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The Story of the Revolution

The comments of
Dr. Shahpour Bakhtiar.

Find out more about Dr. Bakhtiar

(These comments are extracts from The Story of the Revolution produced by the BBC Persian Service.)

Chapter One: 1st comment
"One night, as I was tossing and turning in bed, I asked myself: what would happen if I were to go myself and meet him unconditionally and ask him: `Sir, let us explore what you really want. I am prepared to sit with you and discuss all the problems concerning my country. Bring anyone you wish. I shall not bring anyone, but if you were to require that I should, whoever you suggest, I can convince him to accompany me.` The next morning I telephoned Bazargan and informed him of my intention. Bazargan agreed with me, because he could see the difficulty of the situation. He said that it was a good idea and asked me to write down whatever I was going to put to Khomeini. I said that I would write it all down and would have it delivered to him so that he could add his own suggestions. What I wrote turned out to be a letter of about ten lines, which said: `Your Eminence Grand Ayatollah Khomeini, may God increase your blessings. I have played my insignificant role of fighting despotism for many years and have done this and that and have suffered the consequences.... I share the people's enthusiasm in their great movement towards freedom. During the short time sinceI have accepted to take charge, I have helped the movement by doing this and that. Now I am ready to sit with Your Eminence the Ayatollah, not as the prime minister but as an ordinary Iranian, to review the country's problems. If you were to declare readiness to receive me unconditionally as well, I would come to see you within 24 hours.` I even went and arranged to receive some foreign currency from the bank. I organized my passport and prepared every thing in a matter of two hours. We had a plane ready and Bazargan said that he wanted to accompany me. I told him: `Fine you come with me in the plane, but do not come all the way to Paris. This plane will land in Nice and there one of us can disembark to take another plane to Paris. I am concerned that if we arrive together in Paris, some people may say that we have colluded with each other.` Well, Bazargan had enemies too and everything was possible. Anyway, he read the letter and we discussed it for two hours. Afterwards I said: `There is only one problem. You and I, as two Iranians, have discussed our country's problems politely, but I think others should judge the letter too.` I signed the letter and instructed some one to deliver it to Mr Beheshti, who was the head of their [the revolutionaries '] committee. (the same Ayatollah Beheshti who was killed later). Beheshti said that the idea was very good. His exact words were: `it is a very good idea, good thinking and I endorse it'. I know that in addition to Beheshti, two or three other people agreed with it. Mr Beheshti kept the letter to read it overnight. We, Bazargan and I, were all excited about the next day and kept discussing the arrangements for our morning flight. We said: `Well, we meet at the royal pavilion in the airport and fly together'. Let me summarize that we came to the conclusion that Khomeini would either say yes or not. If he were to agree to sit and talk to me, he would lose half of his charisma [spiritual appeal]. And should he refuse to see me, then we would tell the Iranian people: `Look what sort of a man he is; we are offering to see him and he is not prepared to discuss anything. This fellow does not understand anything."

Chapter One: 2nd comment
"He [Ayatollah Khomeini] accepted the letter and agreed to meet me, but somehow somebody there made him change his mind. I do not care who was instrumental in this, but I regret that a figure such as Ayatollah Khomeini should go back on his word only hours after having given a firm undertaking. This is highly regrettable. However, I was the winner, because I proved my good will and eagerness to solve the country's problems. Ayatollah Khomeini first accepted and then went back on his word."

Chapter Two: 1st comment
"We have one country and it shall have one government and one army. Iran shall never have two governments under any circumstances. Unfortunately some people have become accustomed to dictatorship. They accepted Mohammad Reza Shah's dictatorship and maybe another future dictatorship would be to their satisfaction too. However, I am in favour of freedom and liberty in this country and nothing else."

Chapter Three: 1st comment
"I wrote twice to the chief of the army's joint staff to go ahead and strike. I wrote during the National Security Council meeting and thrust the paper in front of Rabi'i. I said: `In order to stop the Air Force, in view of the fact that your arms manufacturing plant is located there, you have to use loud speakers to warn the public that they have entered a military compound and have one hour to get out. If they refuse to do so, you should bomb the machine-gun manufacturing area. I shall take responsibility for any casualties."

Chapter Three: 2nd comment
"On the contrary, I had ordered reinforcements from Qasvin and informed Qarabaghi of my decision."

Chapter Four: 1st comment
"I had an appointment with Mr Qarabaghi. I had given them a plan to carry out. This plan indicated that the marshal law troops should strictly enforce the curfew regulations and immediately arrest anyone failing to obey it. I wanted them to be heavy-handed and avoid the softly-softly approach. The plan was approved by the National Security Council. It was agreed that if we came across any obstacles, we should postpone the plan until the following night. Qarabaghi was supposed to come and see me at eight thirty the next morning to report whether there had been any problems. During the night, I telephoned him three times and every time he gave me some vague answers that he had sent troops here, tanks there and so on. I was in my office at eight thirty the next morning, but he did not turn up. I waited until nine o'clock but there was still no sign of him. It was very easy to come and see me, because he always came by helicopter and the military college was only a stone's throw away. I became suspicious as to why he had not turned up. I telephoned his office several times and each time I was told that he was in a very important meeting. I went to the balcony, where I could hear the sound of sporadic machine-gun fire. I waited until ten o'clock and all the time kept wondering what I should do. A couple of my friends and two or three Bakhtiari men were there. I told them to prepare my car and leave the gates open. It was a special bullet-proof car for prime ministers and I also ordered two extra cars to be made ready. However, I told them that I was not going to leave until the ceiling of my office was hit by machine-gun bullets. Qarabaghi telephoned at ten thirty. It was Sunday morning 22nd Bahman. I asked him: `General, what happened? Where were you?` He replied: `Your Excellency. Prime Minister, the army has just now declared its neutrality.` As soon as I heard that, I went to a different world. I told him: `Neutrality between who and who? Is it neutrality between law and anarchy? Is it neutrality between Iran and Iran's enemies? How come I failed to predict such a thing? Thank you General. thank you very much.` I then put the phone down."

Chapter Four: 2nd comment
"The radio had received the news [of the army's neutrality] before I did. I waited until one thirty in the afternoon, before deciding that there was no alternative left to me. I could see that when the people realized that the military men had decided to withdraw, no one could stop the others. I ordered a helicopter to land in the grounds of the military college. The helicopter arrived at about two o'clock in the afternoon. I picked up a few of my personal belongings and went downstairs. As I went down my secretary Ms Kalantari asked me: `What time will you return sir?` I replied: `I do not know, but I will come back one day.` As I came through the doorway, there was one captain, two NCOs and four soldiers. They stood in attention and saluted me. One of them said: `We are almost totally surrounded now. ` I shook hands with them individually and got into the car, which then drove to the military college only a hundred metres down the road. When I arrived there, a similar procedure took place. I got into the helicopter and it took off. I said: `How amazing! We want to give these people freedom and democracy, and they do not want it. What could we possibly do? I do not know, but despite the sadness, I experienced relief. Believe me, it seemed as if a huge burden, as heavy as Damavand Mountain, had been lifted from my shoulders. I felt as if I were flying with my own wings."

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Part 1:
Ayatollah Khomeini returns
Part 2:
One country - two governments
Part 3:
The last struggle of the army
Part 4:
Revolution Day
Who's who..........
...... what they said...

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