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Memoirs of M.E. Amirteymour Kalali [Persian Language]

Habib Ladjevardi, editor
ISBN: 0-932885-17-9
Format: Softcover
Trim: 5½ x 8½ inches
Publication Date: 01/01/1997
Pages: 358
Language: Persian

$30.00
 
   
 

DESCRIPTION

Mohammad Ebrahim Amirteymour Kalali, also known as Sardar Nosrat, was born in 1894 in the northeastern province of Khorasan to a prominent landed family. For generations his family led the Teymouri tribe, and his father, Amir Alimardan Khan, was granted the title of Nosrat al-Molk by Nassereddin Shah. At his death in 1988, Amirteymour was 93 years old, his life having spanned a century that had also shaped modern Iran. For almost 70 years, his privileged position as landowner, tribal leader, and statesman put him at the center of major events of the period, both as eyewitness and participant. When he was interviewed in 1982, he was 87 years old, an old man bent with age, but with a vivid memory for people, places, and events long past and a gift for story telling. His memoir adds important detail to the chronicles of modern Iran.
Amirteymour begins his story from the 1910s when Ahmad Shah, the last of the Qajar kings, was on the throne. When barely twenty years old, he takes over the Teymouri tribe, where as tribal chief he commands a number of battles and raids along the border with Afghanistan. One battle concludes when Amirteymour’s men present him with the decapitated heads of his adversaries.

In 1918 he journeys to Tehran to marry Hajeb Davalou, the daughter of Hajeb al-Dowleh, an official of the Qajar Court. It is during this visit that he first meets Ahmad Ghavam al-Saltaneh, one of the major political figures of twentieth century Iran, and becomes captivated by him. In a country in which influence comes with age, young Amirteymour manages to persuade Ghavam to accept the Governorship of Khorasan, and even more remarkable, obtains an audience with Ahmad Shah to urge the king to appoint Ghavam governor. Once Ghavam arrives in Mashhad, Amirteymour becomes his close adviser, and is appointed by Ghavam as mayor of Quchan.

Between 1920 and 1921 two events prove critical in shaping Amirteymour's future. In August1920 Colonel Mohammad Taghi Khan Pessian arrives in Khorasan as commander of the gendarmerie. Six months later, Reza Khan (later Reza Shah) marches into Tehran and overthrows the government. As his first act the new prime minister, Seyyed Zia Tabatabaii, orders the arrest of many notables, including Ghavam al-Saltaneh. The task of arresting Ghavam falls to Colonel Pessian.

Amirteymour provides an eyewitness account of those events and recounts his own temporary detention. He describes the reversal of fortune that led to the appointment of Ghavam al-Saltaneh as prime minister and Ghavam's decision to discharge and arrest Pessian. Although the history of the ensuing rebellion (some have called it revolution) is well documented, Amirteymour's recollections add a personal and emotional dimension to those events. He describes the battles between the gendarmerie loyal to Pessian, and tribesmen loyal to Ghavam, attempts at mediation by local dignitaries, and finally the death of the Colonel during the battle against the local Kurds. Not knowing the outcome of those events, Amirteymour walks a perilous path between his oath of loyalty to the Colonel and fear of retribution by the powerful Ghavam.

Amirteymour develops many of his contacts and friendships with the key political figures of thecountry during his tenure as Majles deputy in Tehran. He first participates in the elections for the Fifth Session of the Majles (1924-26), and according to his own account, wins the votes but loses the seat because he is under the minimum age requirement of thirty years. He is elected to the Sixth Session and reelected through the Ninth Session ending in 1934.

He recalls his friendships and encounters with some of those figures like Seyyed Hassan Modarres, Vossough al-Dowleh, and Motamen al-Molk, the president of the Majles. The people he describes seem larger than the statesmen and political figures that followed them. They are bolder and more outspoken. For example, he recalls an incident in which Motamen al-Molk and about a dozen Majles deputies, including Amirteymour, go to the palace for an audience with Reza Shah. The delegation waits for ten minutes, after which Motamen al-Molk orders his colleagues to walkout with him in protest to the monarch's tardiness.

Amirteymour also gives details about how Modarres, one of the people he most reveres, and Abdolhossein Teymourtash, the powerful court minister and a close friend, both fall out of favor with Reza Shah and are eventually imprisoned and killed during their detention. While most historians condemn Vossough al-Dowleh for signing the Anglo-Persian Treaty of 1919, Amirteymour holds him in high regard as a capable leader devoted to Iran.

An eyewitness to the Gowharshad Mosque incident in 1935, Amirteymour describes the preacher, Bohloul, who delivers fiery sermons against Reza Shah and his order forcing men to wear European hats and clothing. The sermons result in widespread protest in Mashhad that are suppressed by the army. While the suppression is blamed on Governor General Assadi, who is later executed because of it, Amirteymour believes Assadi was innocent, made a scapegoat.

Amirteymour participates in the forceful removal of the veil. He describes a reception he is ordered by Reza Shah to organize at his home in 1936. He invites the leading dignitaries of the holy city of Mashhad and their wives who are ordered to attend without the veil. He then follows this reception by another for the city's clerics and their wives.

Despite these acts of obedience, Amirteymour falls out of favor with Reza Shah, having, as he describes, angered the monarch with his insolence. He is consequently excluded from the Majles during the Tenth and Eleventh Sessions, and allowed to seek reelection to the Twelfth Session (1940-42).

By this time, he is a seasoned legislator and a key player in one of the liveliest and most contentious periods in Iran's modern political history. He is a witness to Iran's occupation by the Allies and an active participant in the political battles with the Tudeh leaders in the Majles. He plays a critical role in the rejection of the credentials of Mir Jafar Pishevari, who subsequently leads the movement for an autonomous Azerbaijan.

By the late 1940s, the royal court is increasingly intervening in the political affairs of the country. Amirteymour describes Princess Ashraf's attempt to solicit his cooperation to oust Prime Minister Ghavam. While refusing to cooperate in this intrigue, Amirteymour takes steps to mediate between Ghavam and the Princess.

His independent posture and opposition to the Gass-Golshaeyan oil agreement leads to his appointment to Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh's cabinet in 1951. His observations on Mossadegh's cabinet, if validated, provide important insights on the reasons for the cabinet’s failure. And his vignettes on the influential Ayatollah Abolghassem Kashani, whose withdrawal of support from the prime minister was a mortal blow to the oil nationalization movement, are both enlightening and amusing.

He is evasive on his own role in the coup of August 1953 and his whereabouts during those days. His affection and high regard for Dr. Hossein Fatemi, Mossadegh’s foreign minister, however, are clearly stated. He describes the activities of Dr. Fatemi during the crucial days of August, Dr. Fatemi's arrest and the treatment of his young bride by the arresting security forces, Fatemi's indignation and the subsequent fiery speech he delivers against the Shah, his arrest, trial, and execution.

Amirteymour is elected to the Eighteenth Session of the Majles during the premiership of General Fazlollah Zahedi. This election indicates that at a minimum he was not considered a foe by those who had overthrown Mossadegh. He describes his opposition to a section of the oil Consortium agreement. This opposition leads to an audience with Mohammad Reza Shah, who urges him to withdraw his objection. But, Amirteymour finds a way to appease the Shah without withdrawing his amendment.

Amirteymour's influence begins to wane with the introduction of the land reform program in the 1960s. As an important landowner, he opposes agrarian reform. He is unable (or unwilling) to either acknowledge or describe his role and the role of other landowners in actively opposing this initiative. His opposition leaves him outside the political arena after the early 1960s. From this period, he is an observer of events, no longer a participant. But for a half a century he proves himself a shrewd politician. Though he participated in many major events of the period, often straddling the line between the opposing camps, he managed to survive, outlasting his contemporaries.

As an observer of later events, Amirteymour laments the Shah's decision to appoint young technocrats to high posts because he considers them unseasoned and out of touch with Iran's people, Culture, and history. like a number of other elder statesmen, Amirteymour had an audience with the Shah during the eve of the revolution. In his memoirs, he reports on their conversation and on his own dismay of how the monarchy collapsed. He holds the Shah's policies and leadership directly responsible for the demise of the monarchyAmirteymour participates in the forceful removal of the veil. He describes a reception he is ordered by Reza Shah to organize at his home in 1936. He invites the leading dignitaries of the holy city of Mashhad and their wives who are ordered to attend without the veil. He then follows this reception by another for the city's clerics and their wives.

Despite these acts of obedience, Amirteymour falls out of favor with Reza Shah, having, as he describes, angered the monarch with his insolence. He is consequently excluded from the Majles during the Tenth and Eleventh Sessions, and allowed to seek reelection to the Twelfth Session (1940-42).

By this time, he is a seasoned legislator and a key player in one of the liveliest and most contentious periods in Iran's modern political history. He is a witness to Iran's occupation by the Allies and an active participant in the political battles with the Tudeh leaders in the Majles. He plays a critical role in the rejection of the credentials of Mir Jafar Pishevari, who subsequently leads the movement for an autonomous Azerbaijan.

By the late 1940s, the royal court is increasingly intervening in the political affairs of the country. Amirteymour describes Princess Ashraf's attempt to solicit his cooperation to oust Prime Minister Ghavam. While refusing to cooperate in this intrigue, Amirteymour takes steps to mediate between Ghavam and the Princess.

His independent posture and opposition to the Gass-Golshaeyan oil agreement leads to his appointment to Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh's cabinet in 1951. His observations on Mossadegh's cabinet, if validated, provide important insights on the reasons for the cabinet’s failure. And his vignettes on the influential Ayatollah Abolghassem Kashani, whose withdrawal of support from the prime minister was a mortal blow to the oil nationalization movement, are both enlightening and amusing.

He is evasive on his own role in the coup of August 1953 and his whereabouts during those days.

His affection and high regard for Dr. Hossein Fatemi, Mossadegh’s foreign minister, however, are clearly stated. He describes the activities of Dr. Fatemi during the crucial days of August, Dr. Fatemi's arrest and the treatment of his young bride by the arresting security forces, Fatemi's indignation and the subsequent fiery speech he delivers against the Shah, his arrest, trial, and execution.

Amirteymour is elected to the Eighteenth Session of the Majles during the premiership of General Fazlollah Zahedi. This election indicates that at a minimum he was not considered a foe by those who had overthrown Mossadegh. He describes his opposition to a section of the oil Consortium agreement. This opposition leads to an audience with Mohammad Reza Shah, who urges him to withdraw his objection. But, Amirteymour finds a way to appease the Shah without withdrawing his amendment.

Amirteymour's influence begins to wane with the introduction of the land reform program in the 1960s. As an important landowner, he opposes agrarian reform. He is unable (or unwilling) to either acknowledge or describe his role and the role of other landowners in actively opposing this initiative. His opposition leaves him outside the political arena after the early 1960s. From this period, he is an observer of events, no longer a participant. But for a half a century he proves himself a shrewd politician. Though he participated in many major events of the period, often straddling the line between the opposing camps, he managed to survive, outlasting his contemporaries.

As an observer of later events, Amirteymour laments the Shah's decision to appoint young technocrats to high posts because he considers them unseasoned and out of touch with Iran's people, Culture, and history. like a number of other elder statesmen, Amirteymour had an audience with the Shah during the eve of the revolution. In his memoirs, he reports on their conversation and on his own dismay of how the monarchy collapsed. He holds the Shah's policies and leadership directly responsible for the demise of the monarchy

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Schooling in England
Service in the Royal Mail: 1936-39
Employment at Mobil Oil Company: 1939-42
Officer in the Royal Navy
Ahmad Shah and His Dethronement
Discussion on the Restoration of the Qajars
On Prince Mohammad Hassan Mirza
Political Culture of the Court
Character of Prince Mohammad Hassan Mirza
Abdication of Reza Shah & Restoration of Qajars
Coup of 1925
Prince Mohammad Hassan Mirza In Exile
Life in England
Return to Iran: 1957
Interrogation by the SAVAK
On Ghavam al-Saltaneh
The Iranian Character
More on Ghavam al-Saltaneh
On Mozaffar Firouz
On the Pahlavis
On Princess Ashraf

EDITOR

Habib Ladjevardi has been the director of the Iranian Oral History Project at Harvard University since 1981. Born in Tehran, he grew up in Scarsdale, N.Y., and was educated at the Yale Engineering School and the Harvard Business School. Dr. Ladjevardi returned to Iran in 1963 and began work as personnel manager in his family's business. Subsequently he was responsible for founding the Iran Center for Management Studies in Tehran, where he taught until 1976. He also served on a number of boards and councils in the private and public sectors. Dr. Ladjevardi received his Ph.D. from the University of Oxford in 1981.

 
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