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the foundation of political philosophy in Iran-constitutional period

The foundation of political philosophy in Iran-constitutional period


Iranian Contemporary History No. 60


History Hall


  Reza Khan and 1921 Coup

Rozita Miri


February 22nd 1921 coup of Reza Khan may be considered a turning point in the political relationship of Iran and the Britain. As 1917 revolution of the Russia has deprived the Qajars from Russian support, it was time for its rival to expand its influence more than ever.


The main purpose of the coup was to take Ahmad Shah's control over the military power of the Cossack Brigade. So it was necessary to dislodge Colonel Staroselski, the commandant of the Cossacks from its position. Subsequent to his removal, a senior British officer, Colonel Smayce who came to Iran for the training of the new army, was appointed to deal with the Cossack brigade affairs. Despite Majlis having appointed Sardar Homayun as Cossack commandent, General Ironside and colonel Smayce had invested Reza Khan with powers to carry out the coup. However, it could not be done without the help of domestic elements. Seyyed Ziaaddin Tabatabi was one of those who had taken oath to fulfill the coup.


It is said that there were five people including Seyyed Ziaaddin, Reza Khan mirpanj, Major Massud Khan, colonel Ahmad Agha khan AmirAhmadi, and colonel Kazem Khan Sayyah, who were united and sealed the back of the Holy Koran to carry out their plan.


Since 1913 Ardeshir Ji's network had been connected to Reza Khan through Mirza Karim Khan Rashti and somehow undertook his political training. Ardeshir Ji believed that Seyyed Zia had performed his task well and his incentive was to help his country, but he exaggerated in showing off his connection with the British. Seyyed Zia in many occasions has said that events of the coup were secrets and should not be mentioned. However the existing telegrams between the British foreign secretary and the British minister in Iran and further to that General Ironside's diaries reveal the British nature of the coup.


Though General Ironside is known as the architect of 1921 coup, if is evident it would not achieve its goals without the support of domestic elements, especially the Zargandeh committee, the members of which were in close connection with the British Legation. As one of its most secret members of the committee, Mirza Karim Khan Rashti has confessed to his being a mediator between the Legation and Reza Khan.


The coup aimed at the establishment of military dictatorship all over the country and within a few days closed the publication of all dailies in the country.

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Reza Khan Pahlavi, guard of Dutch legation in Tehran standing beside the Dutch minister in Iran

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Reza Khan giving instructions on shooting with a machine gun

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Reza Khan Mirpanj, commander of Hamedan brigade among the members; 1. Morteza Yazdanpanah, 2. Iraj Matbui, 3. Reza Khan Pahlavi

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Brigadier general Reza Khan and Captain Markov among the Iranian and Russian officers of the Cossack Brigade; 1. Captain Markov, 2. Brigadier general Reza Khan, 3. Morteza Yazdanpanah, 4. Iraj Matbui

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Some Iranian and Russian commanders of the Cossack brigade

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The British garrison and airport in Qazvin

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General Ironside and general Haldin over Tigris, subsequent to 1921 coup

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The British Legation in Tehran

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Some members of the British statesmen and military men in Cairo, subsequent to 1921 coup in Iran; sitting from the left: Malcolm Stones, Walter Conger, Herbert Samuel, Winston Churchill, Sir Percy Cox, Aylmer Holdin, General Ironside, Percy Radcliff

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Seyyed Ziaaddin Tabatabai and Moin-ot-Tojjar Bushehri

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Ardeshir Ji, one of the main British agents in 1921 coup

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Seyyed Ziaaddin Tabatabai, Iranian prime minister, after 1921 coup

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Seyyed Ziaadin Tabatabai, the prime minister, minister of interior accompanied by the minister of war, Reza Khan and some of the authorities: 1. Reza Khan, 2. Massud Keihan, 3. Golrope (the Sweden commandant of gendarmerie), 4. Seyyed Ziaaddin Tabatabai, 5. Hossein Dadgar, 6. Hassan Moshar, 7. Ali Riazi, 8. Kazem Sayyah 9. Zaman Behnam

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Ahmad Shah Qajar and brigadier general Reza Khan and Jan Mohammad Amiralai

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Seyyed Ziaadin Tabatabai's cabinet in Noruz salam (new year) ceremony, of 1921 at the Golestan Palace: 1. Seyyed Ziaaddin Tabatabai, 2. Mahmud Jam, 3. Eissa Feiz, 4. Movaqqaroddowleh, 5. RezaQoli Nayyermolk

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The members of Seyyed Zia's cabinet (the black cabinet) attended by Ahmad Shah: 1. Hosseinqoli Nosratoddowleh, 2. Mahmud Jam, 3. Massud Keihan, 4. Ahmad Shah Qajar, 5. Mostafa Adl, 6. Seyyed Ziaaddin Tabatabai, 7. AliAsghar Moaddab-oddowleh Nafissi, 8. Kazem Sayyah, 9. Assadollah Mirza Shahaboddowleh

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Reza Khan and some of military officers; from right: 1. Jan Mohammad Amiralai, 2. Mohammad Sadeq Kupal, 3. Reza Khan, 4. Ali Riazi, 5. Ali Naqdi, 6. Qassem Khan Vali, 7. Abbassqoli Jalayer, 8. Jafarqoli Beiglarpur, 9. Morteza Yazdanpanah, 10. Nosratollah Khan Ayrem, 11. Mohammad Sheikh Linsky

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The anniversary of the 1921 coup attended by the notables, dignitaries and the authorities in Tabriz, 1924

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Reza Khan Pahlavi

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