of The Joint Chief of Staff,
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are extracts from The Story of the Revolution produced by the BBC Persian
Chapter One: 1st
"My resignation served its purpose of preventing
Khomeini's return to Iran and when all the airports in the country were
closed, I summoned the army commanders and officers on the same afternoon.
Addressing them, I said; `Gentlemen, praise be to God. We have succeeded.
Our plan was to stop Khomeini returning and now that the airports are
closed, we can have peace of mind. We are in harmony with the government
and together we are trying to find a political solution.` All the army
officers were pleased as their morale had been boosted"
Chapter One: 2nd
"Lt.-General Rabi'i was instructed to work under
a man named Sabbaghian, who was the head of the committee in charge of
welcoming Mr Khomeini. Mr Bakhtiar sent him to go and sit on that committee.
That is, the commander of the imperial Air Force was ordered to go and
work under a man named Sabbaghian, someone whose name no-one had ever
heard of, nor knew from which hellhole he had crawled. The commander was
supposed to sit as a subordinate to him and carry out his orders to welcome
Khomeini. After Khomeini's return, I heard that he had been taken by helicopter,
I inquired about the circumstances surrounding this. I asked: `Where did
the helicopter come from , and who issued the orders for it to be used?`
I later realized that the order had been given by this Sabbaghian. I was
very angry to see that country's air force, the imperial air force was
treating Khomeini as if he were His Imperial Majesty himself. I blamed
Bakhtiar for all this. He provided the security for Khomeini's plane to
land safely and then Khomeini stepped out and walked down the steps. I
remember when I submitted my resignation and we managed to close airports,
Bakhtiar telephoned me at a meeting to say: `You know many foreign journalists
have come here in the anticipation of His Eminence's return. they are
saying that if he is not returning, they will go home, because their hotel
bills are mounting.` I said: `Let them all go home.` He replied: `The
journalists want us to open the airport.` I said: `They are talking nonsense.
No way!` Unbeknown to me, Bakhtiar had ordered the opening of the airport.
When I came out of the meeting, I received a phone call to inform me that
the radio had announced the re-opening of the airport. What on earth possessed
you to open the airport? I later found out that Mr Bakhtiar had organized
a welcoming team to go to the airport. the opposition could not agree
among themselves on the composition of such a team, so they asked the
prime minister to do so. Mr Bakhtiar himself wanted to go to the airport,
but did not go. I have mentioned in my book that the speaker of the Majlis
telephoned me to say: that he intends to go to the airport. Would you
like to go too?` I replied that I had no job to do at the airport. He
said that the prime minister was going. I said that I was not certain,
but that I did not think that the prime minister would be going. I replied:
`My dear man, you are the speaker of the Majlis. You have no business
at the airport.` He said that Bakhtiar was going. I said that I did not
know, but I would wait and see. However, I had no intention of going.
He hung up and Bakhtiar telephoned ten minutes later to say: `Yes, the
gentlemen around me are asking me to go to the airport, but I am not going.
Dr Sa'id was trying to persuade him to go, but I said sharply: `Sir, it
would be meaningless for you to go.'"
Chapter Two: 1st
"We should always prepare for the worst and plan
to deal with it. Of course, the situation was not that bad yet, but we
were discussing our alternatives if the prime minister were forced to
resign for certain reasons. Our guess had proved correct, because he had
been in touch with the Revolution Council. He had, in fact, been negotiating
his own resignation. We used to hear such rumours all the time, but according
to Lt.-General Moqaddam, Chief of Savak, these rumours intensified every
time the prime minister met members of the opposition. He himself mentioned
that he had contacted Taleqani, Motahhari and Beheshti. Once he organized
a meeting with us and said that Mr Bazargan was supposed to come and attend
the meeting. I said that I had nothing to do with Mr Bazargan. Bakhtiar
said: `No, I would like you to attend and stress that you will continue
your support for the government. I have also asked Lt.-General Moqaddam
to attend the meeting.` We all went to the meeting, but Mr Bazargan did
not turn up, because he had just been chosen as the prime minister of
the provisional government. Instead, Dr Sahabi and Mr Amir-Entezam came
on his behalf. The point of my saying all this is that what General Moqaddam
said was true. That is, this man [Shapour Bakhtiar] always intended to
resign. I pointed this out to him and said: `You invited us to come and
talk to these people and listen to their demands and all the time you
have considering your resignation.` He replied: `No, I am not going to
resign, because I have been officially appointed by the same man, who
appointed Dr Mosaddeq.` I said: `But my dear man, you said you did not
accept the Shah's authority.` He replied that he had received a vote of
confidence from the Majlis. I added: `Until recently you were saying that
the nation did not accept the Shah and that all Majlis deputies were chosen
by Savak. How come you have now changed so much?` Anyway, I saw that it
was pointless discussing the issue with him and we thought that he would
resign one of these days. We were concerned about the army's position
under such circumstances."
"In view of the circumstances of those days,
a coup d'Ètat would have been pointless. His Majesty had also ordered
us to avoid bloodshed at all costs. Furthermore, what is the meaning of
a coup d'Ètat anyway? It is an action against a legitimate government,
in an attempt to topple it and seize power. But at that time we kept saying
that we were backing a legal government and it would have been meaningless
to stage a coup against the government, which we were backing. The only
remaining objective of such a coup would have been strict implementation
of marshal law against demonstrators. This meant shooting, or other heavy-handed
tactics. Who should have issued such orders? The military governors, who
performed their duties and the prime minister. The general staff command
did not interfere in the affairs of military governors. Even Lt.-General
Najimi gave an example to demonstrate our plight. He said that we were
like pawns caught in a game of chess and the checkmate situation was approaching.
We could move neither this way nor that. There was nothing we could do.
Could we kill our own people, and what for? And if we were not going to
kill them, how could we stop them? This was beautifully explained by the
hapless Lt.-General Rabi'i in his interview afterwards. He was a very
courageous officer and in this interview says: `I saw that Bakhtiar wanted
to declare a republic and Bazargan also wanted to declare a republic.
Bakhtiar had no supporters and his ministers were prevented from entering
their offices by ministry staff, but Bazargan enjoyed the support of the
entire nation. I thought to myself that in effect these two men are doing
the same thing. Why should I become involved in the pointless killing
of my compatriots."
We were supposed to inspect the third Brigade of
the Imperial Guard at Doshan Tappeh garrison early on the morning of 21st
Bahman. I was woken up in the middle of the night by a telephone call
from Lt.-General Rabi'i. He said: `General, they have shown the video
here of Khomeini's return from Paris, and as a result several personnel
of the Imperial Guard have started a quarrel with the air force personnel
here. I asked what the Imperial Guard was doing there. It became clear
that these people did not trust their own personnel and had therefore
dispatched several tanks and armoured personnel carriers from the Imperial
Guard to the air force base. When the guards went into the officers' mess,
they saw that the video of Khomeini's return was being shown in the common
room of the officers' mess, and , when some of the cadets and air force
personnel kept chanting slogans and salutations in praise of Khomeini,
the guards protested and demanded to know why they were doing so and a
quarrel developed. I asked why such a film was being shown there. it appeared
that the prime minister had personally ordered its showing and I wanted
to know what his objective was. Rabi'i said that the objective was for
the officers to see that Khomeini, on returning after fifteen years in
exile, in reply to a question about his feelings, said he felt nothing.
I said: `No-one is paying attention to such things now.` Bakhtiar thought
that Iran was like France, that such things would be considered important.
He had created all that trouble just to make the officers hear Khomeini
utter the word `nothing`. Anyway, in the morning we went to Doshan Tappeh
and after the morning ceremonies, I boarded the helicopter to return to
the city. From the helicopter I could see that the city was in turmoil
and fires were raging. When I arrived at the general staff command headquarters,
I studied the reports, which indicated that massive demonstrations were
in progress everywhere in the city. I later realized that, as a result
of collusion between the mullas and the Air Force cadets, the cadets opened
the gates of the armoury and the complete arsenal of weapons were looted
by the mullas and their supporters. The cadets themselves picked up rifles
and took up positions on the roof tops of the air force headquarters.
I telephoned Rahimi to find out what was happening. Rahimi said: `General,
we have had the place surrounded since five o'clock yesterday evening
and we are making certain that they cannot escape. I ordered someone to
contact Bakhtiar for me by telephone and I then told him: `Mr Bakhtiar,
there are demonstrations all over the city and Doshan Tappeh garrison
is surrounded.` Bakhtiar replied: `Oh yes, today the Mojahedin-e Khalq
and the Fada'ian [Guerrilla groups] are celebrating the anniversary of
Siahkal incident and are looking for an excuse to demonstrate. He said
that if he tried to stop them, they might create chaos and endanger the
country and therefore they must somehow be allowed to carry on.A short
while later, I received a report that weapons were being distributed across
the city. I remember very well that they said that army lorries had stopped
outside several mosques and the Pepsi Cola building to distribute weapons.
I telephoned Rahimi and said: `Rahimi, I hear they are distributing weapons
all over the city. What are you up to?` He said:` General, you know the
weapons are going into mosques and we cannot enter the mosques to search,
because they say it will violate the sanctity of the mosques.` I said:
`So you are going to allow weapons to be distributed across the city.
What sort of military governor are you?` He himself then replied that
there was nothing he could do and asked me to ring the prime minister.
I did so and said; `Prime minister, sir, weapons are being distributed
in the city and there will be chaos and anarchy.` He said: `I think we
had better call a meeting of the National Security Council this evening.`
A few minutes later, Rahimi phoned me back to say that the prime minister
had ordered him to impose a curfew from four o'clock in the afternoon.
Much later, I read somewhere that, when Khomeini was informed that a curfew
was going to be declared earlier than usual at four o'clock in the afternoon,
he had ordered the people to pour into the streets in defiance of the
"At twelve midnight on 21st Bahman, we received
a report that the people had poured into the machine-gun factory near
Zhaleh Square and had surrounded the plant. The guards of the factory
defended the place until seven o'clock in the morning to stop the people
from getting in, but at eight o'clock, the people fetched pick axes and
shovels and opened up a hole in the factory's wall, through which the
Air Force cadets and the people entered the factory building."
soldiers were returning to their barracks, dumping their rifles and leaving."
Chapter Four: 1st
"We ordered them all together that morning
to attend a meeting, which we military men call an army staff council.
I wanted the council to report to me about the situation, because no-one
was answering my telephone calls to ground forces headquarters. Lt.-General
Sane'i had telephoned earlier from the ground forces headquarters to say:
`General, in view of the fact that I have served as your subordinate and
am very fond of you, I wanted to let you know that you can no longer count
on the ground forces. This was the result of our talks with other officers
of this force from last night until morning.` I told him: `I do not understand.
If I am not going to count on the ground forces, what am I going to count
on?` He replied: `This is it. There is nothing we can do.` I said: `This
is highly regrettable.` The general quite agreed with me. I proposed that
in that case, the best alternative was to summon all the military commanders
to convene a council of commanders and find out what is happening. During
that meeting, each commander described the situation of his own units.
The ground force commander said that there was nothing he could do. The
air force commander said the same thing and added: `The airborne cadets
are there and I cannot take them on.` The navy did not have any representative
in Tehran but there was nothing it could do in any case. The military
governor was not at the meeting that day to let us know what he could
do. I presented the reports, which I had received, to the council. We
had a lengthy discussion. Some of the commanders were in favour of declaring
solidarity [with the revolution], whereas others were in favour of neutrality.
At that point, I said: `If you remember His Majesty has ordered us to
keep the army intact and we need the army to safeguard the country's independence.
His Majesty did not want to see division and discord among the ranks of
various army units. You can therefore discuss the matter for as long as
you wish, but I think it is in our interest to adopt a unanimous decision.`
The discussion continued and eventually the minority, who were in favour
of declaring solidarity, agreed that we should declare neutrality. As
soon as we ended our session, the gentlemen wanted the results of our
discussion to be broadcast immediately. I ordered the public relations
officer of the general staff to contact Tehran Radio and I told them that
I would ring the prime minister myself. I did so, and informed the prime
minister about the decision taken at the council of commanders. Lt.-General
Vafa telephoned me back to say: `General, the radio announced the army's
neutrality just a moment ago.` The time then was one fifteen in the afternoon.In
fact, in this way, the army's unity and integrity were maintained. Firstly
this was His Majesty's order to stop bloodshed and fratricide. Secondly,
this is what everyone wanted. In view of the circumstances at the time,
the declaration of neutrality was in the interest of the country."
I went to Lavizan at four o'clock in the afternoon
and Mr Jafroudi telephoned me there. He said: `General, because of the
chaos in the city, Dr Bakhtiar and Mr Bazargan have not yet managed to
get here. As soon as they arrive, I shall ring you again so that you can
join us. Shortly afterwards, at about five minutes past four, he telephoned
me again to say that the gentlemen had arrived and were waiting for me.
He also asked me not to go there in my uniform. I asked: `What has uniform
got to do with the meeting?` He said that he would explain later, but
insisted that for my own safety I should go in civilian clothes. I was
very distressed and hung up. Lt.-General Hatam, who was sitting next to
me, asked me what had happened, and when I told him I was supposed to
attend the meeting in civilian clothes, he said: `Well, General, does
it matter so much?` I said that I had no civilian clothes with me. He
said: `then send someone to fetch your civilian clothes.` After one hour
they arrived with my civilian clothes and I went to a room and changed.
My civilian clothes saved my life. I left for Mr Jafroudi's house. He
opened the gates himself and let me in. He led me to a room first and
said: `General, I wanted to make a request before taking you into the
meeting room.` I agreed, but had he not told me, I would have assumed
that the room we were in was the meeting room. He told me that Prime Minister
Bakhtiar had submitted his resignation. I was astonished and added that
I had not gone there to submit mine. I asked whether the prime minister
was there and he told me that he was not at the house but was somewhere
in the vicinity, and had not been brought to the house fro reasons of
security. I said: `But you did not tell me that the prime minister was
not going to be here.` His reply was:` The prime minister is not far away
and he is in touch with us. The other gentlemen are waiting for us next
door so that we can reach an agreement.` I asked who the other gentlemen
were. At this point he asked me to follow him to another room. When I
entered, I saw seven or eight people were sitting there, who were introduced
as Messrs. Dr Siassi, Engineer Bazargan, Dr Sahabi, Amir-Entezam, Engineer
Khalili, and someone else, whose name I cannot remember now, but I have
mentioned it in my book. After I sat down, one of them began praising
the army for its decision and said that the army and the nation belonged
to each other and they asked me to help them to establish security. I
said: `Security would be maintained if you were to issue a statement to
this effect. You have been appointed prime minister by Khomeini, therefore
either you or Khomeini should issue a statement ordering the people not
to attack army barracks and to respect its dignity and honour. If you
were to issue such a statement, security would automatically be established.`
He said: `Fine. I shall order such a statement to be issued immediately.
Afterwards, Mr Bazargan asked me whether I was going to support them and
the provisional government. I replied: `It is not up to me to decide.
All the commanders should have a say. For the time being , these commanders
have decided to declare neutrality and not support for your government.
I cannot act against a decision, which has been taken already by the commanders.
As I rose to leave, they re-iterated that they would issue the statement
straight away. I bade them farewell and left."