Reza Khan in the Eyes of the Compatriots: Reza Yazdanpanah

  June 13, 2022   Read time 4 min
Reza Khan in the Eyes of the Compatriots: Reza Yazdanpanah
In 1919 he [Reza Khan] became the head of my brigade. He was then a Brigadier. I had the rank of Colonel and became his deputy. It was during the war with the Bolsheviks in Gilan. From the beginning he was a dignified and thoughtful person.

He had been in Farmanfarma's circle, during which time he had eventually become a Major... Reza Khan m ust have been green in those days but because of his proximity to Farmanfarma he was soon introduced to politics and politicians. Later he got to know Nosrat al Dowleh, from whom he learned even more about politics... Later Reza Khan joined the plot to oust Clerge which resulted in Starosselsky becoming the head of the Cossacks. However. Starosselsky soon turned against Reza Khan and wanted to discredit him. The British did not trust the Russian officers who commanded the Cossacks. They wanted to eliminate the Cossack Division and create a unified armed force. During Vosouq al Dowleh’s Government Reza Khan became close to the British militaiy mission through Nosrat al Dowleh. He told the head of the mission [Gen. Dickson] that he was willing to take steps toward the removal of the Russian officers. He assured Dickson that it was an easy task and he was willing to take the risk. Soon thereafter all the Russian officers were ousted.

Later Reza Khan returned to Gilan [to the campaign against Kouchek Khan] and I was with him. After a while we started back towards Tehran and stayed in a village belonging to Ahmad Shah about 30 kilometres from Qazvln. One day Reza Khan prepared a telegram and gave it to one of our trusted sergeants to take to Qazvin for transmission to Tehran... A few days later the sergeant returned with the reply. Reza Khan read it and was joyous... He began dancing and whistling and snapping his fingers and kept saying eveiything will be all right now. He m ust have said in his telegram that he was ready and prepared to move and the time was propitious. The reply telegram was a confirmation that he could do so. We then moved closer to Tehran and camped at another village. It was there that two people whom I did not know called on him one day. They were introduced as Major Mas’oud Khan and Colonel Kazem Khan Sayyah. He introduced me to them and added that I was like his son and that he kept no secrets from me. Reza Khan was the consummate political artist. All one saw was the surface layer but there were a hundred layers beneath.

I first met Seyyed Zia a few days later. Reza Khan introduced him as His Excellency Seyyed Zia, the future Prime Minister of Iran. Seyyed Zia asked Reza Khan what he needed. Reza Khan said first and foremost clothes. Seyyed Zia said they would shortly arrive. ‘Anything else?* asked Seyyed Zia. Reza Khan said the salary of the men and officers had not been paid for three months. Seyyed Zia said the money would reach us that very day. The clothes arrived with English-made shoes, and bags of money in silver coins arrived, with which eveiyone was given back pay.

Reza Khan told me to tell my men to have lunch and an early dinner and be ready by sunset. We did it all. After dinner the men were assembled. Reza Khan climbed on a stool and addressed them: ‘Dear comrades-inarms, you were eyewitnesses to our situation in Gilan. We were neck deep in mud and filth. They gave us no clothes, did not pay our salary and we were forgotten. We m ust put an end to this state of affairs. I have been inspired by God to rectify this intolerable situation. The soldiers applauded. He dismissed the soldiers and when eveiyone had left only Seyyed Zia and I remained. Reza Khan seemed a little embarrassed. He insisted that he had had no intention of invoking the name of God in his talk to the men. Seyyed Zia said no harm was done and in any event it was a good omen. He hoped God would inspire us all and help us to succeed in our mission to save and reform our country.

We started at midnight. There were 600 of us. Tehran was undefended. The Tehran contingent of the Cossacks had been instructed to stay put in their barracks and lock all the gates. Habibollah Khan Sheibani with a few Gendarmes was in charge of maintaining order in the city. We entered Tehran. A few shots were fired and two people were accidentally killed. We took control of the city. The gates of the Tehran Cossack barracks were opened and the coup became a fact. We took over the entire machinery of government. It did not take long for misunderstandings with Seyyed Zia to develop.

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