Last week, in his Swiss villa on the shores of Lake Montreux, a notorious figure in the near history of the Middle East closed his eyes to the cruel world and quietly breathed his last. Instead of a family announcement, official Iranian media sources revealed the disappearance of Ardeshir Zahedi, who had forged critical ties between Tehran and the West, especially the United States, since before 1979.
Ardeshir Zahedi, who was born as the son of one of Reza Shah’s most prominent generals, Fazlullah Zahedi, in Tehran in 1928, traveled to the United States where he studied for a college degree. He first tried his luck with Ivy-League Colombia University in New York, but his English was declared insufficient, which sent him to pack his bags in the state of Utah, where he studied. agriculture. In 1949, he met and befriended the young Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi from Iran, visiting Utah, ushering in a whole new era in Zahedi’s life.
Long live the Shah?
When Iranian Nationalist Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh was overthrown in a planned CIA coup in 1953, the main culprit on the ground was General Fazlullah Zahedi. After the reign of Mossadegh, whose only crime was “to nationalize Iranian fuel, by disobeying the United States and the United Kingdom, General Zahedi was brought to the seat of Prime Minister.” Ardeshir, who was 25 when tensions reached a boiling point, of course sided with his father and, by default, Shah Mohammed Reza. His loyalty to the Shah was so strong that after two years, when his father was dismissed from his post because he had become too “powerful”, he supported Mohammed Reza. His loyalty was crowned with an award in the form of the Shah’s daughter, Princess Shahnaz Pahlavi, whom he married in 1957. Princess Shahnaz was the offspring of Mohammed Reza’s marriage to Princess Fawzia, the king’s daughter Egyptian Fouad and King Farouk’s sister. By entering into such a marriage, Zahed forged a kinship with another royal family, although deposed at the time.
Cementing his admiration for the Shah by becoming his son-in-law, Ardeshir began to climb the steps of the Iranian Foreign Ministry at lightning speed. After being refused entry to one of America’s most prestigious universities because of his “insufficient English”, he served as Ambassador to the United States between 1960 and 1962 and then held the same post at London. Zahedi, whom British intelligence reports called “misfit and unsuccessful” during his tenure at the embassy between 1962 and 1966, divorced the Shah’s daughter during the same period. Oddly enough, instead of pitting the Shah against him, it only brought the two closer together. Ardeshir Zahedi was then appointed to the Iranian Foreign Ministry in 1966; Seven years later, he was appointed to the Washington embassy, where he remained until the Shah’s ouster.
Ardeshir Zahedi’s career in foreign affairs, which continued unabated from 1960 to 1979, marked a period when political and economic alliances between Iran and the West reached strategic dimensions. The glamorous parties he threw at his embassy’s residence in Washington rivaled the flapper generation. These evenings, where all kinds of moral debauchery were exhibited and subsequently revealed many embarrassing details, brought together the stars of politics, art and cinema of the time. “I combine business with pleasure,” Zahedi said, noting that these parties had led to the signing of multi-million dollar deals.
However, this trajectory has led to a strange conclusion in the United States: these colorful shebangs, which Zahedi organized to contribute to the image of Iran, ironically led the decision-makers in the American capital Washington to delude themselves about it. from Iran. Jimmy Carter, who visited Tehran just before the fall of the Shah, praised a dictator who had turned the streets into a bloodbath, saying: “You have created an island of stability in one. from the most troubled regions of the world. We would only have to wait a year to see how far his words were from reality. Legend.
After 93 years of the journey we call life, all the holidays are now over for Ardeshir Zahedi. What remains are valuable lessons for those who study history closely.