By: Mir M.Hosseini
Shapour Bakhtiar was Mohammad Reza Shah's last Prime Minister. He took several measures to appeal to the opposition movement such as ending restrictions on the press, freeing political prisoners, dissolution of SAVAK, and lifting martial law.
He promised free elections, and ordered withdrawal from CENTO treaty. He canceled orders of weapons from the US, and he stopped export of petroleum to South Africa and Israel, both being racist regime. However his efforts were futile in terms of popular support. On top of that, he lost support from people in National Front who labeled him as traitor.
Bakhtiar's attempt to prevent Imam Khomeini's return by closing the Mehrabad Airport at Tehran on January, 26 only aggravated the public and instigated new mass demonstrations around the country. He had to re-open the airport for Khomeini's arrival on Feb, 1, 1979. The following ten days were a countdown for the collapse of Pahlavi monarchy.
On Feb, 8, Iran Air Force officers in full uniforms appeared before Khomeini pledging their allegiance to the revolution. On Feb, 10 the Bakhtiar government announced a curfew which was ignored by the public. People were already armed and over the next 24 hours, revolutionaries seized police headquarters, army garrisons, barracks, prisons, and state administration buildings. On Feb 11, senior military commanders announced their neutrality and withdrew from the streets. That marked the end of support for Bakhtiar government.
On Feb, 12, Bakhtiar was in hiding, and the country was in rebel hands. The Pahlavi monarchy had collapsed.
Bakhtiar fled to Paris and started his anti-revolutionary activities from there. In a deal with the Iranian government, the French closed their eyes on his assassination on Aug, 8, 1991, in media silence. In less than two months, France and Iran settled a dispute over a $1 billion loan granted by Shah before the revolution.