With the advent of World War I, Persian Prime Minister Mustaufi al-Mamalik declared that Persia would be neutral to the fighting between The Allies and The Central Powers. However, given the history of Britain‘s and Russia‘s
involvement in Persia‘s affairs as well as the Anglo-Russian Treaty of 1907, Persia‘s neutrality was unlikely to be respected by the belligerent powers.
The Persian‘s were initially subjected to Turkish and Russian forces fighting in the North and British occupation in the South and eventually overall British occupation starting in the Eastern and Western territories of Persia. Even though Persia was not a direct participant of World War I, it experienced great impacts as a result of the fighting which is evident by the drop in its population from 20 million in 1914 to 11 million in 1919, as a result of events that will be further discussed. Analyzing the war in phases as described by Mohammad Gholi Majd provides a breakdown of how and why Persia‘s involvement in World War 1
was a direct result of foreign intervention by several major participants in the war and how these events provided a means for Great Britain to eventually cement its influence in Persia, under Reza Khan. The period of November 1914 through December 1915 marks the first instances of Persia‘s indirect involvement, with the violation of its neutrality by the Russians and the Ottomans fighting in the north and by the British occupation in the south. Due to the 1907 Anglo-Russian Entente, splitting Persia into a north zone under the control of Russia, a neutral zone, and a south zone under the control of Britain, much of the events during this period revolve around these two powers. The fighting between the Ottomans and the Russians resulted in a change of occupying forces in certain regions of Persia and Azerbaijan. There is a long history of Pan-Islamic outreach from the Ottoman Empire to Persia stemming from as far as Sultan Abdul hamid II reign. This trend continues up to the war with the 1910 Committee of Union and Progress congress deciding to continue its Pan-Islamic policies. The 1911 Committee of Unity and
Progress stated that ―… efforts should be made to bring about an understanding between Persia and Turkey, with the ultimate object of affecting a political and economic union between the two countries, and this congress also determined that the Sunni-Shia differences between the two states were ―not
important enough to prevent an alliance and cooperation between the Ottoman
Empire and Iran.
In January 1915, the Ottoman forces invaded Azerbaijan in order to fight against the Russians who were stationed there. However, the Ottomans suffered a major defeat (roughly 70,000-90,000 Ottoman soldiers were killed) and this sparked a counter offensive in Azerbaijan in order to reoccupy Tabriz (January 1915). The Russian offensive‘s goal was to clear Azerbaijan of Ottoman troops. According to a dispatch by Caldwell, Russia also instigated Christians in Northern Persia to attack Muslims thereby causing more instability and fighting within that region of the country.
Meanwhile, Germany began to concentrate its action in Persia in a ―divisionary and subversive nature.
The German foothold in Persia was not quite as strong as it was for the Russians and the British. The Ottomans lost severely to Russia in Azerbaijan and to the British in Mesopotamia; therefore, Germany began secretive missions to rally tribal groups with anti-Russian and anti-British sentiments against the aforementioned governments.
Pro-Central Power propaganda was targeted towards Persian nationalists, democrats, tribal members, merchants, and the gendarmerie soldiers (many of whom were pro-German Swedes). It is clear that Germany actually wanted the Persians to abandon their neutrality and join the Central Powers.
Keeping neutrality was difficult due to the high-officer‘s Pro-German sentiments and often the Persian gendarmerie soldiers were targets of propaganda, though the Swedish officers tended to claim that they were looking out for the best interest of
However, Germany failed to keep its promises to many nationalists and tribal members. Referring to Griesinger‘s journal that he kept during ―Captain Niedermayer‘s Expedition through Persia to Afghanistan and India, one can appreciate the duality of Germany‘s activity in Persia. It was
common for Griesinger to refer to the Persians negatively using phrases such as black guardly pack, beastly people, God-forsaken beastly people, foul pack, and filthy swine indicating the disposition a German agent may have had for the Persians.
More evidence of Germany using Persia as a mean to cause unrest for the Russians and the British, and with no intention to serve Persia‘s interests, is seen in their tactics of gaining supporters:
Made the acquaintance of former vice-governor of Persian Baluchistan, Abdullah Khan, who was driven out by the English….[he] has entered our service officially and has offered, if we desire it, to shoot down English and Russian Consul in Kerman.
Griesinger also stated that the Persian Government should follow the Germany‘s desires. In an episode where the democrats ousted the British from Kerman, the Persian democrats did so in their own regard and ―had no consideration for [the Germans] or our wishes or our advice.
The German presence in Persia was ultimately a game for the Germans to cause trouble for the British and the Russians.
Sykes paints a picture of Persia‘s supposed in activity in upholding the declared neutrality, ―No power was less prepared to meet the obligations and sacrifices imposed by theWorld War than Persia, and no power exhibited such impotence in protecting its boundaries and its subjects….Persia…suffered severely from the total inability of her government to protect it sloudly proclaimed neutrality.
The issue at hand, however, is why would Persia need to defend itself if it is declaring neutrality and thus not a belligerent in the Great War? During the fighting between the Russians and the Ottomans, the Ottoman forces in Mesopotamia left to fight in North Persia, securing the area for British rule. With the oil reserves in Southwest Persia in their possession, through the creation of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, Britain had great interest in securing and ensuring their presence in the region. Sykes states, ―…
the main cause for anxiety on the British side were the valuable, but vulnerable, oil refineries … the prompt action of the British…assured the safety of the oil refineries,
The incident Sykes is referencing is the British occupation of Khuzestan, which spread to the occupation of Basra and Abadan, with (according to Miroshnikov) the intent of taking this area from the Ottoman Empire and to set up a colony in the occupied area. Sykes continues to discuss the dispatch of a brigade to attack the
Ottoman forces in Ahwaz in order to ensure that ―the priceless liquid fuel would be in British hands.
The British continue in their occupation and defeating the Ottoman forces in Persia
which, by autumn 1915, resulted in extending its hold of Mesopotam
ia 400 kilometers along the Euphrates and 500 kilometers along the Tigris River. In a declared neutrality, the British military set itself up in Khuzestan to police the area to the point where it appeared to an American diplomat that ―[the British] consider their government
definitely and permanently responsible for the proper policing of Arabistan (Khuzestan).
Continuing on the road of disregarding Persia‘s neutrality, the British began arresting German guests residing in Persia, demonstrating the mentality that the region was their own to police.
The spring of 1915 is marked by what is known as the ―East Persian Cordon, the occupation of east Persia by Russia and Great Britain. Great Britain at the time was able to recruit southern tribal members to establish levies in several regions such as Khorasan, Sistan, and Kacha. This cordon continued to occupy other territories such as Sarhad in Persian Baluchistan and Mashhad by 1918. It is with this expansion that Britain was able to maintain its hold in Persia even with the loss of its ally Russia due to the Russian revolution. How did the Persians feel about being victimized by Anglo-Russian aggression? According to Miroshnikov the Persians were hostile and ―this sometimes was the result of the propaganda activities of the opposing military side among the population, but more often it was avery natural reaction to foreign armed intervention.
Miroshnikov further describes the anti-Russian sentiments being a result of Russian treatment of Persians which followed in the local inhabitants showing their hostility towards the Turks. This also happened to the British in the south where they armed the Arab tribes that ended up being their main military opponents in the southwest of Persia. Due to the long history of oppression by Britain and Russia in Iran, such as the creation of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company and the Treaty of Turkmenchay resulting in Persia loosing land to Russia, it was no wonder that the population of Persia sympathized with Germany and The Ottoman Empire. Interest in the Ottoman and German cause can be seen by a declaration made by the Persian government after the Ottoman Empire invaded and ousted Russia from Azerbaijan, stating: Our government has already notified its subjects on the
necessity of observing absolute neutrality. By this we inform all the citizens of Persia that the Turkish Government introduced its troops in our country. If anybody takes arms against the Turkish Government and violates neutrality he will be severely punished. Our government will confiscate his property and will put him to death by hanging.
But when the Ottoman Empire received a note from the Persian government on the issue, they responded stating that the purpose of the invasion was to remove Russia from the occupied area. However, Miroshnikov notes that the Turkish troops were quite savage to the Christians and even the Muslims in the region signifying that the Ottoman cause was not entirely altruistic. Sympathy for the Germans was also popular amongst the Persians, even the individuals in power, such as Mustaufi-al-
Malik‘s inaction against the German diplomatic missions in Tehran. The Persian Gendarmes noted for their high reverence to the Germans, led by Pro-German Swedish officers and the main target for patriotic Persian propaganda actually guarded the mission as well as the Germans hiring tribal fighters.
However, the opinion of the majority can be best summarized by a dispatch from Caldwell dated November 1915 where he says, ―…the Persian people live in a constant nightmare of being absorbed or divided between [Britain and Russia].
The period of December 1915 through March 1917 shows the first trends of Persia falling into Great Britain‘s hands. The events of this period are marked by the near removal of the Ottoman and German influences in the country as well as Russia and Great Britain strengthening their grip on their spheres of influence, which included the ―neutral zone established by the 1907 Russo-Anglo Entente changing hands to the British.
The fighting between the Ottomans and the Russians primarily in northern Persia still continued. The Ottomans, despite a victory in Kermanshah when aided by the Persian volunteer soldiers such as the Jangali, lost much to the Russians. September 2nd 1916 sees the Ottoman agents still trying to spread to pan-Islamic rhetoric but to no avail by December 1916.
Especially in the spring of 1917, the Ottomans were defeated in Hamadan, Kermanshah, and Khanaqin. By this point e Ottomans, the threat of German-Turkish military intervention in Iran became practically negligible.
According to Atabaki, the Ottoman Empire operated in Iran under pan-Islamic ideals until later in the war where pan-Turkic ideology was preferred both
under the direction of Enver Pasha‘s Teskilat-I Mahsusa.
Such statements like, Oh Moslems of Persia! You must catch every single one of the enemy and kill them…as these are conditions of Jehad… were distributed by the Turkish government.
However, there were issues in the pan-Islamic sentiments such as many Shia officials in Persia claiming the Entente and the Central powers were both infidels (since the Turks are Sunni), and not to mention the Russians, as Christians, could not interfere with the practice of Islam in Persia. Many Persians also resented the Ottomans due to ―mistreatment of Iranians at the hands of Ottoman army officers and an aggressive military approach…this also hurt the Ottoman propaganda plans. The Ottoman presence in Persia needed the support of local groups; one such group was the Jangali rebellion led by Kuchik Khan. The Ottomans were quick to support the Jangalis, however due to their capability to aid in eliminating Russia‘s presence in the north. But, as time passed, the affiliation between the Ottomans and Kuchik Khan came to an end.
As aforementioned, the Russians taking of Kermanshah, Hamadan and Khanaqin was very crippling for the Ottoman efforts in Persia. The Ottoman presence was eliminated by April 1917.Again referring to Griesinger‘s diary, one can see the propaganda machine of the Germans in Persia. The Germans were known to play with whatever party would aid them in the offensive against the Russians and the British. On January 15th 1916, The Germans wanted to cooperate with the Persian Democrats and remove the Governor of Kerman but only six days later they changed their position and decided to drop the democrats and make peace with the Governor.
The Germans were very quick to choose their sides and favored the support of tribesmen over that of the democrats, even stating that ―we…would have nothing more to do with them. However, with the aggression of the British and Russians, the Germans were unable to maintain a strong presence in Persia. In the section titled ―The Retreat, we see the collapse of whatever influence Germany may have had in Persia. Instances of aggression towards the
Germans is seen in Griesinger‘s party being attacked by Bakhtiari tribesmen and not to mention that the Germans failed to keep their promises to Persia and that Persia‘s adherence to neutrality prevents the Germans from furthering their goals in Persia. The diary ends, around the 9th of November, with the German agents imprisoned, by the Persians, while Griesinger laments to himself, ―Who after this will ever range himself on our side in Persia?
The events during Germany‘s intervention in Persia reveals that they attempted to rally the support of individuals who were disgruntled at the British and the Russians, but they ultimately failed due to the weakness of their initial foothold in the country not to mention the strength that Great Britain and Russia possessed.
All the aforementioned events aided Great Britain in their conquest of Persia. As it is understood, ―…hardly anyone in Britain was concerned with the legality of sending the Sykes mission…. to South Iran…. as to the formation of the South Persian Rifles corps, agreement about this was imposed by force on the Iranian government by [Britain and tsarist Russia].
The South Persian Rifles (further referred to as SPR) was a force of Indian, British, and recruited Persian soldiers under the direction of the British government. It even appeared that Persia had become a protectorate of the British by outsiders placing Persia, as it does, under the joint protection of England and Russia…would practically mean the end of Persia as an independent nation…the government has no authority what so ever in a large part of the country…the Persians are unanimous in opposing this convention…
The convention mentioned is the 1916 ―The Triple- Entente in The Central Orient, which was more or less an update of the 1907 agreement of splitting Persia into spheres of influence for Russia and Britain. However, now Persia had become a signatory. This agreement also finalized the formation of the Persian Cossack army in the north and the South Persian Rifles in the south. Further occupation by the British involved the capture of Shiraz, Kerman and Isfahan. The Gendarmerie by 1916 no longer had its Pro-German Swedish officers and tensions between the British and the Persian officers were high.Therefore, Sykes decided to incorporate the remaining soldiers under the South Persian Rifles, stating…unless I took it over, the force would break up, and many of the men would join the numerous raiding bands that were directly and indirectly destroying the sedentary population.
Interesting to note, the negative sentiments that were stated in Griesinger‘s diary are noted by Sykes, ―among their papers was a water colour sketch in which the Persian was depicted as being descended from a pig, a fox, a hyena, a hare and a vulture…So much for German friendship for Persia.
As mentioned before, the German menace was eliminated when the
German agents were arrested and sent to Isfahan to eventually be sent to the Russians. Consequently, we see Britain strengthening its hold on Persia. The period of April 1917 to January 1918 is when the Russian influence in Persia began to fade, but in its place Britain strengthened its influence.
This period is also the beginning of a famine in Persia where approximately 10 million Persians lost their lives. However, it appears that it was not only the famine that caused the death of the Persians, but some fowl play from foreign powers, mainly Britain, contributing to the death of millions Persian, therefore bringing into question whether the reduction in Persia‘s population was due to famine
-alone. The Russian Revolution brought a change in the long-lasting oppression to Persia by the Russians. The Russians began withdrawing troops and posed themselves as friends to Persia, the Anglo-Russian agreement of 1907, is ruptured and broken…troops will be withdrawn from Persia and the Persians will be guaranteed the right to the free determination of their fate, and the policy of the greedy to make slaves of the peoples of other nations is about to be
destroyed….the dark days of Persia are finishing. It is also an invitation and notice to the Persians to rise up and protect their rights from the oppression and injustice of Foreigners.
So it seems that the removal of the tsarist regime in Russia and installation of the Bolsheviks provided a means for Persia to regain its sense of neutrality and sovereignty. The Brest-Litovsk Treaty of January 1918 marked Russia‘s exit from the war. It required the removal of Ottoman and Russian troops (granted no sizable amount of Ottoman troops remained in Persia). Also, Russia confirmed the annulment of the treaties revolving around Persia concluded with foreign powers in particular the agreements of 1907 and 1915 that had carved Persia into spheres of influence between the Russians and the British. The removal of the Russian troops from Persia was highly exalted by the Persians, ―The population of Northern provinces…now changed its attitude and its relations with Russian soldiers became very friendly.
However, as the Russians left the north, they were soon replaced by Britain so they could extend their influence to the north.
With the Germans, the Ottomans, and now the Russians out of Persia, Britain could attempt total control in Persia. In the fall of 1917, the British, aided by the SPR, began a series of missions in order to restore order within the province of Fars a region that fell under the 1907 Anglo-Russian Entente. These missions also occurred in other regions in the south and they primarily were directed towards regions housing anti-British tribesmen. In some instances the tribesmen themselves could not be eliminated but as Sykes reports during the punishment of the Lashani tribe, whom he called notorious robbers, ―Although but few causalities were inflicted, the crops were to some extent destroyed the Lashanis received a well-merited lesson, which they remembered.
We must take this to understand that the destruction of crops was an acceptable way, according to the British, to punish those individuals who were opposing the intervention of foreign powers. Overall, it appears that Sykes was pleased with the condition of his missions.
However, the execution of these missions in order to ―restore order in Fars and other regions of Persia appear no more to be cover-ups for the British to attack those tribes that had always carried anti- British sentiments, as Miroshnikov states, One learns that [‗restoration order‘] was always associated by them with punitive operations against the peaceful Iranian population.
He furthers this claim by saying that the German threat was not a cause for the military occupations in the South. The German-Ottoman threat was no longer present but the British-Indian troops remained for policing, as they would also do in the North, in 1918, after the Russian army left Persia.
On the other hand, the policing and restoring order appears to only
have been more detrimental to the cause noted in a Caldwell dispatch from a September issue of Star of Persia, ―If [the British] say they organized the South Persian rifles for lack of safety and to maintain order, we reply that nobody ever heard or read of so much disorder…since the time they organized the South Persian Rifles.
The press of the time can also indicate the distaste for the South Persian Rifles as well as Britain‘s foreign policy regarding Persia such as: We consider any unjust action by foreign governments to be a menace to the independence of Persia and against the friendly relations between our Government and that country….We had the same idea when, at the beginning of the war, we opposed the
feelings of all special parties and the actions of all foreign agents…how is it possible not to consider the South Persia rifles, which force is hated by the people, as a menace to the independence and integrity of Persia?
Therefore, it must be understood that the British‘s occupation of Persia was not for preventing the German-Ottoman threat due to the fact that there was no German-Ottoman presence and that the British policing and establishment of the South Persian Rifles was hated by the Persian peoples. As mentioned before, famine and disease took the lives of up to 10 million Persians. This number corresponds to roughly one-half of the population; in 1914 the population was 20 million, then in 1919 the population was 11 million. As Majd explains, the natural progression of the population should have been 21 million.
Somehow, 10 million Persians were eliminated, removed, or disappeared and for some reason, Russian and British estimates misrepresent the initial population of 1910 to be around 10 million and 1914 to be 10.89 million.
The Russian and British estimates were achieved by backward projection, but it appears that the famine never was considered in the calculation. Why did the famine have such a devastating impact? As early as 1916, due to a drought, the prices of imported and local foodstuffs began to increase. A December 1917 dispatch of Caldwell‘s blames the famine on crop failure and war.
Dunsterville, in January 1918 as the Dunsterforce made her way through Persia, stated that signs of famine were numerous, and we not in frequently passed the corpse of some poor, weary, hungry fellow.
But as Caldwell stated, war had a lot to do with the conditions and the outcome of the famine. It appears that the Russians, the Ottomans, and the British are to blame for the external factors that led to increased deaths associated with the famine. Dunsterville is quick to blame the Russians and the Ottomans claiming that they seized vast amounts of grain and foodstuffs during their respective occupations. This does have some merit as there are numerous press reports on the topic of Ottoman and Russian belligerence in their respective occupied regions. On the Ottomans, Zoekler states that they were gathering all the wheat and barley they could, in order to export it out of Persia.
Similar actions were taken by the Russians when they displace the Ottoman forces
including taking of villager‘s livestock in addition killing innocent people and burning of bazaars and private property. There appears to be a desire for the British to pin the blame on the Russians. According to Sykes, The Russians, before leaving the trenches, sold ammunition and equipment to the Turks, and then marched north, plundering and pulling down houses as they went in order to secure food and fuel.
However, it is exceptionally crucial to note that this exchange of arms and money between the Russians and the Ottomans could not have taken place. The Ottoman
army‘s in Persia presence ended around March 1917 and the Russians were to leave in March 1918 with the finalization of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Famine and disease related deaths occurred outside of the Russian sphere of influence and in the British sphere of influence. How else would Fars, a southern territory where the only occupiers were the British, have suffered from the famine as well if the blame was only on the Ottomans and the Russians? So it seems the British had quite a part to play in the spread of famine and its disastrous effect on the Persian population. Their contribution to the famine revolves around the purchase and consumption of local goods by the British all the while Persian people had no food to consume. Dunsterville admits to purchasing goods knowing about the famine and his desire not to draw supplies from the country that would reduce the stock available for the starving people.
The purchasing of local goods was common; what is astonishing is how they routinely destroyed foodstuff they could not carry. As Donohoe states: ―there was no time to be lost. So, destroying our surplus stores…we set off the darkness of the night.
Importing food items was also prevented by the British army, evidence of this action is revealed by Dixon stating that supplies that could have come from India were instead obtained from Mesopotamia, therefore saving space on the British cargo ships. So it appears that conserving space on a shipping cargo was more important than the lives of millions of Persians who could have been fed the food imported from Mesopotamia. So it seems that foreign intervention increased the effects of the famine upon the Persian population. The Period of January 1918-May 1921 is significant because of multiple developments in the conquest of Persia by the British. The occupation was completed by July 1918, a coup d‘état
in February 1921 established Reza Khan as commander of the army, who would eventually became the Reza Shah Pahlavi, shah of Persia, and the British forces left Persia May 1921. Furthermore, the events following the February 1921 coup provide evidence that Britain desired the conquest of Persia. In January 1918, Britain continued its conquest of Persia, eventually occupying the region of North Persia that was originally within the Russian sphere of influence and the east and the west that were formerly part of the neutral zone. The British installed the North Persian Force — Norperforce— an analog to the South Persian Rifles. The constituents of the Norperforce were the Christian from Azerbaijan as well as remnants of the Russian army that would become mercenaries for the British around the fall 1918; many Persians succumbed to ―three terrifying horse
men… ‗famine‘… ‗Spanish flu‘ … ‗cholera‘….the poorer classes, old and young, succumbed and fell like autumn leaves, The Spanish flu also attacked the British troops, though Sykes ―explains that the flu strain was different than that which had taken the lives of so many Persians. However, what seems more likely is that the starving Persians had decreased immune system function due to lack of proper nutrition. Therefore, the under-fed Persians would typically fall victim to sickness more so than well-fed British soldiers, as Majd says, ―…victims of ‗influenza‘ were really victims of the famine.
The goal of the British appears to have been to establish a permanent control over Persia. This is viewed as a possible reality by many outside reporters such as Southard when he mentioned the organization of native policing force, similar to the South Persian Rifles, in other parts of Persia and stating, ―…the British government is understood to have assured the Persian government that no part of the country will be permanently occupied; but it is evident that with
their present organization it would be very easy and perhaps temping…to retain permanent control of parts of southern and southeastern Persia, due to the British interests in the oil of that region.
Vossough-ed-Dowleh a pro-Britain politician is appointed the prime minister an action that Southard declares would put the politics and military in Persia under the control of the British. To further the cause of the British in Persia, the Anglo Persian Convention of August 9, 1919 required Britain to respect Persia‘s integrity and independence and to loan the Persian government money necessary for military and administration reforms while withholding oil revenues. The public distrusted the agreement and those individuals who were members of the Persian Peace Commission to Paris were most likely those who would oppose such an agreement. The Vossough government, supported by the British, was noted for silencing the opposition with imprisonment and exile and imposed strict press censorship, all actions which would transpire when Reza Khan came to power.
Such an example is where a splinter group of the Democratic Party supporting the Anglo-Persian treaty; however, this claim could not be refuted without fear of punishment from the government.
After less than two years in power, it was very clear that the Vossough-ed-Dowleh‘s dictatorship failed. After the Shah had returned from a 10 month trip to Europe, Vossough asked for the power to deal with the present and portent uprising… but the Shah felt it would be more advantageous to undergo a policy of public appeasement than one by force. Vossough did not obtain the powers he wanted and subsequently resigned. Adding to this failure is
the Jangali resistance‘s capability to force the British from Enzeli and Rasht in May 1920 and this caused unrest for the British.The failure of Vossough-ed-Dowleh was very severe for the British and achieved military dictatorship through the coup d'état of February 21, 1921. The Persian Cossack army forced Ahmad Shah to appoint Seyed Zia-ed-Din, a protégé of the British and understudy of Vossough as prime minister and coup leader Reza Khan as commander of the Cossacks. The British denied knowing about or being a part of the February coup stating that it was an effort by the Persian Cossacks who grew tired of the continual successions of ―inefficient governments, but as it pans out, these declarations and reports must be taken with a grain of salt. Such is evident when comparing the American and British versions of Reza Khan‘s ―selection as Shah,―The British version…gives the impression that Reza Khan was a popular national leader who was acclaimed shah by the people. However, unlike the American account, the British version fails to mention the decapitated bodies of Reza Khan‘s opponents appearing outside the walls of the Majlis. Furthering the connection between Reza Khan and the British, it is reported that he assured the British officials that ‗he would do with Persians hands that which the British wished to do with British hands.
Reza Khan became the minister of war and commander of the armed forces by April 1921 and Seyed Zia was removed and forced to leave Persia in May 1921, due to a quarrel between the two individuals. Eventually, we see Ahmad Shah appointing Reza Khan as prime minister, all the while he was known to abuse the kin and prince openly and often threatened to chain up the king‘s sons as he
desired. October 31, 1925 marks the Majlis passing a law to abolish the Qajar monarchy and establishing Reza Khan as the Provisional Head of State, after
having been asked a day before, at Reza Khan‘s residence, to vote in
favor of abolishing the Qajars. Reza Khan took the oath to become shah on December 15, 1925
December 16, 1925 is the official date of accession. The day of his accession, Reza Khan responded to King George of England saying: I offer to Your Majesty my deep thanks for the friendly sentiments and congratulations that Your Majesty has expressed on the occasion of my accession to the Throne. I am absolutely confident that during my reign the good relations between the two countries will more than ever be furthered and strengthened. I take this occasion to express my and my people‘s good wishes for the prosperity of Your Majesty and the Royal Family, and for the splendor and greatness of the noble people of England.
These are strong words and sentiments to an individual and government once claiming to not know about the coup that would eventually place Reza Khan in this position.
Persia‘s involvement in World War I is directly linked to foreign intervention in Persia by the belligerent powers of World War I. Had the Russians not been in northern Persia, the Ottomans would unlikely have felt the need to ―aid their Muslim brothers in defeating an infidel power and the Germans could not propagate the idea that Russia and Britain wanted to divide and conquer Persia. Had the Ottomans and the Germans not been a ―menace and ―threat in
Persia, it would be unlikely that Britain could legitimately proclaim its involvement in Persia as a necessity to eliminate the Ottoman-German threat. As the Russians, the Ottomans, and the Germans leave Persia, Britain gained the opportunity for total occupation of the country to secure its oil and other economic interests. The meddling of the foreign powers in Persia also enhanced the damage the famine caused to the Persian people — a loss of approximately 8-10 million Persians due to starvation or disease. What is stunning is the awareness of the famine, but all the while the British forces continued to buy Persian products and prevented importation of foodstuffs from their other occupied territories or other countries. Furthermore, the pyroclastic flow of Persian politics — having pro-British individuals appointed into positions of power and simultaneously removing anti-British individuals — and the February coup which led the way to abolishing the Qajar dynasty and initiating the Pahlavi Dynasty with Reza Khan as the new Shah happened because Britain was pulling all the strings behind the scene. The foreign intervention in Persia during World War I weakened the Qajar dynasty and paved the road for continued intervention of Persian affairs by the belligerent powers.