Britain and the Abdication of Reza Shah with Shaul Bakhash

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When Britain and the Soviet Union invaded and occupied Iran in August 1941 during the Second World War, in violation of Iran’s policy of neutrality, their principal purpose was to use Iran as a bridge to supply a Russia hard-pressed by Hitler’s army with vital military and other supplies. Believing Reza Shah would not cooperate with the Allies to the degree they required, Britain and Russia engineered the shah’s abdication, and the British took him into exile, first to the island of Mauritius, then to Johannesburg where he passed the last two years of his life. This lecture will describe the evolution of the decision to force Reza Shah to surrender his throne and the shah’s final, troubled journey through Iran and into exile. Shaul Bakhash is the Clarence Robinson Professor of History Emeritus at George Mason University and a specialist in the history of modern Iran. He is the author of Reign of the Ayatollahs: Iran and the Islamic Revolution (Basic Books, 1986), Iran: Monarchy, Bureaucracy and Reform under the Qajars, 1858-1896 (Ithaca, 1978), and most recently The Fall of Reza Shah: The Abdication, Exile and Death of Modern Iran's Founder (I.B. Tauris, 2021). His many articles on Iranian and Middle East history have appeared in numerous books and journals. He has also written for the New York Review of Books, Foreign Policy, Middle East Journal, Democracy and other publications. His Op-ed essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post and other newspapers. Previous to his academic career, he worked for many years as a journalist in Iran as a reporter, commentator, and editor for Kayhan newspapers and reported from Iran for the Economist, the (London) Times, and the Financial Times. He was educated at Harvard and Oxford Universities and has been awarded fellowships by the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, The Guggenheim Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

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