The independent military organization of the south of Iran was formed in mid-1916 under the supervision of the British officers and authorities in Fars, Kerman, and Shiraz. The apparent purpose of forming this military group was providing the safety of the southern roads. However, the main purpose of this was to control the southern parts of Iran and safeguard the interests of the British in Iran.
The forces of the two occupying countries, the Russia and the Great Britain made Sepahdar Tonokaboni’s cabinet conclude an agreement in order to form a group of forces against which he received funds which were to be spent under the control of a commission including the Russians, the British and a representative from Iran.
This military force was formed according to an uncertain agreement of Sepahdar Tonokaboni’s government and the limited and provisional agreement of the next cabinet of Vossoqoddowleh, without any formal and binding permission.
General Sir Percy Sykes and some British officers of India’s army were among the commanders and instructors of south Persian Rifles. Sykes entered Kerman and Bandar Abbas in March 1916 in the company of some British officers and militaries of India.
However, subsequent to Vossouqoddowleh’s cabinet, no other government permitted the British to keep its force. All Persian parties and press objected to the presence of this force in the south and considered it as an invasion to Iran’s integrity.
There was held a general meeting in Tupkhneh square. Mostofialmamalek’s government called it a foreign intrusive force. The committee members of Democratic Party in Shiraz gathered in a mosque in protest against the presence of south rifles. The society of Islamic nationalists issued an announcement and demanded the liquidation of the south rifles.
One of the actions of the south rifles was to create insecurity and disorder in great dimensions so that it would be recognized officially. And the nation would be persuaded that the existence of this force was necessary in the south. They bought wheat and barley in high prices and created a sort of famine in the region.
However, South Rifles remained in Iran until the end of First World War and no Iranian government recognized it. Eventually, Seyyed Ziaaddin Tabatabai entered into negotiations with the British on its liquidation the result of which was only a reduction in the number of the British authorities. After Seyyed Zia’s fall, the British demanded Iran to pay for the expenses of the South Rifles.
Later on they felt no need and liquidated it completely, and destroyed all its equipments.