For three decades Ardeshir Zahedi played one of the most significant roles in the political history of modern Iran. As a trusted adviser, confidant, son-in-law, and friend, he played an influential role in the life of the last Shah from 1953 until the king’s death in Egypt in 1980. As a diplomat, he twice served as ambassador to the United States, ambassador to the Court of St. James and for seven years as foreign minister of Iran. He has known and worked with seven U.S. presidents. In the early fifties, he was witness and principal aide to his father in the tumultuous rise and fall of Mohammad Mossadegh and the appointment of his father as prime minister.
This volume reveals, with honesty and detail, the intimate life of Iranian political society and the imperial court. It recounts in detail the background and events of the summer of 1953 that led to the fall of Mossadegh and the coming to power of Fazlollah Zahedi, the author’s father. Also included in the book are previously unpublished documents that shine a new light on the events.
Ardeshir was born in 1928. He is a descendant of two families that have shaped the history of Iran. His father, Fazlollah Zahedi (1897–1963), served as prime minister and was an important political and military figure of the Pahlavi period. His mother’s father, Hossein Pirnia Motamen ol-Molk, served as the first prime minister of Iran after the establishment of the constitution in the early twentieth century.
During World War II, when Ardeshir was twelve, his father, who was the commander of the Isfahan military division, was arrested by the British and imprisoned in Palestine. After the war Ardeshir ventured abroad to study in Beirut and the United States. He returned to Iran to play an important role in the political life of his country alongside his father and the Shah, Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi. A few years later, he and Princess Shahnaz, the Shah’s first child, fell in love and were married. The narrative of the courtship and marriage, which sadly lasted only seven years, is recounted in the next volume of his memoirs.
In 1968, as foreign minister, on behalf of Iran he signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In 1977, while ambassador to the United States, he helped negotiate and free 149 hostages held by Hanafi Muslims at the B’nai B’rith headquarters.
He presently lives in Montreux in Switzerland and is considered one of the most prominent personalities of the Iranian Diaspora. He has been condemned to death by the courts of the revolutionary government of Iran.
[Ardeshir Zahedi] had not only given all who crossed his path a lift in making diplomacy work, in making the U.S. and Iran closer than ever before, he had been generous not only to the powerful, but to Washington charities, and, very quietly, he had given money even to strangers in need whom he read about in the newspapers. He had braved angry American campuses to tell students “not how great his country was, but how great our country is.” I have known no one in his position who at the same time has proven his loyalty to his own country and had so much love for our country.
— Ronald Reagan
Ardeshir was … [a] tall, handsome young man, he is among the very few I have known whom I believe to be without any sense of fear. He was not reckless beyond reason, but he would and did risk his skin fearlessly when he thought it was important and right to do so. “Right,” to him, meant “in the interests of Iran.”
— William Warne,
Director of Truman’s Point Four Program in Iran
Ardeshir was a serious effective and visionary diplomat, who negotiated the release of 165 hostages who had been captured and held at gunpoint by Hanafi Muslim terrorists in Washington, D.C., in March 1977.
— Senator Edward William Brooke
Veteran Iranian journalist Ahmad Ahrar is presently the editor in chief of the Kayhan newspaper published in London.
Farhang Jahanpour received his PhD from the University of Cambridge in Oriental Studies. He was formerly professor and Dean of the Faculty of Languages at the University of Isfahan, Iran and has also taught at the Universities of Cambridge, Reading and Oxford after which Dr Jahanpour worked for 18 years as the Editor for Middle East and North Africa for the BBC. He has edited and written an introduction to Nuzhat Nama-ye ’Ala‘i, an eleventh century encyclopaedia of natural sciences, history and literature and has translated Arnold Toynbee‘s Civilization on Trial.
Ardeshir Zahedi photograph courtesy of Tino Zahedi © Tino Zahedi