Foreign Intervention and Anti-People Shah

  January 30, 2022   Read time 2 min
Foreign Intervention and Anti-People Shah
The storm broke on December 15,1907, when the Shah summoned the Cabinet to the palace and had Näsir al-Mulk, the Prime Minister, imprisoned with a chain around his neck.

He also hired ruffians, mostly muleteers and grooms, who, under the protection of the Shah’s Cossacks, agitated against the Majlis. The Russian bank provided the Shah with the money, which he raised on the security of jewels and other valuables, for paying his hired agitators. People from all walks of life took up arms and protected the Majlis building while the deputies were in session. On December 18, 1907, after receiving visits from the French and the Turkish Ambassadors, the Shah gave in, promising to punish the rioters whom he had incited.

This abortive coup d’état intensified the enmity between the Shah, still supported by Russia, and the Majlis in spite of the latter’s conciliatory efforts, between December 1907 and May 1908, to improve relations with the Shah. The Majlis continued to demand the dismissal from their posts of six of the most stubborn anti-Constitutionalists while the Shah was pressing for restrictions on the freedom of the press and speech. The most obnoxious of the six were Amir Bahadur Jang and Shapshäl Khan, the Shah’s Russian ex-tutor. Having obtained some concessions from the Majlis, the Shah consented to their dismissal, but they did not go far away. Amir Bahadur Jang took refuge in the Russian Legation, and Shapshäl Khan, with Colonel Liakhoff, the Russian commander of the Persian Cossacks, secretly plotted against the deputies.

In the meantime De Hartwig, the Russian Minister, accompanied by the British chargé d’affaires, visited the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs and said to him: The life of the Shah is in jeopardy. What business have these Nationalists to interfere with His Majesty’s personal servants, especially the old Amir Bahadur Jang who watches over his master’s safety like a faithful watch-dog? The onjutnans and Nationalists have transgressed all bounds, and wish now to depose the Shah. This we can not tolerate, and should it happen, Russia will be compelled to interfere and will do so with the approval and sanction of England.

Russia’s intervention in favor of the Shah and his Russian agents stiffened the opposition to the Constitutional regime. The Shah, with the aid of Liakhoff and Shapshäl Khän, embarked upon a plan for the destruction of the Bahâristân, the Majlis building, and the dispersal of the deputies. Ostensibly for rest and fresh air, but in reality in order to prepare for waging war against the Majlis, he left the dty and resided in Bägh-i Shah (“King’s Garden”), to which he moved arms and ammunition. He collected troops, seized all the telegraph offices, cut off the Majlis from communication with the provinces, established martial law, and filled the town with Cossack patrols under the command of Liakhoff. He then demanded the expulsion from the capital of eight of the great nationalist leaders and the suppression of the press. The nationalists and their sympathizers reacted with vigor and speed. Nationalist volunteers took up arms and gathered in the precincts of the Bahâristân. Riots broke out in the provinces, and the city of Tabriz dispatched 300 horsemen for “the defense of the Constitution.”

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