September 1941 is tied with the bitter taste of foreign invasion in the historical memories of our people and memories like invasion, insecurity, violation of human rights and the pain and misery of foreign presence has remained in the minds of our people. Invasion of Iran in...
Interview with Mozafar Shahedi bout September 1941; Twelve-year-preparation for a coup
September 1941 is tied with the bitter taste of foreign invasion in the historical memories of our people and memories like invasion, insecurity, violation of human rights and the pain and misery of foreign presence has remained in the minds of our people. Invasion of Iran in September 1941 is a beginning to other important incidents signed by England and the US colonizationfor our country; incidents like August 19th coup and concessions gained by the US, England and the Soviet Union from our country in various forms. With regard to approval of readout of August 19th coup by the parliament and holding of analysis conference on the English policy in Iran during the last two centuries, we met with Mozafar Shahedi, expert in Iran contemporary history studies and talked to him on behalf of Iran contemporary history studies organization to investigate the background of developments inIran after invasion by allies.
□What was the story behind Iran being drawn in to World War Two; even though we had claimed impartiality?
The Second World War started in September 1939 and rapidly invaded many parts of the world. Although the allies’ excuse for attacking Iran was the presence of security-intelligence German forces, the necessityof logistic, military and weaponry support and aid to Soviet’s Russia against Germany’s great attacks through Iran and also maintaining England’s illegitimate interests in Iran oil fields were the most important reasons of our country being invaded in the midst of continuation of the ongoing World War. As a result Iran was brutally invaded on August 25th 1941 and was soon occupied. The allies promised to leave Iran within a maximum of six months after the war finished. Iran’s political independence and territorial integrity was also officially recognized by them. Finally the war ended on September 1945 with Japan’s submission and so Mars 2nd 1946 was the deadline for the allies’ promise to end their invasive presence in Iran. Although this promise was not noted, and especially Russia in his rivalry with England and the US and towards its colonizing, interfering goals would not retreat their forces out of Iran months after the war had ended. Therefore a great part of Iran was occupied by military English, American and Russian forces for four years and six months and finally on May 9th 1946, the soviet’s government evacuated Iran due to pressure and perseverance of forces and internal public opinion and the country’s diplomatic strategy and the newly established United Nations.
□What consequences were forced on the people by the presence of the occupiers?
In this nearly 5-year period, led to many human, economic, political, military and social damages and losses in Iran and on Iranian society at different levels and ranks. The records show that following the attack of the allies and occupying of cities and different regions, hundreds of non-military, defenseless people were killed by the invaders and this process carried on for months. The number of injured and the harmed exceeded thousands. In many occupied parts of the country the people’s properties were plundered and especially carriages and such were forcibly used towards the allies’ aims and objectives. Soon, disappointing reports from different cities and regions were sent to the capital which described the gathering and pillage of people’s supplies and provisions by the invading allies.
□During this period we are faced with spread of diseases and famine I the country and also a decline in the value of national currency, great increase of inflation and increase in prices of goods and necessities. What was the role of allies in these problems?
Trucks and other means of transportation were confiscated by the invaders and the complaints were not attended to. Insecurity, banditry and pillage of the people’s properties quickly spread and the domain of lack of public provisions, poverty, famine and the spread of diseases spread to all parts of the country. Bread crisis pervaded and a great number of people died due to lack of health care, illness, hunger and famine especially in the poor regions. Increase in hoarding of products and brokerage greatly increased the prices of supplies and provisions and presented many never ending problems for the Iranian society. Sudden and pillage-like purchase of the supplies (like wheat, flour, potato and etc.) by the allies caused recurrent famine and the price of such goods increased greatly and of course the government and sovereignty were not able to prevent all the inhumanity and injustice of the allies and in several instances, willingly or not, they accepted fulfilling the invaders’ damaging requests. The price of people’s necessities exceeded several hundred percent and the country’s currency value decreased tens of times as much.
□How did the government and authorities react against the allies’ injustice and defiance towards Iranians?
During the country’s invasion and inability of the central government against the allies’ tyranny, people of various sects were completely defenseless and the allies had become the absolute ruler in many of the country’s affairs and did not pay attention to Iranian authorities and officials. And many reports regarding the allies’ abuse of the Iranians and invading their homes and lives and honor, which of course was rarely considered, were sent to the governmental and other authorities. The allies would boldly detain and imprison all protestors and suspects of opposition and severe news censorship dominated the country. All postal packages and letters were controlled and searched by the allies’ censor officials and it was forbidden to have a radio in the car. While the people were severely pressured by financial, sanitary, food, transport and other problems, the allies, in addition to procurement of their own daily necessities, would send out hundreds of tons of groceries, provisions and food stuff to outside the country. Reports came from many cities that the allies’ authorities do not let the local officials of the government to interfere in the country’s affairs and willfully abuse the people’s rights.
□According to historical records the presence of allies in the country had influenced even the different aspects of the people’s lives and the invaders ridiculed our Islamic beliefs and performed actions opposing Islamic and human principles. How can the passiveness of the central government be justified in such situation?
Yes there were reports that showed in many cities and regions of the country, soldiers and other agents of the invaders, ridiculed Islamic beliefs and doctrines of Iranian people and did not spare any anti-religion or other social and cultural cacophonies. The executive and managerial systems and also judicial and legal courts were always under pressure of the invaders’ military, political and diplomatic authorities and in numerous cases they clearly made orders to Iranian authorities for their own objectives and goals and it seemed as though the whole collection of government, dominion and the people are aimless prisoners of the allies’ political-military authorities. Many reports regarding overt pillage and plunder of the people’s supplies and savings by these insolent invaders reached the authorities but no one was able to pursuit such complaints. The invaders’ interference spread to the most private affairs and matters of the Iranian society’s life and the government, willingly or not, allowed them to control and dominate all matters of Iranian lives as they wished. The Iranian authorities were warned not to let the news of war and other news and reports regarding the allies and their interests to spread in the country’s newspapers and publications before being censored. In this way, for about five years the presence of the invading forces in Iran imposed many vital and financial and irreplaceable damages and harms to the people and the country’s culture, society and management. In this period, the local official and authorities of the government and dominion in all parts of the country and many of the influential and authoritative people were under the invaders’ pressure and, willingly or not, carried out their illegal and inhuman aims and goals.
□So we can conclude that the central government not only was unable to confront the invaders but they had also granted them control of the country’s facilities. Is that right?
Yes. During this period, in addition to Iran national railway, a major part of the communication roads and paths, transport systems, machinery, industrial and production plants, logistic units and other industrial- production potential and actual facilities of the country were utilized towards the allies’ goals and wishes and at the same time as elimination and annihilation of Iran army and other military units and heavy equipment (such as marine buoys, aircrafts, tanks and etc.) many of the garrisons and military centers, military production plants and such was controlled by the invaders and no sign of political and economic independence was left in the country and no offense and aggression towards the most primitive rights and interests of the people was spared. The imposed harms and damages on the country’s different ranks of the country and the Iranian society did not stop here and guided a more extensive parts of the economy, politics and culture and other sources of wealth and authority towards extinction and corruption. So for about five years the presence of the army and other agents and forces related to the allies in Iran was followed by many corruptive damages and influences on the society’s different ranks and positions and overall harsh and deep influences were put on Iran’s politics, economy, culture, society and civilization. People of Iran, who had been oppressed and terrorized by the Reza Khan regime for two decades, were soon entangled in the abuse and mistreatments of the foreign invaders and passed a sad and unfortunate period. The cruel presence of the allies in Iran and the following social and living disarrangements like poverty, hunger, famine, contagious and epidemic diseases, national and cultural humiliation had influenced the most important political events of that era and was effective in hasty transfer of governments and the parliament’s inability in managing the country. As the bread crisis and repetitive famine in different parts of the country, which was due to the presence of the invaders, was like a tool in political competitions and oppositions among the government and the parliament and also the dominion and the invading countries. Among the most important events of this period was the bread riot on December 8th 1942 and during Ahmad Ghavam’s premiership. Although the bread riot occurred due to the scarcity of food supplied and grains and the presence of the foreigners, hoarding, increasing tyrannies of the invaders and inflation, the allies used this issue in further pressuring the government, parliament and the dominion in Iran.
□Please explain about other damages caused by the wicked invasion of Iran by the allies if there is anything.
Numerous crises due to the country’s relentless invasion of the country by the allies had overwhelmed many sectors of Iran society such that they had no ability to consider or even think about the more important political and social matters of the country. Years of invasion had attacked the potential and actual human forces and had deepened the wounds remaining from previous periods and it can be said that it played a decisive role in preventing the formation of a promising political, economic, social and cultural atmosphere. Those aware of the affairs at that time reproached the invaders who were erasing the dark days of Reza Khan’s reign and pressuring the people’s lives and activities in an unprecedented way through continuing their oppressing and inhuman presence. From the evil consequences of the foreign invaders in Iran, was further spread of financial, official and managerial corruption in all parts of the country. Theft, defiance, bribery and insecurity increased and this had bad influence on the society’s public morality and all these had many painful consequences on the Iranian society in different political, social, cultural and economic ranks and positions. Especially the government, parliament and dominion’s validity and status who were headmen and pioneers of these adversities and abnormalities in many instances, had reached its lowest level among public and the gap between the people and the government had deepened.
□What was the relation between invasion of Iran in the Second World War and the coup on August 19th 1943?
We know that England’s invasive and colonizing policies and actions in Iran were long-lasting and as a result the statesmen and other authorities of that country who shared this invasion and colonization tried, even more than before to continue the qualitative and quantitative domain of this influence. At least from the beginning of the Qajar dynasty onwards, the English has gradually penetrated into the various political and economic fields of Iran. They were the reason for Qajar’s decline and Reza khan’s gain of power and did not spare any shameful and inhuman action towards opposition and suppression of Iran nation’s rights and interests in different levels and positions. In between, Iran’s oil bridgeheads in the south and south west of the country was under continuous predatory control of England from the beginning of the First World War and everyone knew that provision of the English marine force and some of its allies had played a vital role in the process of WWI. During his reign, Reza Shah had played a vital role in the continuing process of expansion of England’s illegitimate interests. But on the verge of WWII and especially with the progress of German’s army into Soviet Union’s region, the English were very worried for their valuable oil fields in Iran and it was believed that if the Soviet Union cannot confront Germany, Iran oil fields would be endangered in the near future too. Therefore between the necessity of military and logistic help the Soviet and the need to support Iran oil bridgeheads from any possible threat from the Germans, an inevitable simultaneity had occurred. So during the invasion of Iran (1941-1945) the English were severely active in defending their illegitimate interests in Iran and perhaps were even guarding their allies (the US and the Soviet) too who had sent their armies and intelligence and political officers to Iran so as to prevent them from sharing Iran oil bridgeheads (especially those controlled by England).So WWII ended while England still exclusively owned Iran oil bridgeheads and did not spare any effort towards preventing the formation and expansion of Iran Oil Nationalization plan during the second half of the 1940’s. But when. Despite all internal and external conspiracies, the people of Iran finally nationalized their oil and evicted England’s oil company, the English together with the help of the Americans spared no effort in ruining national achievements regarding this plan and finally on August 19th 1943, they imposed that shameful coup on the nation, a coup which guaranteed England and the US’ dominance and the oil consortium over Iran oil bridgeheads supported by them for the whole 25-year life of the Pahlavi regime and even more than that played a vital role in disregarding and violating Iran’s rights, political and territorial interests.
□We thank you for giving your time to public relation and information department of the contemporary history studies organization.
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