Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (Persian: محمدرضا پهلوی, pronounced [mohæmˈmæd reˈzɒː pæhlæˈviː]; 26 October 1919 – 27 July 1980), also known as Mohammad Reza Shah (محمدرضا شاه), was the last Shah (King) of the Imperial State of Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow in the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979. Due to his status as the last Shah of Iran, he is often known as simply the Shah.
Mohammad Reza Shah took the title Shahanshah ("King of Kings") on 26 October 1967. He was the second and last monarch of the House of Pahlavi. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi held several other titles, including that of Aryamehr ("Light of the Aryans") and Bozorg Arteshtaran ("Commander-in-Chief"). His dream of what he referred to as a "Great Civilization" (Persian: تمدن بزرگ, romanized: tamadon-e bozorg) in Iran led to a rapid industrial and military modernization, as well as economic and social reforms.
Mohammad Reza came to power during World War II after an Anglo-Soviet invasion forced the abdication of his father, Reza Shah Pahlavi. During Mohammad Reza's reign, the British owned oil industry was briefly nationalized by Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh until a Army coup d'état supported by the UK and the US deposed Mosaddegh, reinstalled the Shah, and brought back foreign oil firms under the Consortium Agreement of 1954.
Mohammad Reza introduced the White Revolution, a series of economic, social and political reforms with the proclaimed intention of transforming Iran into a global power and modernizing the nation by nationalizing key industries and granting women suffrage. During his 38-year rule, Iran spent billions on industry, education, health, and armed forces and enjoyed economic growth rates exceeding the United States, England, and France. The national income also rose 423 times over. By 1977, Iran's armed services spending had made it the world's fifth strongest military.
Mohammad Reza lost support from the Shi'a clergy of Iran and the working class due to alleged corruption related to himself and the royal family, suppression of political dissent via Iran's intelligence agency, SAVAK (including the arrest of up to 3,200 political prisoners), widespread torture and imprisonment of political dissidents, banishment of the Tudeh Party, U.S. and UK support for his regime, his modernization policies, laïcité or secularism, conflict with wealthy merchants known as bazaaris, relations with Israel, and clashes with leftists and Islamists.
By 1978, this political unrest became a popular revolution leading to the monarchy's overthrow. The Jaleh Square massacre, where his military killed and wounded dozens of protestors; the Cinema Rex fire, an arson attack largely but erroneously blamed on SAVAK in Abadan; defections and mutinies in the armed forces; the Muharram protests of over 5 million Iranians; and a meeting of western leaders that the Shah felt was a withdrawal of their support, made his position in Iran untenable. He left Iran for exile on 17 January 1979. While the Shah told his contemporaries in the West that he would rather leave than fire on his people, his military killed many non-violent protesters, with the total number of people killed during the revolution ranging from 2,000 (Western figures) to 60,000 (figures of the Islamic Republic of Iran). Soon thereafter, the Iranian monarchy was formally abolished, and Iran was declared an Islamic republic led by Ruhollah Khomeini. The Shah died in exile in Egypt, whose president, Anwar Sadat, had granted him asylum.