By: Mir M.Hosseini
Despite the fact that Iran had declared it's neutrality during the World War II, Britain and Soviets started their invasion into Iran. Two weeks before, Britain's minister Reader Bullard and Soviet ambassador Smirnov handed the Iranian Foreign Office an ultimatum signed by both their Governments demanding Iran to get rid of Germans or face the consequences.
The English had been doing preparations by sending Indian troops to Iraq and deploying forces to Iran's south east area. British media had started a campaign against Reza Shah accusing him of pro-Nazi tendencies. Britain and Russia worked together. A British column marched into Iran from Iraq, while more troops were preparing to land at Bandar Shapour. The Russian army invaded Iran from Armenia. Indian forces joined the attack from the east on the border of Baluchestan.
Iranian Premier Rajabali Mansour told the Parliament: "We have taken all necessary measures to face this attack." While Iran was preparing for resistance by calling reserves to the military service a surprising event happened. Two Iranian generals ordered evacuation of military bases and Iran simply surrendered. Red army's western column rapidly took Tabriz; their eastern wing took the port of Bandar Shah. The British crossed from Iraq and took control of the richest single oil field in existence. Iran's small sloops were no match for the royal navy and Indian troops landed at Bandar Shapour.
For 20 long years Reza Shah had played with London, played with Moscow and never lost a trick and he never could imagine these two irreconcilables standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the soil of his beloved Iran. Descending from an Army-officer family, the Shah was born in 1876 in Firoozkooh. Taking advantage of the chaos in Iran, on Feb. 21, 1921, Colonel Reza Khan rode into Tehran at the head of 2,000 Persian Cossacks and took over.
The last Qajar king, Ahmad Shah had left the country with an empty treasury for France. Iran had no army, no roads, boiling with corruption, ignorance and disease. Reza Shah modernized the army and restored order, overthrew rebel chieftains, stripped the clerics of their judicial and political powers, drew up a code of civil law, banned child marriage by raising to 15 the age at which a girl might marry, fostered education, set up schools and colleges. He followed the model in Turkey to modernize the country thus improving agriculture, public health, transportation and fomented trade and industry with all his being. He thus got Iran up to its feet. Probably, his greatest accomplishment was the trans-Iranian railroad, which took eleven years to build and runs from the Persian Gulf to the Caspian sea.
On the other hand, he was a fearsome dictator who murdered, tortured, kidnapped, imprisoned all dissidents, turning Iran into a one man corporative state. His greed for power and property made him more enemies than friends.
He took brave steps against British Imperialism: In 1931 he forbade Imperial Airways to fly over Iranian territory and cancelled the obnoxious D'Arcy contract which supposedly gave Iran only 16% of profits from the oil industry.
When the tables turned, he was no more than a prisoner of war whose destiny was to die in exile.