Iran Cut off Relations with France and the US during First Pahlavi Period

Iran Cut off Relations with France and the US during First Pahlavi Period

Rise of Reza Khan Mirpanj and establishment of Pahlavi monarchy was in fact destruction of parliamentary government’s achievements and further autocracy of England in Iran such that it influenced Iran’s relations with other countries. In the second decade ...

Rise of Reza Khan Mirpanj and establishment of Pahlavi monarchy was in fact destruction of parliamentary government’s achievements and further autocracy of England in Iran such that it influenced Iran’s relations with other countries. In the second decade of Reza Khan’s reign a minor incident led to cut off relations of France and the US with Iran. At that time, the thought that Reza Khan is dependent and enforcer of England’s policies in the Middle East prevailed in France and the US and so the French publications which were famous for freedom of speech in Europe criticized Reza Khan’s performance and ridiculed him. that’s why in January 1938 Iran’s government protested against insults in the articles and photos of Paris exhibition criticizing Reza Shah and summoned Abulqasem Forouhar, Iran’s ambassador in Paris, to Iran.

This cut off relations continued for one and a half year until the French government sent a special committee to Tehran headed by general Maxim Vegan, general commander of French forces in Syria andLebanon  to apologize while organizing the crown prince’s wedding ceremonies, Mohammad Reza. Reza Shah accepted this apology and in June 1939 Anoushirvan Sepahbodi was appointed as ambassador in Paris and the relations became normal again.

But the cut off relations between Iran and the US was more serious. The thing was that at the beginning of 1935, Ghafar Jalal Ala (Jalal-al-Saltaneh), Iran ambassador in Washington was stopped for traffic violation in Maryland by an officer. He introduced himself as Iran’s minister but since minister also means priest in English, the officer thinks he is a priest and did not respect him as he would an ambassador. The ambassador’s wife was outraged and hit the officer with her handbag. The officer detained the ambassador and took him to Elkton police station. As soon as they realized his identity they released him and his wife.

Immediately Iran requested inquiry regarding this incident and lack of observance of diplomatic immunity of Iran’s representative. The US government did not accept this request but that country’s foreign minister stated in a press conference: “our government always advises its political officers to not violate laws and regulations of the respective country due to political immunity and at the same time we don’t expect the foreign countries’ officers in this country to think otherwise.”

The US’ continence from apology regarding detainment of Iran ambassador and especially the foreign minister’s statement, outraged Reza Shah so much that he summoned the ambassador and cut off political relations with the US. But the US did not close its embassy in Tehran and left an envoy there.

Lack of relations did not stop the US oil companies in entering undercover negotiations with Iran government and trying to gain the oil concession of north and north east of Iran.

In this way, suddenly and without prior record on January 17th 1937 the government presented an act to the parliament by Ali Akbar Davar, then financial minister, which consisted of two important concession contracts: one for oil extraction in part of the east and north east of Iran and another regarding the construction of oil pipeline for two US companies.

The above mentioned act was approved on February 7th 1937 by majority vote but three days later Ali Akbar Davar committed suicide. It was said that after the oil concession approval, the English were worried and the Russian were also dissatisfied with this contract so everything was blamed on Davar in order to exonerate Reza Shah from signing of such contract. On June 14th 1938, Mahmoud Badr, then financial minister, announced Iran’s decision regarding abandonment of this contract.

At the end of 1938, Roosevelt’s especial representative came to Iran and apologized about Jalal Ghafar’s detainment and following that, political relations was established once again in January 1939 and Mohammad Shayesteh was appointed as ambassador in Washington.

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