Son of Mohammad Reza Sardar Fateh Bakhtiari and Nazbeigom, Shapur Bakhtiar was born in Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari, 1915. He was the grandson of Samsam-ol-saltaneh who became prime minister two times in the constitutional period. His primary education was in Shahr e Kord and Isfahan and he went to high school in Beirut French School.
He left for France to get higher education, but had to return having heard of the execution of four members of his family as a consequence of their disputes with Reza Shah. Again after two years he went to France to continue his education and get his PhD in international law from Sorbonne. On his return, he was employed in the ministry of labor.
In Mossaddeq’s cabinet, he became minister of labor. Subsequent to 19th August 1953 coup, he was arrested and was condemned to three years imprisonment, but after two years he was forgiven and was released from prison. He cooperated with some of Mossaddeq’s close friends including Mehdi Bazargan to form a secret committee known as national resistance movement. Again due to the national front’s opposition to a referendum planned by the Shah, he was arrested in 1962 and was imprisoned until September 1963.
Fourteen years later, simultaneous with the Iranian movement against the Shah’s reign in Iran, political activists including Bakhtiar wrote an open letter to the Shah and criticizing the chaotic socio political and economic situation of the country, asked for fundamental reforms to be carried out in the country.
The Shah’s failure to control the Islamic revolution led him to follow the US policies and to employ national and revolutionary figures in his government. Many of these personalities had a realistic understanding of the situation and refused to comply with the Shah’s requests. However, Shahpur Bakhtiar admitted the Shah’s proposal at the expense of being driven away by his comrades. He was the Shah’s last hope to save his regime.
He attended the Majlis in Nov. 12th, 1978 and announced his cabinet members.
Among his urgent plans, it may be referred to the closing down of SAVAK, the release of political prisoners, and abolishing of martial law.
Eventually, the Shah left Iran in Nov.7th 1978 with wet eyes. Regardless of Bakhtiar’s optimism, the Shah’s exit was an important progress in the process of the Islamic revolution. However Imam Khomeini delivered a speech and informed the nation of the US new policy to support Bakhtiar in order to save the Shah’s regime and pacify the people; he asked people to hold demonstrations and show their dissatisfaction with Bakhtiar’s administration and the trend of the situation went in such a way that the staff of the ministries refused to accept the new ministers and the cabinet members were devoid of any authority and credentials.
Bakhtiar’s efforts to meet Imam Khomeini were unsuccessful and Imam asked for his resignation. Subsequent to Imam’s arrival to Iran, Bakhtiar refused the formation of the provisional government but proposed to cooperate with Imam’s supporters.
Following some ups and downs, Bakhtiar’s government fell and after six months living in one of his relatives’ house, he made his escape from Iran in disguise and eventually was murdered in his villa in the suburb of Paris, 1991.