranian Azerbaijan and Kurdistan, which greatly alarmed the Shah. He repeatedly clashed with his prime minister Ahmad Qavam, whom he viewed as too pro-Soviet. At the same time, the growing popularity of the Tudeh Party also worried Mohammad Reza, who felt there was a serious possibility of a coup by the Tudeh. In June 1946, Mohammad Reza was relieved when the Red Army pulled out of Iran. In a letter to the Azerbaijani Communist leader Ja'far Pishevari, Stalin stated that he had to pull out of Iran as otherwise the Americans would not pull out of China, and he wanted to assist the Chinese Communists in their civil war against the Kuomintang. However, the Pishevari regime remained in power in Tabriz, and Mohammad Reza sought to undercut Qavam's attempts to make an agreement with Pishevari as way of getting rid of both. On 11 December 1946, the Iranian Army led by the Shah in person entered Iranian Azerbaijan and the Pishevari regime collapsed with little resistance, with most of the fighting occurring between ordinary people who attacked functionaries of the Pishevari regime who had behaved brutally. In his statements at the time and later, Mohammad Reza credited his easy success in Azerbaijan to his "mystical power". Knowing Qavam's penchant for corruption, the Shah used that issue as a reason to sack him. By this time, Fawzia had returned to Egypt, and despite efforts to have King Farouk persuade her to return to Iran she refused to go, which led Mohammad Reza to divorce her on 17 November 1947.
The young Shah was also the target of at least two unsuccessful assassination attempts. On 4 February 1949, he attended an annual ceremony to commemorate the founding of Tehran University. At the ceremony, Fakhr-Arai fired five shots at him at a range of c. three metres. Only one of the shots hit the king, grazing his cheek. Fakhr-Arai was instantly shot by nearby officers. After an investigation, it was thought that Fakhr-Arai was a member of the Tudeh Party, which was subsequently banned. However, there is evidence that the would-be Assassin was not a Tudeh member but a religious fundamentalist member of Fada'iyan-e Islam. The Tudeh were nonetheless blamed and persecuted.
Amongst the royalty that came to Tehran looking for generosity from a Shah known for his lavish spending were King Hussein of Jordan, the former King Constantine II of Greece, King Hassan II of Morocco, the princes and princesses of the Dutch House of Orange and the Italian Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy, whom the Shah had once courted in the 1950s. He coveted the British Order of the Garter, and had, prior to courting Maria Gabriella, inquired about marrying Princess Alexandra of Kent, granddaughter of King George V, but in both cases he was rebuffed in no uncertain terms. As an Iranian, Mohammad Reza greatly enjoyed supporting the Greek branch of the House of Glücksburg, knowing the Greeks still celebrated their victories over the Persians in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. He enjoyed close relations with Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, as demonstrated by the fact that he was the guest of honour at the Persepolis celebrations in 1971. Ethiopia and Iran, along with Turkey and Israel, were envisioned as an "alliance of the periphery" that would constrain Arab power in the greater Middle East.
The Shah's second wife was Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari, a half-German half-Iranian woman and the only daughter of Khalil Esfandiary, Iranian Ambassador to West Germany, and his wife, the former Eva Karl. She was introduced to the Shah by Forough Zafar Bakhtiary, a close relative of Soraya's, via a photograph taken by Goodarz Bakhtiary, in London, per Forough Zafar's request. They married on 12 February 1951, when Soraya was 18 according to the official announcement; however, it was rumoured that she was actually 16, the Shah being 32. As a child she was tutored and brought up by Frau Mantel, and hence lacked proper knowledge of Iran, as she herself admits in her personal memoirs, stating, "I was a dunce—I knew next to nothing of the geography, the legends of my country, nothing of its history, nothing of Muslim religion."
At the start of the confrontation, American political sympathy was forthcoming from the Truman Administration. In particular, Mosaddegh was buoyed by the advice and counsel he was receiving from the American Ambassador in Tehran, Henry F. Grady. However, eventually American decision-makers lost their patience, and by the time a Republican Administration came to office, fears that communists were poised to overthrow the government became an all-consuming concern; these concerns were later dismissed as "paranoid" in retrospective commentary on the coup from US government officials. Shortly prior to the 1952 presidential election in the United States, the British government invited CIA officer Kermit Roosevelt Jr., to London to propose collaboration on a secret plan to force Mosaddegh from office. This would be the first of three "regime change" operations led by Allen Dulles (the other two being the successful CIA-instigated 1954 Guatemalan coup d'état and the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba).
In the aftermath of the 1953 coup d'état, Mohammad Reza was widely viewed as a figurehead monarch, and General Fazlollah Zahedi, the Prime Minister, saw himself and was viewed by others as the "strong man" of Iran. Mohammad Reza feared that history would repeat itself, remembering how his father was a general who had seized power in a coup d'état in 1921 and deposed the last Qajar shah in 1925, and his major concern in the years 1953–55 was to neutralise Zahedi. American and British diplomats in their reports back to Washington and London in the 1950s were openly contemptuous of Mohammad Reza's ability to lead, calling the Shah a weak-willed and cowardly man who was incapable of making a decision. The contempt in which the Shah was held by Iranian elites led to a period in the mid 1950s where the elite displayed fissiparous tendencies, feuding amongst themselves now that Mossadegh had been overthrown, which ultimately allowed Mohammad Reza to play off various factions in the elite to assert himself as the nation's leader. The very fact that Mohammad Reza was considered a coward and something of an airhead turned out be an advantage as the Shah proved to be an adroit Politician, playing off the factions in the elite and the Americans against the British with the aim of being an autocrat in practice as well in theory. Supporters of the banned National Front were persecuted, but in his first important decision as leader, Mohammad Reza intervened to ensure most of the members of the National Front brought to trial such as Mosaddegh himself were not executed as many had expected. Many in the Iranian elite were openly disappointed that Mohammad Reza did not conduct the expected bloody purge and hang Mosaddegh and his followers as they had wanted and expected. In 1954, when 12 university professors issued a public statement criticising the 1953 coup, all were dismissed from their jobs, but in the first of his many acts of "magnanimity" towards the National Front, Mohammad Reza intervened to have them reinstated. Mohammad Reza tried very hard to co-opt the supporters of the National Front by adopting some of their rhetoric and addressing their concerns, for Example declaring in several speeches his concerns about the Third World economic conditions and poverty which prevailed in Iran, a matter that had not much interested him before.
Mohammad Reza was determined to copy Mosaddegh, who had won popularity by promising broad socio-economic reforms, and wanted to create a mass powerbase as he did not wish to depend upon the traditional elites, who only wanted him as a legitimising figurehead. In 1955, Mohammad Reza dismissed General Zahedi from his position as prime minister and appointed his archenemy, the technocrat Hossein Ala' as prime minister, whom he in turn dismissed in 1957. Starting in 1955, Mohammad Reza began to quietly cultivate left-wing intellectuals, many of whom had supported the National Front and some of whom were associated with the banned Tudeh party, asking them for advice about how best to reform Iran. It was during this period that Mohammad Reza began to embrace the image of a "progressive" Shah, a reformer who would modernise Iran, who attacked in his speeches the "reactionary" and "feudal" social system that was retarding progress, bring about land reform and give women equal rights. Determined to rule as well as reign, it was during the mid 1950s that Mohammad Reza started to promote a state cult around Cyrus the Great, portrayed as a great Shah who had reformed the country and built an empire with obvious parallels to himself. Alongside this change in image, Mohammad Reza started to speak of his Desire to "save" Iran, a duty that he claimed he had been given by God, and promised that under his leadership Iran would reach a Western standard of living in the near Future. During this period, Mohammad Reza sought the support of the ulema, and resumed the traditional policy of persecuting those Iranians who belonged to the Baha'i faith, allowing the chief Baha'i temple in Tehran to be razed in 1955 and bringing in a law banning the Baha'i from gathering together in groups. A British diplomat reported in 1954 that Reza Khan "... must have been spinning in his grave at Rey. To see the arrogance and effrontery of the mullahs once again rampant in the holy city! How the old tyrant must despise the weakness of his son, who allowed these turbulent Priests to regain so much of their reactionary influence!". By this time, the Shah's marriage was under strain as Queen Soraya complained about the power of Mohammad Reza's best friend Ernest Perron, whom she called a "shetun" (an insulting Persian term that translates roughly as a "piece of shit") and a "limping devil". Perron was a man much resented for his influence over Mohammad Reza and was often described by enemies as a "diabolical" and "mysterious" character, whose position was that of a private secretary, but who was one of the Shah's closest advisors, holding far more power than his job title suggested.
In 1958, using funds from inherited crown estates, Mohammad Reza established the Pahlavi Foundation which functioned as a tax-exempt charity and held all his assets, including 830 villages spanning a total area of 2.5 million hectares. According to Business Insider, Mohammad Reza had set up the organisation "to pursue Iran's charitable interests in the U.S." At its height, the organisation was estimated to be worth $3 billion, however, on numerous occasions, the Pahlavi Foundation was accused of corruption. Despite these charges, in his book Answer to History, Pahlavi affirms that he "never made the slightest profit" out of the Foundation.
In his "White Revolution" starting in the 1960s, Mohammad Reza made major changes to modernise Iran. He curbed the power of certain ancient elite factions by expropriating large and medium-sized estates for the benefit of more than four million small farmers. He took a number of other major measures, including extending suffrage to women and the participation of workers in factories through shares and other measures. In the 1970s the governmental programme of free-of-charge nourishment for children at school known as "Taghziye Rāyegan" (Persian: تغذیه رایگان) was implemented. Under the Shah's reign, the national Iranian income showed an unprecedented rise for an extended period.
With Iran's great oil wealth, the Shah became the preeminent leader of the Middle East, and self-styled "Guardian" of the Persian Gulf. In 1961 he defended his style of rule, saying "When Iranians learn to behave like Swedes, I will behave like the King of Sweden."
Reza's first major clash with Ayatollah Khomeini took place in 1962 when Reza changed the local laws for swearing in members of municipal councils, to allow Iranian Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, and Baha'i to take the oath of office using their holy books, instead of the Koran. Khomeini wrote to the Shah to say this was unacceptable and that only the Koran could be used to swear in members of the municipal councils regardless of what their religion was, writing that he heard "Islam is not indicated as a precondition for standing for office and women are being granted the right to vote...Please order all laws inimical to the sacred and official faith of the country to be eliminated from government policies". The Shah wrote back, addressing Khomeini as Hojat-al Islam rather than as Ayatollah, declining his request. Feeling pressure from demonstrations organised by the clergy, the Shah withdraw the offending law, but it was reinstated with the White Revolution of 1963.
In 1963, Mohammad Reza launched the White Revolution, a series of far-reaching reforms, which caused much opposition from the religious scholars. They were enraged that the referendum approving of the White Revolution in 1963 allowed women to vote with the Ayatollah Khomeini railing in his sermons against the fact that women had been allowed to vote, saying the fate of Iran should never be allowed to be decided by women. In 1963 and 1964, nationwide demonstrations against Mohammad Reza's rule took place all over Iran with the centre of the unrest being the holy city of Qom. It was students studying to be imams at Qom who were most active in the protests and Ayatollah Khomeini emerged as one of the Leaders of the protests, giving sermons calling for the Shah's overthrow. At least 200 people were killed with the police throwing some students to their deaths from high buildings and Khomeini was exiled to Iraq in August 1964.
Mohammad Reza was Sovereign of many orders in Iran, and received honours and decorations from around the world. Mohammad Reza used the style His Majesty until his imperial coronation in 1967, ascending to the title of Shahanshah, when he adopted the style His Imperial Majesty. Mohammad Reza also held many supplementary titles such as Bozorg Artestaran, a military rank superseding his prior position as Captain. On 15 September 1965, Mohammad Reza was granted the title of Aryamehr ('Light of the Aryans') by an extraordinary session of the joint Houses of Parliament.
Under Mohammad Reza's father, the government supported advancements by women against child marriage, polygamy, exclusion from public society, and education segregation. However, independent feminist political groups were shut down and forcibly integrated into one state-created institution, which maintained many paternalistic views. Despite substantial opposition from Shiite religious jurists, the Iranian feminist movement, led by Activists such as Fatemah Sayyeh, achieved further advancement under Mohammad Reza. His regime's changes focused on the civil sphere, and private-oriented family law remained restrictive, although the 1967 and 1975 Family Protection Laws attempted to reform this trend. During the reign of Shah, women gained the right to freely choose any profession, for Example first female Iranian ministers such as Farrokhroo Parsa and judges such as Shirin Ebadi, while Mehrangiz Dowlatshahi became the first female cabinet member and ambassador of Iran. These activities alienated Islamic traditionalists and hastened the fall of the Shah.
In 1969, Mohammad Reza sent one of 73 Apollo 11 Goodwill Messages to NASA for the historic first lunar landing. The message still rests on the lunar surface today. He stated in part, "we pray the Almighty God to guide mankind towards ever increasing success in the establishment of culture, knowledge and human civilisation". The Apollo 11 crew visited Mohammad Reza during a world tour.
Reflecting his need to have Iran seen as "part of the world" (by which Mohammad Reza meant the western world), all through the 1970s he sponsored conferences in Iran at his expense, with for Example in one week in September 1975 the International Literacy Symposium meeting in Persepolis, the International Congress of Philosophy meeting in Mashhad and the International Congress of Mithraic Studies meeting in Tehran. He also sought to hold the 1984 Summer Olympics in Tehran. For most ordinary Iranians, struggling with inflation, poverty, air pollution (Iranian cities were infamous in the 1970s as being amongst the most polluted in the world), having to pay extortion payments to the police who demanded money from even those performing legal jobs such as selling fruits on the street, and daily traffic jams, the Shah's sponsorship of international conferences were just a waste of money and time. Furthermore, conferences on pre-Islamic practices such as the cult of Mithra fuelled religious anxieties. Though Mohammad Reza envisioned the "Great Civilisation" of a modernised Iran whose standard of living would be higher than those of the United States and at the forefront of modern Technology, he did not envision any political change, making it clear that Iran would remain an autocracy.
The personal standards consisted of a field of pale blue, the traditional colour of the Iranian imperial family, at the centre of which was placed the heraldic motif of the individual. The Imperial Iranian national flag was placed in the top left quadrant of each standard. The appropriate imperial standard was flown beside the national flag when the individual was present. In 1971, new designs were adopted.
The Americans initially rejected Mohammad Reza's suggestion that they join him in supporting the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighting for independence on the grounds that an independent Kurdistan would inspire the Turkish Kurds to rebel, and they had no interest in antagonising the NATO member Turkey. Some of the Shah's advisers also felt it was unwise to support the peshmerga, saying that if the Iraqi Kurds won independence, then the Iranian Kurds would want to join them. When Nixon and Kissinger visited Tehran in May 1972, the Shah convinced them to take a larger role in what had, up to then, been a mainly Israeli-Iranian operation to aid Iraqi Kurds in their struggles against Iraq, against the warnings of the CIA and State Department that the Shah would ultimately betray the Kurds. He did this in March 1975 with the signing of the Algiers Accord that settled Iraqi-Iranian border disputes, an action taken without prior consultation with the U.S., after which he cut off all aid to the Kurds and prevented the U.S. and Israel from using Iranian territory to provide them assistance. As way of increasing pressure on Baghdad, the peshmerga had been encouraged by Iran and the U.S. to abandon guerrilla war for conventional war in April 1974, so the years 1974-75 saw the heaviest fighting between the Iraqi Army and the peshmerga. The sudden cut-off of Iranian support in March 1975 left the Kurds very exposed, causing them to be crushed by Iraq. The British Journalist Patrick Brogan wrote that "...the Iraqis celebrated their victory in the usual manner, by executing as many of the rebels as they could lay their hands on". Kissinger later wrote in his memoirs that it was never the intention of the U.S. or Iran to see the peshmerga actually win, as an independent Kurdistan would have created too many problems for both Turkey and Iran; rather the intention was to "irritate" Iraq enough to force the Iraqis to change their foreign policy.
The courtiers of the Shah's court were devoted to stroking his ego, competing about who could be the most sycophantic, with Mohammad Reza being regularly assured he was a greater leader than his much admired General de Gaulle, that democracy was doomed, and based on Rockefeller's speech that the American people wanted Mohammad Reza to be their leader, as well as doing such a great job as Shah of Iran. All of this praise boosted Mohammad Reza's ego, and he went from being a merely narcissistic man to a megalomaniac, believing himself a man chosen by Allah Himself to transform Iran and create the "Great Civilisation". When one of the Shah's courtiers suggested launching a campaign to award him the Nobel Peace Prize, he wrote on the margin: "If they beg us, we might accept. They give the Nobel to kaka siah ["any black face"] these days. Why should we belittle ourselves with this?" Befitting all this attention and praise, Mohammad Reza started to make increasingly outlandish claims for the "Great Civilisation", telling the Italian Journalist Oriana Fallaci in a 1973 interview:
In a 1974 interview which was shown in a documentary titled Crisis in Iran, Mohammad Reza told Mike Wallace that the rumours of corruption were "the most unjust thing that I have heard," calling them a "cheap accusation" whilst arguing the allegations were not as serious as those regarding other governments, including that of the United States. In November 1978, after Pahlavi dismissed Prime Minister Jafar Sharif-Emami and appointed a military government, he pledged in a televised address "not to repeat the past mistakes and illegalities, the cruelty and corruption."
However, by 1975 he had abolished the two-party system of government in favour of a one-party state under the Rastakhiz (Resurrection) Party. This was the merger of the New Iran Party, a centre-right party, and the People's Party, a liberal party. The Shah justified his actions by declaring: "We must straighten out Iranians' ranks. To do so, we divide them into two categories: those who believe in Monarchy, the constitution and the Six Bahman Revolution and those who don't ... A person who does not enter the new political party and does not believe in the three cardinal principles will have only two choices. He is either an individual who belongs to an illegal organisation, or is related to the outlawed Tudeh Party, or in other words a traitor. Such an individual belongs to an Iranian prison, or if he desires he can leave the country tomorrow, without even paying exit fees; he can go anywhere he likes, because he is not Iranian, he has no nation, and his activities are illegal and punishable according to the law". In addition, the Shah had decreed that all Iranian citizens and the few remaining political parties become part of Rastakhiz.
The Shah's diplomatic foundation was the United States' guarantee that it would protect him, which was what enabled him to stand up to larger enemies. While the arrangement did not preclude other partnerships and treaties, it helped to provide a somewhat stable environment in which Mohammad Reza could implement his reforms. Another factor guiding Mohammad Reza in his foreign policy was his wish for financial stability which required strong diplomatic ties. A third factor in his foreign policy was his wish to present Iran as a prosperous and powerful nation; this fuelled his domestic policy of Westernisation and reform. A final component was his promise that communism could be halted at Iran's border if his monarchy was preserved. By 1977, the country's treasury, the Shah's autocracy, and his strategic alliances seemed to form a protective layer around Iran.
The Shah was especially interested in having the National Front's Gholam Hossein Sadighi as prime minister. Sadighi had served as interior minister under Mosaddegh, had been imprisoned after the 1953 coup, and had pardoned by Mohammad Reza on the grounds that he was a "patriot". Sadighi remained active in the National Front and had often been harassed by SAVAK, but was willing to serve as prime minister under Mohammad Reza in order to "save" Iran, saying he feared what might come after if the Shah was overthrown. Despite the opposition of the other National Front Leaders, Sadighi visited the Niavaran palace several times in December 1978 to discuss the terms under which he might become prime minister, with the main sticking point being that he wanted the Shah not to leave Iran, saying he needed to remain in order to ensure the loyalty of the military. On 7 December 1978, it was announced that President Carter of the U.S., President Giscard d'Estaing of France, Chancellor Schmidt of West Germany and Prime Minister Callaghan of the United Kingdom would meet in Guadeloupe on 5 January 1979 to discuss the crisis in Iran. For Mohammad Reza this announcement was the final blow, and he was convinced that the Western Leaders were holding the meeting to discuss how best to abandon him.
On 14 January 1979, an article titled "Little pain expected in exile for Shah" by The Spokesman Review newspaper found that the Pahlavi dynasty had amassed one of the largest private fortunes in the world; estimated then at well over $1 billion. It also stated that a document submitted to the ministry of justice, in protest of the royal family's activity in many sectors of the nation's economy, detailed the Pahlavis dominating role in the economy of Iran. The list showed that the Pahlavi dynasty had interests in, amongst other things, 17 banks and insurance companies, including a 90 per cent ownership in the nation's third-largest insurance company, 25 metal enterprises, 8 mining companies, 10 building materials companies, including 25 per cent of the largest cement company, 45 construction companies, 43 food companies, and 26 enterprises in trade or commerce, including a share of ownership in almost every major hotel in Iran; the Pahlavis also has major interests in real estate. Mohammad Reza was assigned a personal budget, taken from the treasury, with amounts varying between $43 million and $1 billion per year.
US actions further solidified sentiments that the West was a meddlesome influence in Iranian politics. In the year 2000, reflecting on this notion, US Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright stated:
Explanations for the overthrow of Mohammad Reza include his status as a dictator put in place by a non-Muslim Western power, the United States, whose foreign culture was seen as influencing that of Iran. Additional contributing factors included reports of oppression, brutality, corruption, and extravagance. Basic functional failures of the regime have also been blamed – economic bottlenecks, shortages and inflation; the regime's over-ambitious economic programme; the failure of its security forces to deal with protests and demonstrations; and the overly centralised royal power structure. International policies pursued by the Shah in order to increase national income by remarkable increases in the price of oil through his leading role in the Organization of the Oil Producing Countries (OPEC) have been stressed as a major cause for a shift of Western interests and priorities, and for a reduction of their support for him reflected in a critical position of Western politicians and media, especially of the administration of U.S. President Jimmy Carter regarding the question of human rights in Iran, and in strengthened economic ties between the United States of America and Saudi Arabia in the 1970s.
Some achievements of the Shah—such as broadened education—had unintended consequences. While school attendance rose (by 1966 the school attendance of urban seven- to fourteen-year-olds was estimated at 75.8%), Iran's labour market could not absorb a high number of educated youth. In 1966, high school graduates had "a higher rate of unemployment than did the illiterate", and the educated unemployed often supported the revolution.
Hussein-Ali Montazeri, who was once the designated successor to Ruhollah Khomeini, said that the Shah did not kill even 10 per cent of what Ruhollah Khomeini's regime had killed. Recently, the Shah's reputation has experienced something of a revival in Iran, with some people looking back on his era as a time when Iran was more prosperous and the government less oppressive. Journalist Afshin Molavi reported that some members of the uneducated poor—traditionally core supporters of the revolution that overthrew the Shah—were making remarks such as, "God bless the Shah's soul, the economy was better then", and found that "books about the former Shah (even censored ones) sell briskly", while "books of the Rightly Guided Path sit idle". On 28 October 2016, thousands of people in Iran celebrating Cyrus Day in tomb of Cyrus, chanted slogans in support of him, and against the current Islamic regime of Iran and Arabs, and many were subsequently arrested.