Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Review Of Islamic Revolution - Part 10

At this point, I have to refresh the minds of my readers of an event which also, has been mentioned in one of earlier parts of this writing.

During the days and weeks of revolutionary excitement and madness, one of the events which ignited the final quarrel between Islamic revolutionaries and government forces resulting in crumbling of Dr. Bakhtiar's government was audience of a group of Iranian Air force technicians with Khomeini in his residence to show solidarity with new leader. Many people believe that this event had been planned by Islamic revolutionaries and with some of their own supporters dressed in uniforms in order to break the spirit of army which was the sole component in keeping the country together in those days.

That event resulted in a clash between Royal Guards and air force technicians as Royal Guards were apparently looking to find those who participated in audience with Khomeini. Islamic revolutionaries and anarchists took advantage of the situation and rushed to the location of confrontation. Royal Guards found themselves face to face with armed civilians from one side and armed air force technicians from another side. This became the final battle between revolutionaries and government loyal forces resulting in many casualties from both sides before ending with fall of government. Many images are available from those days that clearly show the chaotic conditions that existed at that time.

Mr. Shafizadeh has spoken about how that event came to be and the story behind that which had started years earlier when two of Iranian air force technicians went missing in New York during their training period and never to be found again. Apparently, US government had searched for missing technicians without any result and their final report indicated that those two were probably fallen in Hudson River and their bodies were carried to the ocean but, months later, Mr. Shafizadeh met them in Libya during his training as interrogator and assassin. I will get back to this story later on.

My personal impression of seeing the picture of that event in which Iranian Air force technicians (or Homafar as they were called) were saluting Khomeini in a group fashion, was one of disbelief and amazement because Khomeini was no official figure and had no position in Iranian governing system structure. It was unbelievable as it was confusing to see air force personnel saluting a mullah who had "nothing" for the nation as he had expressed clearly in his own words while in the plane moving towards Iran.

A couple of months before that event, one day I was having a conversation with my next door neighbor who held a secret sensitive position in government security agency while being head of labor and employment office. In that conversation, he told me that Khomeini's intention was to replace Shah and all the talk about moral issues and corruption was just a cover. Considering the views that we Iranians had about people related to Iranian security agency in those days, I took that news with a grain of salt and considered that an exaggeration by my neighbor.

As a general view for my generation in those days, thinking that Shah would leave his position for any reason was unthinkable let alone replacing him with a mullah like Khomeini! In fact, I expressed exactly the same view to him and in return, he smiled and said: "just remember what I said to you"! The last time I saw him, was in the night before the day of revolution that he was packing his car's trunk to leave. He told me that he was going back to his hometown for a vacation to spend time with his wife and new born child who had left sometime earlier. We bid farewell and I never heard of him again.

As any Iranian ordinary person who had no part in the politics and other than reading some books and magazines, had no real significant information about politics, one should realize that, the scope and speed of events and background works in that regard, were much beyond comprehension of public which was mostly watching the unfolding events in confusion while awestruck! Except for selected few who were in negotiation with foreign agents to transfer the power, no one really knew what was going on and what was the outcome of those events. The sad part is that our political leaders were no different than general public in that sense and did not seem to be interested in anything other than seeing Shah leave!

Late Shah in his book "answer to history" (Persian version) quoting from Senator Masoudi who had referred to his conversation with one of high ranking American Embassy staffs, mentions that, three months prior to the revolution, Mr. Masoudi relayed to the late Shah that his American friend told him that a new "regime" would be governing Iran soon. Late Shah did not believe that such thing was possible. It is obvious that even though late Shah had justified suspicions about links between the events in those days and his western allies, he was not fully aware of the dept of the intrigues which were played against him from much earlier times.

The build up of dissatisfaction of western allies from the beginning of Shah's rule in Iran after second world war had intensified in greater rate after establishment of OPEC and entered an open confrontational stage in 1970's. The document that was presented in previous segment from board of NIE has clear indications of unhappiness regarding policies of Iranian government and the late Shah in particular. Such tone in reports from CIA and US state department about Iranian government and the Shah during 1960's and afterwards is not rare.

In Page 1 we read:

"During the past decade the Shah emerged as a self confident potentate, determined to assert his and Iran's prerogatives against all comers. In the economic field he will continue to press the consortium of Western oil companies vigorously for vast amounts of revenue to fund Iran's economic advance, but eventually mutual interest in maintaining oil production will probably lead both parties to an acceptable compromise. Abroad, his determination to extend his influence in the Persian Gulf as British depart is likely to maintain continuing tension in his relation with Saudi Arabia. As in the past, the Shah will seek arms support from the US, and his increasing feeling of independence will make for occasional frictions between two countries, though the Shah will continue to value his association with US."

Clearly indicating the reason for "frictions" between US and Iran which is nothing but "feeling of independence" by Iranian leadership in their policies. This mention of "Shah's feelings" on different issues has been brought up in this document a few times which indicates how close the "source" of some of the information has been to the late Shah to know about such feelings before any signs of actions could be observed. This matter is repeated in some other documents too.

In page 2 we read:

"1- During the past decade the Shah has dramatically strengthened the position of monarchy in Iran, Top government who had or who aspired to, an independent power base have been cut down. Parliament, too, has been transformed from a body representing the interests of landlords to one whose members are nonentities owing their position exclusively to his favor. At the same time, the Shah has undercut the already fragmented opposition by carrying out economic and social reforms it has favored. Moreover, his economic and military deals with the USSR have won his recognition at home as foremost defender of Iran's national interest and as personification of Iranian independence in the international sphere.
2- In scoring these achievements, the Shah has often acted against US advice. As a result, he attributes his considerable success largely to correctness of his policies and his own skill in political maneuver. The belief has transformed the Shah from a timorous titular monarch into a self confident potentate, determined to assert his and Iran's prerogatives against all comers. This was symbolized by the elaborate correction which the Shah staged in October 1967."

The bitterness of the authors of the report is so obvious in the lines quoted from page 2 and other pages as we will see. All of these proves that the expectations of US government during President Kennedy from Iranian government regarding reforms was not out of concerns for betterment of living conditions for Iranian society but to create opportunities for themselves to have a good foothold through corrupt and privileged Iranians to further their own agendas.

In page 3 we read:

"3- The Shah's design for Iran is based on economic rather than political development. The original emphasis placed on rural uplift by the so-called "White Revolution" in 1962 has lately been supplanted by a focus on industry as well as infrastructure projects -- especially dams and transportation facilities. The distribution of land called for in the Shah's reform program has been essentially completed, he is now content to leave the more difficult task of increasing agricultural productivity to the technicians who have come increasingly to staff the important positions in the bureaucracy. The Shah sees rapid industrialization as essential not only to increase prosperity and national well being, but also to provide an outlet for the energies of educated Iranians who might otherwise prove troublesome for the regime. Over long term this will probably not provide a satisfactory substitute for greater political participation, but for some time to come the unrest of earlier days seems under control."

It is amazing how the authors of this document speak of "political development" in Iranian society while majority of Iranians are just beginning to feel that they have a share from the national wealth which was being delivered to them through creation of jobs and investment in different sectors. From what we saw in page 2 earlier, the unhappiness of success of "white revolution" is so obvious while most of clueless Iranian opposition members among leftist and from the so called National Front still looking for (or claiming) the hands of US government behind such reforms!

As a personal experience regarding "political participation" I must mention here that, during the years after creation of Rastakhiz party, I could clearly see the mood in society was changing towards more participation. This was not just for the wealthy class but many from working class showed the interest in getting involved in political affairs either through local councils or national parliament membership. This of course required more time to reach a level that would satisfy a majority but from what we see in this and other documents, US government was in hurry to see "political development" in Iran and was not very happy with the pace which they saw then!

In page 4 we read:

"4- To carry out these economic projects the Shah has sought, and is receiving, some help from foreign quarters for these projects. But as many of these endeavors will not yield early returns, Iranian industry will require continuing large inputs of foreign capital for some time to come. Iran's rapidly rising oil revenue is most promising source for this capital, and the Shah is determined that Iran get as much as possible. Indeed, the doubling of oil revenues in the past five years has been largely responsible for reinvigorating the non-petroleum sectors of Iran's economy. The Iranian government has pledged to devote about 80 percent of its oil income to economic development. The Shah is now demanding that the consortium of Western oil companies increase their lifting to guarantee Iran a total income of $5.9 billion over the next five years-- a sum which would mean an average increase in revenue of 15-20 percent a year. The companies have resisted his demands, refusing to promise a total income of more than about $4.5 billion over the five year period. After pressing the companies vigorously to meet his terms, the Shah recently accepted production levels for the year 1968 which would produce revenues of about $440 million less than $865 million he originally sought."

Times after times, it has happened that US government acted as protector of the interests of oil companies and the Consortium. They have been following the details of dealings between the Consortium and Iranian government to the letter. In a document which I will bring later in this segment, we can see how American Embassy reports to Washington about a "sardonic smile" of Shah when he speaks about some of harmful policies of US government which worked against their own interest. This was at the time when late Shah had offered US with direct government to government selling of oil with special discount to make up for the shortcoming of the revenue for development projects. The offer of course was refused by US government.

After mentioning different issues regarding oil and relations between Iran and Soviet Union in next few pages, the report discusses the affairs regarding Iranian claims over the islands in Persian Gulf. In page 6 and afterwards we read about the tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia and seizing of one of Aramco oil rigs (Aramco is a major American oil company which mainly operates in Saudi Arabia and owns all the concessions there since the beginning of oil discovery in Saudi Arabia) by Iranian government in disputed region.

Also, we read about "complications" in US-Iran relations because of Iran's military policies and military purchases from USSR:

"economic deals with Soviets, principally and exchange of over $1 billions of natural gas for a steel mill and other items. He has even purchased military equipment, including some weapons though not advanced types, from the USSR under a $110 million agreement and might buy more if he cannot get what he wants from the West on favorable terms. Nevertheless, it will be difficult for the USSR to translate this into political influence, and the Shah is likely to react strongly if the Soviets appear to be interfering in Iran's domestic affairs or otherwise threatening his interests.

7- As this fear of USSR has receded, the Shah has come increasingly to focus his concern on regional affairs. Since the UK's announcement of its intention to leave Persian Gulf by 1971, he has been particularly interested in that area. In keeping with his nationalist pretensions, the Shah is determined not to permit any outside power to play an influential role in the Gulf after the British leave. UAR withdrawal from Yemen and resounding Egyptian defeat in the June war with Israel has made the Shah somewhat less fearful of Nasser's ability to foment troubles in the Gulf. Nonetheless, he still regards Arab nationalism as a threat to his position. He therefore feels impelled

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his influence over emerging states on the Arabian Peninsula, and his aspirations may have been stimulated by his confidence that no country in the Persian Gulf can match Iran's power.

8- The Shah's ambitions in the Gulf are disturbing his relations with Saudi Arabia and smaller states of the area. While the Shah has no serious design on the western littoral of the Gulf, he is insisting on pressing maximum claims to undersea oil deposits. He had initialed an agreement with Saudi Arabia defining a median line in the Gulf, but it thereafter developed that the area on the Saudi side has large oil reserves. Hence he has recently repudiated the agreement, and some of his lieutenants -- though perhaps without his knowledge or consent -- went so far as to seize an Aramco rig which was attempting to drill in disputed area. The Shah, however, has stated that he will not resort to such forceful tactic in the future.

9- Nonetheless, he has created new controversy by raising heretofore largely dormant claims to Bahrain; he is also pressing the British to cede the tiny islands of Tunb and Abu Musa at the mouth of the Persian Gulf -- held by Trucial Shaikhdoms of Ras al-Khaima and Sharja. His demands for Bahrain are probably advanced as a bargaining counter in his campaign to increase his share of the Persian Gulf seabed, but may be more serious about the other islands. Yet even though the parties recognize the desirability of an early settlement of the issue between them, they are not likely even to begin serious negotiations for some time. Both King Faisal of Saudi Arabia and the Shah are reluctant to appear to be backing down by taking the first step toward talks. In this situation, the Shah and Faisal will remain at loggerheads and tension in the area is likely to continue.

10- The Shah's military policy has also complicated his relations with the US. Iran has for the past several years been pressing to purchase substantial quantities of modern weapons, originally on the grounds that they were needed to protect against Nasser; the Iranians now claim that these arms are required to insure stability in the Gulf area. Indeed, it was US refusal to extend credit for this equipment in 1966 that provoked the Shah to conclude a $110 million arms purchase agreement with USSR. The Shah is now demanding for the US a commitment for $600 million in military credit sales to Iran over the next five years to buy naval craft as well as advanced aircraft and ground force equipment. He has threatened to turn to other foreign suppliers -- including

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the USSR-- is the US is unwilling to accommodate his demands; Iran has ample resources of foreign exchange to make good this threat without any serious effect on its economic development pace."

In the following page which is part of a larger document we can read about possible "showdown" between Iranian government and the Consortium reported by Thomas Hughes who used to be Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research during the Kennedy and was later appointed as President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Carnegie Endowment has been a powerful influence behind many of the political events in USA and around the world along with a few other huge corporations which I will talk about under other topics sometime later.

To be continued...

Sohrab Ferdows
Dec 25th/2013